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.