THE BLOG
01/27/2011 03:36 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Evangelicals Implicated When Ugandan Gay Rights Activist Was Beaten to Death

According to the New York Times : "An outspoken Ugandan gay activist whose picture recently appeared in an anti-gay newspaper under the headline 'Hang Them' was beaten to death in his home, Ugandan police said on Thursday."

The Times (Jan 27, 011) noted:

David Kato, the activist, was one of the most visible defenders of gay rights in a country so homophobic that government leaders have proposed to execute gay people. Mr. Kato and other gay people in Uganda had recently warned that their lives were endangered, and four months ago a local paper called Rolling Stone published a list of gay people, and Mr. Kato's face was on the front page.

Gay activists said Mr. Kato was singled out for his outspoken defense of gay rights. "David's death is a result of the hatred planted in Uganda by U.S. Evangelicals in 2009," said Val Kalende, the chairperson of one of Uganda's gay rights groups, in a statement. "The Ugandan government and the so-called U.S. evangelicals must take responsibility for David's blood!"

Mrs. Kalende was referring to visits in March 2009 by a group of American evangelicals who held anti-gay rallies and church leaders who authored the anti-gay bill, which is still pending, attended those meetings and said that they had worked with the Americans on their bill.

As for the moral authority of the North American Evangelicals, one of their leading organizations and the organizers of the annual presidential prayer breakfast, the Family (or the Fellowship), ran a residential "ministry" for many years before it drew unwelcome media scrutiny in 2009 and 2010. The Family specialized in housing and indoctrinating members of Congress in its Washington, DC, C Street residence in order to "take back" the world for Jesus.

The Family also had worked actively for years to influence both American politics and foreign leaders and had done so with great "success."

Several leading Family members -- Senator John Ensign of Nevada, Governor of South Carolina Mark Sanford, and former Representative Chip Pickering of Mississippi -- have all been caught for adultery. This would be meaningless to anyone but their wives except for that all three defined their political careers by loudly advertising their so-called Christian family values. Sanford admitted to an affair with a woman in Argentina. Ensign admitted that his family had paid $96,000 in hush money to his former mistress and her family. Pickering is said to have conducted his adulterous affair within the walls of the Family's C Street complex.

Then there was George Rekers, who played an important role in many of the most extreme Evangelical assaults on gay people's rights. His career started in 1982 with his publishing a homophobic "textbook," Growing Up Straight: What Families Should Know About Homosexuality. Rekers was a cofounder with James Dobson of the gay-bashing Family Research Council. In 2010 Rekers was found to be "in a class by himself" when it came to sexual hypocrisy (as New York Times columnist Frank Rich noted). A Baptist minister with a bent for "curing" homosexuality, sixty-year-old Rekers was caught by a Miami New Times reporter with a twenty-year-old male escort at Miami International Airport. The "couple" was returning from a ten-day trip to London. Rekers's only mistake, he told Christianity Today magazine, was to hire a "travel assistant" without proper vetting. Rekers said, "[My assistant] did let me share the gospel of Jesus Christ with him, with many Scriptures in three extended conversations."

Sex scandals seem to be the only actual interdenominational ecumenism that exists; perversity unites all Christian groups, as does their propensity to judge others who've committed lesser offenses. We've arrived at the point where I think I may (half-jokingly) safely say that all Evangelical antigay activists and all "conservative" Roman Catholic bishops are probably closeted gays hiding behind their loud antigay public proclamations and/or that all these same "traditional family values" leaders will eventually be shown to have committed adultery and/or enabled child molesters -- when not calling press conferences to denounce "godless Liberals," gay rights, and stem cell research!

There is an attending level of smarmy hypocrisy expressed as "we hate the sin, but love the sinner" that is as ludicrous as it is two-faced. For instance, in 2010 top Evangelical leaders participated (as they have clamored to do each year for decades) in a Washington schmooze-fest "prayer breakfast" organized by none other than the Family. At that very moment the Family was also hock deep in yet another scandal, this time in Uganda.

The story of the Ugandan legislation to kill gays for being gay was intertwined with the Family and also with representatives of the wider "respectable" American Evangelical community. According to many press reports, the genesis of the antihomosexual Ugandan bill may be traced to a three-day seminar in Kampala in March 2009 called "Exposing the Truth Behind Homosexuality and the Homosexual Agenda." This seminar was led by Evangelical leader and hero to the Religious Right Scott Lively. He is best known for his Holocaust revisionist book The Pink Swastika, which claims homosexuals founded the Nazi party and were responsible for death camp atrocities.

According to sources who attended the conference (and who were later widely quoted in the press), Lively told his Kampala audience, "I know more about this [homosexuality] than almost anyone in the world. The gay movement is an evil institution. The goal of the gay movement is to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity." The results of the seminar were dramatic. "The community has become very hostile now," Frank Mugisha, executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, said in an interview. "We have to watch our backs very much more than before because the community thinks if the Ugandan government is not passing the law, they will deal with [gay] people on their own."

For years Evangelical leaders have jockeyed for good tables at the Family-run "prayer breakfast." (My late father -- evangelical leader Francis Schaeffer -- to his credit, always called the Family a "fascist cult" and "evil," long before its bizarre actions came to anyone else's attention. He refused all the many invitations to attend the prayer breakfast, let alone speak at it, as he was asked to do several times. Moreover, Dad said that his interest in meeting political leaders was "personal and spiritual," and he never went in for public displays of sucking up.)

After the Family was reported to be hock deep in the Uganda scandal, Evangelical leaders still turned up in droves anyway!

They did this even though David Bahati, the man behind the kill-the-gays legislation, was deeply involved in the Family's work in Uganda at that time, and a minister in the government of Uganda and was also helping to organize the Family's National Prayer Breakfast.

A day before this "prayer" schmooze-farce, I participated in a press conference held at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign. I did so to call attention to the antigay activities of the Family. "Prayer is a good thing, and Americans ought to gather to pray, but we better be careful what we pray for," said one of our presenters, Gene Robinson (the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church). "I call upon our president to make himself known to be in opposition to this violation of human rights for all of God's children in Uganda and beyond," Robinson concluded.

A gay Ugandan who was seeking asylum in the United States gave a detailed account of the harassment he withstood "from my fellow Christians in Uganda." Given the multiplying death threats he was receiving for speaking out, Moses (not his real name) addressed reporters with a paper bag over his head to conceal his identity. He described in detail how "one would rather die than come out of the closet" in religiously conservative Uganda. He also spoke about how American Evangelicals had egged on the Ugandan authorities with the Evangelical-propagated pseudoscientific myth that homosexuality is a "chosen lifestyle" that can be "cured" by Jesus and/or therapy and that therefore people who remain gay do so out of choice.

Moses faced daily threats.

Moses was condemned by "moral" people as a "freak" for being born who he is and for possessing normal homosexual sexuality.

Fran Schaeffer is a writer and author of this forthcoming book Sex, Mom, and God: How the Bible's Strange Take on Sex Led to Crazy Politics--and How I Learned to Love Women (and Jesus) Anyway

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