Rick Warren and Homophobia in Africa

If you haven’t already read Kathryn Joyce’s interview with the Rev. Kapya Kaoma, author of the new report, “Globalizing the Culture Wars,” you should. It’s vitally important stuff on how American evangelical leaders have succeeded in exporting — and validating — homophobia in Africa.

About Rick Warren, Kaoma notes: “In America Warren says ‘I love gays.’ In Africa, he says it’s not a natural way of life. He’s said, “I can’t say this in America, but I can say it in Africa.” In America, people will hold him responsible, and in Africa, nobody will.

As I reported a couple of weeks ago, Warren’s spokesperson told me that he had severed ties with a controversial Ugandan pastor, Martin Ssempa, who has compared homosexuality to witchcraft and engaged in condom burning. Warren’s spokesperson said that the split occurred “over various statements Mr. Ssempa made about homosexuality.”

In an email exchange with me, though, Ssempa questioned why Warren would have cut ties with him:

In the unclear statement he says it is over our position against homosexuality..what I dont [sic] yet understand is the fact that we as the African church and governments except for south africa, hold the same view on sodomy. It is unnatural, ungodly and criminal. Rwanda and president Kagame hold similar views and have the same draft laws. Does this mean that Rick is cut ties with Rwanda? The Archibishop of Uganda, Henry Luke Orombi, the Archibishop of Nigeria, Rwanda, Kenya..etc all hold similar biblical positions on homosexuality. Our view about sex and marriage is purpose driven in glorifying God.

Warren’s spokesperson told me the Warrens are still in contact with Orombi, who also supports the anti-gay law (but, according to Ssempa, not the death penalty provisions) but she didn’t know “the extent of the relationship.” According to Kaoma’s report, Orombi once declared that homosexuals “are very rich and are taking advantage of the abject poverty in Africa to lure people into their club.”