Yesterday was weird. My blog post on Phil Robertson got me over 150 views, ignited several discussions, and by the end of the day, I had seen so many posts about it that I wanted to set my eyes on fire.
Today, Uganda passed an anti-gay bill that expands on the country’s homosexual lifestyle ban; a person could face life in person for being in a gay relationship. It also outlaws advocacy of gay rights, gives incentives for citizens to turn in people they know who are gay, and anyone who officiates a same-sex marriage could be put in prison for seven years. This is a modified version of the original bill, which was called the “Kill the Gays” bill by its detractors because it called for the execution of gay people.
Both of these events are significant and they are linked. Here, Christians often play the victim and are confused about how their views on homosexuality could be seen as “hateful.” They defend politicians and celebrities who oppose gay marriage and a gay lifestyle. It’s not hate, it’s just “Biblical truth.” That is not how it is playing out on a global scale.
The Ugandan “Kill the Gays” bill was not born in Africa – it is a Western export. One month before the bill was introduced, three Christians who were presented as “experts” on homosexuality held an event that drew thousands, including Ugandan politicians, police officers, pastors, and teachers. The experts gave talks on how to turn gay people straight, how gay men assaulted teenage boys, and emphasized the “evils” of the “gay agenda.” When the bill was brought forth, it was by a Ugandan politician who used his friendships with various evangelical American Christians as part of his platform.
Every year, hundreds of Evangelical Christian groups and other disciples travel to Uganda to spread the heterosexual message.This includes The International House of Prayer, a mega-church organization that has poured millions of dollars into Ugandan churches that are promoting an anti-gay ideology. This group and its forebearers especially has been a major force in fostering the anti-gay sentiment that exists in Uganda, having established themselves right after the fall of Idi Amin, who outlawed Charismatic Christianity. A few years ago, evangelical pastor Lou Engle held a rally that included authors of the bill when it still included the death penalty. American politicians like Jim DeMint continue to supply funds.
Here in America, we have a government that is layered with multiple voices and countless groups dedicated to protecting essentially every interest. We freely discuss sex and are able to express extreme views without much consequence. That is not the case in Uganda. There is a history of not being open about sex and the influence brought in by the West and Western money is extremely prevalent. This is not to say that Uganda is some child-nation that just follows what the United States tells it to do, the Ugandan politicians and pastors are just as accountable for their messages, but when you have Americans with money flying in to try and create a nation in its own (idealized, hetero) image, there will be consequences.
Parliament passed the bill (despite the prime minister’s objections to the life in prison punishment). The government is allowing publications to issue lists with the names of gay people who then fear for their lives. One man who successfully sued the magazine that outed him was then mysteriously killed. Filmmaker Roger Ross Williams (“God Loves Uganda”) was outed before his trip to Uganda to film his documentary “God Loves Uganda,” and was threatened by people who included pastors.
No one on Facebook got upset about this. No one called out evangelical Christianity for its role in establishing this bill.