America’s evangelical right still stirring trouble in Uganda

Josh Kron of The New York Times writes from Kampala of the further efforts of America’s religious right to make life miserable–and dangerous–for people in other countries:

The guest of honor, Lou Engle, an American evangelical from Kansas City, bowed up and down from his knees at the front of the stage.

Mr. Engle, who helped found TheCall Ministries, a prayer group that focuses on moral issues, arrived last week in Uganda, where TheCall has opened a new chapter. His trip comes amid a heated debate throughout the country over a bill that would ban advocacy of gay rights and suggests the death penalty for homosexuals who have AIDS and engage in sexual relations.


Before arriving here last week, Mr. Engle came out with a statement condemning the harsh penalties proposed in the bill, and said that his ministry could not support it. But when he took the stage late on Sunday afternoon, with Ugandan politicians and pastors looking on, he praised the country’s “courage” and “righteousness” in promoting the bill.

“NGOs, the U.N., Unicef, they are all coming in here and promoting an agenda,” Mr. Engle said, referring to nongovernmental organizations. “Today, America is losing its religious freedom. We are trying to restrain an agenda that is sweeping through the education system. Uganda has become ground zero.”

It is worth remembering that the suffering in the religious right’s campaign to punish Western churches for their liberal attitudes on homosexuality has been borne almost exclusively by Africans. It is not gay Americans, or the leaders of mainline Protestant churches who suffer when prejudice against LGBT people is inflamed in Uganda, Nigeria or Rwanda. It is not American donors who suffer when leaders like Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda force priests and bishops to refuse donations that would have provided food, clean water, medicine and education to needy people. Comfortable African prelates and American donors are putting other people’s lives at risk to make it clear how strenuously they oppose the West’s growing acceptance of gay and lesbian relationships. The tactic is meant to communicate how throroughly they have rejected worldly wisdom and how intensely they cling to the Gospel. Unfortunately, it sends the opposite message.

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