Dr. Warren Throckmorton Christian Blog and Commentary

NPR reports on partnership between Uganda's Martin Ssempa and Las Vegas megachurch

Barbara Bradley Hagerty reported today on the ties between Canyon Ridge Christian Church and Martin Ssempa. The audio, transcript and a bit more is up now on their website.

Hagerty provides the facts: Canyon Ridge has supported Ssempa since 2007 and Ssempa has become the face of Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill. The AHB would impose death on homosexual behavior among HIV positive people and life on non-HIV positive gays. Hagerty also has interviews with Change.org's Michael Jones, Canyon Ridge pastor Kevin Odor and me. The interview with Rev. Odor is important for those following this story. Here are excerpts:

Ssempa's turnaround satisfied Pastor Odor, and he sees no reason to condemn the minister. Nor does he think he should denounce the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

"Why do we, as a church in America, need to say something about a bill in Uganda?" he asks.

The turnaround referred to is what seems to be a shift in Ssempa's thinking about the penalties for aggravated homosexuality — from death to 20 years in a rehab facility. Odor continues to say that his church has compassion for gays.

Pastor Odor says his church has "a heart" for homosexuals. He notes that Canyon Ridge participates every year in a march for people with AIDS, and for the past two years the church opened its campus for HIV Testing Day.

"We love everybody, including people with AIDS," he says. "There are two things: How you got AIDS and that you have AIDS. That you have AIDS is a matter of compassion. The church should be compassionate for people with AIDS."

I suspect they do experience a desire to reach out but what they miss is the incongruity of what they support in Uganda with what they express here. As I note in the NPR segment,

"If you preach compassion here, you have to support compassion elsewhere."

Odor says that his church is being crucified for simply wanting to help people with AIDS.

I am interested in reader reaction to that claim.

Related posts on my personal blog:

February 1 - Canyon Ridge Christian Church issues statement on support for Martin Ssempa

June 10 - Canyon Ridge Christian Church in conversation with Martin Ssempa

June 20 - Canyon Ridge Christian Church hosts National HIV Testing Day

June 23 - Southern Nevada Health District to evaluate relationship with Canyon Ridge Christian Church

July 1 - Las Vegas newspaper covers Canyon Ridge controversy

July 2 - Salon article: Canyon Ridge, Willow Creek Association and Martin Ssempa

Also see this article on Salon.com:

Church loses partnership over "kill the gay" bill

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