HRC & Soulforce Present 70K Petitions To Lou Engle
February 22, 2011
This weekend I had the privilege of representing HRC for a joint action with Soulforce to deliver a petition – and the list of its 70,000 supporters – to Kansas City based Pastor Lou Engle of TheCall ministry and the International House of Prayer (IHOP). The petition calls on Engle to stop using religion and the bible to justify homophobia and to cease with anti-LGBT evangelism in Uganda, evangelism that has created a culture of terror and persecution for LGBT Ugandans. HRC organized this petition following the brutal murder of David Kato last month. Kato was a Ugandan activist for freedom and equality the country’s sexual minorities.
Joining me on Sunday morning were Rev. Dr. Cindi Love, Executive Director of Soulforce and a member of HRC’s Religion Council; Moses Kushaba, a political asylum from Uganda who fled his home precisely because of the dangerous atmosphere religious leaders like Lou Engle have created for LGBT people; Pastor Gerald Palmer, a local ally for xequality; Bill Carpenter and Brian Murphy, Soulforce staff; Brian Larios, one of HRC’s Kansas City based board members; and a handful of Soulforce’s equality ride alumni who founded EQUAL to further their activism for justice locally. In total, throughout the morning, we had 15 folks in our delegation as a witness to the very real physical and spiritual harm Pastor Engle and others are causing in Uganda.
Though Engle said he was unable to meet us this weekend we were greeted graciously by a designee who received our petition’s 1,200+ pages of signatures and invited us to join for IHOP’s Sunday morning worship. This being my first time at an evangelical mega-church service, it was certainly an eye opening experience but a welcomed one. During and following services some individual congregants were eager to engage us in biblical discourse but I think (and hope) we were able to influence them to a greater degree. Most folks we spoke with, including the local media, had no idea of Engle’s involvement with anti-LGBT activism in Uganda xor his ties to the Parliament’s proponents of the ‘kill-the-gays’ bill. Our presence in Kansas City this weekend shed light on the dire situation for LGBT Ugandans and helped raise the consciousness of the community and congregation regarding this issue – one congregant even committed to personally discussing this concern with Pastor Engle!
It is time for religious leaders to export hope, not harm. As such, we are still pushing Pastor Engle to meet with us in person and to ultimately return to Uganda to publically retract his support for anti-LGBT violence and legislation.
Photos courtesy of Rachael Jane. View additional photos here.
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