By Candace Chellew-Hodge
Christianity Today has put its two cents in on the “Kill the Gays” bill in Uganda, telling gays and lesbians to unwad their knickers over the law and instead exercise “patience as Ugandan leaders sort out among themselves the best way to preserve their culture’s sexual mores.” Instead of strongly condemning this legislation, which President Barack Obama has called “odious,” CT tells us we need to understand the culture and give the Ugandans a fair hearing on their
For American Christian leaders, both silence and open condemnation end up violating important missional and human-rights principles. There is no escaping this dilemma, but several points are worth reflection.
First, when American media reported on the proposed legislation, they assumed an inordinate amount of American influence. Media outlets tried to “expose” the power of American evangelicals who had spoken about gay issues in Uganda. Such assumptions were racist, said Scott Lively, one of the speakers. If anything, Ugandan legislators did not follow his advice: He had urged them to favor rehabilitation rather than imprisonment in crafting a new law on homosexuality.
There is American and European influence in Uganda, Anglican bishop David Zac Niringiye told Christianity Today. The liberationist sexual politics exported from the West are the true cultural imperialism. Indeed, the member of Parliament who introduced the bill hopes that Uganda will lead the world in fighting moral decadence.
So, working to block this bill is both racist and imperialist, as Western gays and lesbians attempt to point out the worth of every human life, even if the large majority of the population finds those lives offensive.
Let’s put the shoe on the other foot, though, shall we? If this were a law threatening Christians with death or imprisonment for exercising what they believe is their God-given right to proselytize without restrictions, they’d be loudly condemning the bill and not counseling “patience as Ugandan leaders sort out among themselves the best way to preserve their culture’s” religious mores. No, they would be trying to quash or change this pending law. How are their current efforts to change laws in other countries that discriminate against Christians any less racist or imperialist than gays and lesbians working to save the lives of other gays and lesbians in another country?
In Kazakhstan, for instance, individuals and religious groups who practice “missionary activity” without registering with the country are punished with fines and deportation.
A Baptist jailed there told one news outfit: “What we want is simple: to be left alone to pray to God and speak to others of God without any obstruction. We don’t want any privileges or any discrimination in our favor.”
The gays and lesbians of Uganda could say the same thing. They simply want to be left alone to form the adult, consensual relationships that they seek, and to speak of their lives and live their lives without any obstruction. They seek no privileges or discrimination in their favor – they seek simply to be allowed to live openly and with dignity.
Open Doors’ Web site lists the top countries where Christians are persecuted like North Korea, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Somalia. Everywhere they are persecuted, Christians are working to change the system, through prayer, protest, or other actions. Yet, they would deny this kind of action to gay and lesbian people simply because we should take our time and stop and “listen” to why the people in Uganda want to kill or imprison us? Believe me, we’ve heard their reasons and they smack of misunderstanding, hatred, and downright meanness.
When conservative Christians don’t have any skin in the game, they counsel “patience” and cultural understanding, but let a conservative Christian get locked up in a foreign country for passing out Bibles or talking about Jesus, and their tune changes pretty quickly. Then, they want to be “left alone” to do what they want.
There’s a word I’m looking for here – ah, yes, a familiar one when conservative Christians speak: hypocrisy.