The following was written in response to a question regarding faith leaders’ positions on the Ugandan Bill punishing homosexual acts and a recent 17-church prayer/protest event. (Published in the In Theory section of the Feb. 11 to 13, 2010 issues of the La Cañada Valley Sun, Glendale News-Press and Burbank Leader.)
The Ugandan bill focusing on homosexuality as a punishable crime is yet another sign of how much fear and violence yet rule the heart of humanity, and how misguided it is to believe that our own nation’s slow crawl toward equality and justice is a “done deal” – or a universal goal.
As for the prayer event, I wish I could have been there! Not so much because I’m convinced that it will directly alter the Ugandan legal system, but because: 1. joining together with others committed to the higher principles of love, compassion, and equity, can be a personally transformative and healing experience, and 2. can draw public attention to dangerous judicial trends with which people of conscience the world over would do well to actively engage.
What higher purpose is served if our hopes and prayers, if our individual or collective efforts, embrace only the humanity of those closest to us or most like us? The Unitarian Universalist Principles affirming the inherent worth and dignity of all people, and our responsibility to one another, call us to ever widen the circles of our care.
Doing that involves, among other things, knowing what the issues are: where intolerance and the abuse of power overshadow the light of underlying human unity and worth. And it involves taking a stand in whatever ways we can on behalf of justice, equity and compassion.
As such, and given how many have come in recent years to distrust religious communities as harbingers of hateful violence, I celebrate the Glendale Seventh-Day Adventist Church and all those across the country who organized, participated in, and supported this event demonstrating and promoting the life- and love-affirming potential of our religious communities.
I hold in my prayers all the people of Uganda: those who suffer from unjust laws, as well as those who feel compelled to make and enforce them.