A disturbing article in today’s New York Times reports on the impact of U.S. evangelicals, who have brought their anti-homosexual message to Uganda and at least indirectly contributed to the ongoing legislative push to make being gay a crime on a par with murder.
The Times reports that the American evangelists “are finding themselves on the defensive, saying they had no intention of helping stoke the kind of anger that could lead to what came next: a bill to impose a death sentence for homosexual behavior.”
Well, maybe they didn’t play a direct role; maybe they didn’t demand the death penalty or life imprisonment for gays, the “compromise” suggestion.
But listen to Christian radio in this country or visit the Web sites of the major anti-gay evangelical groups, and it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that by depicting a sinister “gay agenda” that has as a primary goal undermining “traditional” family values, they are fomenting exactly that kind of scapegoating.
And it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that Uganda’s increasingly anti-gay public policy offers a chilling view of what some conservative Christian leaders would like to see in this country. Well, maybe not the death penalty, but a severe rollback in gay rights and a revival of anti-sodomy laws.
The debate about gay marriage and civil unions is a legitimate one; there’s plenty of it in the Jewish community. Many Orthodox activists oppose expanding gay rights – but they have generally done so without the vitriol and overt bigotry that characterizes so much evangelical activism on the issue.
Even Jewish groups that take a conservative stance on homosexuality seem to recognize that scapegoating portraying supporters of gay rights as an almost satanic fifth column can only result in danger for all minorities who have been traditional victims of discrimination.
And you know who that means.