Purpose-Driven Genocide [bad.hack]

It's no secret that this blog is not a fan of Rick Warren's theology and his advocacy of assassination, his advocacy against gay rights, and his advocacy of passive Christian exclusivity.

But even in our bias we didn't think he could combine all three into passively accepting state-sanctioned death to gays.  Wow. 

Genocide is defined as the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of a people group.  In Uganda, the government is deliberating a bill that would criminalize homosexuality, call for the death penalty of gay persons with AIDS, restrict free speech, and harsh punishment for straight people who do not turn in gay acquaintances.  There really is no other term to describe this bill other than genocide...the state-sanctioned kind.  If such a law was passed in America, that's what we would call it.  For complete coverage, scroll to the links on Box Turtle Bulletin and watch the video on Matt Algren's page.

Why is this being posted here?  Because Rick Warren is personally involved in this process.  He contributed to the rise to power of Pastor Martin Ssempa (pictured to the left), one of the main proponents of this bill.
Ssempa is known for his boisterous crusading. Ssempa’s stunts have included burning condoms in the name of Jesus and arranging the publication of names of homosexuals in cooperative local newspapers while lobbying for criminal penalties to imprison them.
Rick Warren is actively involved in Uganda and made Martin Ssempa the super-pastor he is today (he was a frequent guest in his pulpit and is pictured to the right with Rick Warren's spouse Kay)...and now refuses to critique his involvement or his former accomplice. While Warren states that he has separated from Ssempa as of 2007, he won't comment or involve his organization or himself on this issue of genocide.

Why?  Warren states that he doesn't want to get involved in the political process of other nations.  In his own words:
"The fundamental dignity of every person, our right to be free, and the freedom to make moral choices are gifts endowed by God, our creator. However, it is not my personal calling as a pastor in America to comment or interfere in the political process of other nations."
That's a bit hard to swallow when Warren advocated that the Iranian President be assassinated a year ago and has clearly shaped the political process in his work on AIDS advocacy in Uganda itself.

So when will Warren "enter" the political world to stop a state-sponsored genocide of sexual minorities?  Here's the tipping point:
"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."

Again, just using his own words....if the bill becomes law, the A and C parts of the PEACE Plan would become ineffective.  A human rights commission states:
"HIV prevention activities in Uganda, which rely on an ability to talk frankly about sexuality and provide condoms and other safer-sex materials, will be seriously compromised. Women, sex workers, people living with AIDS, and other marginalized groups may also find their activities tracked and criminalized through this bill"
Rick Warren has no excuses left.  He made the political power behind the bill, he has said he would oppose any measure that hurts his Plan, and clearly has no problems getting involved in the political process.  Rick Warren, by his silence and disregard, is contributing to the genocide of a people group.  Andrew Sullivan summarizes it better than me:
Just as [Warren] publicly inveighed in favor of stripping gay couples of civil equality in California, and then pretended he didn't, now he distances himself from Ssempe, while refusing to condemn this law reminiscent of early attempts to wipe out minorities in Serbia, Nazi Germany, and Rwanda. This is classic avoidance in an atmosphere of extreme danger. It is the same as the Catholic church's disgraceful neutrality in Rwanda and Nazi Germany, as they saw a chance to enable others to wipe out a minority they wished could be wiped off the face of the earth...

[Warren] has taken sides, whenever possible, to stigmatize, demonize and now physically threaten the lives of gay people in his own country and abroad. And his silence on this issue means the deaths of others. Warren needs to come out and condemn this law as evil, which it is. And to stop hiding his own enmeshment with the most virulent forms of fundamentalist hatred under the veil of media-savvy benevolence.
A bad.hack on this blog is one that closes a Christian system down and denies God's grace.  As Sullivan writes above, anytime a Christian system chooses silence and disregard for human life over action and speaking up for minority groups, they are closing the door in the face of prophetic engagement with culture.  For decades Christians have become increasingly involved in politics...why stop now when human lives are on the line?

In conclusion, many atrocities can happen when the people look away when people need them. As my pastor friend Karen Oliveto remarks "to do/say nothing in the face of injustice is to already take a side." Rick Warren knows this as he twittered on Tuesday "Globally last yr 146,000 Christians were put to death because of their faith. No one, except Christians, said anything."  By posting that and condemning the rest of the world for passive acceptance, he acknowledges that the Christian response is to respond, to take a side, because silence is itself passive acceptance. And yet he refuses to do so himself.

It is my hope and prayer that Warren, who has changed his mind in the past on important issues, comes around and brings the full weight of his organization and social witness against this issue.  Even if you find homosexuality incompatible with being Christian and outside the human condition, I hope you join in that prayer for the sake of saving people's lives.



Songbird December 3, 2009 at 9:06 PM  

What's the source for his figure on Christian deaths, I wonder?
Anyway, he's wrong-headed on this. It's a clear double-standard as to commenting on politics in other countries.

Anonymous,  December 4, 2009 at 4:16 AM  

I am always amused at what proponents of extinction say. I am embarrassed that a team of wise and productive individuals would engage themselves in vilification of Dr. martin Ssempa and Rick Warren. For amateurs, Martin Ssempa began his ministry work way bavck in 1988. he rose to prominence a year afterwards when he saw what HIV/AIDS did to his immediate relatives. His ministry ever since then has seen no downfalls. His star has kept rising and it will continue because we Ugandans support Dr. Ssempa wholeheartedly save for the misplaced and corrupted minds like Dr. Sylvia Tamale. Rick Warren has never visited Ssempa despite coming to Africa and Uganda in particular several times. He has never invested in pastor Ssempa at all. An interview with the Ministry Administrator or any Leaders in Ssempa's ministry would help you understand this. Rick only invited Ssempa once to his Church during an HIV/AIDS conference after seeing the excellent work of Ssempa in Universities and Secondary schools in Uganda and Kenya. We support Ssempa wholeheartedly and condemn the propagators of human extinction. Ssempa is our Hero because he has saved our Nation from serious moral decay.

James O

Anonymous,  December 4, 2009 at 4:32 AM  

Ssempa, you are the man. We in America got rotten long time ago. Please go on buddy. Love u big. Uganda can stand alone even if all her heigbours renounced her. Remember you guys have just gotten oil, lots of dollars to finance your budgets. I support you and thank you for that great fight. We count on you and history will have a good of you. wow, go on!


Stephen Lingwood December 4, 2009 at 5:24 AM  

James O - your argument against "human extinction" (if I understand what you're saying) could equally be applied to celibate monks and nuns. Should they be put to death too? Since when has non-reproduction been a justification for execution? Killing is killing.

I'm also very disappointed in the Anglican Communion's deafening silence on this.

Anonymous,  December 4, 2009 at 9:25 AM  

If you followed the links provided, you would see you are understating or wrong on your facts James O.

It's also interesting to note your deep homophobia that apparently leads you to believe an individual's sexual choice creates more moral decay than their murder would. It is truly disturbed thinking that would promote your fearful, "moral" ideology over a human life.

Your thinking is neither Christian nor moral.

Josh A

Anonymous,  December 4, 2009 at 6:33 PM  

Warren, Ssempa, and other so-called "Christians" need to find in the Bible where JESUS commands us to exterminate people who make choices we disagree with, or choices we feel are morally inferior to our own choices. (I am referring to the choice to live out one's inherent, God-given sexual orientation.) EVEN IF a so-called "Christian believes "homosexuals" (sigh; what a word!) are ENEMIES of "heterosexuals" - Jesus says to LOVE THEM1!! And NO ONE can argue that LOVE is equivalent to EXTERMINATION!! No one could possibly believe murder is what Jesus meant by love. He was telling his followers NOT to physically attack their enemies, and NOT to try to do them any harm.
Anyone who wants to claim Jesus as her/his Saviour, you MUST MUST MUST oppose this policy!

CCOL4HIM December 6, 2009 at 8:42 AM  

That's interesting, because Warren's wife is supposedly involved in some charities that reach out to people with AIDS.

Rev. Jeremy Smith December 6, 2009 at 7:28 PM  

@CCOL4HIM, they both are involved in AIDS outreach. It's one thing to be involved in charity; it's another to be opposed to justice and basic human rights.

Their involvement in the former is commendable; their silence on the latter is deafening.

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