Saddleback pastor Rick Warren has denounced the proposed legislation in Uganda that would execute homosexuals who are infected with HIV, a law Warren says "I had nothing to do with, completely oppose and vigorously condemn."
Several media outlets have connected Warren to the bill because of his work combating AIDS, partnering with a pastor named Martin Ssempa. He responds in what he calls an "encyclical video."
"As a pastor, I’ve found the most effective way to build consensus for social change is usually through direct quiet diplomacy and behind-the-scenes dialogue, rather than through media. But because I didn’t rush to make a public statement, some erroneously concluded that I supported this terrible bill, and some even claimed I was a sponsor of the bill," Warren said in a statement. "You in Uganda know that is untrue."
A tweet from Warren earlier today suggests he had been working to kill the bill. "DThanks Bob! It seem our quiet effort helped kill part of the Uganda b so it was worth being misjudged, but our job isnt done yet."
On December 4, Warren had tweeted, "DJoe,I feel no need to tell reporters &bloggers what I've done behind the scenes on this.They never admit their misreporting anyway.Pr.15:12"
Bloomberg is reporting that Uganda will drop the death penalty and life imprisonment for gays in a refined version of the bill.
The Ugandan government supports the bill because homosexuality and lesbianism are “repugnant to the Ugandan culture,” Buturo said. Still, it favors a more refined set of punishments, he said.
In addition to formulating punishments for the gay people, the bill will also promote counseling to help “attract errant people to acceptable sexual orientation,” said Buturo.
The Daily Monitor reports that at least 200 clerics from the Inter-religious Council of Uganda, which includes Bishops from the Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox, Seventh Day Adventist, and Muslim leaders agreed to defend the bill.
The Secretary General of IRC, Mr Joshua Kitakule told Daily Monitor that development partners should not interfere in the process of legislation in Uganda.
“Those countries should respect our spiritual values. They shouldn’t interfere,” he said. “All senior religious leaders have been given copies of the Bill to read and educate people in the churches and mosques,” he added.
Grove City psychology professor Warren Throckmorton has been covering this bill for several months. Throckmorton has set up a Facebook group titled "Speak out against Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009," which has almost 10,000 members. In October, he received a statement from Warren about his connection to Ssempa.
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.