There is a piece in Christianity Today written by a “Timothy Shah,” which basically accuses gay activists of making a mountain out of a molehill in Uganda. Of course, real investigative journalists like Jeff Sharlet disagree. This is Shah’s read on the “Kill the Gays” bill proposed:
Instead, Uganda has attracted human rights activism because of a single legislative stunt by a single low-level politician named David Bahati, a member of the country’s authoritarian ruling party and an Anglican. In 2009, Bahati proposed an anti-homosexuality bill so draconian that it would make “serial” homosexual practice a capital crime and punish pro-gay advocacy with a seven-year jail sentence.
But the legislation has received widespread attention not primarily because of its draconian provisions, whose very harshness has repelled virtually all of Uganda’s major political and religious leaders—including the President, the Catholic Bishops Conference, and a parliamentary committee that recommended the bill be thrown out as unconstitutional, effectively stopping it in its tracks. Instead, a major reason for the attention focused on the bill is that many believe it is the fruit of American evangelical homophobia.
No, it’s both, sir. But he’s getting around to the real thrust of his piece, which is to absolve American Evangelicals of any responsibility for the consequences of their words and actions.
In the telling of journalist Jeff Sharlet, it’s the American fundamentalist gospel that turned supine Ugandans into raving homophobes. American “fundamentalists,” “evangelicals,” and advocates of “theocracy”—terms Sharlet uses more or less interchangeably—see Uganda as a crucial theo-political “laboratory.”
No, it’s more that the country was already rabidly homophobic [elsewhere Shah points out the statistic that a whopping one in five Ugandans are okay with homosexuality. Whoopie!], full of corrupt leaders who have chosen, on an institutional level, to make homosexuality the next scapegoat for the problems faced by the citizenry. This sort of strategy, of convincing people to blame people completely unrelated to them, or people who have less than them, has played out in the United States for years. The entire Tea Party movement is a case study of this sort of peasant behavior spurred on by political and business leaders. So in this already homophobic climate, American Evangelicals decided to go in and “help” with that “love of Christ” that looks like love only to people who are already inside their echo chamber.
But here is the statement from Shah that demonstrates that he fundamentally doesn’t get it. Referring to the conference led by Scott Lively, Don Schmierer and Caleb Lee Brundige in 2009, Shah says this:
There are, in fact, many reasons to doubt a causal or conspiratorial relationship between Bahati and American Bible-thumpers. Perhaps most important is that the agenda of the Americans who ran the 2009 conference was therapeutic, whereas Mr. Bahati’s bill is remorselessly punitive. His bill even contains provisions that would render the pastoral care advocated by the conference organizers illegal in Uganda.
Ha ha, like hell it was! First of all, no respected, grown-up mental health or medical association considers the work of Exodus to be “therapy” in any sense of the word. Moreover, this was the conference where Scott Lively dropped his “nuclear bomb,” in the form of a series of bold-faced lies fed to the Ugandan attendees, chief among them the insinuation that homosexuals were the kinds of people who caused the Rwandan genocide. Rwanda, of course, is next to Uganda. Perhaps Shah is not aware of the strange, bitter, gay-obsessed history of Scott Lively. If that is the case, click here. And perhaps Shah has never seen video of the presentation. If that is the case, hit the play button below.
So no sir, please don’t tell us that American Fundamentalists don’t bear any responsibility here because, after all, they were just trying to bring therapy and pastoral care to the poor people of Uganda! Those may be the buzzwords for extremist Christian eliminiationist policies against gay people, but they’re buzzwords just the same.
And encourage your ideological cohorts to stop trying to “help.”