"God Loves Uganda" film to be shown July 19 in San Diego, shows how Religious Right is destroying LGBT people abroad
Remember that wonderful sermon preached by Philip Seymour Hoffman playing the priest in “Doubt” (2008) where he describes gossip? He describes a man taking a feather pillow to a rooftop and ripping it open, releasing the feathers on the wind and how impossible it is for the man to gather those feathers back. No matter how hard he tries, the feathers are gone and the damage is done.
It is a powerful image not only about gossip, but is a powerful image about misinformation. I thought about the image last night as I watched Alan Chamber’s apology to LGBT people on “Our America with Lisa Ling” titled “God and Gays.”
Ling was invited by Chambers to gather some people who were damaged by Exodus International’s bogus “ex-gay” ministry and have a face to face meeting in a Los Angeles church. Within the past month as Exodus International withdrew from its larger global affiliate Exodus Global Alliance (May 28), and announced it was shutting down its U.S. operations, Chambers carefully manipulated a media moment. He also strategically used LGBT people for his own devious ends.
Clutching a written apology in one hand and his wife in another, Chambers carefully couched his mea culpa in terms that seems designed to allow him to continue in some form of ministry. He mentioned a smaller ministry to people who may want to live a heterosexual family life (outreach to bisexuals?) or even “begin a church where everyone is welcome.”
I did not hear an apology, just a pragmatic professional refocus, once again at the expense of his victims. It was a cheap resurrection attempt. You can only be resurrected if you are dead, and Chambers has no intentions of killing his movement off anytime soon. Just because you shut down a financially struggling organization that has attracted a lot of negative attention, does not mean your ideology or the impact of its “feathers on the wind” has changed.
Lack of research
The show that aired on the Opry Winfrey Network (OWN) provided a false sense of closure and lacked some serious research into the effects of this movement globally. There was not one reference to the power of this movement in the Global South where most of Chamber’s unscientific ideology and next generation of disciples now live and propagate his misinformation.
Exodus Global Alliance is very much alive and well, and is largely responsible under Chamber’s mentorship over 18 years for misinforming Evangelical leaders across the globe that LGBT people have deliberately chosen a gay lifestyle.
In my column last week, I already referred to a major conference in Capetown, South Africa in 2010 where 4,000 leaders heard Chambers and Exodus Global Alliance rip on the pillow of misinformation and the recent history of anti-gay laws parallel the winds of influence of churches on sexual public policy issues.
We see this clearly on the continent of Africa. Uganda’s proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill is so harsh because in his heart, its author David Bahati wants a lesbian or a gay man to stop sinning and return to the nature God has given them - heterosexuality. The law is so punitive that it is designed to force this simple decision.
The Exodus International (and its larger global offspring Exodus Global Alliance) message is certainly not dead. LGBT lifestyle is still seen as a CHOICE. This misinformation continues to influence the attitudes of church leaders and politicians to shape their laws against LGBT people and even forbid the discussion of homosexuality.
No amount of money can pay to undo this
If we gave Chambers a billion dollars to undo his campaign of misinformation, he would still not succeed. Millions of people have been influenced by his lies and millions of people continue to suffer needlessly under governments and religious teachings that his movement is still feeding. We do not buy this apology.
The only reasonable course of reparation is for Chambers to do what another leader Michael Busee has done (so bravely featured on Ling’s show, which included San Diego activist Sean Sala) is for Chambers to spend the rest of his life repairing the damage he has caused GLOBALLY. He needs to spend the rest of his life in the Global South persuading these religious leaders and governments that the information he gave them about LGBT people was wrong.
Forgiveness should only be given when the person asking for it can demonstrate that given a new opportunity, they would do things very differently. Chambers has not earned the forgiveness of this community, and his appearance on Ling’s show was just another form of self -indulgent narcissism where it is still all about him. What about the millions of gay men who will get infected with HIV because their governments won’t allow them access to information, testing or health services or the millions of lesbians who fear corrective rape on a daily basis? Chambers needs to show his repentance by working to save these lives and not just his own reputation.
Support this work by understanding the issues globally
If you really want to understand the connection between these messages of self-hate and self-loathing that come from the lunatic wing of the Religious Right movement, then come and see “God Loves Uganda” in San Diego on July 19 at the Birch North Park Theatre.
Just as Lisa Ling and the survivors of ex- gay therapy failed to ask Chambers about the effects of his teaching ion the Global South, most Americans are totally unaware of what we are describing. The messages and the alliances that support and fund them reach into government and business interests that would rather keep the American public in the dark. Nobody in Ling’s audience knew of Chambers international influences and so he was never really held accountable. Maybe Lisa Ling needs to take her cameras to Brazil or India or Africa and ask Chambers to comment on what they record over there?
The award-winning film “God Loves Uganda,” by Oscar-winning director Roger Ross Williams, is both a tool to educate the American public about these largely hidden influences and to motivate the LGBT community to do something to help fellow LGBT people abroad. You can read about the film HERE and make a reservation to attend and meet Roger Ross Williams in person. If you cannot attend you can also make a donation to support the work.
Undoing Chamber’s work
I deal every day with feathers that have released from Alan Chamber’s ivory tower of certainty. We, in the St. Paul’s Foundation and many other organizations, struggle to give resources to his victims who are, for example dying of HIV and are trying to organize themselves to fight this global monster. It is ugly and it is frightening. People get hurt and people are getting killed. It is hard work and because it is largely invisible and international, it is hard to compete with our current LGBT domestic concerns. Supporting our event on July 19 is one very specific way that you can help to repair the damage that Chambers has not yet agreed to do. I am looking forward to seeing the international sequel.
RGOD2, written by the Rev. Canon Albert Ogle of St. Paul’s Cathedral in San Diego, looks at faith and religion from an LGBT point of view. Ogle is known around the world for his work in support of LGBT rights and HIV-prevention efforts. He is president of St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation. Donations to the foundation can be made by clicking HERE.