WASHINGTON — Religion offers hope and often inspires individuals to paths of righteousness, but historically, murders have also been justified, and in some cases, instigated by religious institutions and their leaders.
Nowhere is that more evident than in Uganda and the “Anti-Homosexuality Bill” government officials are considering.
In recent months there has been criticism of some U.S. evangelicals, such as anti-LGBT and anti-abortion extremist Lou Engle of The Call Ministries, who are accused of exporting homophobia to Uganda.
On Tuesday, April 27, the Bishops of Elders Council, convened by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF), will hold a noontime vigil in D.C. to support Uganda’s LGBT people.
Despite political memorandum like the “Anti-Homosexuality Bill,” which would make homosexuality punishable by life imprisonment or even death, the NGLTF states that over the last 30 years, some mainstream denominations have made enormous strides in their attitudes, policies and practices concerning LGBT people.
“As our sisters and brothers are persecuted in Uganda, it is time to speak out. Lives are at stake. It is wrong to imprison or execute people because of who they love or who they are,” said the Rev. Dr. Jo Hudson, pastor and rector of the Cathedral of Hope in Dallas, the largest predominantly LGBT church in the world.
In February, during the National Prayer Breakfast, President Barack Obama referred to the “Anti-Homosexual Bill” as unconscionable and many religious leaders are urging Americans to speak out and not remain silent.
“The human capacity for evil is vast, but I stand before you to witness to the human capacity for good. It will be average human beings with heart who speak out against the egregious human rights violations against gay people in Uganda. It will be good people here, in Uganda and throughout the world who finally realize that throwing us in prison or executing us is simply wrong. I call on all good-hearted people to break the silence that kills. Speak out! For goodness sake, speak out!” said Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum of Congregation Beth Simchat Torah in New York City.
Bishop Yvette Flunder, pastor of City of Refuge United Church of Christ in San Francisco and a speaker at tomorrow’s event, encouraged action.
“We must lift up our voices when brothers and sisters in Uganda are beaten down because of fear of same-gender loving people. This world needs more love, not more violence. The destruction of human rights anywhere is a threat to human rights everywhere,” Flunder said.
Despite these religious leaders taking a stand, The Call Uganda organizers continue to refer to homosexuality as a social evil that threatens the values and lifestyles of righteous Ugandans.
They list homosexuality as a sin alongside witchcraft, human sacrifice, natural disasters and the decay of morals and infrastructure.
Engle, who resides in Kansas, was in San Diego in November 2008. Hundreds of his followers convened at Qualcomm Stadium to join him in prayer for the Supreme Court and for righteous leaders in America.
He takes his message to Uganda on May 2, where he will join other evangelical leaders for The Call Uganda event, a mass evangelical stadium rally.
Religious leaders in America have vowed to continue speaking out not only against the proposed bill but also against the message of hate.
“God loves LGBT people just like everyone else. Faith leaders know that, but they need to say it out loud,” said the Rev. Dr. Stephen V. Sprinkle, the first openly gay scholar at Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth.
“In Uganda, time is short and the stakes are high. Almost 75 percent of Ugandans are either Catholic or Anglican and neither the archbishop of Canterbury nor the Vatican has spoken out to condemn this proposed law. There is a time to speak and a time to keep silent. This, my friends, is the time to speak.”
Lou Engle speaks about “gay demons”
Visit the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) website for additional faith advocacy resources.