Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Family and Uganda's "Anti-Homosexuality Bill," part 2.

Not long ago, I spoke about the Family's connection to Uganda's proposed gay death penalty bill with Terry Gross of NPR's "Fresh Air." To my surprise, the Family man who'd established the Family's relationship with Ugandan dictator Yoweri Museveni demanded the right to respond. I supported him; if the Family wants to go public, I'm all for it.

I went down to Hunter's house, across the street from the Cedars, and spent an afternoon talking with him. Hunter's part of a small liberal faction within the Family. More importantly, he's part of a faction that would like to move toward greater transparency. Most important, he's opposed to the gay death penalty bill, and was willing to break with the Family custom of secrecy to make that known. Below is a link to the entire transcript of "Fresh Air"'s interview with Hunter. But first, I want to highlight what I think are some important points:

1. Hunter acknowledges the Family's secrecy: "We are little too secretive. There are some things have to be secret, you know.

2. He thinks the secrecy should end and reports that there was recently a meeting about doing so (the verdict, for now, is that the secrecy will continue; but Hunter is clearly going in a different direction):
"GROSS: Why now? What was that meeting the reaction to?

Mr. HUNTER: Well, it was part reaction to Sharlet's book and this history, you know, troubles and the inability for anyone to be able to respond because they just don't have a mechanism for responding. And so the media looks for a Web site, I would too. And there is nothing there and so the media goes, well, it must be a secret organization even though Jeff Sharlet found 273 footnotes in his book. So, it isn't totally secret. And so, it's - I think the secrecy will end.

3. Hunter says I acknowledge that nobody in the Family is involved in the bill. In fact, in the short article I wrote about my conversation with Hunter -- which I cleared with Hunter before publishing -- I noted that the three Ugandans most discussed in relation to the bill, MP David Bahati, Ethics Minister Nsaba Buturo, and President Musveni, are all linked to the Family.

4. I did acknowledge that none of the Americans involved with the Family seems to support the bill. But it's just as important to acknowledge that men such as Senator James Inhofe, Senator Chuck Grassley, Rep. Joe Pitts, and Senator Tom Coburn condemned the bill only after a concerted campaign of public and private pressure. None of these men presented any kind of profile in courage. But I'll give Hunter credit: He's gone public in a much more effective way than his better-known brothers in Christ.

Here's the whole transcript.