Uganda 'kill the gays' story underscores--bearing false witness lies at 'Religious Right's' core

by: Paul Rosenberg

Sat Dec 12, 2009 at 10:00


A recent development in the Ugandan 'kill the gays' bill story once again shows how the religious right is permeated lies.  Indeed, violating the Ninth Commandment--"You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor"--seems to be the core belief of the religious right. (Not to mention the rest of the right, as well.)

In "Ugandan MP Defends 'Kill Gays' Bill", the Box Turtle Bulletin reports:

Ugandan Member of Parliament David Bahati, who introduced the Anti-Homosexuality Act into Parliament, appeared on the BBC's Focus On Africa program to talk about his handiwork. Bahati appears not to have gotten the memo about the death penalty being eliminated or the trial balloon of dropping the whole bill that was floated on the Uganda government's official Media Centre web site. Bahati remained firmly behind the bill, saying that it is all about responding to child sexual abuse:

David Bahati says the new offence of "aggravated homosexuality" is a penalty against "defilement" of under-18s. "There has been a distortion in the media that we are providing death for gays. That is not true," he said. "When a homosexual defiles a kid of less than 18 years old, we are providing a penalty for this."

This, of course, is an outright lie.

The story goes on to quote the bill in full, but most telling is this:

3. Aggravated homosexuality.
(1) A person commits the offense of aggravated homosexuality where the
    ....(f) offender is a serial offender, or....

So a second offense--potentially charged simultaneously with a first offense--was sufficient for the death penalty.  And the man who wrote the law simply lied flat out about it.

Some paragon of virtue he is!

But that lie to the BBC was not an isolated one.  Indeed, the entire rationale of the Uganda crusade to kill gays is permeated with the same vast array of lies that have been used in the US to attack gay rights since the 1970s.  That it's unnatural, that gays are child-molesters, that gays are sick, that gays are a product of cultural decadence, etc., etc., etc.  And, of course, those big lies bring innumerable smaller lies in their wake.  Which is why it's no surprise that--as Rachel Maddow indicated on Thursday --Rick Warren lies so effortlessly where gay-related issues are concerned:

Paul Rosenberg :: Uganda 'kill the gays' story underscores--bearing false witness lies at 'Religious Right's' core
As a benchmark, Maddow first reminded us that Warren had lied about supporting California's Prop 8:

On the issue of Prop 8 specifically, Mr. Warren made the mistake of trying to deny that he'd ever taken a position on it.

    (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WARREN: During the whole Proposition 8 thing, I never once went to a meeting, never once issued a statement, never once even gave an endorsement in the two years Prop 8 was going. (END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  No statement.  No endorsement.
That ended up being awkward because of the whole "bearing false witness" thing.

    (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WARREN: Let me just say this really clearly, we support Proposition 8, and if you believe what the Bible says about marriage, you need to support Proposition 8. So, I urge you to support Proposition 8 and pass that word on. (END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  I think that counts as an endorsement.  Rick Warren had not only been involved in Proposition 8, he had been involved on tape.

Well, now Rick Warren has been implicated in much worse antigay politics as Uganda-a nation in which he has been intensely involved-is now considering legislation that would imprison and even potentially execute people for the grave crime of being gay.

Uganda is the second nation in Africa that Rick Warren designated as a "purpose-driven" nation.  Mr. Warren launched his national "Purpose-Driven Living" program in Uganda last March.

And so Rachel went on to talk about Warren's deep involvement with Uganda, and his influence over and connections with those pushing state murder for gays.

But my focus here is not overall evil, it's specifically about lying, and so we cut to the chase:

Because of all of that, because of his influence in that country and his intensive involvement there, when that country including the pastor Mr.  Warren had invited to his church started pushing this outrageous legislation to kill people for being gay, it's natural that Rick Warren would be asked his opinion about it.

And about a week and a half ago, Mr. Warren gave his opinion on the subject to "Newsweek."  He said, quote, "It is not my personal calling as a pastor in America to comment or interfere in the political process of other nations."

Well, now, finally, after a little bit of attention to this subject in this country, Rick Warren has finally decided to come out against the legislation-as if he had been against it all along.

    (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WARREN: The potential law before your parliament is unjust, it's extreme, and it's unchristian toward homosexuals-requiring death penalty even in some cases. And if I'm reading the proposed bill correctly, this law would also imprison anyone convicted of homosexual practice. I urge you to speak up. The pastors of Uganda, speak out against this proposed law. (END VIDEO CLIP)

So he does comment, after all! And he lied when he said that he doesn't comment.

The explanation, obviously, is pretty simple: He didn't want to ruffle any feathers, and so he stayed out of it as long as he could, but then when that no longer seemed tenable, he did a complete about face, directly contradicting his earlier lie.

And of course, like any good liar, he turns right around and tries to pretend that others have been lying about him--or at least "mischaraterizing" him, as Rachel then went on to note:

MADDOW:  For opponents of this proposed law, Rick Warren's intervention here, his written statement and his video statement, will be filed under the better-late-than-never category-definitely under better.  This will be very good news for people who are opposed to this law given his influence in that nation.

That said, Mr. Warren's statement today included the allegation that his role in all this had been somehow mischaracterized by the media, saying that lies have been told about him and this issue in media that have covered it.

As the person who's been doing the most media on this subject, at least on TV, as far as I can tell we have not said anything inaccurate about Rick Warren in our reporting.  We triple-checked everything that we've said about him today, I don't think we've gotten one thing wrong about him.

If he feels differently, Pastor Warren, I would be happy to host you on this program to clarify anything.  Unless you know something that we don't, I stand by our reporting.

In fact, Warren is still trying to have it both ways, as is clear from the text of statement to Ugandan ministers (which I received by email from his PR outfit):

As an American pastor, it is not my role to interfere with the politics of other nations, but it IS my role to speak out on moral issues. It is my role to shepherd other pastors who look to me for guidance, and it is my role to correct lies, errors and false reports when others associate my name with a law that I had nothing to do with, completely oppose and vigorously condemn. I am referring to the pending law under consideration by the Ugandan Parliament, known as the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

So, it's not my role to interfere, but here I go! That's really rich!

There was also this:

5. What did you do when you heard about the proposed Ugandan law?
I wrote to the most influential leader I knew in that country, the Anglican Archbishop of Uganda, and shared my opposition and concern. He wrote me back, saying that he, too, was opposed to the death penalty for homosexuals. There are thousands of evil laws enacted around the world that kill people (For instance, last year, 146,000 Christians around the world were killed because of their faith.). In this case, I knew the Archbishop in Uganda, so I did what I could, but my influence in that nation has been greatly exaggerated by the media.

So, is Warren saying that 146,000 Christians were killed because of their faith in accord with "evil laws"?  What laws, exactly would those be?

I called his PR organization, hoping to get some clarification.  When they called me back, it was just sort of a "what is it exactly that you want to know?" kind of call.  I talked to them a little about what I discovered myself below, just to push them a bit, and maybe they'll get back to me on Monday with something substantive. But on the face of it, this is simply a bald-faced lie, and there's really no way out.

While there certainly still is widespread religious persecution in the world (a reminder of why America's separation of church and state is a good thing), there is relatively little religious killing as a matter of course.

Open Doors is a decades-old organization identified as "Serving persecuted Christians worldwide." It produces an annual World Watch List of the 50 worst countries in terms of persecuting Christians world-wide, but its literature is remarkably free of any sorts of mass murders on the scale one would need to get anywhere near 146,000 martyrs--as I explained to Warren's PR flack, who at first seemed pleased that I was referring to this site.

They do have a page, Christian Martyrs, which informs us that "Hundreds of Christians Martyrs around the globe are dying for their faith."  And while I ferverently believe that one person dying for their faith is one too many, there's an enormous difference between "hundreds" and "146,000," as I also pointed out to Warren's flack.

Furthermore, there are a number of people listed on their martyr page:

The Rodriguez Family
Three young children were left alone after Jose and Emilse Rodriguez were martyred for their faith.

Shakeela Bibi
In an attempt to warn her Christian community, Shakeela Bibi was killed by 15 Muslims.

Tapan Kumar Roy
Taposhi become a stronger Christian after witnessing her brother Tapan martyred by Muslim extremists for showing the Jesus Film.

Deepe Patrick
While attending church on the last day of their honeymoon, Deepe was killed in bombing, and her husband Vikash was severely injured.

Necati, Tilmann, and Ugur
Three believers were working at a small Christian publishing house when a man walked in and stabbed them to death.

Needless to say, I'm not happy that any of these people were killed.  But none, apparently, were killed because of bad laws, though bad laws may certainly have helped create the conditions that lead to their deaths--just as bad laws marking gays as second-class citizens certainly have helped create the conditions that lead to gay bashing and even murder.

So, in sum, what we have here is yet another lie from Rich Warren, this one, apparently meant to convey the deep conviction that it's really Christians who are the persecuted minority, not those elite-protected sodomites!

"We're the real victims, not them!"  That's yet another one of the Big Lies of the religious right.

This whole incident is not an anomaly.  This goes directly to the core of what the right is all about.  Obama's a Kenyan-born Muslim terrorist, right? I'll say it again: That's what the right is all about. More posts on different aspects of the lying of the right as the weekend goes on.


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Didn't you forget something, Paul? Like, a link to the transcript? (4.00 / 3)
And also the most damning part of the show, making a clear case for Warren's involvement in preparing the ground for the gay genocide bill?

Uganda is the second nation in Africa that Rick Warren designated as a "purpose-driven" nation.  Mr. Warren launched his national "Purpose-Driven Living" program in Uganda last March.

Last night on this program, we spoke to an Anglican priest who has traveled to Uganda to report on the development of the "kill the gays" legislation there.  Among the things he brought up with us was just how influential Rick Warren is in that country.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAPYA KAOMA, ANGLICAN PRIEST:  Rick Warren went to Uganda, you know, in 2008.  And he made this saying that homosexuality is not a normal way of life and we have-we aren't going to tolerate any of this.  And then he goes to say, therefore, it's not a human rights issue.

So you have another big person in terms of how Africans look at Pastor Warren.  You know, you have to go there, every church I entered, office I entered, I found his book the "Purpose-Driven Life" and people stare at it, it's more like a second Bible.  So, he has a lot of influence, so when he makes that statement, it carries a lot of weight to the Uganda populace.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Rick Warren has used his influence in Uganda not only to promote his own programs, the purpose-driven nation stuff, but also to get involved in Ugandan religion and politics, flying to Uganda last year to announce he was on the side of the Ugandan ministers who were boycotting the Church of England for being too pro-gay.

Rick Warren also invited a virulently anti-gay pastor from Uganda to come to his own Saddleback Church in California, while that pastor was being promoted by Mr. Warren in the United States, back home in Uganda, that pastor was publicly burning condoms in Jesus' name.

Rick Warren's involvement in Ugandan affairs or-and his involvement in Ugandan affairs was so extensive that he even lobbied U.S. politicians to steer Uganda toward abstinence-only education rather than condom-based programs which had helped reduce the country's rate of HIV infections.

Rick Warren's intensive involvement in the politics of Uganda included multiple trips to that country and meetings with Uganda's first lady.

Because of all of that, because of his influence in that country and his intensive involvement there, when that country including the pastor Mr.  Warren had invited to his church started pushing this outrageous legislation to kill people for being gay, it's natural that Rick Warren would be asked his opinion about it.

And about a week and a half ago, Mr. Warren gave his opinion on the subject to "Newsweek."  He said, quote, "It is not my personal calling as a pastor in America to comment or interfere in the political process of other nations."

Well, now, finally, after a little bit of attention to this subject in this country, Rick Warren has finally decided to come out against the legislation-as if he had been against it all along.


http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34...

Sloppy Editing (4.00 / 1)
Thanks for catching that.

This piece morphed a bit in the course of writing, and I changed my mind about where to put the link. But something went terribly wrong between my mind and my fingers.

The entire saga of this is so completely revolting, so full of lies, so full of pitiful posturing.  There's just got to be multiple levels of lies yet to be peeled away.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Indeed, indeed. But imho the lies aren't the most important part. (0.00 / 0)
Only natural that murderers try to cover their tracks. No, the most important part is that their "srious" people in the US whose hatred of gays go so far that they support lamwakers in other countries who don't shy away from making genocide legal. And all these connectiuons, and the extent of their involvement should be exposed to the public. Showing that they also lied about this is only the cherry on top.

I mean, look at this from a historical perspective: What's more important, for instance, that Prescott Bush collaborated with Nazi Germany, or that he and his family later tried to cover that up?  


[ Parent ]
Lies Are At The Heart Of It (4.00 / 3)
There are lies that drive the entire enterprise.  And then there are lies after the fact to cover it up.  And in between there are lies every step of the way.  

Most importantly, without the lies, there would be no killing.

And it's much easier to start with the lying.  It's a gateway drug for murder.


"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Well, I respectfully disagree. (0.00 / 0)
Did Coe, Inhofe or Warren spread lies that drove their Ugandan enterprise? I don't think so. They didn't have to, nobody asked them what the hell they were doing there, before the shit hit the fan. With the limited information available now, I only see yet that they lied after the facts became public.

[ Parent ]
The Entire Anti-Gay Agenda Is Built On Lies (4.00 / 2)
Indeed, it's a core aspect of how (many, not all) fundamentalists and evangelicals subvert and pervert the Christian religion, turning it into a megacult, in which group membership matters far more than the actually core values and teachingts it's supposedly about.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Well, "lies"....dontcha think they actually BELIEVE their own crap? (0.00 / 0)
Dunno, but I imagine it's possible that they honstly think they're totally in sync with Jesus' teachings. Just remember what scientists found out recently about the distorted perception of human beings...

[ Parent ]
I'm not a linguist, but doesn't "lie" include the intent to deceive? (0.00 / 0)
Is someone lying who's telling crap because he doesn't know any better? Hmm...

[ Parent ]
Perhaps there is a connection between lies, propaganda and the Church? (4.00 / 1)
Isn't the term "propaganda" from Congregatio de Propaganda Fide "Congregation for Propagating the Faith?"


[ Parent ]
Sounds good, But don't ask me. (0.00 / 0)
I'm not Graypedia. That's a case for Paulpedia!
:D

[ Parent ]
They're Bearing False Witness (4.00 / 1)
See Paul Goodman's comment.  Even if one accepts a lawyerly argument that they aren't actually lying (wink! wink!) it's indisputable that they are bearing false witness.

But, in fact, they are lying--if nothing else, then to themselves--as I hope to discuss in another diary this weekend.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Ok, agreed. That logic makes sense to me. (4.00 / 1)
Thank you, Oracle, uh, Paul!
:D

[ Parent ]
Btw, what was the first "purpose-driven" nation in Africa? (0.00 / 0)
And what kind of legislation did Warren promote there? I'm sure there are more scandals waiting just around the corner....

[ Parent ]
Rwanda (4.00 / 2)
I believe.

Since this whole thing is tied to bearing false witness, and you ask about other scandals, I wonder if there is any connection between the homosexual witch hunt and the actual witch hunters in Africa, or the "witch children?"


[ Parent ]
Probably there is. (4.00 / 3)
A Nigerian friend once explained to me that the reason Africans are so offended by homosexuality is that it's witchcraft, or "used in" witchcraft.  

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
I Assume (4.00 / 3)
that "witchcraft" = "animism" = the religious belief system of the oppressed colonized peoples, as opposed to the witch-hunters, who are Christian, and thus identified with the colonizers.  

But the narrative that's been adopted in Uganda--and elsewhere, I'm sure--is that homosexuality is an imperialist import being forced on Africa, and these laws are a way of fighting back against imperialism.

Again, a Big Lie close to the heart of all this madness.

It's noteworthy that Animism & other pagan religions tend not to be as dichotomous as the Abrahamic religions and their Axial cousins.  Their spirits and deities tend to be much more concrete, which tends to mean that they embody a mixture of traits, as well as both good and bad aspects of the traits they embody.  While not all such traditions respect or honor gay people, many do, recognizing that they have special roles to play in mediating between different forces.  

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Also: Do Ugandans have no problem with heterosexual child abuse? (0.00 / 0)
Why a law focussing only on homosexuals in the first place? This clearly shows that the intention of the bill isn't to target sexual abuse of kids at all, but to get a legal means for killing homosexuals. All the brouhaha by those lawmakers from hell can't change this obvious conclusion.

It's not just a Ugandan thing (4.00 / 1)
with regards to the rampant linking of homosexuality and pedophilia. One thing that always goes hand-in-hand with lying is denial. It drives the propaganda machine and helps keep the lie alive and thriving among the target audience.  

[ Parent ]
Bearing false witness isn't merely lying (4.00 / 2)
it's also misrepresenting your credentials; for example: I don't know you. You are an adulterer. I claim to a wide audience that you are an adulterer. It is technically true, but it is still bearing false witness.

Now recollect the HUAC and Joe McCarthy. He cast a wide net for "Communists", and many caught in the net were. But McCarthy had no basis to say so other than profiling.

Consider arresting someone for "Driving While Black", or racism generally. It is also a form of bearing false witness: ascribing characteristics to others based on pre-judice

And now that I've lured you in with examples from the "other side" let's honestly realize that we all bear false witness from time-to-time. For instance, I state that such-and-such a science paper says X. It may very well have said X, but if I didn't read it, or don't fully understand the chain of reasoning, or I don't discuss the measures of uncertainty (standard error, p-values, sample size) I bear false witness unless I come clean and do so.


True (4.00 / 1)
Bearing false witness is a more inclusive notion.  But that means that if you're lying, you're also bearing false witness.

What happened with McCarthy was incredibly complex.  The "are you now or have you ever been" formulation was inherently dishonest, as many people joined the CP in the 30s because it was an organizing powerhouse, and the vast majority of organizing that it did was no more subversive than building a union, so that people could make a decent living. In the 40s, Communist Russia was our most powerful ally in WWII.  (Unlike Nazi Germany.  McCarthy never went after folks who'd been Nazi sympathizers.  Heck, they were his base!)

So just being a communist in either of those eras was hardly a shameful thing, much less a subversive one.  True, there was a clandestine side to it.  There were people organized to spy.  But precisely because it was clandestine, most folks who were communists didn't know about it.  A lot of people joined and then quit within just a few months, too.

Thus, the very formulation of the accusatory question was itself a form of false witness--creating a garbage category such that saying anything about it in response--either about oneself or others--necessarily created false impressions--implicit lies, if not explicit ones.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
A couple of thoughts (0.00 / 0)
I don't really care a lot about Rick Warren.  He must be more influential in Uganda than here.

If there were much influence of Islam in the legislature of Uganda, I'm sure it's passage would be greatly assured. Surely some progressive legislators exist in Uganda, how do they feel?

Christains know that they can be killed for their beliefs.  It is also historical in other beliefs that its okay to kill them.



Conservative.(former Money Man)....Bothers you, huh? Gore at Poetry Circle.


[ Parent ]
Well he did give the inaugural prayer. (0.00 / 0)
Make of that what you will.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
And in Africa (4.00 / 2)
Christians are certainly giving as good as they get. They've been killing Muslims and animists like nobody's business.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
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