Saturday, August 31, 2013

Fed Judge Declares Anti-Gay Sermon a "Crime Against Humanity"

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Fed Judge Declares Anti-Gay Sermon a "Crime Against Humanity"

A federal judge ruled that a biblically based denunciation of homosexuality was a “crime against humanity.”

In his decision in the case of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) v. Lively, U.S. District Court Judge Michael Ponsor held that Scott Lively, an evangelical pastor, was “aiding and abetting a crime against humanity” when Lively spoke in Uganda and in America against homosexual behavior.
Ponsor wrote in his 79-page opinion that Lively’s message was “analogous to a terrorist designing and manufacturing a bomb in this country, which he then mails to Uganda with the intent that it explode there.”

The plaintiff in the case is a consortium of groups based in Kampala, Uganda that fight for “fair and equal treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people” in the East Africa region.

Ponsor says that Lively, by publishing tracts and delivering discourses condemning same-sex relationships, was acting as “an upper-level manager or leader of a criminal enterprise.”
While in Uganda, Lively praised local pastors working to fight the proliferation of sexual activity between those of the same gender, basing his remarks on his interpretation of the Bible’s condemnation of such behavior.

“I’ve never done anything in Uganda except preach the Gospel and speak my opinion about the homosexual issue,” Lively told the New York Times.

Reading between the lines, it becomes apparent that the “criminal enterprise” in which Ponsor found Lively engaged was that of believing, preaching, and promoting Judeo-Christian morality in an age that glorifies ungodliness and exalts satisfaction of appetites above the sacrifice of self to the will of God.

Ponsor, a 1994 Clinton appointee, calls Lively’s Ugandan hosts “co-conspirators” in Lively’s violations of “international norms.”

Harry Mihet, Lively’s lawyer, responded to Ponsor’s decision to allow the case against his client to proceed.
We are disappointed with the decision because we believe SMUG’s claims are firmly foreclosed, not only by the First Amendment right to free speech, but also by the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Kiobel, which eliminated Alien Tort Statute claims for events that allegedly occurred in foreign nations. We are still reviewing the court’s ruling, and will continue to vigorously defend Mr. Lively’s constitutional rights, with confidence that he will ultimately be vindicated.
Mihet’s comments were echoed by Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Council, the organization representing Lively. “Like all American citizens, Lively enjoys a fundamental First Amendment right to engage in nonviolent political discourse anywhere in the world,” Staver said.

Beyond the de jure banning of biblical morality by a Bill Clinton appointee, there is another curious political connection in the persecution of Pastor Lively.

Read the rest here:


  1. Mr. Kresta, I generally appreciate and enjoy your input and reflection, but I think we should spend a little more time on this story so that we don't misstate the effect of this ruling, and decry another for our own misunderstanding. I am a Catholic and whole-heartedly agree with the Catholic and biblical perspective on homosexuality and homosexual behavior, and I am a patriotic American jealous of our freedom of speech, but I am also a law student quite aware of the highly-nuanced nature of legal opinions that can confound a layman's logic.
    The judge issued an order denying the Defendant's motion to dismiss. The judge did not rule on the merits of the case yet. Respectfully, Al, your editorial summary of the decision leads us to believe that the judge ruled that preaching against homosexuality is a crime and that the Defendant was guilty of aiding and abetting criminal activity in a foreign country. Such a ruling would be a decision on the merits, but the judge has merely denied the Defendant's motion to dismiss the case. Granting such a motion requires a showing by the Defendant that the Plaintiff has next to no evidence of his allegations and/or no cognizable claim to legal right or remedy. The judge ruled that the Defendant failed to make that showing.
    It might seem that the judge is heavily favoring the Plaintiff's arguments in this order, and that's because he is supposed to - the judge is required to give the non-movant the benefit of the doubt as to all facts alleged, and it appears that the judge was persuaded that the cases relied upon by the Defendant to assert a lack of standing, etc. are not the only cases pertinent to the questions. That also is as common as the cold, because naturally, the Defendant cherry-picks his law, and the Plaintiff cherry-picks his law, and the judge has to sort it out and as a threshold matter, decide whether there is a genuine legal issue unresolved between the parties. Of course, at the end of a trial, which would produce a final judgment on the merits, it is usually the jury’s responsibility to weigh the evidence and credibility concerning the allegations and make a decision based on the law articulated by the judge in the jury instructions. It's only the second inning, let's not call the game yet.
    To be fair, if the allegations against Mr. Lively are found to be true, then it may be euphemistically said that he lives up to his name, because he's not just a preacher or teacher or apologist or evangelist or someone sharing biblical beliefs, he is someone that is very intent on and agressive in facilitating and effecting legal and societal changes in a foreign country. Those proposed changes, whether we like it or not, are internationally held to affect the basic rights of individuals in that country. And unfortunately, the allegations are not merely concerned with the evangelistic efforts or even the political influence of the Defendant, but the provocation of direct harrassment, intimidation, assault, etc., which no Christian should promote or tolerate as an appropriate (biblical) response to gays. (Did we miss the part of the allegation that the Defendant was consulted on the Ugandan legislation which included the death penalty for repeated homosexual offenders? I'm interested in learning what the Defendant's input was on that part of the law, aren't you?)
    Let's keep our heads on this one, though the specter of Christian persecution looms overhead. We can afford to be patient with the legal process to provide an answer to this case that it has not yet provided. And if the answer is not the one we want, let's take some time to competently read the decision at that time, so that we don't pre-judge the result, because it may be that the Defendant's actions were extreme and were not legally-protected, and in that case, we do not need to be overly concerned (yet) about Christian persecution, because in that case, he would not have been acting as a Christian. It may be, we don't know yet. Let's wait and see.

    1. Well said! This is a tremendously well put comment, a great lesson in moderation.

  2. It's us glbt people who are persecuted by you criminal bigots!