Saturday, December 12, 2009

Too Little, Too Late?

Rick Warren, noted evangelical and pastor of Saddleback Church, has finally denounced the anti-homosexuality bill pending in Uganda (the topic of Warren's refusal to denounce the bill has been discussed in an earlier blog).  I do believe that if this bill passes and lives are lost as a result, Rick Warren and other Christian Right leaders ought to be held accountable.

Their rhetoric, camouflaged with theological language, has spawned too many hate crimes against glbt persons.  While they are learning that their language of intolerance is growing increasingly unacceptable in the United States, they have discovered that they can export a stronger version to Africa. 

What amazes me is these leaders do not make the connection between their rhetoric and gay-bashing.  Doesn't Warren realize that when he says that homosexuality is "not the natural way" and therefore is not a human rights issue, he is providing moral fodder for the anti-gay sentiment that gave rise to the bill in Uganda?

Several years ago, the Reconciling Ministries Network was holding its convocation at one of United Methodisms holy sites: Lake Junaluska, in North Carolina.  The Institute on Religion and Democracy wrote to United Methodists, urging them to protest the meeting, using inflammatory language to rile people up. And it did. More and more conversative United Methodists, including Good News joined their battle cry, denouncing the presence of a meeting that would include glbt United Methodists and allies at Lake Junaluska.  But conservative United Methodists weren't the only ones to join in the protest. Guess who else heard the invitation to protest, and were only to happy to help?

The Ku Klux Klan.

KKK encouraged their membership to come to Lake Junaluska to protest the RMN conference, whose theme was "Hearts on Fire." The KKK changed the title to "Queers on Fire."

The IRD, Good News, and other right wing organizations should not be surprised when their hate-filled messages are taken to heart and used by extremists groups. Once you demonize a group and label them unnatural and devoid of rights, the next logical step is to rid the world of such rubbish. We have seen evidence of this cycle of dehumanization and genocide repeated throughout human history.

While Warren may have finally spoken out against the Uganda bill, I just wonder if it is too little, too late. Can he really have an impact? He has already sown the seeds of injustice--can his recent words tear up the roots he has planted?

What would be happening in now Uganda--and throughout Africa--if he had preached a Word of loving all God's children, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity?

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