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Posted by on Nov 30, 2009 in Health, International, Media, Places, Politics, Religion, Society | 49 comments

Homophobia Trumps Human Rights

That’s Rick Warren’s homophobia, and the human rights of gay Ugandans who are being targeted with legislation — sponsored by a Ugandan “minister” with whom Warren is friendly — that would punish homosexual relations with life in prison, and would authorize execution for homosexuals who are HIV-positive. The proposed law would also impose stiff penalties for anyone who knows about or suspects homosexual activity and does not report it within 24 hours, as well as for anyone who “defends the rights of gays and lesbians.”

Although Warren claims to have “completely severed contact” with this minister, whose name is Ssempa, in 2007 “when we learned that his views and actions were in serious conflict with our own,” he has refused to condemn this new and current piece of proposed legislation, or Mr. Ssempa for sponsoring it:

A request for a broader reaction to the proposed Ugandan antihomosexual 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.

As Warren demonstrates here, he certainly does know that:

One can only conclude, then, that he does not believe executing gay or lesbian human beings is a case of great wrong.

Andrew Sulllivan skewers him.

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Copyright 2009 The Moderate Voice
  • pacatrue

    More importantly to me, if this law is under serious consideration, I think our government should make it as clear as possible that, should it pass, there will be serious ramifications between the Ugandan government and our own. The laws seem almost as heinous as the old South African Apartheid laws. (It’s never easy to compare heinousness.)

  • Leonidas

    Hmm looks like the pastor is seperating church and state, is that such a horrible thing?His statement ” “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.” seems to cover the bases fine. Looks to be a progressive witchhunt here. I don’t care for the religious right much myself, but Warren is a step above many who try to interfere is policy more. But for some being a social conservative ears you the type of intolerant scorn from progressives that they accuse such folk of. A case of the pot calling the kettle black here.

    Andrew Sulllivan skewers him.

    Someone still reads Sullivan? LOL guess he gave up trying to prove Bristol Palin was Trig Palin’s real mother.

    That being said I think these Ugandan laws are an ugly business.

    • “A case of the pot calling the kettle black here.”

      Jaw: dropped. Mind: blown. You really are a piece of work, Leo.

      • Leonidas

        I didn’t think Obama wasn’t patriotic for not wearing a lapel pin of the US flag, I won’t accuse Warren of supporting this inhuman legislation just because he doesn’t wear an anti-Ssempa lapel pin. The man stated his opposition to the policies in the quote above,

        “when we learned that his views and actions were in serious conflict with our own,”

        Good enough to keep me off the intolerant witch hunting. This isn’t about Uganda, its about Progressives looking for any excuse and making them up when they can’t find one to attack a social conservative figure. Pure partisan intolerance.

        • kathykattenburg

          I didn’t think Obama wasn’t patriotic for not wearing a lapel pin of the US flag, I won’t accuse Warren of supporting this inhuman legislation just because he doesn’t wear an anti-Ssempa lapel pin.

          Leonidas, are you really making an analogy between executing people for being homosexual and wearing or not wearing a flag lapel pin?

          • ProfElwood

            “Leonidas, are you really making an analogy between executing people for being homosexual and wearing or not wearing a flag lapel pin?”

            Your original point, if I understand it correctly, is that since Warren doesn’t support gay marriage, and he isn’t actively condemning Mr. Ssempa enough, he implicitly supports this law which persecutes gay acts. That sounds like a bit of a stretch to me.

          • kathykattenburg

            Your original point, if I understand it correctly, is that since Warren doesn’t support gay marriage, and he isn’t actively condemning Mr. Ssempa enough, he implicitly supports this law which persecutes gay acts. That sounds like a bit of a stretch to me.

            No, that was not my point. My point is that Warren has refused to condemn the Ugandan legislation. He was specifically asked about it, and he refused to condemn it.

          • MrNoface

            Just like Obama didn’t condemn his former pastor or the Iranian government even though he opposed the views and actions of both. Warrens situation are similar in the sense that he doesn’t have to condemn or denounce in order to be opposed to something. Who is Warren that he should be scrutinized for what he did (or didn’t) say in regards to this Ugandan Bill, anyway. Why not put pressure on our leaders and those leaders in the international community. You know, those who would actually have some influence on the situation on the Ugandan Government.

        • “This isn’t about Uganda, its about Progressives looking for any excuse and making them up when they can’t find one to attack a social conservative figure.”

          Bull. This person, who is supposed to be some sort of spiritual leader, was *asked* what his position was on the legal murder of people with a deadly disease, and with the legal incarceration of people whose only crime is having consentual sex, and his answer was that he didn’t want to “take sides”. How on the world does one not “take sides” on such an issue? Quite frankly, it’s true that most of us in this country don’t have a lot of sway with the Ugandan government, but we sure as hell can stand up to condemn those who would condone this utter tragedy of policy here in our own country.

          • Dr J

            How on the world does one not “take sides” on such an issue?Wow, it was just a few months ago the right was making similar demands of Obama to denounce the election in Iran. For fear, one presumes, that if America passes up an opportunity to alienate someone or polarize an issue, we become Canada.

          • “it was just a few months ago the right was making similar demands of Obama to denounce the election in Iran.”

            Are you really going to compare the two? We do not run the elections of other countries — not our place. We can and do condemn the *actions* of governments once they are elected if they are violating treaties, etc. We create sanctions, we employ other methods of diplomacy. Sometimes, we wage war. This is clearly a different case. This is an action by a government, and it needs to be condemned. I hope that Obama does so as well, calling it out for the human rights disaster that it is.

          • CStanley

            We do not run the elections of other countries — not our place.

            Huh? No one is saying we should ‘run’ elections, but we can and do comment on the legitimacy or illegitimacy. Most recently we’ve done so with regard to Afghanistan, where Sen Kerry even traveled to put pressure on Karzai to accept the need for a runoff election, and in Honduras where the result of the coup was pronounced unacceptable.

            It’s case by case, of course, as to whether or not we get involved- but your blanket statement is demonstrably false. In the case of Iran, for instance, I already mentioned that there were pragmatic reasons that can justify Obama’s reticence (most significantly, the fact that US endorsement of opposition would likely do more harm than good.)

          • “we can and do comment on the legitimacy or illegitimacy”

            Fair enough — perhaps I spoke to strongly on that. I still believe there’s a false equivalency between the two scenarios.

    • TheMagicalSkyFather

      I suppose you missed the whole Iran thingy when he was giving some of the best info on the net while many others were ignoring it. Many writers have went down an alley but Sullivan has done and continues to do some of the best work on the net. How many right wing writers continue to inflate their protest numbers? Do you still read them or watch or listen to them if not you are probably tuned into the evil MSM but of course they have had their alleys as well?

      *When reading this think of the alley where the marching band was lead into an alley during Animal House as that is what I mean*

      • Leonidas

        Suit yourself but I don’t read what tin foil hat wearing bloggers write, Sullivan’s credibility is totally shot with me.

        I strongly support gay rights, but intolerant jerks like Sullivan don’t make it easy.

  • Oh, Kathy, this is so heartbreaking. I had heard that there were going to be some major anti-gay laws taking effect in Uganda, but I didn’t realize how terribly draconian they would be. Not only does this sort of legislation make people choose between their lives and their selves, but it also makes them choose between their freedom and those they love who they might suspect of being gay. This will surely also become a out-and-out witch hunt, a 1984-esque scenario where people threaten those they dislike with a public outing. None of this horror even takes into account the meaning for people with AIDS in a country that really doesn’t need a setback on that front. I’m imagining scenarios where people (gay or not) refuse to be tested or treated due to the very real danger of actually being executed. The heart cries.

    Warren’s an ass, and an idiot, and knows very well that he most certainly does “take sides”, and does so against gay people, minorities, and women. When suddenly a country takes the anti-gay rhetoric we sometimes see pouring from our “spiritual leaders” to it’s logical, horrible conclusion, he refuses to “take sides” and condemn the legal murder and incarceration of gay people by his old buddy. Very, very telling. Is this really who we want guiding the spiritual lives of anyone? How empty must this man’s own soul be, how completely lacking in moral fortitude, how utterly devoid of compassion for his fellow human being?

  • Leonidas

    Another note from the Warren interview:http://www.dailybreeze.com/ci_13893265

    An influential Southern California preacher said today he will stay on the fence if gay marriage comes up for a second public vote in California.Rev. Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, appeared on NBC’s “Meet The Press” and said his position on gay marriage “is very clear.””It hasn’t changed,” Warren told program host David Gregory. “What I do believe in is that it’s my job to love everybody. No doubt about it. I’m not a politician. I didn’t fight it in the last (Nov. 2008) election.

    Funny that we don’t see Kathy or pther progressive wing bloggers posting this or arguing that Warren be outspoken on his position on the Proposition 8 matter. Warren is consistent, they are not. They are more interested in generating a partisan attack rather than being consistent.

    Of course I could be wrong, but Kathy can prove that by starting another thread calling for Warren to throw himself full force into the Proposition 8 debate. When she does so, I’ll no longer claim she is being inconsistent.

    • kathykattenburg

      Funny that we don’t see Kathy or pther progressive wing bloggers posting this or arguing that Warren be outspoken on his position on the Proposition 8 matter. Warren is consistent, they are not.

      Can you clarify your thinking for me here, Leonidas?

      I’ll totally understand if you can’t clarify it, but I just thought I’d ask.

      • Leonidas

        Can you clarify your thinking for me here, Leonidas?

        Simply that some pro-gay rights folk (I mayself am pro-gay rights) have become exactly the the thing they condemn. The far left and the far right are very similar in their intolerance.

        • “Simply that some pro-gay rights folk (I mayself am pro-gay rights) have become exactly the the thing they condemn. The far left and the far right are very similar in their intolerance.”

          Yes, it’s true. I will fully agree that I have zero tolerance for people who are ambivalent about a question like “should a government be able to kill people for being gay?” If you find that intolerance of mine the same as the intolerance needed to actually *be* ambivalent about such a question, so be it.

          • Leonidas

            Yes, it’s true. I will fully agree that I have zero tolerance for people who are ambivalent about a question like “should a government be able to kill people for being gay?” If you find that intolerance of mine the same as the intolerance needed to actually *be* ambivalent about such a question, so be it.

            But that is not what happened, Warren stated that he had “serious conflict ” with the policies of Ssempa. The left is just trying to make an issue that he isn’t allowing that difference to push him into some form of grandstanding. He stated his difference and is keeping a low key that might pay off in the future. He is allowing the initiative to be taken by those elected by the voters of this country instead of trying to direct it from the pulpit. Screaming anti Ugandan government slogans might hurt the efforts of his ministry to do good for other people in Uganda gay and/or non gay. He is being smart unlike his detractors are who haven’t seemed to have put any deep thought into their condemnation of him. But they really don’t care, its just part of their effort to make social conservative a scarlet letter as ironic as that is. The far left has become the far right in this.

          • Soooo…saying he had “serious conflict” with some ambiguous “policies” wouldn’t/didn’t cause him any problems with the “efforts of his ministry” in Uganda, but saying he had serious conflicts about this particular policy would have? Sorry, that line of reasoning just doesn’t work.

            This is a dumb line of argument we’re having here anyway. I wish that Warren would have the moral compunction to say that governments shouldn’t be able to kill gay people just because they’re gay, but my faith in his moral compunction wasn’t something I was hanging a hat on anyway. So he’s a bigger jerk than I thought — whoop-tee-do. The real tragedy here is the law, and those it will directly effect — that is, essentially, everyone in Uganda. That most of the coverage here in the States is focused on some SoCal Mega-Pastor instead of on the very real and heartbreaking things this law will do to the people of Uganda is pretty silly.

    • ” No doubt about it. I’m not a politician. I didn’t fight it in the last (Nov. 2008) election.”

      Except that that’s a lie:

      Warren dodged Waldman’s question about whether he supported civil unions or domestic partnerships, answering instead, “I support full equal rights for everyone in America,” adding that he only opposes a “redefinition” of marriage. He went on to say he’s opposed to gay marriage the same way he is opposed to a brother and sister marrying (that would be incest), a man marrying a child (that would be statutory rape), or someone having multiple spouses (that would be polygamy). Pressed by Waldman, Warren said he considered those crimes equivalent to gay marriage.

      Warren claimed he supported Proposition 8 because of a free-speech issue — asserting that “any pastor could be considered doing hate speech … if he shared his views that homosexuality wasn’t the most natural way for relationships.”

      I don’t know whether or not Kathy posted on this lie that Warren told, bald-faced, but I would agree that most progressive would find it extremely interesting.

      • kathykattenburg

        I don’t know whether or not Kathy posted on this lie that Warren told, bald-faced, but I would agree that most progressive would find it extremely interesting.

        I did not, and thank you for doing so.

  • redbus

    I’ve thought about this issue a lot, especially in connection with capital punishment. Yes, a directive to “cut off from the people” (i.e. execute) those who engage in homosexual acts appears in Leviticus 18:22 — see also v. 29. However, Deut. 21:18-21 also says that a “stubborn and rebellious son,” one who is a drunk and disobedient to parents, must be stoned by the city elders. Bottom line: It is extremely problematic to take the so-called “holiness code” of the ancient Jewish people and attempt to apply it in the 21st century. That’s why what the Ugandan minister is doing is so grotesque, and even one as socially conservative as Pastor Rick Warren can’t run away from him fast enough.

    As one who believes that the Bible has something relevant to say to us today, I have to wrestle with this and try to bring some internal consistency to the message of Old and New Testaments. (After all, they’re both in the Christian Scriptures). The only way I’ve been able to do so is through the story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11), the famous “let him who is without sin cast the first stone” passage. Christ is not only pleading for leniency for a woman caught up in the judgmental hypocrisy of a group of merciless male religious leaders. He appears to be overturning capital punishment altogether. Ironically, too many of my colleagues who are against abortion are blind to their inconsistency when it comes to capital punishment. Do what Jesus did — Throw out the whole practice. It’s not worthy of the Gospel message, which is all about God changing people, no matter how seemingly hopeless.

    • kathykattenburg

      Redbus,

      This is a very well-written and thought-provoking post. Thank you for it.

      • redbus

        Thanks, KK

      • redbus

        Thanks, KK

  • spirasol

    I don’t buy Warren’s argument visavis the longevity of the institution of marriage as a vehicle solely for heteros. Their are many unhealthy things in society that persist for a long long time, until the right time comes to change it. Homosexuality has been around as long as Heterosexuality. Since it appears the majority culture doesn’t want to budge on this, it would be my wish that the minority community create something alternative, maybe the same thing by another name that would guarantee them full legal status.

    As for not being able to decide if one can support the gay community when execution rears its ugly head, c’mon, it exposes them for being the shallow moral thinkers they often are.

  • Silhouette

    Putting homosexuals in prison? Why? That would be like putting people with OCD in prison. Clearly there needs to be a fact-checking surge when it comes to the origins of homosexuality, it’s imprinting, it’s social-infection potential and its fixation within given populations. It should be treated as it is, an aberrant behavioral fixation that deserves compassion and understanding. Now just after you read that, don’t make a mistake that compassion and understanding mean that we should mainstream the condition by sanctioning it via marriage. Same sexed parings are and always will be “queer”. Making queer “normal” is not a message we want to model for young people. And punishing queer sexual pairings is equally unacceptable. I think we should instead delve very very deeply into the nature of deviant sexuality and expose its origins, the mechanisms that cause it to fixate in people. That is done, as with most behavioral disorders, largely via comparative psychology. And wouldn’t you know? The artificial insemination industry has already done quite a bit of footwork in that area.

  • MrNoface

    This new proposed Ugandan legislation is truly abhorrent and should it pass it will be in clear violation of international human rights laws. That said, I feel that the criticizing Pastor Warren, because he was not forceful enough in his opposition to the new Ugandan legislation. I dare say that nothing Pastor Warren could say in regards to this situation would be satisfactory to Ms. Kattenburg, simply because of his views on same sex marriage. This is evidenced by Her characterizing this Ugandan bill being a result of Warren’s “homophobia” (as a opposed to the “homophobia” of those in the Ugandan government) and the claim that Warren is still friendly this Ssempa person (despite the fact that Warren claims he severed all ties with this person back in 2007 and the fact that Ms. Kattenburg provides no evidence that contradicts that claim).

    • kathykattenburg

      I dare say that nothing Pastor Warren could say in regards to this situation would be satisfactory to Ms. Kattenburg, simply because of his views on same sex marriage.This is nonsense. Rick Warren has a moral obligation to straightforwardly reject the Ugandan legislation as an ugly and abhorrent violation of basic human rights.Were he to do so, my respect for him would be strengthened by his stand against gay marriage, not weakened by it. But he can’t do that — I can only assume because he thinks his creds with the “homosexuality is sin” crowd would be diminished. It’s a cowardly position to take, and I think even less of him now than I did before.This is evidenced by Her characterizing this Ugandan bill being a result of Warren’s “homophobia” (as a opposed to the “homophobia” of those in the Ugandan government)I did nothing of the kind. I said that Warren’s homophobia trumped his concern for human rights. Even someone who thinks homosexuality is sinful and opposes gay marriage should be able to agree that executing homosexuals is an atrocity. There should not be any contradiction between those two positions. But obviously, Warren thinks there is. His desire to maintain his prestige and acclaim within the religious right faction that opposes gay marriage, and his fear that openly condemning the Ugandan legislation would compromise that lofty place he holds, is a more powerful motivator for his behavior than any horror or revulsion he might feel at a Ugandan law that proposes to execute homosexuals.How could I possibly have meant that the Ugandan legislation is a result of Warren’s homophobia? That doesn’t even make any sense. and the claim that Warren is still friendly this Ssempa person (despite the fact that Warren claims he severed all ties with this person back in 2007 and the fact that Ms. Kattenburg provides no evidence that contradicts that claim).Warren still has his ministry organization in Uganda that supposedly works with AIDS patients there. That places him in a tricky position, since obviously if he calls Ssempa a human rights-trampling monster, his ministry will not find favor with the proper authorities.That said, does he have to have specific ties with this legislator-monster in Uganda anymore in order to condemn the legislator-monster’s bill?

  • DLS

    “Someone still reads Sullivan?”

    If logic can be absent, why not taste, too? (Either explains still reading him, actually.)

  • DLS

    “intolerant jerks like Sullivan”

    … make it amusing to say, “Send him to Uganda.”

  • DLS

    “Warren to throw himself full force into the Proposition 8”

    His support for Proposition 8 is the reason many left-extremists hate him. Rick Warren, Target.

  • kathykattenburg

    Your comparisons are specious. Obama’s former pastor did not advocate the death penalty for homosexuals with HIV infection or life imprisonment for homosexual sex, or seven years in prison for defending gay and lesbian rights or 3 years in prison for not informing on someone you think is homosexual within 24 hours.And Warren is not being asked to condemn the Ugandan government. He is being asked — in his position as a minister who knows and has worked with and has hosted at his church the legislator-monster who is sponsoring this legislation — to say, “It is abhorrent and a human rights atrocity for the state to execute a person for being HIV-infected or to put a person in prison for life for being homosexual.” That is all he is being asked to do. Condemn the legislation. And in truth, it is not at all clear that Rick Warren could *not* influence or persuade those responsible for this legislation. He might very well have some leverage through his ministry in Uganda. But he hasn’t tried, so we don’t know.

    • CStanley

      Mrnoface’s other analogy is more on target (also mentioned earlier in the thread by Dr. J)- Iran.

      Iran’s government actually does do all of the things that the new Ugandan policy will do, and Obama (who actually is an elected official with enormous influence, unlike your speculation of the influence that Rick Warren *might* have) chose not to back the opposition after the contested election.

      Now, it’s perfectly plausible to assume that Obama had pragmatic reasons for doing so, and there’s no reason to speculate that he simply doesn’t care about the vile human rights violations there. I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, yet you are unable to do that toward Rick Warren. Frankly that speaks a lot more to your own biases than to Warren’s.

      Have you really not considered that rather than homophobia or pandering to Christian homophobes, Warren may feel constrained in speaking more sharply in this instance because his ministry might then be barred from its humanitarian work in Uganda? And if he did acquiesce to the demands of people like yourself and Andrew Sullivan, to satisfy your need for an expression of moral indignation, and the price really was a curtailing of humanitarian aid, would it be worth it to you?

      • kathykattenburg

        Have you really not considered that rather than homophobia or pandering to Christian homophobes, Warren may feel constrained in speaking more sharply in this instance because his ministry might then be barred from its humanitarian work in Uganda?His humanitarian work in Uganda doing what, Christine? And what is it this legislation will do, again?Think, Christine.Still don’t get it? Need a hint? Okay, sure: Alanis Morrissette’s hit song, one word title, from her breakthrough album, Jagged Little Pill.

        • CStanley

          Um, I was actually basing that comment on YOUR assertion that he probably has some leverage because of the work of his mission in Uganda. I’m not terribly familiar with Warren’s work but have read of some of it. I’m sure that you can google and learn more, just as I could. I do recall reading about one of his church’s initiatives dealing with orphans from AIDS in Africa (I assume Uganda may be one of the countries they work with), where among other things he encouraged his church members (a few hundred, I believe) adopt some of these orphans. Having personal experience in international adoption, I can certainly tell you that the politics are sticky and any organization that was sharply criticizing the other country’s govt publicly would not be permitted to continue participating in an international adoption program.

          Think, indeed, Kathy.

  • Ok, so I’ve been digging a little more on this, having remembered a recent interview I caught on the radio. It turns out that US policy makers — in particular the members of “The Family” — have quite a bit more to do with this horrible legislation than might be immediately obvious. Basically, the legislator who introduced this bill in Uganda, as well as the Ugandan president are both “core members” of C-Street gang, and have been heavily funded and “spiritually mentored” by the US members of that group. How’s that for a witch-hunt? How about this: I feel wreched that the elected officials and spiritual leaders of this country are directly encouraging and funding the genocide and incarceration of half a million gay people in a country half way across the world; I want them out of my government.

    I don’t want to hear any more of this “it’s not the US’ place to take sides” crap. We elected people who took sides. They took the wrong side.

    By the way, here’s a link: http://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=120746516

    • CStanley

      I have to say, roro, that interview sounds incredibly tin foil hat-ish. Is there any evidence other than what this one guy who is hawking a book says is going on with regard to ‘The Family”?

      • None of the senators involved in the group have any problems admitting they are in the group (although it’s “secret”), none of those who’ve made Uganda a priority deny the obvious public records that they are flying over there all the time on Family money, and none of the Ugandan branch have any problems admitting that they are members as well, and receive money and “spiritual mentoring” from the group. I’m not exactly sure what’s “tin-foil hat-ish” in all that. It’s just that this one guy happened to take the time to actually follow the public money trails.

    • kathykattenburg

      Thank you for this, roro. I already knew about it, because Rachel Maddow reported on it last night, but I hadn’t gotten to mentioning it here.

  • kathykattenburg

    Well, he certainly would have more orphans to work with if this law goes through, wouldn’t he?I would think that any leverage he might have as a result of (a) his ministry in Uganda and (b) his strong connection to and working relationship with legislator-monster Ssempa would be put to better use condemning a law that proposes to murder people for having an illness, jail them for life for the crime of intimately touching the body of another consenting adult, and turn all Ugandans into snitches and informers; than to ignoring the law in order to continue “ministering” to AIDS sufferers before the government murders them.

    • CStanley

      On what evidence do you base this belief that Warren would have that kind of influence over Ssempa? You describe them as ‘friends’, yet the linked article only says that Warren’s church hosted Ssempa, and then goes on to quote Warren’s pretty clear attempt to distance himself from any of the man’s political stances or policies. Why in the world would you assume that they have some kind of close personal relationship that would allow Warren to have any influence over him?

      • kathykattenburg

        Christine, I don’t know what you’re looking for here. Rick Warren is the head of Saddleback Church; he runs Saddleback Church; he’s the pastor of Saddleback Church; Saddleback Church is Rick Warren’s church. Rick Warren hosted Martin Ssempa at his church, Saddleback Church, more than once (I don’t know if it was twice or several times). I would imagine that means they had already existing relations. I know at my synagogue, the rabbi does not host people he doesn’t know, has no relationship with, has never met before, etc. *Hosting* a religious leader at your church if you’re the pastor has some significance, and Warren hosted Ssempa more than once. Warren launched a “Purpose-Driven Life” program in Uganda in 2008 for Uganda’s leaders to learn “how to live purpose-driven lives.” He was *invited* to do so by Uganda’s highest-ranking church leaders — like the Archbishop of the Anglican Church there.

        The Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Uganda, the Most Rev Henry Luke Orombi, recalled initially wanting to invite Warren to Uganda after seeing the Purpose Driven Living programme implemented in Rwanda.Uganda is the second east African country to invite Warren to bring the Purpose Driven Life and Church leadership training programme to the country on a national scale. The first east African country to adopt the programme nationwide was Rwanda in 2005.”I asked, why not Uganda as well?” recalled Orombi, who spearheaded the effort to bring different denominations together with business and government leaders to invite Warren.”Uganda should be a purpose-driven nation as well,” the Anglican archbishop said. “But it takes people of purpose to build purpose driven-churches, purpose-driven communities, and a purpose-driven country. Someday, we will have a purpose-driven continent!”

        How do you do something like this without having strong working relationships with key legislators and church leaders? Does it occur to you that Uganda’s Christians and church leaders gain enormous prestige and legitimacy in their part of the world from having Rick Warren running his program in their country? Is it possible that Rick Warren does NOT have some level of gravitas and influence by virtue of having accepted an invitation to work with the Ugandan church hierarchy and the Ugandan government to run his signature program in their country?I mean, I truly don’t know what level of influence you’re looking for, but clearly the man knows Ssempa and other government and church leaders fairly well. Clearly, he is respected there. What kind of leverage could he have? I don’t know. More than I could. More than you could. The point is, he has not tried. I’ll repeat that. The point is, he has not tried. Why are you trying to run nitpicking arguments by me about how well does Warren really know Ssempa and how much leverage does he really have, when it is crystal clear that he *does* have some level of moral clout — I mean, just by the fact of his *being* Rick Warren, world-famous right-wing socially conservative anti-gay rights, best-selling book author megachurch minister. Even if he had never stepped foot in Uganda or met a single leader there.Why aren’t you addressing the point, which is that Rick Warren, who claims to be an avatar of love, reconciliation, peace, healing, and the rest of those Christian virtues, will not directly and unequivocally state his opinion of Uganda’s atrocious, murderous, genocidal legislation?

        Added: Link for above quote:

        http://www.christiantoday.com/article/rick.warren.launches.purpose.driven.plan.in.uganda/17610.htm

        • CStanley

          Kathy, to me the timeline clearly suggests that in 2007, Warren broke ties with Ssempe because of the perversion of views that Ssempe held. If Warren had the kind of influence that you believe he has, then why wouldn’t he have continued a relationship with him instead of denouncing him at that time? And why in the world would you think that Warren NOW could have that kind of influence?

          I have to say that now I’m seeing more reason for Mrnoface’s analogy to Obama and Rev. Wright. Isn’t it true that those two men did have a personal relationship (actually much more intimate than anything I’ve seen indicated about Warren and Ssempe) but at some point Obama realized that some of Wright’s opinions were odious and since he would not be able to persuade Wright to change those views he had to break off the relationship. There are of course differences in the types of viewpoints that were at issue there, and the fact that the pastor was the one who broke off the relationship in Warren’s case while it was the other way around with Obama, etc, etc. But this one facet of the analogy holds- that two men sometimes have a confluence of a certain degree of opinion and find reason to have a relationship based on mutual agreements to a point, and then at some point come to loggerheads where they no longer agree. At that point, the individuals have to decide how to further their own goals and generally having broken whatever ties they once had they know they aren’t going to do that by attempting to change the other person.

          That is all I’m trying to point out here…I have no dog in this race, having no great knowledge of or need to defend Rick Warren. He’s not my cup of tea, frankly. But having seen that some of the work that his church does seems very worthy, I think it’s both foolish and petty for people to demand some kind of symbolic gesture from him which might well have the effect of destroying that work- and I think the basis for your saying that it could do the opposite and actually effect a change in the law in Uganda is completely unfounded.

          • kathykattenburg

            Christine,As I told you before, I have no idea how much influence Warren would or could have on this legislation. Perhaps, despite working closely with Ugandan leaders on this program that he was invited to start, he has totally zero influence with anyone in Uganda and could not possibly have any affect on this monstrous legislation and it’s pointless for him even to try — a waste of time. He has not tried to exert any influence, so we don’t know.Just as a point of clarification, Warren launched his Purpose-Driven Life program in Uganda in 2008. So whatever he said to distance himself from Ssempa in 2007, obviously he was still conducting business in Uganda a year later. I think there are two replies worth making to your second paragraph. First, Jeremiah Wright’s views and Uganda’s genocidal legislation are not analogous in any way, A viewpoint, no matter how odious (and Jeremiah Wright’s were not odious at all, just controversial) is not the same as, and cannot be compared to, a piece of legislation that proposes to murder human beings because they are HIV-infected and are homosexual. And to even place those two things in the same sentence is, in my view, appalling.Second reply — regarding your thoughts about confluences of certain degrees of opinion and finding reasons to have a relationship up to a point, and then coming to loggerheads when they no longer agree, and then having to decide how to each individually further their goals and realizing they no longer can change each other’s minds after they have decided to each further their goals in their own separate ways: Very interesting, if rather nauseating in the context at hand, but really not relevant. Rick Warren was asked a direct question by a reporter from Newsweek magazine. He was asked to state his opinion on a specific piece of legislation in Uganda that proposes to murder human beings who are homosexual and infected with the HIV virus. He could have condemned the legislation unequivocally as a monstrous piece of legislation reminiscent of Nazi Germany. He chose not to do that. He chose, in fact, to equivocate and give a morally repugnant and dishonest non-answer about how it was not his place as a pastor to comment on political issues.

            Edited to add: That was interesting. I meant to add a closing sentence, but I hit some key that posted the comment before I had planned to. But I guess that’s really all I have to say.

  • Leonidas

    As I told you before, I have no idea how much influence Warren would or could have on this legislation. Perhaps, despite working closely with Ugandan leaders on this program that he was invited to start, he has totally zero influence with anyone in Uganda and could not possibly have any affect on this monstrous legislation and it’s pointless for him even to try — a waste of time. He has not tried to exert any influence, so we don’t know.

    Thats right we don’t know, so why condemn without knowing? Ignorance makes a poor platform to launch a condemnation from. Anyhow, he has already stated oposition:

    “when we learned that his views and actions were in serious conflict with our own,”

    I think Warren already made himself clear enough and its degenerated to an intolerant witch hunt of a social conservative.

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