American evangelicals played a key role in the creation of anti-gay measures in Uganda that remain viable — and very dangerous
What? Africa does not have enough problems already with the struggles with civil wars, food shortages, severe droughts and the hangovers of apartheid?
Apparently some Americans — self-styled guardians of faith and family — think those problems are insufficient. Apparently they think it is necessary to add fuel to the flames of Africa’s anti-gay movement.
Here’s a part of what has happened and continues to happen in Uganda, a southwestern African nation whose 31 million citizens are among the poorest on the continent. (Uganda has natural resources aplenty, including copper and cobalt, crude oil and natural gas, however. So poverty does not afflict the political elite.)
In March 2009, Stephen Langa, an evangelical Christian, organized a conference in Kampala, Uganda, entitled “Exposing the Truth about Homosexuality and the Homosexual Agenda.” Langa and his cohorts sought to concentrate the minds of that political elite on the efforts of the LGBT community to “recruit and/or lure children” into the homosexual lifestyle.
Here’s where the U.S. comes in: Three American evangelicals — Scott Lively and Don Schmierer, who are white, and Caleb Lee Brundidge, who is black — were featured in speeches and workshops.
Let’s begin with Lively, who organized an entity called Abiding Truth Ministries and has long been an anti-gay activist. He has sought to have homosexuality itself, all expressions and any public advocacy thereof, declared felonies.
He is best known in anti-gay circles for co-authoring The Pink Swastika, a book that blames homosexuals for the worst atrocities of the Nazis. Perhaps it is redundant to note that he also denies the Holocaust.
According to Boston.com, Lively moved from Temecula, Calif., to Springfield, Mass., in 2008, determined to “re-Christianize Springfield.” His principal vehicles are the Redemption Gate Mission Society and the Holy Grounds Coffee House.
Lively still opposes LGBTs, of course, but he now claims to be caught up in serving and saving the poorest people in Western Massachusetts. He has been interviewed several times since the Kampala conference, and he has repeatedly said that he did not push for the death penalty, just for “reparative therapy” to make everyone straight.
Schmierer has also been a homo hater for a long time. His principal identification is with Exodus International, which describes itself as an ex-gay ministry. One of his several books is An Ounce of Prevention, which purports to teach parents how to “pick out” a gay or potentially gay child, and turn that child toward the straight and narrow.
More alarming — because it uses newer media and because it came out just months ago — is an iPhone application designed to straighten its users. “Truth Wins Out” objected, collected more than 150,000 signatures on a petition claiming the app contained objectionable material, and submitted the petition to Apple. Apple promptly removed the app from the iTunes store.
No word whether Schmierer himself, who’s an old, white-haired guy, has used the app himself.
Brundidge is a whole ’nother thing. Young, tattooed and dreadlocked, he claims to have overcome his same-sex attraction through the National Association for the Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH). That’s a New Jersey-based organization run by a man named Richard Cohen.
You can see Brundidge and Cohen performing some of NARTH’s “ministry and healing” exercises on Internet video clips, which are laugh-out-loud funny.
In any event, Brundidge graduated to heterosexuality or a facsimile thereof and began giving Tender Loving Care seminars in Maryland. In 2006, he became a “Sexual Reorientation Coach” (who knows how), and in 2007 he moved to Phoenix, Ariz., for the “opportunities” presented by Extreme Prophetic Ministries.
He counsels online and via telephone and speaks at churches. Believers have called upon him to raise the dead, but to date the dead have not responded.
So in March 2009, these three Americans went over and presented their anti-gay message, and within a month, Ugandan Member of Parliament David Bahati submitted a bill calling for the death penalty for many same-sex acts, not just by males but by all LGBTs, whatever their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
International donor nations objected to the death penalty, and since Uganda’s elite wanted to keep the money coming, they saw to it that the act was softened to demand only life without the possibility of parole.
Then this year on Jan. 10, the UK’s Guardian newspaper published an article entitled “We are free to be gay in Uganda — for the moment.” Exactly two weeks later, Uganda’s best-known gay activist, David Kato, was beaten to death with a hammer.
“David’s death is the result of the hatred planted in Uganda by U.S. evangelicals in 2009,” said his friend, Val Kalende.
Uganda’s Minister of Ethics & Integrity (yea, right!) James Nsaba Buturo has now told his nation’s gays to “forget about human rights.” The anti-gay bill remains very much alive.
What? We couldn’t send food or footwear, books or bed nets? We had to send hatred?
Must be that America has an oversupply of hatred against our community.
Phyllis Guest is a longtime activist on political and LGBT issues and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 31, 2011.