''The fundamental dignity of every person, our right to be free, and the freedom to make moral choices are gifts endowed by God, our creator. However, it is not my personal calling as a pastor in America to comment or interfere in the political process of other nations.''
Saddleback Church leader Rick Warren responding to a request from Newsweek for his reaction to Uganda's bill to kill gays and give prison time to people who know any gays but don't report them. One of the bills proponents is Martin Ssempa, an extremely anti-gay Ugandan pastor who, it is reported, has been a guest of Rick Warren's. Ssempa's misguided conclusion about the fight against HIV/AIDS is to burn condoms, preach abstinence only, condemn gays and lesbians, and basically yell and scream about everything he believes. According to this article Warren now says that he does not have any ties to Ssempa. (Newsweek)
''After the Bush administration authorized PEPFAR, a number of the local evangelical preachers began to get excited about this and get involved in AIDS very rapidly. To try to prove his credentials, Ssempa became increasingly active and vociferous in his antipathy towards condoms.''
Dr Helen Epstein as quoted by The Daily Beast. Their extensive article links Martin Ssempa and Warren to PEPFAR. That is a program often called former President George W. Bush's "AIDS Relief" package, and it places much emphasis and a huge chunk of funding on abstinence-only programs. It's reported that Martin Ssempa's Makerere Church received funds from PEPFAR. Many Evangelical organizations in the US also developed a sudden interest in AIDS when George W Bush came forward with PEPFAR and also funding for his Faith-Based Initiative. That tax-payer funded program promotes churches as a primary vehicle for outreach instead of experienced, qualified organizations. (To date, there has never been a significant accounting of the way that program's money was distributed or how effective it has been. In fact, a 2006 GAO study found that much of the money that could be traced went to staff salaries and benefits, and that few Federal regulations required to receive public funding had been applied.) (The Daily Beast)
Rick Warren, this past Sunday, told Meet the Press that he and his wife have developed a program to fight AIDS around the world, then injected into his televised speech that "AIDS is behaviorally based" and that you don't catch it from the air. He added that he maintains clear Biblical beliefs about homosexuality. Rick Warren also admitted his own interest in PEPFAR, saying "I discovered during the President Bush years, that during PEPFAR, when you save a life, people tend to like your country.'' He did not say whether he and his organization is receiving any of tens of billions going to PEPFAR. He also appeared to create a new dynamic for funding and outreach saying: "There is the public sector (which is government, and the NGOs, and the nonprofits), there's the profit sector (which is business), and there is the faith sector. There's three sectors to society, not two." During his discussion of AIDS, Warren claimed that he knew of 10 million villages where the only establishment nearby was a church and that's why these churches needed to be included in "distribution." (NBC News)