Uganda Update: Lou Engle & TheCall Respond to Critics with Lies and Distortions
It seems as if the public outcry over American evangelical extremist Lou Engle’s upcoming “TheCall Uganda” has caused the a few headaches for the violent anti-gay and anti-abortion preacher best known for calling for martyrs and bloodshed in the name of fighting “homosexuals and abortionists.”
Warren Throckmorton, a blogger and College Psychology Professor, has obtained a statement from Engle, in which he answers the criticism over the all-day anti-gay stadium event, TheCall Uganda Rally, on May 2nd, in Kampala, Uganda. Engle comments on the “problems” in the Anti-Homosexuality ‘Kill the Gays’ Bill, saying:
…we do not see the character of Christ reflected in some key aspects of the language of the current bill.
Engle also has a Rick Warren moment throughout the statement, seeking to rewrite the history of the California Prop 8 campaign and his violent, extreme rhetoric from his Call rally there.
Here is Engle’s Full statement. It’s worth a read in its entirety. I’ve highlighted a few points of concern that I’ll discuss after:
TheCall Uganda Press Release:
When TheCall was invited to come to Uganda our intent was to join with the leaders and the people of the great Ugandan Church in a gathering of fasting and prayer to confess our personal and national sins, to pray for God’s blessing on the nation, and for a great spiritual awakening among her youth. Personal and national repentance among Christians and prayer for spiritual awakening has been the core focus of TheCall since her inception.
TheCall had no knowledge at the time, of the Uganda homosexual bill and the controversy surrounding it. TheCall was unaware that our genuine intent to encourage the Ugandan church in prayer would thrust us into an international controversy.
TheCall, in 2008, mobilized thousands to pray and fast in California that marriage would be upheld between a man and a woman, believing this to be God’s design for the good of society, family, and children. TheCall belief and intent has never been about promoting hatred toward the homosexual community as a whole or towards individuals who identify as LGBT. We have always sought to offer a message of love and redemption to those with same-sex attractions, though at times our communication could have been expressed more effectively and graciously. In this aspect, we humbly seek your forgiveness if we had not communicated God’s righteousness and mercy adequately.
Now recently, TheCall has been wrongfully marked and vilified as an organization promoting hatred and violence against homosexuals and as one that supports the Uganda bill as currently written. To the contrary, we have never made a private or a public statement of support for that bill. Though we honor the courage and stand with the stated purpose of the many Church leaders in Uganda who are seeking to protect the traditional and biblical family foundations of the nation, we have serious concerns with the bill as presently written, especially in terms of some of the harsh penalties for certain homosexual behaviors or offenses. Sadly, many around the world are identifying TheCall with these aspects of the bill. Our concern is not to avoid the controversy the bill is stirring up, but to give an accurate representation of biblical values and the heart of Christ for all humanity. Though TheCall is not afraid to take a clear stand on biblical truth on matters of sexuality, we are deeply concerned that TheCall ministry would not wrongfully reflect the character of Christ, and we do not see the character of Christ reflected in some key aspects of the language of the current bill.
Therefore TheCall, though continuing to be held in Uganda, will not promote this bill. In fact, we challenge the Church of Uganda to join with Christians around the world, to first examine our own moral failures, confess our own lack of love, and from that heart seek to establish true biblical standards, reflecting compassion for those struggling with same-sex attraction and equal justice for criminal offenses committed by heterosexuals or homosexuals. We believe this also reflects the heart and intent of the Christian leaders of Uganda.
In releasing this statement, we want to take this opportunity to reiterate our deep love for the homosexual community and, as followers of Jesus, our commitment to oppose all hatred and violence directed towards that community.
This is a problematic press release, to say the least.
Let’s break it down after the jump…
A Peek in the Mind of Lou Engle & TheCall
This press release reeks of an American ‘Rick Warren’-style PR offensive.
It uses carefully coded religious language that on its face may seem to answer concerns to the American Media, yet doesn’t have any answers to the criticism of TheCall and seeks to rewrite its history in one sweeping blow.
The True Face of TheCall
First, Engle seeks to obfuscate the true nature of TheCall’s events and his ministry:
Personal and national repentance among Christians and prayer for spiritual awakening has been the core focus of TheCall since her inception.
In fact, TheCall has always been a rabidly anti-gay and anti-abortion front to incite violence. Patricia Nell Warren gave some background on Engle and TheCall when she looked into their California event during the Prop 8 campaign and reported this:
A major figure in the New Apostolic Reformation that I’ve been writing about, Engle has close ties with the violent anti-abortion movement called The Army of God, who stirred up such a frenzied atmosphere of attacks on abortion clinics that they finally incited someone to assassinate the well-known doctor George Tiller.
His own movement also calls for acts of “martyrdom” — meaning followers who are willing to commit violent acts, including murder, who will willingly go to prison or be shot down by police, so they can rid the world of the movement’s “enemies,” namely prominent abortionists and LGBT leaders and the like.
Now Engle is taking that dangerous message of bloodshed and martyrdom to Uganda, where violence against LGBT people has already soared and whre they are considering a Bill to sanction just that type of “moral authority” bloodshed.
TheCall Unaware of the “Kill the Gays” Bill??
Next, Engle tries to plead ignorance of the situation in Uganda:
TheCall had no knowledge at the time, of the Uganda homosexual bill and the controversy surrounding it.
Unless Engle was living in a cave, he and his organization certainly knew of the ‘Kill the Gays’ Bill. Every major news outlet has covered it. Every Ugandan pastor that TheCall is working with to set up the Ugandan Rally are staunch supporters of the Bill who have made it their top priority to pass it, including Martin Ssempa, the porn-showing pastor who has taken the lead on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
The State Department and the President have released statements on the Bill. Other American religious leaders have come out against the draconian legislation.
There is simply no way this is a true statement.
TheCall Rewrites their Violent history
Engle tries the time-worn technique of saying how much he and his organization love “the homosexual.” All of that other video of him saying how we are demon possessed, need to be outlawed, and that they need martyrs to come after the sinners with bloodshed was out of love, not hatred…
TheCall belief and intent has never been about promoting hatred toward the homosexual community as a whole or towards individuals who identify as LGBT.
TheCall has been wrongfully marked and vilified as an organization promoting hatred and violence against homosexuals and as one that supports the Uganda bill as currently written.
Of course, that might go against quotes like this from the California TheCall Rally:
The most “dangerous terrorist” is not Islam but God. One of God’s names is the avenger of blood. Have you worshipped that God yet?
And from videos like this:
TheCall and Engle have made a career of hating LGBT people and promoting violence against us. It is what they have built their church on. One letter claiming otherwise to save face with the American media doesn’t change history and wont erase the danger that TheCall’s presence in Uganda creates.
Glimpses of Truth in Lou Engle’s Statement
There are some telling moments in the statement that are cause for further concern and show that the outcry against TheCall is completely founded:
Though we honor the courage and stand with the stated purpose of the many Church leaders in Uganda who are seeking to protect the traditional and biblical family foundations of the nation…
TheCall, though continuing to be held in Uganda, will not promote this bill.
There is a clear message being sent here. The Church leaders that Engle are praising are the very ones behind the ‘Kill the Gays’ Bill. The language about “biblical family foundations” is nothing more than an endorsement of the hatred and fear of LGBT people.
And although he tries to say they won’t promote the bill, he never says they oppose it or the criminalization of homosexuality. He finds “some of the language” problematic, but not the bill itself.
It also leaves open the huge loophole of not promoting the Bill directly, but inciting and whipping up anti-gay support for the Bill with his usual violent and dangerous rhetoric.
The results are the same- Engle will incite further anti-gay animus in the country with his message of “true biblical standards”, that in his mind include eradicating homosexuals and martyrdom.
This Isn’t Good Enough- Engle Must Be Stopped
It is clear this statement is simply meant to deflect criticism and make sure the American media doesn’t go after Engle and TheCall. Engle still plans to take his violently anti-gay message to a powder-keg of a country that is brimming with anti-LGBT violence and hate.
As Rev. Patricia Ackerman of the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office, who is working hard to monitor and combat the growing danger in Uganda, said:
Only a public outcry will be able to stop TheCall from exporting more hate from the United States to Uganda in the name of religion.
We need to keep on Engle. We need to make sure the media takes up this story. We need to keep writing, calling, and pressuring for action to be taken. The pressure has forced him to respond, so we know our voices are being heard. We just have to keep speaking up and fighting back.
This is literally a matter of life and death.
For more information on the situation in Uganda, visit the LGBT/SOGI Human Rights Program at the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office.