UPDATE TO THIS POST ON JANUARY 27, 2010:
Yesterday, David Kato, Advocacy Investigations Officer for Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) was murdered in his home when someone attacked him with a hammer to his head. He died on the way to the hospital in Kampala. Four months ago, David was featured on the front cover of Uganda’s Rolling Stone magazine aside the headline of “100 Top Homos-Hang Them”. Today, he is dead.
I interviewed his co-worker Frank Mugisha, Executive Director at SMUG in December for Affirming Christian Network and specifically asked him about his personal safety while in Uganda. He told us he is “too high profile” for anyone to do anything to him because the spotlight would shine more on the issue if any arm came to him. Clearly, those that hate the GLBTQI community in Uganda do not care about increased international awareness. David Kato is now a martyr for the cause of equality in Uganda.
Here is an interview from NPR on November 5, 2009 in which David Kato outlines one reason that pushing the GLBTQI population further underground will increase danger of HIV AIDS in Uganda. You can hear gentleness and kindness in is voice. To imagine Mr. Kato as a threat to anyone is inflated propaganda.
There has been much focus on Scott Lively again in the past day as well. For his involvement in the “Kill the Gays” Bill, read the following post. I wrote to Mr. Lively about a year ago and we have maintained a mostly respectful exchange over the months. I will not directly quote him; that is my part of the bargain for keeping this communication open. I write to Mr. Lively when an action of his brings him to the news, again. In the last few weeks, the coffee house that he opened in Springfield, MA as a community service and ministry outreach made press. First, the school board from the town did not like the local high schoolers playing hooky there. They came to a “no school hours for kids” agreement. The following week, the manager of the coffee house, a convicted sex offender, was arrested for not registering his new location with local authorities. He lives above the coffee house with his wife and child and managed the coffee shop in exchange.
I find this particularly ironic that a man who absolutely believes that gay people ARE pedophiles allowed a heterosexual pedophile to manage his business. The target outreach of the coffee shop is teens. With a law background, Mr. Lively should have asked for an account of the manager’s past knowing he had been in prison. No, it was not a “paying job”, but Sunday school teachers, Bible camp leaders are background checked before they work with children.
Mr. Lively to his defense has been trying to change his public image and show that he has a side of him that cares for the homeless, the poor and those around him. Hence, his personal recent focus on the coffeehouse and local ministry work in Springfield, MA. In my exchange with Mr. Lively two weeks ago, and hearing his concern that the money/time he and his wife invested would be destroyed, I suggested he “leave his coffee at the altar and go make amends with those he has offended”. The God I know about, love and serve will never bless a life that is so destructive to His creation. I do not care if you like/love/hate someone, the message of the Bible is “love your neighbor” and “love your enemy” as well. When your direct teachings are the seeds of death, that cannot be ignored or blessed by the One I call Father.
In the many exchanges with Mr. Lively, it is clear that he cannot not move away from the firm belief that homosexuality is a mental illness. Everything is harkened back to that belief. And, the mental illness that GLBT bring on themselves, he says, is a result of Romans 1:26-28 (sorry, I can’t even misquote those verses here. Check out what I believe those verses say in this post on Romans 1). He emphasizes repeatedly how so many people in the GLBT community suffer high rates of depression and mental illness relative to population there is in the GLBT community. I responded “most rejected people do, most people that are told they are worthless do, most people who are rejected by family do, most people who think that even God does not love them do. Stop the rejection and change the cycle. You say egg, I say chicken.”
I do not know what it will take to bring an epiphany to Scott Lively. He holds Law over grace, judgment over mercy. These are basis revelation of God issues that are personal to each of us. Saul in the Bible was the same way; he terrorized the new Jesus followers. He knew he was right; he used the Law to prove he was right; he was responsible for deaths. And then, Jesus blinded him (because he could not see anyway) and spoke to him. Saul became Paul.
I know Scott Lively reads my blog. So, Scott, I know you have some humanity inside you; I see pieces of it in our exchanges. But, Scott, God never asked you to defend His Word to the point of the death of others. The hatred that comes at you is not “suffering for Jesus” hatred. It has been earned. You say you want me to chastise those that mistreat you. Well, the bulk of the people that write/speak/campaign against you are people that you say cannot be in this Jesus-club. You don’t want them/think they can join this club, yet, you want them to follow the rules. Well, that just seems silly.
Scott, I do not think any area of your life will be blessed until you atone for the the damage you have done to those in Uganda. Even if you see them as defective and broken and mentally ill, they would still, and especially then, fall into the category of “the least of these”. There is no theological way around this one. The damage you are doing to your own family has to be unbearable. I cannot imagine the hell your wife is daily living in. And your sons.
Scott, I hope you find your road to Damascus soon. For your own sake, for the sake of your family and the sake of the many people you are responsible for destroying. Only God Himself can get through to you. “suddenly a light flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?”
To others, the weblink to pound the Parliament with emails has been updated by my beautiful and compassionate trangender friend Lisa Salazar. She is a woman who wanted to do something concrete so she made it easier for each of us to ave our voices heard. Turn off your TV tonight and invest in justice and equality. For an entire account of the Uganda issue, go to my recent blogpost “A Genocide is Brewing in Uganda“.
This post “A Plea for Missionaries in Uganda NOW” outlines the most up-to-date concrete need of those in Uganda from conversations with Frank Mugisha.
NOW, TO THE ORIGINAL POST WITH THE STORY OF MR. LIVELY
I have found myself becoming more sensitive these last several months about divisiveness. I hear the us/them statements clearly; I see the me/you actions plainly. And, I am speaking up more when I see it. I comment privately and publicly. I engaged in a conversation in early June that was private with a public figure. It was one of those times that I could not stay silent and needed to comment. Thus began a week long email exchange with Scott Lively, one of the most outspoken anti-homosexual activists in the US and in Uganda. Please don’t think this another “bash him because he bashes us” narrative. It is not. I offer some insight at the end. Hang in there.
Please check out the video in this post or here 6 Minutes of Scott Lively comments. This will give you an excellent view of who Mr. Lively, in his own words, is. What he says and his attitudes will deeply offend most of you, actually, I hope they offend all of you.
Scott Lively’s self published bio states he has earned his Doctor of Theology from School of the Bible and Theology Seminary and University in San Jacinto, CA that primarily serves online students. He has earned a Juris Doctor, magna cum laude from Trinity Law School, CA which has some notable graduates. The bio also lists “Institute of International Human Rights, Strasbourg, France, certificate”. This seemed interesting to me considering his contribution to the “Kill the Gays Bill” in Uganda. So, I tried to research why and when any group would give a man with his record an award. This is my current understanding of the “certificate”. There was a workshop/seminar on human rights in 2006 and he earned a certificate of participation, certainly not to be confused with one of honor. I suggest that listing this on his bio gives him credibility in the arena of human rights and is deceptive.
Mr.Lively is the author of five books including: Defeating “Gay” Arguments With Simple Logic, Redeeming the Rainbow: A Christian Response to the “Gay” Agenda, Seven Steps To Recruit-Proof Your Child (A concise, practical guidebook for parents who wish to protect their children from pro-homosexual indoctrination and the possibility of recruitment into the homosexual lifestyle.) and The Pink Swastika (The Pink Swastika is a listed as a thoroughly researched, eminently readable, demolition of the “gay” myth, symbolized by the pink triangle, that the Nazis were anti-homosexual.) All these titles are viewable and can be ordered on the website of Defend the Family. The mission statement of Defend the Family is: to promote and defend the Biblical view of marriage and family through education, training and funding, all provided by President Scott Lively.
While watching “Vanguard: Missionaries of Hate”, I started searching around online wanting to understand the background and qualifications of Mr. Lively. I found his Defend the Family site and sent him a short note: “I am a straight Evangelical Christian. I have worked actively for 5 years to help bring love and mercy while you bring lies and destruction.” I linked it to two of my youtubes. At the time, I believed he was in Sacramento and offered to have coffee with him so that I could tell him personal stories of the impact of his work. (Mr. Lively actually lives in New England.) I will not directly quote Scott Lively’s words from the email exchange in this blog. It was a private communication of emails comprising over 20,000 words. ( I cannot release those e mails because I spoke with him in confidentiality and I will honor that.) I did not present myself as anything but what I am. I was honest about my ministry work between the GLBT community and the church and sent him links to my videos on youtube.
This would not be my first encounter with an driven anti-gay activist. I find them, they find me, we bump into each other. I was surprised to find a return email sent 6 hours later. To preface, I have now read Scott’s public download “Redeeming the Rainbow” that he sent me, so the terms I quote will be directly from his public records and not from the correspondences, although they are repeated in those letters too.
Scott doubted that I am indeed an Evangelical Christian and assumed my assessment of him came from untruthful “gay” (he always puts “” around “gay” in his writings , does he use air quotes too?) activist and their propaganda. No, I told him. I listened to his own words and read his own writings on the Defend the Family site and could make my own assessments. Mr. Lively did however ,approve of my ministry to “people with sexual identity disorder” as long as I used the Bible as my source of guidance.
Try to google “sexual identity disorder”. You will get links for people with gender identity issues (male brains in women’s bodies and the reverse); you will not get links to gay and lesbian issues in the first several pages of search. Mr. Lively is using terminology from his old NARTH days. He lectured there and DTF has given NARTH grant money in the past. Yes, NARTH is the very group founded by George Reker’s fame. You know, “rentboy”, the NARTH leader who needed a sherpa for a two week European holiday and rented a young, male prostitute?
Before we proceeded to more communications, Mr. Lively wanted to hear my interpretation of 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. I responded later that day with my interpretations and more importantly, set some guidelines for conversation. If he labeled me as “not a Christian” again for my theology on this issue, I would not even respond; if the exchange ever become nasty , I would be done. I began with my personal belief of the intent of the Bible. It is a letter to me; it tells me how I am to show up in this world, how I am to treat others, how I am to respect God, the creation and the planet. I follow God first and then follow the love-my-neighbor directive. If I can’t do the second part of the top two commands from Jesus Himself, then, it is not about the “other” or God, it is about me. Me and my relationship to God. The problem falls back to me.
“If I show contempt”, I stated, “that is MY lack. If I treat your poorly out of MY fear, that is MY lack. When I get my act together in front of God, I can love you no matter what you do , who you choose to love and even who you choose to hate.” I was fairly sure I would not change Mr. Lively’s theology; I did hope to appeal to his treatment of others with grace and respect. And it was “game on” for the next five days.
Here are some general beliefs Mr. Lively’s holds (confirmed in his book Redeeming the Rainbow: A Christian Response to the “Gay” Agenda):
• Homosexuality is caused in three ways: sexual abuse, gender identity disorder, rebellion against authority and by children copying the behavior they see
• Homosexuality is condemned in the Bible by the “harshest language possible”
• Homosexual orientation can be changed by reparative therapy
• Homosexuals in Germany, under Hitler, were eliminated when factions of effeminate and masculine homosexuals violently opposed one another.
• The “natural family” follows the Biblical model
• The majority of the activists at abortion clinics are homosexuals
• “Gays” promote heterosexual immorality and are prevalent in the porn industry. Even Playboy is a “tool of gay social engineering”. (I am not kidding about this.)
• The “gay agenda” has an ultimate goal of homosexual supremacy
• The original “blueprint” for the agenda was After the Ball by Marshall Kirk, 1987 “intended for ‘gay’ activist eyes only” (but somehow after its publication Kirk appeared in the pages of Newsweek, Time and The Washington Post. Not a very good secret plot I’d say.)
• Homosexuals recruit young people
• The homosexual strategy is “to replace the Judeo-Christian moral foundation of Western civilization with an alternative morality that places no restrictions on sexual conduct.”
• The “natural family’ is the only place children learn good virtues and attitudes
• There is, in place, a “gay takeover process” in government, business, education, media and churches
Okay, now suppose you took all the above information to a country, not quite as sophisticated as the United States, and pitched it as truth. Eighty-four percent of Uganda is comprised of professing Christians. In comes Mr. Lively armed with “facts”, documents, testimonials, “truth” and American authority. He comes with his “Certificate of Human Rights” even. Over the period of two months, he does some seminars, teaching, preaching and stirring of the pot and suddenly, the message he brings is not just true, it is Gospel truth and pastors buy in and now they start to preach it from their pulpits. Who wants to be a depraved nation like the US which the “gays” have already destroyed?
But, how does that get pushed out through the government? Well, it is all lined out in pages 116 to 199 of Redeeming the Rainbow. You basically get your family in order, create a sphere of influence, then infiltrate education, business, government and media. What a minute. I thought this was the “gay take over process”? Aren’t GLBT’s the ones guilty of propaganda? Propaganda is defined as a type of communication that is aimed at shifting the attitude of a group towards some cause or position. Propaganda presents facts selectively and uses messages to produce an emotional response rather than a rational one. This is precisely Mr. Lively’s approach.
Read the above list over again of what “gays” have done to this country. Mr. Lively tells his Ugandan friends that this too will happen in Uganda. Does this list look like fear-based propaganda no matter what your theology? I am personally disgusted by even minor levels of manipulation; Biblically, I equate it with witchcraft. Could God possibly be behind tactics of fear and manipulation? Why is no strong church leader in Uganda seeing this?
We can read these views and know they border on crazy. How can Ugandan church leaders not see the force behind these attitudes? I have queried out loud many times in recent weeks “how can the same Holy Spirit that you say is operating and energizing you be the same one that operates in me when our views are so polar opposite?” How can this be? Especially when one view is violent, manipulative and full of lies and deceptions?
Let me take a tiny jog off this path for a few thoughts. My daughter Sami was in South Africa interning during Word Cup. She updated people with wonderfully long journal entries. She wrote ” there is a huge problem in this country with spousal abuse. It is considered to be a normal occurrence within a marriage, and as far as I can tell there isn’t much push for prevention, etc.” That got me thinking about Uganda which is not as socially advanced as South Africa. I read this in Amnesty USA website:
“Attitudes that accept and justify violence against women are widely held within Ugandan society. When we interviewed women in Uganda, they expressed their frustrations with the obstacles to pursuing justice in their communities. For many, laws are not enforced, harassment of victims is widespread, and there is no easy access to justice.
An African woman’s no means yes – Ugandan government official
This is not simply a matter of law enforcement. Our report also examines the reasons why many victims of sexual and gender-based violence stay silent. In a society where there are widely held beliefs that a woman is to blame if she is the victim of violence, many women are simply too ashamed to seek justice.”
This seems to me a very glaring issue of justice, or rather injustice. Why would a “man of the cloth” go to a country in such need of basic Christian family teachings of non violence against women and ignore that and go for the “gay agenda”? He is the President of the Defend the Family group right? Who do you think is more destructive towards the family? A) a GLBT neighbor or , B) a man beating his wife? If I saw you beating your wife, would I up the ante and encourage you to treat yet another group with more of such utter disrespect and violence? Would it be too far a leap to consider that hating another group would be quite easy when there is already not an outrage going on about the treatment of women? Do you see even the women in the longer video hooting for this anti gay support? Another scapegoat to take the anger directed at them perhaps? And, being victims of violence themselves, the boundaries for the treatment of others is pretty dang blurred.
Something very, very wrong is going on in Uganda. A wise man may have seen this violent attitudeude already present in Uganda and not fanned that fire. A fool with personal fear and hatred may have view Uganda as an opportunity for his plan and outline to be heard, embraced and implemented. No one is listening to him in the US about this “redemptive plan”, why not take it to Uganda.
Do I think Scott Lively had a plan that the “Kill the Gays Bill” would go as far as it has? No, I don’t. Listen to his own words though. Given the option of no bill or the current one: he’ll take the current one. The exchanges with him were, for the most part, even, considerate and not the ravings of a total madman. Here is what I do think is true. If we have open sores and wounds in us that are filled with the puss of fear and hatred, that is fertile ground for dysfunctional action falling somewhere on the continuum from discomfort to anger to terrorism. It works both ways. Not just in Mr. Lively’s life. Any of you reading this could be so hurt and angry that you would manipulate, use propaganda and lies to get your way on this issue too. Bottom line—God is not behind anger, manipulation and lying.
The many exchanges finally ended when Scott told me to basically stop taking the easy way out of my personal discomfort and to start doing the harder work of showing grace without ignoring the law. He also told me I was addicted to lies that make me feel good about myself. The consequence, he told me, of that was my deep denial of truth. I wrote a polite but firm letter telling him one last time that he was using lies and fear to manipulate a people group, yet I was the one being accused of lies? I recognized he gave little validity to my expression of Christianity and that the line of courtesy was now eroding. I said goodbye with “honor Him in all you do, as will I. I need to move on now.”
I think Mr. Lively has something in him that is so wounded and hurt that he defaults to his “Scott Lively agenda” to save some small part of the world from homosexuality. What I had hope for in the exchanges with him was to hear about that hurt somewhere in the conversation that directly pointed to homosexuality. I wanted to be able to make sense of him. I wanted to find that thing where it all went horribly off course. This is what I do in the Kingdom-here-on-earth work: I try to find a way to make people understand the “other” and especially the GLBT s that God has given me such deep love for. And similarly, does Scott Lively think that he is also doing God’s work? Absolutely!
Scott told me of a story of caring for an AIDS patient in his home in the man’s final weeks. of life. Of course this man had repented of his homosexuality. I asked if he would have taken in the man if he had not repented. I did not get an answer. Scott has a wife of almost 30 years and two grown sons. Mr. Lively was raised by a severely bipolar father who spent most of his life in a state mental institution. There was an incident of Scott dropping out of school in 10th grade and Dad making it into and armed stand off with the state police. Scott was an alcoholic at 12 and drug addicted by 14. He was “delivered” at 28 and become an “attorney, pastor, author and international human rights activist”.
I am sure the core of the way he acts is buried in this narrative. If I were to reduce it, I see an abused, neglected, abandoned, shamed, fearful child who is very much unhealed. He may also be that list of accomplishments, but he is walking around wounded. We have all heard it before ‘hurt people hurt people”. He must have been really, really hurt. You can cover it all up with degrees and read Bibles to the point of tatters, but until you surrender and let the Holy Spirit heal those old wound, you cannot possibly extend grace to others the way God would have you do it. Just. Not. Possible.
So how about this crazy, God-approved suggestion? No one is going to change the mind of this man. He is convinced of the truth in his 20 years of beliefs that are anti gay, legalistic to the max and proven to be deadly destructive. So, my respectful exchange (he even said he liked my “gentle spirit” at one point, then he saw I was not willing to repent from my theology) did nothing to shift him. Outrage from around the world and from other preachers has not shifted him. His own conscience has not shifted him. He is getting accolades in Uganda that surpass the anger in the US. If he really believes the Holy Spirit is leading him, and he does, he is not likely to stop his teaching and activism.
Okay, here we go. . . how about we pray for Scott Lively? Pray that God show him his own wounds. Pray that the Holy Spirit convict him of the evil tactics he is using. Pray that God enlighten his wife and thus turn and help him directly. Pray that he loses his standing in Uganda somehow (hey, it happened to NARTH’s Reker), that the Ugandans do not listen. Pray that the leaders in Uganda see that fear and propaganda are not from God. Pray that Ugandans see their own treatment of women. Pray. Speak up, yes. Pass the video around, yes. Pass this around. Can you see the spirit behind Scott Lively’s message? Look beyond this man and know “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12
This will seem passive to people who do not claim Jesus as their leader. To those that do, you know it is the right thing to do. For my GLBT Christian brothers and sisters, there is enough hatred and anger going around in the church. I have always admired the amount of grace I see lived out in the GLBT community. Shhhh . . . don’t tell the S people, but, I think you are better at mercy, grace and forgiveness than they are. To find a way back to God in the midst of the laws thrown at you, whew, I see it as an amazing journey—you have more practice at forgiveness and grace.
Speak out about the evil, reflect Him, pray for Scott, trust that God knows what is going on. You know He is a God of Justice. It will be exposed. But, let’s speed it up. Scott Lively is a hurt man who is hurting others. Try to see him as that and be a part of freedom for not only GLBT people in Uganda, but for women too. And freedom for Mr. Lively too. As awful as the things he has done are, God ‘s heart breaks for him too. Uganda may be an 84% Christian nation, but God wants followers and disciples, not just believers. Maybe the breakthrough is prayer.
In a later interview with Frank Mugisha ( which is archived on Affirming Christian Network i-radio I-43 shows with Jeff and myself), the president of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), he gave suggestions to the church in America. Send over our LOVING AFFIRMING missionaries, not the ones “of hate”. The denominations that welcome can look at Uganda as an excellent mission field. Even if repression is not done legally, the poison is already in the church. There are no, none, no church congregations in Uganda that welcome GLBT Christians. Looking for a church plant? Think Uganda and bring the gift of both spiritual and physical life.
A group of men went to Uganda in the Name of God and brought increased hatred. Some of you reading this may think that is the only message we Christians seem to have. (Read a post I did when the Family Research Council was named to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hate Groups list entitled ” The Ten Lies about the GLBT Community Told by Conservative Hate Groups: A Straight Christian Perspective“). I get that. We are getting well known for our anti-gay-ness, judgmentalism and hypocrisy. I would rather we were known for our love. Some of us really do love like Jesus, really. Really.
I am going to take my own suggestion and go hiking and pray for Scott and Uganda’s leaders. Twenty thousand words spoken to him were not effective, but I know 100 words spoken to Him are.
Holy Spirit wisdom to you and from you.