There could not be a more stark contrast. As President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda boldly repented of his nation’s sins last month, western news media have increasingly denounced Uganda’s stance opposing gay rights.
President Museveni celebrated Uganda’s 50th anniversary of independence from Britain at a National Jubilee Prayers event last month. During the celebration, he did something very unusual for a national leader: he publicly repented of his personal sins and the sins of the nation.
Museveni began his prayer with thanks, then declared his intention to make a firm break with the past:
“Father God in heaven, today we stand here as Ugandans, to thank you forUganda. We are proud that we are Ugandans and Africans. We thank you for all your goodness to us.
“I stand here today to close the evil past and especially in the last 50 years of our national leadership history and at the threshold of a new dispensation in the life of this nation. I stand here on my own behalf and on behalf of my predecessors to repent. We ask for your forgiveness,” Museveni said.
“We confess these sins, which have greatly hampered our national cohesion and delayed our political, social and economic transformation.”
Next, President Museveni got specific in his acknowledgement of sinful activity.
“We confess sins of idolatry and witchcraft which are rampant in our land. We confess sins of shedding innocent blood, sins of political hypocrisy, dishonesty, intrigue and betrayal.
“Forgive us of sins of pride, tribalism and sectarianism; sins of laziness, indifference and irresponsibility; sins of corruption and bribery that have eroded our national resources; sins of sexual immorality, drunkenness and debauchery; sins of unforgiveness, bitterness, hatred and revenge; sins of injustice, oppression and exploitation; sins of rebellion, insubordination, strife and conflict.”
The president then asked God for a new beginning:
“These sins and many others have characterized our past leadership, especially the last 50 years of our history. Lord forgive us and give us a new beginning. Give us a heart to love you, to fear you and to seek you. Take away from us all the above sins.
“We pray for national unity. Unite us as Ugandans and eliminate all forms of conflict, sectarianism and tribalism. Help us to see that we are all your children, children of the same Father. Help us to love and respect one another and to appreciate unity in diversity.
“We pray for prosperity and transformation. Deliver us from ignorance, poverty and disease. As leaders, give us wisdom to help lead our people into political, social and economic transformation.”
To close his remarkable prayer, Museveni dedicated Uganda to God:
“We want to dedicate this nation to you so that you will be our God and guide. We want Uganda to be known as a nation that fears God and as a nation whose foundations are firmly rooted in righteousness and justice to fulfill what the Bible says in Psalm 33:12: Blessed is the nation, whose God is the Lord. A people you have chosen as your own.
“I renounce all the evil foundations and covenants that were laid in idolatry and witchcraft. I renounce all the satanic influence on this nation. And I hereby covenant Uganda to you, to walk in your ways and experience all your blessings forever.
“I pray for all these in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
While President Museveni repented for “sexual immorality” among other sins, he did not single out homosexuality for any special attention.
Yet, a backlash in the western media ensued, with particular ire directed against the country’s strong stand opposing homosexual rights.
On November 27, 2012 the L.A. Times editorial pages lamented Uganda’s “ignominious anti-gay bill” currently under consideration. Uganda already outlaws homosexual activity, along with 30 other African countries, which the L.A. Times editorial describes as “homophobic.”
The proposed legislation would prohibit the licensing of organizations that promote homosexuality. It would also prohibit touching another person with the intent of homosexual activity, and impose a duty on the community to report suspected cases of homosexuality.
The LA Times calls on Uganda to “evolve” toward a more liberal viewpoint favored in western countries. “The criminalization of gay behavior cannot simply be explained away as part of a country’s cultural mores; rather, it is an outrageous violation of fundamental human rights.”