We write, as bishops, pastors and members of diverse communions of faith, in deep concern that you, as our fellow Christians, are speaking through the Uganda Joint Christian Council and the Interreligious Council of Uganda to press the Ugandan Parliament to adopt a version of the now infamous Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

As we understand it, even a “modified” Anti-Homosexuality Bill would, at minimum, make it illegal to speak in support of same gender loving people.  And, although the options of execution and mandatory reporting by friends, family and health care providers are being downplayed, they are not off the table. 

These proposals would harm the fabric of communities and divide families. Our Christian faith calls us to stand with Uganda’s sexual minority community rather than use our religion to justify their persecution.  We wholeheartedly condemn the criminalization of homosexuality, especially state-sponsored violence against LGBT people. Silencing and criminalizing any group based on whom they love or how they express their gender goes against core Christian teaching that we treat others as we would like to be treated.  Whatever our biblical interpretation and religious tradition, we know that God calls us to love each other, not to judge each other. Jesus tells us, “What you have done to the least of these, you have done to me.” 

We are deeply concerned that Christian leaders would support policies that censor and harm LGBT people, their families, and communities  Such laws undermine the very lynchpins of freedom and democracy, the right to free expression, and particularly the right to diverse faith expressions. Christian traditions that affirm everyone as a child of God, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity would become illegal under the proposed bill.  Ministers and bishops within those traditions would be at risk for arrest and imprisonment.  We may have some theological differences among us, but we agree that we should not make criminals of those with whom we disagree.

As Christians we have seen how the message of freedom in Christ can be a catalyst for social justice.  As African American pastors and allies coming from both conservative and progressive perspectives, we have lived the struggle to embody the vision of a just society.  We reach out to you today to walk together in this journey as brothers and sisters in Christ toward the decriminalization of our LGBT brothers and sisters to create a society where everyone can live in peace.

Blessings,



Pastor Joseph W. Tolton,
National Minister, Global Justice: The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries
Director, Africa Affairs: The Global Justice Institute


Bishop Yvette Flunder
,
Presiding Bishop: The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries


Rev. Pat Bumgardner
,
Sr. Pastor: Metropolitan Community Church/New York
Executive Director: The Global Justice Institute


Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson
,
Moderator: Metropolitan Community Church
 
Dr. Delman Coates
Senior Pastor, Mt. Ennon Baptist Church (Clinton, MD)
 
Rev. Dr. Cheryl B. Anderson,
Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary

ArchBishop Carl Beam,
Unity Fellowship of Christ Church

Dr. Brad Braxton, Senior Pastor,
The Open Church (Baltimore, MD)

Rev. Vannessa Brown,
Rivers at Rehoboth Church, New York, NY

Rev. Pat Bumgardner,
The Global Justice Institute

Dr. Leslie Callahan, Senior Pastor,
St. Paul's Baptist Church (Philadelphia, PA)

Rev. Dr. Jim Forbes,
Union Theological Seminary

Rev. Elder Darlene Garner,
Metropolitan Community Church, Washington DC

Bishop Wyatt Greenley,
Glory to Glory Church, St. Louis, MO

Dr. Cynthia Hale,
Senior Pastor, Ray of Hope Christian Church (Decatur, GA)

Rev. Cedric Harmon,
Many Voices, Washington DC

Dr. Frederick Haynes,
Senior Pastor, Friendship West Baptist Church (Dallas, TX)

Rev. Candy Holmes,
Metropolitan Community Church, Washington DC

Rev. Cari Jackson,
The Center for Spiritual Light, New York, NY

Bishop Zachary Jones,
Unity Fellowship of Christ Church, New York, NY

Rev. Jacqueline Lewis,
Middle Collegiate Church, New York, NY

Rev. Joseph Lowery,
The Lowery Institute, Atlanta, GA

Bishop James Mills,
The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, East Coast Region

Dr. Otis Moss, III,
Senior Pastor, Trinity United Church of Christ (Chicago, IL)

Bishop Carlton Pearson,
Sr. Pastor, New Dimensions Chicago

Dr. Joe Ratliff, Senior Pastor,
Brentwood Baptist Church (Houston, TX)

Bishop Tanyia Rawls,
The Freedom Center for Social Justice, Charlotte, NC

Dr. Jasmin Sculark,
Senior Pastor, Shiloh Baptist Church, York, PA

Rev. Derrick Spiva,
Glide Memorial UMC, San Francisco, CA

Rev. Kevin Tindell,
Pastor of Social Justice, New Dimensions Chicago

Dr. Raphael Warnock,
Senior Pastor, Ebenezer Baptist Church (Atlanta, GA)

Dr. Lance Watson, Senior Pastor,
St. Paul's Baptist Church, Richmond, VA

Rev. Dr. Traci West,
Drew Theological Seminary, Madison, NJ

Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson,
Metropolitan Community Church

Rev. Dr. Pamela Lightsey,
Boston University School of Theology, Boston, MA