March 8, 2014

​U.S. Evangelicals Decry Uganda’s new Anti-Homosexuality Law

Religion News Service

American evangelicals are denouncing a new Uganda
law that criminalizes homosexuality, reiterating a position that many have held
for years but which has nonetheless drawn scrutiny and skepticism from
Since 2009, several American pastors and leaders have condemned
legislation in Uganda that in its initial version imposed the death penalty for
some offenders. Under the revised law signed recently by President Yoweri
Museveni, the death penalty was removed and replaced with life in prison in
some cases.
Now, American evangelicals who insist they never supported either
version of the law nonetheless find themselves playing defense, saying their
statements against homosexuality at home are being twisted as an endorsement of
harsh penalties against gays and lesbians abroad.

Decrying laws in countries such as Uganda and
Russia, Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics
& Religious Liberty Commission, said he knows no evangelicals who would
support legislation like Uganda’s.
“We always must balance a fear of Western
cultural imperialism with a responsibility to speak to global human rights
around the world,” said Moore, who has also denounced Russia’s anti-gay laws
because he has adopted sons from Russia.
“Those of us who hold to a Christian
sexual ethic don’t want to see those who disagree with us jailed; we want to
see them reconciled to God through the gospel.”

The timing of Uganda’s legislation coincided with
heated debates in the U.S. over the proposed legislation in Arizona that would
have allowed businesses in the state to deny services to people who are gay if
they felt that serving them would violate their religious rights.
situations in Uganda and Arizona are galaxies apart,” Moore said. “I think that
in Arizona and several other states, in an attempt to preserve our
religious liberties, regardless of how we agree with how it’s being done, can
hardly compare with persecution around the world.”
California megachurch pastor
Rick Warren, too, posted on his Facebook page on Sunday (March 2) denying
allegations that he ever supported the Uganda bill. In 2009, Warren posted an
“encyclical video” on YouTube saying he opposes the criminalization of
“Last week, the nation of Uganda passed a bad law, which I have
publicly opposed for nearly 5 years,” Warren wrote. “I still oppose it, but
rumors persist because lies and errors are never removed from the
Evangelical humanitarian organization World Vision has opposed the
bill since 2009, arguing that it could hamper efforts to reduce HIV/AIDS.
“More people would be reluctant to seek, receive or even provide care and
compassion out of fear of being reported,” the organization said in a
statement. “This would also make their families and children even more

Uganda is not the
only country to criminalize same-sex relations. The United Nations estimates
that 78 countries ban homosexuality.
Since the law passed, Uganda has been hit
with substantial aid cuts from Western nations; the World Bank has postponed a
$90 million loan for the country’s health systems. Secretary of State John
Kerry has likened Uganda’s law to South Africa’s apartheid-era ban on
interracial unions. Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, president of the
Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said Tuesday that “homosexuals are
not criminals” and should not receive a sentence of life in prison.