US evangelicals denounce Uganda’s new Anti-Homosexuality Actcomment (0)
March 13, 2014
American evangelicals are denouncing a new law in Uganda that criminalizes homosexuality — reiterating a position that many have held for years but which has nonetheless drawn scrutiny and skepticism from critics.
Since 2009, several American pastors and leaders have condemned legislation in Uganda that in its initial version imposed the death penalty for some offenders.
Under the revised law signed recently by President Yoweri Museveni, the death penalty was removed and replaced with life in prison in some cases.
Now American evangelicals who insist they never supported either version of the law nonetheless find themselves playing defense, saying their statements against homosexuality at home are being twisted as an endorsement of harsh penalties against gays and lesbians abroad.
Decrying laws in countries such as Uganda and Russia, Russell Moore — president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission — said he knows no evangelicals who would support legislation like Uganda’s.
“We always must balance a fear of Western cultural imperialism with a responsibility to speak to global human rights around the world,” said Moore, who also has denounced Russia’s anti-gay laws because he has adopted sons from Russia. “Those of us who hold to a Christian sexual ethic don’t want to see those who disagree with us jailed; we want to see them reconciled to God through the gospel.”
The timing of Uganda’s legislation coincided with heated debates in the U.S. over the proposed legislation in Arizona that would have allowed businesses in the state to deny services to people who are gay if they felt that serving them would violate their religious rights.
“The situations in Uganda and Arizona are galaxies apart,” Moore said. “I think that in Arizona and several other states, in an attempt to preserve our religious liberties, regardless of how we agree with how it’s being done, can hardly compare with persecution around the world.”
Uganda is not the only country to criminalize same-sex relations. The United Nations estimates that 78 countries ban homosexuality.
Since the law passed, Uganda has been hit with substantial aid cuts from Western nations; the World Bank has postponed a $90 million loan for the country’s health systems.