Martin Ssempa, the virulently anti-gay pastor who figures prominently in the new documentary God Loves Uganda, has a mutual admiration society going with one of the religious right’s most vehemently anti-gay advocates, Matt Barber of Liberty University and the Liberty Counsel.
Ssempa uses graphic images of gay porn and promotes wild conspiracy theories about gay people to fan homophobia to dangerous levels. He has close connections with politicians, including David Bahati, author of the infamous “kill-the-gays” bill. And he has access to the media: he tweeted on April 7 that he’s starting a daily TV news talk show.
On April 6, Ssempa tweeted, “Homos are paid to spread the vice by hiding it under human rights gibberish! They are $$ by rich European sodomy groups!”
Ssempa and his allies love to portray the gay-rights movement as a form of cultural imperialism from the decadent West. But anti-gay ministries in Uganda are themselves enriched by money that flows from conservative evangelicals in the U.S., as God Loves Uganda makes very clear. One pastor featured is among the five richest people in Uganda; he says his church was built with American money. Another pastor marvels that aid from American evangelicals increased threefold when his ministry began attacking homosexuality.
Barber retweeted Ssempa’s note, and then praised Ssempa in a follow-up tweet, “Here’s a man not afraid of the international homofascist juggernaut.”
Ssempa has in turn promoted Barber, retweeting a post promoting Liberty Counsel’s upcoming Awakening conference, and another Barber tweet claiming, “‘Gay marriage’ = the criminalization of Christianity.”
Barber’s praise for Ssempa is something to keep in mind the next time religious right leaders whine about being labeled as bigots.