Rick Warren comes out against Uganda's anti-gay bill

The pastor had been pressured to make a statement on legislation that could lead to the death penalty for gays

Published December 10, 2009 9:40PM (EST)

Rick Warren -- the pastor whose participation in President Obama's inauguration outraged liberals -- has, over the past month, found himself at the center of a controversy again. This time, he's in hot water over proposed anti-gay legislation in Uganda.

For weeks, Warren, a stalwart opponent of gay rights in this country, has refused to comment on a bill under consideration in Uganda that, if passed, would make homosexual acts punishable by life imprisonment or even death in some cases. (Salon's Mark Benjamin appeared on the "Rachel Maddow Show" recently to discuss an American whose program was an inspiration for the measure; you can watch that here.) The pastor has been under particular pressure to issue a statement condemning the legislation because of his affiliation with Martin Ssempa, a Ugandan minister who has repeatedly spoken at Warren's Saddleback church and who has unequivocally endorsed the bill. When other American Christian leaders from across the ideological spectrum issued a statement denouncing the proposed law, however, Warren declined to join them.

After coming under considerable fire for this, even from his fellow evangelicals, the pastor finally broke down Wednesday and released a video statement in which he came out against the legislation.

In the statement, Warren did admit that the potential law is "unjust, extreme and un-Christian toward homosexuals." But, lest people interpret his stance against killing gay people as some sort of support for homosexuality, Warren also took the opportunity to reiterate his view that being gay is a sin, telling viewers, "we can never deny or water down what God's Word clearly teaches about sexuality."

By Emily Holleman

Emily Holleman is the editor of Open Salon.

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