Thursday, December 10, 2009

Pastor Rick Warren Calls Upon the Pastors of Uganda to Reject the Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Pastor Rick Warren, in a YouTube message, calls the bill 'Unjust', 'Extreme' and 'Unchristian.'  Now, Warren needs to denounce Turaki's anti-gay hate-speech in the featured article on homosexuality in the Africa Bible Commentary which commentary Warren has fully endorsed.

By Rev. Steve Parelli, Bronx, New York

In an Other Sheep eNews dated October 19, 2009, Other Sheep called upon its readers to write Rick Warren, John Stott and Douglas Carew and the Association of Evangelicals in Africa (AEA) to denounce the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of Uganda citing their endorsement of the Africa Bible Commentary with its anti-gay hate-speech in a featured article entitled "Homosexuality" by Nigerian evangelical scholar Yusufu Turaki as reason for their need to speak out.

We are happy to learn that Rick Warren has done so today. Other Sheep asks Douglas Carew of the Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology (Kenya) and John R. W. Stott (England) to join Warren in his denouncement of the Ugandan bill and to further more denounce the anti-gay hate-speech in the Africa Bible Commentary (see article in right column of this Other Sheep December 10, 2009, eNews).

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Rick Warren's association with Turaki's anti-gay hate-speech in a featured article on homosexuality in the Africa Bible Commentary.

By Rev. Steve Parelli, Bronx, NY.

Rick Warren, endorsing Zondervan's 2006 evangelical Africa Bible Commentary, a single volume commentary on the Bible by 70 African scholars, says on the back cover of the bock, "This monumental work of biblical scholarship is filled with helpful insights into God's Word that every pastor, Bible teach, and Christian will benefit from. We've needed this commentary for a long, long time."

Romans 1 of the commentary features a major article entitled "Homosexuality." Rev. Stephen Parelli writes a review on the article and summarizes his critique with the following:

"Conclusion: Turaki's Bible-study article on homosexuality serves to further the African church's homophobic intolerance of gay people, confirming and reinforcing already existing hateful and hurtful attitudes towards LGBT Africans.

"Turaki's article, entitled 'Homosexuality,' in the Africa Bible Commentary, only enlarges the gap between the need for tolerance in Africa and the African church's failure to speak out against homophobic intolerance which often erupts into physical brutality, murder, unlawful imprisonment, loss of employment, estrangement and isolation from family, hate speech and hate crimes. The African evangelical community needs, at the very least, to speak out for tolerance and humane treatment of homosexuals.

"To summarize: Because of the very volatile African context in which his article will be read and understood,

     (a) Turaki's use of the words "abnormal, unnatural and a perversion" along with

     (b) his uncritical use of the quote that "homosexuals are worse than beasts" tied in with

     (c) his statement of the African Anglican church's rejection of Archbishop Tutu's call for tolerance, as well as

     (d) his one-sided account of African "coercive sexual relationships" as his example of "varied" African same-sex sex(Where is his account, under "African tradition," of same-sex African loving couples? -- this writer knows of some personally!), not to mention

     (e) an uncritical censorship of all views of homosexuality that are not in keeping with his views ("Our views of homosexuality should not be derived from human sources but from the Word of God"),

and, finally, with

     (f) his expressed theological view that to be homosexual is sinful,

this evangelical-Christian article can, therefore, only encourage the already strong, homophobic, hateful and dangerous rhetoric of the church in Africa where civilian and police brutality towards homosexuals is not uncommon."

Does President Museveni of Uganda and his wife's Christian beliefs justify, for him, his criminal hate-acts against homosexuals?

By Rev. Steve Parelli, Bronx, NY

Mark A Noll, in his new book The Shape of World Christianity, has a chapter on "The East African Revival" in which he states "the current Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni was deeply touched as a young man by the East African revival, and his wife, Janet, remains identified with evangelical causes" [page 182].

It can now be said, that in Uganda at least, "revival" and "evangelical causes" equate the death sentence for homosexuals who meet certain conditions, unless the president of Uganda and his wife go on record as denouncing the bill. Not likely. Museveni has a long record of hate-speech against LGBT people.

As early as 1998, "President Yoweri Museveni made several strong antihomosexuality public statements." Again, in 1999, he "spoke out strongly, calling for the police to find and arrest, and jail homosexuals" [Anglican Communion in Crisis, by Miranda K. Hassett, page 84, 85; interestingly enough, the author further states on page 85 that "The Anglican archbishop of Uganda proclaimed his full support for Museveni's antigay position."].

I've often asked myself if the Old Testament stories from the King James Bible may have shaped Museveni's image of himself as president of Uganda. Is he modeling himself after the Old Testament king who, heroically and unlike his father-king before him, "took out of the land" "the remnant of the sodomites"? [Sodomites is an unfortunate abusive rendering of the Hebrew text here which should more accurately be translated 'male or female temple prostitute;' the Hebrew word sodomite is not in the text (I Kings 22:46, KJV).] Does Museveni emulate this heroic Biblical king who put-out-of-the-land-the-sodomites [i.e., temple prostitutes] as an example to follow?

It could easily be so, after all, President Yoweri Museveni "was deeply touched" by the East African revival and his wife "remains identified with evangelical causes" (Mark A. Noll). Evangelicalism and the literal reading and high veneration of the Bible, such as daily Bible readings, scripture memorization, and Bible preaching, are one and the same.

This evangelical excessive love for the Word of God can border on bibliolatry which is the worship of the Bible (although evangelicals would deny they ever worship the Bible). When this is the case (which happens, at times, with evangelicals on a subconscious level, I would argue), instead of a Trinity, an evangelical would now have a Quad-unity, with the Bible as the fourth person of the Godhead.

I would suggest that this is the present probable evangelical spirit in Uganda where the spirit of love and toleration towards a people-group defined by a different sexual orientation is axed by a spirit of hate and legalism which are justified enough, for religious Ugandans, by the reduction of the Bible to mere black ink on white paper (for example, "the Bible clearly says"), and thus, ironically, the elevation of the Bible to the status of a god (bibliolatry, by which one can now justify the execution of homosexuals). All this hate, grounded in a type of idolatry as I have opinioned, is the by-product of the work of zealous Bible-believing evangelical missionaries and the historic East African revival.

The sad part - in the supposed case of President Museveni modeling his presidency after the afore mentioned Old Testament king - is this: the King James Bible (if that is the version he uses, which was, no doubt, the version originally brought to Uganda) utterly fails him here by its erroneous translation. (In Rwanda, during our 2008 seminar, where we had the Bible in the language of the people, the same error in translation was noted. Evidently, in the Rwandan language, the translation was brought over from the King James Bible word sodomite and not from the Hebrew text temple prostitute.)

Queer Christians are partial towards another model to emulate -- the one who said to those of his society who marginalized certain people groups by openly treating them as less than and unwelcome, "Love thy neighbor as thyself" and "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

Perhaps the gift queer people bring to the world at this time is this: the need to learn to love those who are seen as different and as not belonging to society. Would the world could learn to love like this.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

So, What Purpose is Driving Rick Warren? Here's a clue: Newsweek reports Rick Warren refuses to denounce the Ugandan Anti-Homosexulaity bill

By Rev. Steve Parelli, Bronx, NY

This week I received an email from a Christian in Uganda asking for study materials to give to a pastor who is asking questions about the Bible and homosexuality. I sent him the link to the material we presented in Kampala in 2008 at our full day seminar on the Bible and homosexuality attended by 40 plus gay Christians.

Rick Warren is at the opposite end of the spectrum of the work Other Sheep performs. Other Sheep presents information on homosexuality and the Bible from a scholarly approach and shows how scripture does not condemn mutually committed same-sex relationships.

Evidently, Rick Warren is of the opinion that his religion is the only religion that should be discussed in Uganda - after all, according to a Newsweek article, he has refused to denounce the Anti-Homosexuality bill which, among other things, would have zero tolerance for any speech seen as promoting homosexuality. Under this bill Rick Warren could return to Uganda and say whatever he wanted to about homosexuality. Other Sheep could not. So much for free speech in Uganda. So much for Rick Warren's sense of American fairness, free speech and the scholarly pursuit of Biblical studies. So, what purpose is driving Rick Warren?  I think we know. 

Columnist David Gibson discusses the question If Uganda Executes Gays, Will American Christians be Complicit?  Well, at least one American has already shown himself complitict - Rick Warren.

Photo:  Monument to Uganda's Independence, Kampala, Uganda.  By Steve Parelli