Shuck and Jive

Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Reyes-Chow and Parsons Denounce Ugandan Anti-Gay Bill

It was good to see PCUSA moderator, Bruce Reyes-Chow and PCUSA stated clerk, Gradye Parsons sign a statement denouncing the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Act. The Presbyterian News Service has the story:

Two leaders in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) are the latest to sign a Christian statement denouncing the Ugandan “Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2009.”

The Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow, moderator of the 218th General Assembly (2008) and the Rev. Gradye Parsons, stated clerk of the GA, added their names to those of dozens of other leaders from Catholic, mainline and evangelical churches who also signed the statement.

The “Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2009” is under consideration by the Parliament of Uganda. If passed, the act would make homosexual behavior punishable by life imprisonment or death. It would also punish citizens for not reporting their gay or lesbian neighbors to the authorities.

You can read the statement and a list of signatures here.

I am not sure if there is a way to add a signature. If so, I would add mine.


  1. It seems that some of the folks who rushed to sign the Manhattan Declaration are less interested in signing onto something that may cause them to appear actually compassionate.

    I can't help but notice that Rick Warren, Tony Perkins, James Dobson, Carmen "The Millstone" Fowler, Lou Sheldon, Bishop Akinola, etc., haven't signed this statement.

    Color me surprised.

    Good for Bruce and Gradye, though. I wonder if the PCUSA supports the Ugandan government or governmental agencies monetarily in any way? After all, if we're going to be so quick to withdraw a paltry few dollars of support from Acorn, perhaps we could double check our books and make sure we're not contributing money to people who are out for blood? (Note, I wouldn't want to withdraw actual mission support, just any sort of thing that might be supporting the government itself.)

  2. I have no idea the connections the PCUSA or the US for that matter has with Uganda.

  3. Currently we do not have any denominational partnership in Uganda. There has been much discussion about this and our best way to proceed as denominational leadership in a way that might be effective especially in our relationships with other partners in the area. There are other things in the works, but nope, no fiscal connections. - Bruce

  4. Thanks for that, Bruce, and thanks for signing the statement! : )

  5. "It seems that some of the folks who rushed to sign the Manhattan Declaration are less interested in signing onto something that may cause them to appear actually compassionate."

    The Manhattan Declaration dealt with developments in Western culture, with perceived problems that we can do something about. Why sign a petition against a law for another country? We know what most of the world's opinion of us is. Why do we think this will help? The answer came from the comment above: we don't.

    It's about "appearing compassionate." As Christians, I don't think we are about appearing compassionate - we are about actually being compassionate.

    How much would we care if Ugandan clergy got together and sent us a petition condemning our states that approve gay marriage? Not much. Now - reverse that - and, there is your answer.

  6. I am sure that those who face death, beatings, denial of rights, who are called names, kicked out of their homes, and made to feel miserable about themselves because of "compassionate" Christians will appreciate your logic, Pastor Mack.

  7. NIMBY logic - works every time. For the oppressor, that is.

  8. "As Christians, I don't think we are about appearing compassionate - we are about actually being compassionate. "

    Indeed *we* are. I don't think *they* are, which is why I phrased it that way.

    They are either silently in favor of this law, or don't care enough to come out against it. We saw hundreds of blog posts from our so-called conservative friends on the Manhattan Declaration. Anyone want to place a bet on how many of them write a post about this? My bet is that the number rounds to zero.

    Even if they're not in support of the death penalty for LGBT people, they're not willing to stand up against such a measure for fear of being called out by good folks like Carmen "The Millstone" Fowler. God forbid one of them breaks ranks and actually suggests gay people shouldn't be killed.

    But at least we know where you stand, Pastor Mack.

    The point, Pastor Mack, isn't about whether or not it would change anyone's mind in Uganda. The point is to stand up against hatred and tyranny. To stand up for what's right and to proclaim the truth loudly and without fear.

    I'm a little surprised that someone in your business thinks that's a fool's errand.

  9. Compassion is a good thing, but there is nothing compassionate about signing a petition. It's as effective as choosing "like" on facebook. It compassion by proxy. It's only effect is to make us feel better. Want to fight it? Go to Uganda. Write your Senator. Write our "Mr. Compassion" President (has he spoken about this, by the way?) The Manhattan Declaration folks were at least in the right hemisphere to effect the change they wanted. Signing a petition is a 1960's student protest way of effecting change. Let me know if the Ugandan government suddenly decides to care what American clergy think.

    "They are either silently in favor of this law, or don't care enough to come out against it."

    Option 3: call it "Pastor Mack's thought" - signing this petition is irrelevant to actually influencing the Ugandan vote. I think "someone in my business" (isn't that textbook ad hominem?) along with all Christians should do our best not to assume the worst about our interlocutors. But in the blogosphere, this is too much to ask.

  10. "Let me know if the Ugandan government suddenly decides to care what American clergy think."

    American clergy have been supporting churches in Uganda and cheering on their anti-gay efforts for years.

    Ugandan religious leaders have been using anti-gay material from American religious leaders (particularly American religious "change therapy" snake-oil salesmen *specifically as evidence to support this legislation.*

    In addition, this isn't just about sending a message to Uganda, it's also, you may not realize, a public document. Our elected leaders have been speaking out against this legislation and many more have done so since this document came out. Getting the folks in charge of the purse strings to realize what's going on here is also a good thing and may have the effect of getting them to pressure Uganda to drop this hateful piece of genocidal trash.

    So, perhaps you should do a little research before speaking about things you don't know anything about.

    You can't bring yourself to sign a petition that stands against the death penalty for LGBT people. Yeah, we got that the first time. Rationalize all you want but just because you're unable to see through your own rationalizations & silly straw man arguments, don't imagine that others can't.

    I find it sad that you've already spent more time writing comments against signing this than the time it would have taken you to actually sign it, if you were actually against the death penalty for LGBT people.

  11. The issue as I see it is not the effectiveness of signing petitions (historically, the results are mixed) nor the right of people to sign petitions. I don't dispute that.

    The issue for me is the truth and the vision of the petition, whether it be the Manhattan Declaration or the statement against the Ugandan bill.

    What kind of world do we want to live in? For me it is a world beyond boundaries of nationalism. I want a world in which my lgbt sisters and brothers are not sent to jail or executed or discriminated against. I want a world in which they have the right and freedom to marry, to raise children, to participate without fear of discrimination or violence. I want that in Tennessee and in Uganda and in the PCUSA.

    Further, it is my articulation of my philosophy of life, my faith, if you will, that informs that and inspires this vision to action.

    I am proud of and grateful to my PCUSA leaders who signed this statement. To me, they share at least part of my vision of justice and compassion for LGBT people. Particularly, they speak against the most horrendous aspect of dehumanizing vision. They put their names on it inviting critique. That is in part what it means to stand up for what one believes.

    What do you believe, Pastor Mack, regarding discrimination at home and abroad regarding LGBT people?