One of Rick Warren's (and president George W. Bush's) longtime allies in Uganda, Martin Ssempe, is the author of a classic piece of minority-baiting legislation. Its details belong in the history of genocidal hatred:
The Ugandan penal code already criminalizes sexual relations "against the order of nature," a characterization that is frequently used to prosecute gays. Under the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, homosexual relations are specifically targeted. Anyone in a position of authority who is aware of a gay or lesbian individual has 24 hours to inform police or face jail time. Individuals found to engage in efforts to sexually stimulate another for the purpose of homosexual relations, or found touching another for that purpose, will face life in prison. Those who engage in "aggravated homosexuality" -- defined as repeated homosexual relations or sexual contact with others who are HIV/AIDS infected -- will face the death penalty.
This is an act of terror and murder against an already beleaguered minority, and Warren is an accessory to it. As a powerful figure in distributing AIDS funding in Uganda, he cannot bring himself to oppose a law that would condemn someone in a gay relationship to death, and imprison him or her for touching another human being, and inciting a wave of informing on family members and friends and acquaintances in order to terrify a sexual minority. This alleged man of God cannot speak out on this - except to protect his own p.r. His schtick of actually being the nice evangelical - a schtick that got him to Obama's inauguration - is a lie. If he cannot condemn this fascist act of violence against a tiny minority of vulnerable human beings, then his position in this struggle is clear enough.
Just as he publicly inveighed in favor of stripping gay couples of civil equality in California, and then pretended he didn't, now he distances himself from Ssempe, while refusing to condemn this law reminiscent of early attempts to wipe out minorities in Serbia, Nazi Germany, and Rwanda. This is classic avoidance in an atmosphere of extreme danger. It is the same as the Catholic church's disgraceful neutrality in Rwanda and Nazi Germany, as they saw a chance to enable others to wipe out a minority they wished could be wiped off the face of the earth:
Warren won't go so far as to condemn the legislation itself. A request for a broader reaction to the proposed Ugandan anti-homosexual 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."
He lies. He has taken sides, whenever possible, to stigmatize, demonize and now physically threaten the lives of gay people in his own country and abroad. And his silence on this issue means the deaths of others. Warren needs to come out and condemn this law as evil, which it is. And to stop hiding his own enmeshment with the most virulent forms of fundamentalist hatred under the veil of media-savvy benevolence.