A Christian missionary is facing charges of “crimes against humanity” and the ramifications of the trial could be huge and far reaching.
The Sexual Minorities Uganda nonprofit organization, whose stated purpose is “achieving full legal and social equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, (and) transgender people,” accused Lively in a lawsuit filed last year of “crimes against humanity of persecution.” The Kampala-based group appealed to the Alien Tort Statute that allows foreigners to bring cases in U.S. courts when alleging violations of international law.
The linked story is from a Christian source, and I’ve linked to it as it is interesting in the way they portray both Lively’s position and the case itself. Those who have followed Uganda know that Lively’s involvement goes much farther than merely supporting the Ugandan law. I’ll add some links for further reference.
I think what is most important at the moment however is recognizing the potential enormity of this case. Historically, power brokers under the guise of religion have spread messages of dominance and hate. It isn’t hard to find instance after instance of how this has been used to harm people all the name of spreading a Gospel of Love throughout history. And it continues today.
The Liberty Counsel has insisted that Lively exercised “nothing more than civil, non-violent political discourse in the public square on a subject of great public concern, which occupies the highest run of First Amendment protection.”
“The suit is a direct attempt to silence Rev. Lively and intimidate other pastors against teaching the Biblical position on homosexuality,” the nonprofit Christian legal group has previously said.
At stake here truly is a notion of what preachers may and may not do or say, and what constitutes “the public square.” For a number of years, progressive advocates have been alarmed at the way in-church sermons serve as political messages to help elect conservative candidate and agitate against civil rights initiatives.
Is claiming that a scripture says or means something religious teaching or hate speech? In my opinion a case can be made for both sides of that when such a general perspective is considered. The devil is, as always in the details. Lively was engaged in very specific acts, interactions and dealings. Will this case force those who attempt to use religion as a weapon to be accountable for their words and actions?
A few weeks ago, two lovely smiling people came to my door, and wanted to share their views on Faith in Jesus. They were pleasant, courteous, and even listened as I gave them a piece of my mind. And they moved on to the next house. The Liberty Council would have you believe that what Lively has been doing is the same as what these individuals did, and nothing could be further from the truth. Real mission work is not at stake here, nor will it be harmed by this court case. What will be impacted however, is the way some power brokers charade their attacks on groups of people as if it were simple biblical teaching, and possibly that can be stopped by this case.
Other links for more background: