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On Death Penalty for Gays: Uganda, Rick Warren, and 'The Family'


On Sunday's Meet the Press, David Gregory presses Rick Warren on whether or not he would fight for Proposition 8 again if the ballot measure came up.

Said Warren: "Well, again, I'm not a politician.  I didn't fight it in the last issue.  What was misunderstood is people, people on both sides tried to make me the campaign leader.  I only mentioned it one time, and I mentioned it to my own congregation when I was asked, 'What is our position on this?' and I made a video for our congregation.  Well, that was dumb, because it immediately went everywhere and then all the sudden it looked like I was the big campaigner.  And--but I wasn't.  Of course I have a position on it.  As a pastor, I happen to believe what the Bible says.  But I also believe that I understand the pain that people feel from rejection.  So I care about both angles."

Watch Warren on Meet the Press, and said Prop 8 speech, AFTER THE JUMP...

In related news, Warren's work in Africa, his ties to anti-gay Anglican religious figures, and his tacit endorsement of condom-burning and anti-gay 'witch hunts' in Uganda, which were exposed in January in a great article by Max Blumenthal at The Daily Beast, are being looked at again as Uganda's parliament considers a law that calls for the death penalty for those guilty of "aggravated homosexuality".

Warren was asked about the proposed law, and refused to condemn it, notes Newsweek:

"A request for a broader reaction to the proposed Ugandan anti-homosexual laws generated this response: 'The fundamental dignity of every person, our right to be free, and the freedom to make moral choices are gifts endowed by God, our creator. However, it is not my personal calling as a pastor in America to comment or interfere in the political process of other nations.' On Meet the Press this morning, he reiterated this neutral stance in a different context: 'As a pastor, my job is to encourage, to support. I never take sides.' Warren did say he believed that abortion was 'a holocaust.' He knows as well as anyone that in a case of great wrong, taking sides is an important thing to do."

New Vision reports:

Uganda "A person commits aggravated homosexuality when the victim is a person with disability or below the age of 18, or when the offender is HIV-positive. The bill thus equates aggravated homosexuality to aggravated defilement among people of different sexes, which also carries the death sentence. The Bill, entitled the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009, also states that anyone who commits the offence of homosexuality will be liable to life imprisonment. This was already the case under the current Penal Code Act. However, it gives a broader definition of the offence of homosexuality. A person charged with the offence will have to undergo a mandatory medical examination to ascertain his or her HIV status. The bill further states that anybody who 'attempts to commit the offence' is liable to imprisonment for seven years.' The same applies to anybody who 'aids, abets, counsels or procures another to engage in acts of homosexuality' or anybody who keeps a house or room for the purpose of homosexuality. The bill also proposes stiff sentences for people promoting homosexuality. They risk a fine of sh100m or prison sentences of five to seven years. This applies to people who produce, publish or distribute pornographic material for purposes of promoting homosexuality, fund or sponsor homosexuality. Where the offender is a business or NGO, its certificate of registration will be cancelled and the director will be liable to seven years in prison. Failure to disclose the offence within 24 hours of knowledge makes somebody liable to a maximum sh5m fine or imprisonment of up to three years."

Mugisha, 25, chairman of Sexual Minorities Uganda, a coalition of local lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex groups that will all be banned under the law, told the UK's Guardian in an article published this weekend: "The bill is haunting us. If this passes we will have to leave the country."

And Rick Warren isn't the only American right-winger with ties to those seeking to kill gays in Africa. Nevada Senator John Ensign, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) and Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) are a few of the politicians exposed in Jeff Sharlet's book, The Family. It details, among other things, the group's connection to anti-gay forces in Uganda. reports: Thefamily

Speaking yesterday on NPR’s Fresh Air, Jeff Sharlet – who wrote a best-selling book documenting the political influence of the family – noted that many U.S. politicians, straddling both sides of the political aisle, are involved with “The Family.” Sharlet spoke about how members of “The Family” have been quite active in Uganda, including Ugandan Parliamentarian David Bahati, who is a member of “The Family” and one of the legislators behind the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009.

“[Bahati] appears to be a core member of The Family. He works, he organizes their Uganda National Prayer Breakfast and oversees a African sort of student leadership program designed to create future leaders for Africa, into which The Family has poured millions of dollars working through a very convoluted chain of linkages passing the money over to Uganda,” said Sharlet.

Not only that, but The Family has long considered Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to be their key point man in Uganda, according to Sharlet. And President Museveni, it turns out, is one of the biggest advocates for killing gay people in Uganda. He also just met with a bunch of Ugandan youth and urged them to resist the forces of homosexuality.

That’s a pretty direct, not to mention abhorrent, connection between U.S. evangelical political leadership and Ugandan human rights abusers. Do U.S. politicians like Congressmen Bart Stupak really want to have on their consciences the murder and imprisonment of gay people in Uganda?

Here's the transcript of the Terri Gross Fresh Air episode on The Family.

Uganda Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he "privately warned the Ugandan president on the sidelines of the Commonwealth summit this weekend against bringing in a law that would put homosexuals in jail for life."

Said Harper: "It was not discussed multilaterally; however I did raise it directly with the president of Uganda and indicated Canada's deep concern, strong opposition and the fact we deplore these kinds of measures," Harper told a news conference at the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago on Sunday. We find them inconsistent with frankly, I think any reasonable understanding of human rights and I was very clear on that with the president of Uganda."

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has voiced his opposition as well.

Uganda has responded to criticism from world leaders over the proposed law: "The government yesterday responded strongly to international criticism over the proposed anti-gay law, saying the process would continue uninterrupted. Speaker Edward Sekandi told Daily Monitor that it was necessary 'to do whatever we can to stop' homosexual liaisons in Uganda. 'We don’t support that practice,' Mr Sekandi said yesterday."

In related news, Truth Wins Out points out that Eric Goosby — chief coordinator for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has spoken out about U.S. taxpayer support for the program in Uganda, and the gross misuse of funds there, saying "My role is to be supportive and helpful to the patients who need these services. It is not to tell a country how to put forward their legislation. But I will engage them in conversation around my concern and knowledge of what this is going to do to that population, and our ability to stop the movement of the virus into the general population."

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has thus far been silent on what is happening in Uganda.

Watch Warren on Meet the Press, and his Prop 8 speech, AFTER THE JUMP...

And here's that Prop 8 video, where Warren clearly "takes sides":

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  1. So if they were killing Christians, or putting people in prison for 5-7 years for praying, would Warren still say "it is not my personal calling as a pastor in America to comment or interfere in the political process of other nations"?

    Posted by: Kevinvt | Nov 30, 2009 10:02:22 AM

  2. You're absolutely right, KEVINVT.

    You know, this story may be the most important story ever on Towleroad in relation to our various discussions on race and homophobia & anti-gay hatred. It should make everyone think.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Nov 30, 2009 10:15:27 AM

  3. Kevinvt: EXACTLY!

    Posted by: John K. | Nov 30, 2009 10:20:38 AM

  4. I just keep thinking: Is there something, anything, that we could do to stop what is going on in Uganda?

    In the meantime, here's a beginning:

    Posted by: Felix | Nov 30, 2009 10:26:32 AM

  5. Rick, what exactly does the bible say about gay marriage? I've never seen a bible that mentions gay marriage, although it does seem to approve of incest and polygamy.

    Posted by: John M | Nov 30, 2009 10:33:04 AM

  6. Why is our precious "liberal" news media not covering this?
    And why is Obama silent?
    Where is Secretary Clinton?
    Have the teabaggers been right all along? Is our government a bunch of Nazis?
    I refuse to allow my country to support genocide. I am making signs and printing literature right now. This has gone WAY too far!

    Posted by: FloridaSqueezed | Nov 30, 2009 10:36:10 AM

  7. Excellent round-up, Andy. Here's another worthwhile piece: Uganda's Radical Anti-Gay Measure and the American Religious Right --

    Posted by: Nathanial | Nov 30, 2009 10:53:37 AM

  8. I would also recommend the coverage on

    Posted by: homer | Nov 30, 2009 10:58:24 AM

  9. He talks out of so many sides of his mouth that he needs four more of them to keep up the pace.

    Posted by: MikeMick | Nov 30, 2009 10:59:54 AM

  10. hopefully Rachel Maddow will feature something about this. she's usually fired up after a vacation.

    i think 'The Family' ought to be the subject of a congressional probe, personally. everything they do, and say, seems to be contrary to the Constitution, imo.

    Posted by: casey | Nov 30, 2009 11:14:43 AM

  11. This is not the first time American Christianists supported a holocaust.

    Posted by: Walter | Nov 30, 2009 11:16:59 AM

  12. BTW, as for Hillary Clinton's silence, maybe there's a simple reason for that -- SHE has ties to "The Family" as well, and "through all of her years in Washington, Clinton has been an active participant in conservative Bible study and prayer circles that are part of a secretive Capitol Hill group known as 'The "Fellowship,' also known as The Family." Read more here:

    Posted by: Nathanial | Nov 30, 2009 11:22:32 AM

  13. Take a position, fuckhead, show some moral compass and remember the bible quote:
    "And the lukewarm I spit ftom my mouth".

    What a corrupt asshole.......Who in their right mind would listen to an asshole who doesn't know what is manifestly wrong ?

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Nov 30, 2009 11:33:45 AM

  14. Somebody please ask the white house during a press conference why they are giving silent assent to Rick Warren and members of Congress who use government money to promote the death penalty for gay people in Uganda.

    Would the white house remain silent if Uganda was passing these laws against Jewish people? Would they remain silent if some other country passed a law against a racial minority?

    If Ben Harper and Gordon Brown can condemn the Ugandan government, why is Barak Obama silent?

    Posted by: Ruben | Nov 30, 2009 11:55:28 AM

  15. Because he doesn't give a shit, that's why!

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Nov 30, 2009 12:03:15 PM

  16. stephen harper said what?

    Posted by: brad | Nov 30, 2009 12:09:04 PM

  17. 1) What's the difference between these people (The family, Rick Warren, etc.) and the white Christian colonialists of old? None that I can tell.

    2) Also, why don't we call this proposed anti-Ugandian law a proposed GENOCIDE? Because that's exactly what it is.

    Posted by: Chitown Kev | Nov 30, 2009 12:13:35 PM

  18. You know, obama et al are not the only people quite. What about your HRC? And all those 'rich' gay mafia dudes?

    Maybe if people in your back garden actually started doing/saying something, the big wigs would have to do something because they obv don't care...

    Posted by: Rowan | Nov 30, 2009 12:16:27 PM

  19. @Rowan

    Have you EVER read what many (if not most) commenters on towelroad have had to say about HRC and those rich "gay mafia dudes" like...oh, Andrew Tobias, for starters?

    Posted by: Chitown Kev | Nov 30, 2009 12:25:32 PM

  20. "The Family", "The Bilderbergers", The Trilateral Commission"... All the same Group.. All the Same People with the same purpose... Evil.

    Posted by: SB | Nov 30, 2009 12:27:06 PM

  21. If the administration decides to criticize Uganda, then Obama needs to do it himself. He's the only one who can do it with any degree of effectiveness. It would be a big mistake to send Hillary Clinton to talk them down. Harper and Brown have fallen into that trap already.

    Museveni will simply now pull a page out the Mugabe playbook and blame it all on westerners and their decadent lifestyle.

    If reformers in Africa want to succeed, then they have to change the narrative. They have to disconnect themselves from the idea that homosexuality is the "white man's disease." And they are not going to do it with Stephen Harper.

    Posted by: John | Nov 30, 2009 1:34:48 PM

  22. I'd be curious to know if there's been any quiet maneuvering or diplomatic efforts to address this. I'm hoping so, because if Harper and Brown made their first mention of it so publicly, of course Uganda is going to resist "foreign meddling" in what it considers domestic affairs.

    Few Western governments will take concrete action if the law passes. If they want to exert real influence, it should be behind the scenes...again, unless that's already been tried. Otherwise the Ugandan government will feel compelled to save face and pass the damn law.

    Posted by: Paul R | Nov 30, 2009 2:14:59 PM

  23. Chitown

    I have heard what they say about THOSE groups but you know it's all very specific and one dimensional.

    The one time, they should be hounding these groups to actually be active, they are saying nothing....

    Come on...

    It reminds me of the 'me,me,me' politics I deal with.

    What is happening in Uganda is so wrong-badly wrong. Gay or NOT, this is a HUMAN RIGHT issue.

    HRC should be on board.

    At least the UK have said something...

    Posted by: Rowan | Nov 30, 2009 2:38:00 PM

  24. PAUL R,

    now I didn't even think about that strategy or approach for this Administration in dealing with this anti-gay idiots who pose as leaders of nations..,.(gag & vomit)

    You ought to be in Secretary Clinton's State Department--you think like a effective one, not a showboater.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Nov 30, 2009 2:38:27 PM

  25. @ Paul R

    Call me cynical but I think it was made publicly first...why? The same reasons that a lot of community activists with great intentions who are white don't try and do their thing in a predominantly black area that is seen as poor.

    The Labour party in the UK has done this so many times-the white guilt-by apologising for issues or saying stuff like this BUT not actually having any power behind-at all.

    Hit em were it hurts-sanctions but why would you do that when Uganda has no oil? Or it's no Cuba, i.e a threat?

    Empty words by those leaders but I do agree that Obama's word would be a lot more powerful.

    He is an icon and is literally 'followed' around the globe despite what most of the Towleroad commenters think.

    He has that power...

    Posted by: Rowan | Nov 30, 2009 3:02:55 PM

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