Mega-church pastor and best-selling evangelical author Rick Warren announced earlier this week that he plans to hold a presidential forum, as he did during the 2008 campaign. Warren has not yet set a date for the event, nor does he have an agreement with the Obama and Romney campaigns for their participation. But both candidates have at least some reason to consider accepting the chance to discuss their faith publicly. I won’t review the reasons why many American voters like to hear about the faith of their presidential candidates.
From Bloomberg: Uganda will drop the death penalty and life imprisonment for gays in a refined version of an anti- gay bill expected to be ready for presentation to Parliament in two weeks, James Nsaba Buturo, the minister of ethics and integrity, said. Ugandan lawmaker David Bahati presented a private member’s bill on Oct. 14 which sought the death penalty and life imprisonment for gay people in the country. The Ugandan government supports the bill because homosexuality and lesbianism are “repugnant to the Ugandan culture,” Buturo said.
Obama sure looks to be in trouble, but we’ve seen this summertime hysteria before. As the Dog Days of August descended upon us, there developed across the progressive chattering classes a deep sense of malaise bordering on depression, if not panic--much of it driven by fears about the leadership skills of Barack Obama.
As the Dog Days of August descended upon us, there developed across the progressive chattering classes a deep sense of malaise bordering on depression, if not panic--much of it driven by fears about the leadership skills of Barack Obama.
This magazine has made no secret of its high regard for Barack Obama. Which makes it all the more distressing for us to observe the approach that his administration is taking on gay rights. During the campaign, Obama said all the right things (well, almost all--like most national politicians, he wouldn't endorse same-sex marriage). He invoked the importance of winning "equality" and "dignity" and "respect" for gays and lesbians. Now he is president. And one of the perks of being president is that you get to lead.
Ok, maybe this makes up for Rick Warren. A couple of months ago, Obama seemed to be walking back from his promise to undo the destructive “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays in the military. But today, in a video posted on the change.gov website (a site, full disclosure, designed by my husband, who works for the Obama transition), Robert Gibbs sounded pretty unambiguous. The five-minute segment featured Gibbs answering questions that had been posted on the site and voted up by users.
Martin Ssempa, Rick Warren's "sidekick" in Uganda, is no stranger to zealotry and extremism, as this 2004 TNR piece makes clear. In "Enemy's Enemy," Andrew Rice looks at the Ugandan pastor's role in the country's ongoing evangelicals-versus-Muslims culture war: Ssempa claims his church, though it is just eight years old, has more than 5,000 members. "These are going to be the future lawyers, these are going to be the future corporate leaders, these are going to be the future writers," he said.
Max Blumenthal has stirred up the embers of what had seemed to be a dying controversy with this expose of Inaugural invoker Rick Warren's AIDS' activity in Africa. According to Blumenthal, Warren's "sidekick" in Uganda, a preacher named Martin Ssempa, is actively discouraging condom use--the most effective means of preventing the spread of AIDS--and demanding that the government "mete out harsh punishments against gays." It's not clear from Blumenthal's article, however, whether Ssempa's activities in Uganda are being financed as well as promoted by Warren. Someone should ask him. --John B.