National Public Radio has terrific story on the role social conservatives have played in exporting anti-gay extremism in Uganda. According to NPR:
Jim Naughton, a former canon in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, D.C., says their [Conservative Evangelical] message plays one way in the U.S., but differently in a place like Uganda. And they should have known.
“If you go to countries where there’s already a great deal of suspicion and maybe animosity towards homosexuals, and begin to tell people there, ‘Well, actually these people are child abusers, they’re coming for their children, that they’re the scourge that is being deposited on you by the secular West,’ you’re gonna get a backlash.” Naughton says it’s like “showing up in rooms filled with gasoline, and throwing lighted matches around and saying, ‘Well, I never intended fire .‘ “
Many U.S. evangelicals, including Lively, say they are “mortified” by the death penalty provision. Naughton doesn’t buy it.
“I think if they were mortified, they would have been mortified immediately,” he says. “Instead they were mortified ‚Äî oh, two, three months into the campaign against this thing, when it was getting real traction.”
Megachurch pastor Rick Warren is a case in point. Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life, has extensive ties with religious leaders in Africa, including Uganda. Initially, he refused to condemn the bill. Finally, two months after the bill was introduced, he urged pastors in Uganda to oppose it.
“We are all familiar with Edmund Burke’s insight, ‘All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing,’ ” Warren began. He explained his silence by saying, “It is not my role to interfere with the politics of other nations,” then stated that the bill “is unjust, it’s extreme, and it’s un-Christian.”
If Warren was slow to condemn the bill, other Christian conservatives have yet to do so, says Warren Throckmorton, who teaches psychology at Grove City College and has been monitoring U.S. evangelical response. He says some of the Christian groups most publicly tied to Uganda have been the quietest. Joyce Meyer Ministries, Oral Roberts University, the College of Prayer in Atlanta ‚Äî all have close ties and declined to express reservations about the death penalty.
“Silence is often interpreted as consent,” says Throckmorton, who is himself a conservative evangelical. “So I think those kinds of responses may lead those individuals in Uganda to think that perhaps what [they’re] doing really is according to the evangelical faith.”