In my February 8th post The Anti-Homosexuality Bill and the Silence of the Superstars I discussed the shocking (but not so shocking) silence of America’s ‘superstar’ evangelists with regard the proposed Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009. In that post, I highlighted the amount of influence these tele-evangelists wield in Uganda:
Appeals from prominent Christian leaders all over the world to their Ugandan brethren to denounce the controversial Anti-Homosexuality Bill have largely fallen on deaf ears. The problem might be that those Christian leaders, while they may be significant overseas, seem to carry very little weight in the minds of Ugandan Christians – especially among the Pentecostals (whose influence extends right up to the First Lady of Uganda, whose own daughter is a pastor). So forget Rick Warren. Forget Archbishop Rowan Williams. Forget the Pope. In Uganda the Superstar Men/Women of ‘God’ are Joyce Meyer, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Joel Osteen, T.D. Jakes, Creflo Dollar, Rod Parsely, Paul Crouch and other TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network) regulars.
For over a decade these televangelists’ programmes have been beaming straight into millions of Ugandan households on a daily basis through Lighthouse Television (LTV), the local TBN affiliate. Ugandans absolutely love these guys – especially Meyer and Hinn, whose Kampala crusades are always filled to capacity.
There has been mounting pressure on Joyce Meyer and the other superstar televangelists over the last several months to speak out against this bill, and to use their influence and connections in Uganda to urge the Uganda’s leaders, as well as their followers to show love and tolerance towards Uganda’s gays and lesbians.
For a long time Joyce Meyer was reluctant to get involved in the fiasco but, finally, she has spoken out, thanks to an aggressive campaign initiated by Change.org, in which its members sent hundreds of e-mail petitions pressuring her to condemn the proposed legislation. The petition read:
Dear Joyce and Dan Meyer,
As you may know, Uganda is currently debating a bill known as The Anti-Homosexuality Act, which among other things, would create new laws in the country allowing the government to kill or imprison gays and lesbians, and imprison straight people who support gay rights.
I recognize that your ministry work rarely enters into political debates, but I also know that your work is heavily focused on humanitarian aid. There can be perhaps no greater a humanitarian struggle than preventing the potential slaughter of thousands of innocent people.
In this regard, I urge you to use your voice — a voice which is very popular in Uganda, with millions of followers — and denounce Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Many other pastors, including Rev. Rick Warren, have denounced this bill. Adding your voice to this list would only help protect and preserve human rights.
Please denounce this bill today. Neutrality in the face of a potential genocide of people, regardless of their sexual orientation, can’t be tolerated.
Thank you for your time.
Joyce Meyer Ministries issued the following statement in response on Monday, April 12th, 2010 (yesterday):
It is increasingly evident that the proposed "Anti-Homosexuality Bill" introduced in the Ugandan parliament is a profoundly offensive, dangerous and disturbing attack on the very foundation of individual liberties and human rights afforded not only to the good citizens of Uganda, but on the at-large global community.
If enacted, this hostile legislation will also further, and adversely, serve as a major setback in the global health efforts to combat Uganda’s AIDS epidemic and reduce the record-high infection rates among the country’s HIV population, an already at-risk community that could be further ostracized, threatened, and targeted as potential criminals.
Our missions and ministry message has always been to teach that the Word of God is about helping people – all people – learn that God loves them and has a purpose for their lives, not put guilt or condemnation on them.
As a global society, we do not have to agree, endorse or condone the lifestyle choices of others. However, history has taught us that we equally cannot and should not excuse those who would hide behind religion or misuse God’s word to justify bigotry and persecution.
With this statement, our motivation and intent is not to interfere with Uganda’s political agenda or internal affairs. As believers, however, we have a moral and ethical duty that compels us to speak out against injustice wherever it may be in the world.
Joyce Meyer Ministries
Will Benny Hinn be next? Maybe not so soon, considering the troubles he’s been encountering lately. But hey, you never know.