Joyce Meyer Joins Condemnation of Uganda Anti-Gay Bill

I find it strange, but I have many gay and lesbian friends who absolutely love televangelist Joyce Meyers. They buy her books, watch her television show, and go to see her live and in person when they get a chance. I was even invited to go by one lesbian friend, but I declined. I have no use for Meyer’s gospel of happy talk and prosperity. It all sounds good until a real crisis hits, then God as Santa Claus seems to lose a bit of his promised luster.

I also have no use for Meyer’s anti-gay stance. While she, along with other perfect-hair-happy-gospeler Joel Osteen, is not overt in her condemnation of homosexuality, Meyer is on the record as being against it. She told Larry King in 2005 that she thinks it’s “a choice” and not a good one at that: “Obviously, Larry, if I believe the Bible, then I don’t believe that a gay lifestyle or a homosexual lifestyle is the right way to choose to live. I believe that there’s something so much better.”

Yes, like founding a ministry that makes you fabulously wealthy off the backs of those who believe all your gospel-lite mumbo jumbo. Dang, wish I had made that “choice” instead.

Despite all of that, however, Meyer has recently done something I can approve: after an email campaign from Change.org, she finally joined her colleague Rick Warren (who bowed under similar pressure) in issuing a condemnation of the still pending Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda.

”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,” Joyce Meyer Ministries wrote in a statement.

“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.”

Like Warren, however, Meyer couldn’t help but take a swipe against the “choice” of homosexuality while condemning the law:

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.

It is a fairly strong statement, however, stronger, I think than the one issued by Warren, and I applaud Meyer, who has evangelized extensively in Uganda, for finally speaking out, even if it was very late and under pressure.

The bill, meanwhile, continues to languish. Recent reports show that previous enthusiasm for a quick passage of it may be waning:

”I think it is useless and will not achieve what it intends to achieve,” said Alex Ndeezi, a member of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee tasked with reviewing the bill before it can be presented to the house.

The panel’s chairman Stephen Tashyoba said the draft law was not a priority.

“As far as I am concerned, we really have more urgent matters to discuss like electoral reforms, which are already behind schedule,” he said.

Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda and offenders can be jailed for life.

After all that tough talk from Uganda that it would not bow to pressure from the United States on this issue, it seems that, for now, the bill is all but dead. While I still find their overall theology simplified and odious, I will say that if Rick Warren or Joyce Meyer had any role in helping to squelch this bill, then we owe them a thank you.

Candace Chellew-Hodge is the founder/editor of Whosoever: An Online Magazine for GLBT Christians and currently serves as the pastor of Jubilee! Circle in Columbia, S.C. She is also the author of Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians (Jossey-Bass, 2008)