Rick Warren Repudiates Martin Ssempa

From Warren Throckmorton’s blog:


Martin Ssempa does not represent me, my wife Kay, Saddleback Church, nor the Global PEACE Plan strategy. In 2007, we completely severed contact with Mr. Ssempa  when we learned that his views and actions were in serious conflict with our own. Our role, and the role of the PEACE Plan, whether in Uganda or any other country, is always pastoral and never political. We vigorously oppose anything that hinders the goals of the PEACE Plan: Promoting reconciliation, Equipping ethical leaders, Assisting the poor, Caring for the sick, and Educating the next generation.

Throckmorton is himself a conservative Christian, but he has been forthright in his opposition to the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill under consideration in Uganda and backed by religious leaders such as Ssempa. In a recent article published in the Uganda Independent, Throckmorton noted the story from John’s Gospel of the woman taken in adultery:

As I read the Anti-Homosexuality Bill proposed in Uganda by MPs David Bahati and Benson Obua, I wonder if perhaps these gentlemen think Jesus should have picked up a stone. Instead, Jesus intervened on behalf of the woman, was He wrong? Clearly, He did not believe adultery was proper. But He signaled a new way of dealing with sin, one which emphasizes mercy and freedom, rather than coercion and death. People must choose to follow the teachings of Christ, not be coerced by Pharisees or government officials. The human heart cannot be changed by laws, but through the freely chosen grace of Christ.

Brothers and sisters, jailing or killing gays or those suspected of being gay or those who know gays cannot create a righteous people, and in fact may further a self-righteous people. One may disapprove of homosexuality, and still treat homosexuals as you would want to be treated. Who among us could stand if our private sins were judged in such a manner as the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009?

Warren was apparently moved to make his statement after being contacted by Throckmorton and by Andrew Marin. According to Marin:

As recent as the middle of last week, Martin Ssempa was still mentioned on Saddleback’s website. However, all links to Ssempa were swiftly removed when Dr. Throckmorton and I were both in direct contact with Rick and Kay Warren’s spokesperson questioning the potential longstanding connection between Saddleback and what is currently happening in Uganda through Ssempa.

The first response we received was from Kay Warren, who said she was quote, “horrified”, that there were still mentions of Ssempa on their website. She had staff work through the night to remove every link to Ssempa…

However, Political Research Associates complains that:

In an October 31 statement, Rick Warren distanced himself from one Ugandan antigay activist but that is not good enough. We need him to denounce the bill itself, and challenge his friend Archbishop Henry Orombi’s support of it.

PRA is about to release a report on US evangelicals and gay rights in Africa, written by a Zambian Anglican priest named Kapya Kaoma. According to him:

“Rick Warren shows one face in the United States where he says he loves gays, and another face in Africa, which is on the verge of pogroms against this community,” said Reverend Kaoma. “We need to hear his voice loud and clear on this issue that gays and lesbians are entitled to full human rights.”

PRA also notes that

In March 2008, U.S. evangelical leader Rick Warren told Ugandans that homosexuality is not a natural way of life and thus not a human right.

I blogged this here; and I’ve some background on Uganda’s absurd Ethics and Integrity Minister, James Nsaba Buturo, here.

4 Responses

  1. […] Right groups and leaders – as well as more ostensibly moderate evangelical figures, such as Rick Warren – have well-known links with conservative African clerics and political leaders, and it is […]

  2. […] support to Ugandan Anglicans with a statement that gay rights should not be accepted (although he just recently distanced himself from one of the more obsessive anti-gay religious […]

  3. […] repudiation of Ssempa was publicised last month. But Ssempa was not just one of 200 speakers; as Max Blumenthal reported in January: When Warren […]

  4. […] was not yet quite so notorious for his anti-gay activism, and he enjoyed links to pastors such as Rick Warren – although his views were on record, as I first blogged in […]

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