Which One Is Santa Claus - The Christian Right Or Born-Again Ugandans?
"Speaker, we cannot sit back while such (a) destructive phenomenon is taking place in our nation," the activists said in a petition. "We therefore, as responsible citizens, feel duty-bound to bring this matter to your attention as the leader of Parliament ... so that lawmakers can do something to quickly address the deteriorating situation in our nation."
The "destructive phenomenon" is, of course, homosexuality. At least according to the Ugandan Parliament. And it hopes to eradicate it before Christmas as a "Christmas present" to Christian Ugandans. After all, the Christian anti-gay clerics asked for one. Speaker Rebecca Kadaga told The Associated Press that Ugandans "are demanding it." "Everyone" wants the "Kill the gays" bill to pass.
But who, exactly, is "everyone"?
The imprint of American Christian Evangelicals on Uganda is so bold that all you have to do is look to the surface of the country - embodied in Madame Museveni. Her husband may be the titular born-again Christian head as President, but Janet Museveni is the country's spiritual and societal soul. She is also a born-again Christian, but more importantly, she is the conduit through which the American Christian Right passed its homophobia on to an uneducated country. She was certainly instrumental in having Pastor Rick Warren declare Uganda to be a "Purpose Driven Country" (whatever that is). It is doubtful that people like Scott Lively would have ever gotten to first base with the country's leaders without her influence.
"From 5 to 8 March 2009, a workshop took place in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, that featured three American evangelical Christians: Scott Lively, an author who has written several books opposing homosexuality; Caleb Lee Brundidge, a self-professed former gay man who conducts sessions to heal homosexuality; and Don Schmierer, a board member of Exodus International, an organisation devoted to promoting "freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ".  The theme of the conference, according to The New York Times, was the "gay agenda": "how to make gay people straight, how gay men often sodomized teenage boys and how 'the gay movement is an evil institution' whose goal is 'to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity' ".
The hand of the Family Research Council's
chief "researcher" Paul Cameron was clearly
seen in the rhetoric:
"Homosexuals are at least 12 times more likely to molest children than heterosexuals; homosexual teachers are at least 7 times more likely to molest a pupil; homosexual teachers are estimated to have committed at least 25 percent of pupil molestation; 40 percent of molestation assaults were made by those who engage in homosexuality."
It is alleged that American
"prophet" Lou Engle also encouraged the criminalization of
homosexuality and the death penalty (although he has denied the latter, he has
never denied that he would prefer homosexuals to be placed in prison.)
Provisions of the bill:
- to repeat offenders of homosexuals acts
- to people who engage in homosexual acts with a minor
- to people who are suspected of "aggravated homosexuality" and have HIV
- to those suspected of homosexual activity
- to those who do not report homosexual activity within 24 hours
- to those suspected of "promoting" homosexuality
- to anyone who aids and/or abets a homosexual (e.g. renting to a homosexual)
- all people suspected of homosexual activity and arrested must undergo HIV testing.
- former residents suspected of homosexuality may be extradited and sentenced.
It perhaps the provision of "promoting" and "reporting" that have caused an era of savage chaos in Uganda even before the legislation takes hold: people "report" their enemies and anyone suspected of being a social liberal could be judged a "promoter". Neighbors have been going door-to-door to weed out "abominations". Activist David Kato was bludgeoned to death. Anglican Bishop Senyonjo was punished for accepting gays.*
A Great Christmas Gift That Keeps On Giving!
In the almost surreal world of African Christianity, replete with armies and witch-hunters, it should be no surprise that Uganda has held steadfast against international pressure to shelve the bill. Museveni himself said that he would withdraw from treaties and the United Nation's Declaration of Human Rights if necessary. So it seems that the "gift" of the "Kill the gays" bill might give the nation of Uganda something else: admonition and isolation from the international community.
It will certainly give a gift to people like Tony Perkins: something to crow about.
*Expelled from Uganda and stripped of his pension by the Church.