For weeks, Pastor Rick Warren has been under fire for refusing to condemn the Anti-Homosexuality Bill going through the Ugandan parliament, which would make certain homosexual acts punishable by death. Last month, he told Newsweek that it wasn’t his “personal calling” to “comment or interfere in the political process of other nations.”
After facing intense criticism over his statement, Warren then went on Twitter and wondered why there was so much fuss over the rights of gay men and women: “Globally last yr 146,000 Christians were put to death because of their faith. No one, except Christians, said anything.” But dozens of Christian leaders disagreed with Warren’s cowardice and forcefully spoke out against the legislation. From a Dec. 7 letter they signed:
As Americans, some may wonder why we are raising our voices to oppose a measure proposed in a nation so far away from home. We do so to bear witness to our Christian values, and to express our condemnation of an injustice in which groups and leaders within the American Christian community are being implicated. We appeal to all Christian leaders in our own country to speak out against this unjust legislation.
Even world leaders like UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper condemned the bill. Sweden development assistance minister said that the country planned to cut aid to Uganda over the “appalling” legislation. Yesterday, Warren finally came out with a message for his “fellow pastors in Uganda” saying that he is against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, has been smeared by the media, and still thinks being gay is a sin:
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.
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. You in Uganda know that is untrue. [...]
While we can never deny or water down what God’s Word clearly teaches about sexuality, at the same time the church must stand to protect the dignity of all individuals – as Jesus did and commanded all of us to do.
Warren never explains why it was inappropriate and not his “personal calling” to comment on the legislation initially, but now, when facing public criticism, he suddenly decides that it is his role. Sarah Posner has more on Warren’s “strong relationship with government, business, and religious leaders in Uganda” and the “hair-splitting” in his statement.