Evangelicals are increasingly being called into account for their relationships with homophobic religious leaders in Uganda. Last week, Canyon Ridge Christian Church, a Las Vegas megachurch with over six-thousand members, was dropped by Southern Nevada Health District, as a site for HIV/AIDS testing because of the church’s donations to Ugandan Pastor Martin Ssempa. Ssempa, is the lead minister pushing for the proposed “anti-homosexuality” bill which would allow the death penalty for gay people. Ssempa used hardcore pornography in church services to stir up anti-gay sentiment.
Despite this, leaders from Canyon Ridge continue to defend their support of Ssempa. Kevin Odor, senior pastor of Canyon Ridge, told NPR that Ssempa had been “misrepresented” and that Canyon Ridge supports the work he does on HIV/AIDS.
In the same NPR story, Michael Jones, a U.S. gay-rights activist, said, “Martin Ssempa makes no bones about going around to churches, to community centers, to different neighborhoods and saying things like gays and lesbians should be put in prison, they should be killed.”
Warren Throckmorton quoted a letter to Canyon Ridge from chief health officer Lawrence Sands that said, “One of the central tenets of public health is to provide services without judgment. We also apply this principle in working with our various partners. However, we are profoundly concerned about your partnership with Pastor Ssempa as it contradicts this central tenet in that it amounts to tacit approval of activities that violate the basic human rights that should be afforded to all Ugandans.”