I suspect part of the reason Joyce Meyer, the evangelical preacher, doesn’t get as many headlines as Rick Warren and Joel Osteen because she’s a lady, and we somehow don’t see her as equally powerful (and equally harmful), but as the face of Joyce Meyer Ministries, Pauline Joyce Hutchison Meyer is raking in the followers and the cash. Let’s put it this way: she travels private. As in, private jet. She’s also been particularly silent about Uganda’s Kill The Gays bill, which activists have managed to get Warren and Osteen, after much cajoling, to denounce. Finally, Meyer has added her name to the list of critics.
The reason it’s so crucial to get Meyer’s name on the list of foes? Because she’s worked on the ground in Uganda, like her male counterparts, and wields enormous influence there among religious Christians (which is to say, a helluva lot of people). So she’s come out and called the Anti-Homosexuality Bill “disturbing” and “dangerous.” Those are good words; they aren’t, however, as strong as “malicious” or “murderous.”
But while Meyer has denounced the bill in a statement — thanks in no small part to the efforts of Michael A. Jones at Change.org and Jim Burroway at Box Turtle Bulletin — she wasn’t doing everyone favors, indicating gay people are making “lifestyle choices,” though that’s to be expected from her not-so-tolerance teachings.
Except these pastors need to do more. It is, frankly, their duty. They tour the nation, and the world, filling football stadiums and mega-churches, collecting huge fees for speaking and writing, all on the backs of believers. And thus, they owe something to those believers: staunch advocacy to do the right thing. So while a statement is a great first step, these preachers have the power to do much more, like encourage their followers to take their own individual stand against injustice.
We’re not calling for these pastors to demand their followers get involved politically (hello, IRS code!). But issuing a statement, that gets buried on a website or PRNewswire.com, is not adequate. Hold a fundraising concert with newly out Christian singer Jennifer Knapp to pay for the legal costs of gay Ugandans’ asylum cases. Include instruction about the importance of all lives, even gay ones, as you take over radio airwaves. Meyer has a whole section of her website dedicated to Haitian relief; what about highlighting the plight of human beings suffering from a man-made disaster?
Meyers’ full statement:
It is increasingly evident that the proposed “Anti-Homosexuality Bill” introduced in the Ugandan parliament is a profoundly offensive, dangerous and disturbing attack on the very foundation of individual liberties and human rights afforded not only to the good citizens of Uganda, but on the at-large global community.
If enacted, this hostile legislation will also further, and adversely, serve as a major setback in the global health efforts to combat Uganda’s AIDS epidemic and reduce the record-high infection rates among the country’s HIV population, an already at-risk community that could be further ostracized, threatened, and targeted as potential criminals.
Our missions and ministry message has always been to teach that the Word of God is about helping people – all people – learn that God loves them and has a purpose for their lives, not put guilt or condemnation on them.
As a global society, we do not have to agree, endorse or condone the lifestyle choices of others. However, history has taught us that we equally cannot and should not excuse those who would hide behind religion or misuse God’s word to justify bigotry and persecution.
With this statement, our motivation and intent is not to interfere with Uganda’s political agenda or internal affairs. As believers, however, we have a moral and ethical duty that compels us to speak out against injustice wherever it may be in the world.
Joyce Meyer Ministries