*UPDATED* Martin Ssempa Responds to Rick Warren on Uganda’s Homosexuality Bill

Jodi Jacobson

In an open letter, Martin Ssempa, the controversial fundamentalist Christian Pastor of Makerere Community Church in Uganda chides Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church for his recent statement on the proposed "anti-gay" law in Uganda.

This post was updated at 7:29 pm ET to include the following links: A comparison of the claims made in the letter below with the actual text of the bill and a post by GayUganda on the intent and implications of the bill and other discriminatory policies.

Martin Ssempa, Pastor of the Makerere Community Church, has long been a controversial figure.  He is a fundamentalist Christian who condemns homosexuality, and has been a principal opponent of evidence-based comprehensive sexual health education, of women’s rights, and of women’s access to reproductive health services (including contraception). He also has been a favorite of the President and Mrs. Museveni of Uganda, and formerly of the Bush Administration, under which he received substantial funding from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).  He also is a colleague of Pastor Rick Warren of the Saddleback Church, another controversial figure.   Despite his strong ties to Uganda, Warren, for a long time, refused to speak out against the proposed Ugandan law to which Ssempa refers below.  Ssempa here chides Warren for doing so. The letter is reprinted here without edits.

The letter was submitted by Ssempa to Christianity Today in response to the recent video made by Warren on the Ugandan law.  See Amie Newman’s report on Warren’s statement on the law.

Dear Pastor Rick Warren,

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

Christmas  greetings from the Pastors here in Uganda. We acknowledge receipt of your  letter in which you called on us to “speak out” against the proposed  “Anti-homosexuality bill 2009” which is currently in the process of being  developed in our parliament. This bill has  been greatly  misrepresented by some homosexualists causing hysteria and we take  this opportunity to give you the background, educate you on the major  aspects of the law as well as respond to the concerns you raised.

Indeed the headlines that say Ugandan law to kill gays, is deliberately misleading. It should really say, Uganda law proposes capital sentence for  Men with HIV who rape boys and infect them with HIV/AIDS just as it is for  heterosexuals who rape girls. You see, we have many troubling concerns, such  as a crisis of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWA) who rape and infect  young children with IV/AIDS in a grotesque demonic belief of a “virgin sex  cure” as prescribed by satanic witchdoctors. We are harrassed by a massive  invasion of rich Europeans and Americans groups who are scorning our  traditional African view of marriage and family, bullying and threatening  to cut off “aid” if we dont legalise the sins of Sodom and Gommorrah! We are troubled by some members western media which is obsessed with homosexuality.

Indeed, we are troubled that Christianity in the  global North has fallen so much from Gods word that homosexuals and  lesbians are being ordained into Bishops as evidenced by the election of Mary Glasspool in your state of California last week! We want to make  sure that Africa purposefully avoids the mistakes of the Global North Church and we hope to learn more from our encyclical pastoral  dialogue.

Africa101: Homosexuality is illegal, unnatural, ungodly and  un-African: In Uganda as most of the global South, homosexuality is  an “evil and repugnant sexual act” which simultaneously breaks four  established laws.

First, the law of nature, which states that males mate with females; 

Second the law of our land as already stated in our Penal  Code and constitution;

Thirdly, the law of our faiths as in the Holy  Bible for Christians and the
Holy Quran for our Moslem friends;

Fourthly,  the law of our African tribal cultures which have been handed down to us by  our fathers from thousands of years of civilized traditions.

While we may have differences of opinions on many issues as in many democratic  societies, this is one issue we all agree on.

A recent steadman survey  demonstrated this that 95% of Ugandans are opposed to homosexuality. Just  so you know, the current law on homosexuality (in Uganda Penal Code  145) punishes all forms of “unnatural” sexual
activity as an offense liable  with up to life in prison. Similarly attempts to commit the same offenses  is a felony liable to seven years imprisonment. This law was established by act on Sunday 15th June 1950!

Our Historical Struggle:

When you came to Uganda on Thursday, 27 March 2008, and expressed support to  the Church of Uganda’s boycott of the pro-homosexual church of England, you stated; “The Church of England is wrong, and I support the Church of Uganda”.

You are further remembered to say, “homosexuality is not a natural  way of life and thus (its) not a human right. We shall not tolerate this  apect at all”. (Gay Row-US Pastor supports country on boycott)

You were indeed affirming Uganda’s Christian’s long historical struggle  against
institutionalized homosexuality. This boycott was not the beginning  of the struggle. In fact on June 3rd 1886, 26 Ugandas new converts to  Christianity were martyred for their stand against a deviant king who  had taken to the practice of sodomy. There faith in Christ emboldened them  to stand against homosexuality, resisiting to the “point of shedding  blood”.

Today we honor them, and June 3rd is a national holiday where  millions of Ugandan believers converge to remember and renew their  strength.(When faith, state and state inspired homosexuality clash).

As you  yourself have said, “..the Bible says evil has to be opposed. Evil has to  be stopped. The Bible does not say negotiate with evil. It says stop it. Stop evil."(12/2007)

Since homosexuality is evil, you cannot possibly be  against a law that seeks to
stop it unless if you have misunderstood  it.

What is the law about?

Last November 18th 2008, France and  Netherlands initiated a law which seeks to use UN to push  homosexuality on other nations all over the world. This moral imperialism which ntends to use the coercive powers of European Union and the UN to impose sodomy legalization in our nations is a driving factor in Uganda’s  legislators effort to draft a law to protect our nations moral  sovereignty. That explains clauses 18 and 19.

Secondly we are dealing with  a well funded homosexual nations and foundations which are pouring millions  of dollars into Africa with a singular effort of pushing homosexuality and abortion down our throats. These evil men are seducing young boys  and girls into sexual acts as to expand their evil empire. “Homosexual  admits recruiting students”. While we have a law that currently prohibits  acts against nature, we don’t have a law against the promoters of these acts. The draft laws seeks to stop this criminal activity as  section 13.

Thirdly the law seeks to provide equal protection for the boy  child as currently granted the girl child from pedophiles, some who are  deliberately raping young virgin boys and girls with a false belief  that it will heal them of HIV/AIDS! Since 1997, Section 123 of the Penal  Code only provides protection against defilement (sexual abuse) of girls  under 18 years of age.

Section 123(1) states that: – " Any person who  unlawfully has sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of  eighteen years is guilty of an offence and is liable to suffer death."  Sub-section 2 of Section 123 of the Penal Code provides for attempts to  defile a girl under the age of eighteen years. It states that: "Any person who attempts to have unlawful sexual intercourse with a girl under  the age of eighteen years is guilty of an offence and is liable to imprisonment for eighteen years with or without corporal punishment". This has and continues to be the current law which no one has complained that it is  unchristian or a human right violation. Many boys have been violated  without legal protection leaving their evil oppressors to get away with no  law enforcement protection. The current draft law, simply aims at providing  equal protection of the boy child, as currently existing for the girl child.  This is found in section 3 and 4 of the bill.

The question for you is this, does the sexual rape of a boy constitute a lesser crime than  the rape of a girl? Indeed it is this issue of aggravated homosexuality which is equal to “statutory rape” of a minor, handicapped child and infecting her with HIV/AIDS which is punishable by death.

Many people, including you may have failed to understand section 3 of aggravated defilement. This is really pedophilia. The key is in understanding the difference between the victim and the offender  which I am sure is a different language for many. This section deals
with  offenses to two kinds of vulnerable populations-children below 18 or those who are handicapped! Those who are offenders or Pedophiles can be a person with HIV/AIDS, someone ie a teacher or priest who abuses their authority, etc.

In addition it should be noted that there are people who are  living with HIV/AIDS who seek to have sex with young children both boys and girls in the misguided hope that it will cure them of HIV/AIDS. This  is a problem driving the sexual abuse of children under 18 and spiraling HIV/AIDS infections both in girls and boys! A recent report shows this. 

Uganda: Child Abuse rampant. This tragedy is happening all over Eastern and  Southern Africa. There is evidence of rising rape and defilement of  boys and girls which is driving HIV/AIDS rates up. This Bill is taking a  lead in providing both the boy and girl child with equal protection of capital punishment.

Finally a lot of the sexual violence of  children takes place in institutions such as boarding schools. Research by  ACFODE, “The situational review of rape, sexual harassment and defilement  2005 in three districts found unusually high levels of coercive heterosexual/homosexual rape and harassment especially in single sex  schools. Unfortunately the school officials and prison officers, maintain a  conspiracy of silence, ignoring the pleas of the children and victims who  report these crimes to them. They reputation of their school business  or prison above the welfare of the children and adults in their custody. This  is the spirit behind the section 14, of mandatory reporting of the offenses within 24 hours.

This reporting is similar to the mandatory reporting of  all “unlawful sexual intercourse” in the state of California Penal  Code 11165 which includes, 1-rape(261), incest(285), sodomy (286), child  molestation(647.6), statutory rape (261.5).

Pastor Rick you must be aware that California Penal Code 11166;11165.7 requires that Teachers, Social  workers, District attorneys, Doctors, Psychologists, marriage and  family counselors, clergy members and state
or county public health  employees are required by law to report “unlawful sexual
intercourse” as  defined by the state of California. You have never complained about this  law hindering access to health, legal or spiritual services which you  and Kay offer. Why don’t you think that we too in Africa have the right to  make laws pertinent to restrict what our nations deems as “unlawful sexual  intercourse”?

What has been our recommendation to the law?

At a special sitting of the Uganda Joint Christian Council taskforce sat and reviewed the bill to make comments. We resolved to support the bill with  some amendments which included the following.

a. We  suggested a less harsher sentence of 20 years instead of the death penalty for pedophilia or aggravated homosexuality.
b. We  suggested the inclusion of counseling and rehabilitation being offered  to offenders  and victims. The churches are willing to provide the necessary help  for those who are  willing to undergo counseling and rehabilitation.

Again on Friday 11th  December, more than 200 of Uganda’s top religious leaders met  and supported the legislators and governments effort in strengthening  the law against homosexuality. Church leaders back government on anti-gay  bill. The issue is we all want a law, it is simply details of how much  punishment will be meted out.

Warning of a widening shift.

We note with sadness the increasing levels of accepting of the evil of  homosexuality. The ordination of Mary Glasspool a Lesbian as a bishop in  Los Angeles without any condemnation from you, has increased the widening  gap between the global south church in Africa and the global north  church in Europe and America. In these increasingly dark days, we encourage  you not to give into the temptation to water down what the bible says so as not to offend people. Jesus’s gospel is a stumbling block, and a rock of offense.

Rick you are our friend, we have bought many of your books  and have been blessed by them. Do not let the pressure of bloggers and popular media intimidate you into becoming a negotiator for homosexual  pedophilia rights in Africa.

As you yourself say about evil, – “the Bible says evil has to be opposed. Evil has to be stopped. The Bible does not  say negotiate with evil. It says stop it. Stop evil." (RW-12/2007) Since the  bible says that the giant of homosexuality is an “abomination” or a great  evil, you cannot achieve the peace plan without a purpose-driven confrontation with evil.

Culture & Conversation Human Rights

How One Couple Is Putting Bathroom Safety on the Map

Ryan Thomas

Like the Negro Motorist Green Book, the Safe Bathrooms map is not so much a novelty but a vital resource to protect the safety of its users at a time when history is repeating itself in a way that is marginalizing an already vulnerable population.

This piece was published in collaboration with Generation Progress.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) seems to think it’s a governor’s duty to classify which men and women are the “real” ones and which aren’t. Because of this, he has put the lives of all of North Carolina’s trans residents at risk by signing HB 2 into law.

Last week state legislators proposed changes to HB 2, but those changes do nothing to mitigate an unabashed blastoma of transphobia that is now lawfully spreading at a vicious pace.

In response to HB 2, droves of businesses and musicians have boycotted the state in hopes of stopping this unmitigated discrimination toward trans people from moving any further.

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

People have banded together to show their support for the trans community, and businesses across the state and country have declared themselves safe havens for trans-identifying individuals by submitting to the Safe Bathrooms map.

The map’s creators—River William Luck, a trans community activist, and his partner (and as of recently, fiancée), web design specialist Emily Rae Waggoner—both live in Boston, but the fight to protect trans rights affects them on a deeply personal level: They’re both from North Carolina.

When HB 2 was signed into law, Luck says, “I was on guard, because I’ve been told I’m in the wrong bathroom my entire life as a masculine-presenting female for more than 30 years.”

Now his home state has become one big ”Do Not Enter” sign for him and his friends still there. Luck’s reaction, however, was not one of helplessness. His instinct, which he learned to follow after years of experiencing and bearing witness to bigotry, was to bind the community and help strengthen it through tangible acts of love and support.

One Reddit commenter likened the map to the Negro Motorist Green Book of the 1930s to 1960s, which was published to help Black travelers in the United States find safe passage in times when racial persecution was legal. Like the Negro Motorist Green Book, the bathrooms’ map is not so much a novelty but a vital resource to protect the safety of its users at a time when history is repeating itself in a way that is marginalizing an already vulnerable population.

Before the Safe Bathrooms map, Luck started mailing hundreds of buttons from the #IllGoWithYou campaign to friends and family back home. The #IllGoWithYou campaign was developed as a means for allies to offer solidarity and protection to transgender and non-binary individuals. By wearing a button, participants pledge to stand up and speak up during instances of harassment and physical endangerment.

“This is my way of paying it forward,” Luck says. “What I’ve done is buy a shit ton of buttons and if someone wants one, I send them one. If they can’t afford it, I send them one. If they want to know more about it, I write them a note and ask people to pick up more.”

His reasoning is simple: “I would have given anything to have seen one of these when I was in North Carolina.”

Luck’s meaningful gestures extends to the clothes he wears, as he frequently can be found sporting a t-shirt that says “No Hate in Our State” or a tank top with the words “Proud Transman” printed in bold. River models several lines of what he refers to as “activism wear,” as a product ambassador a variety of labels including a Greensboro, North Carolina-based company called Deconstructing Gender, and another called Proud Animals.

It’s actually the former that planted the seed for the Safe Bathrooms map, as Luck and Waggoner were inspired by the photos of gender-neutral bathrooms posted on the company’s Instagram account. While the two were talking to Deconstructing Gender’s founder and CEO Avery Dickerson, who was transitioning at the time, Waggoner said, “Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a map of safe bathrooms where trans people could go without hassle?”

And so with Waggoner’s web design expertise and Luck’s social media skills, the Safe Bathrooms map came to life as a child of both necessity and wishful thinking. As they built it, the people came in droves: businesses, affected community members, and media alike.

With over 200 businesses included to date, the two have put together a functioning survival guide for trans residents and travelers who also possess bladders.

Waggoner shared one email with Rewire that she received from a man who owns an architecture firm in Maine, who requested to have his business be included on the map:

I, therefore this business, stand for equality, acceptance, and kindness to all. As a gay man, and one living with HIV for 30 years now, I know too well that indifference to discrimination, condoned cruelty, and legalized oppression are terminal illnesses. These behaviors killed the dreams, and injured the very souls of our young, and further darkened the roads the rest of us continue to travel. It must stop.

To be included on the Safe Bathrooms map, businesses need simply fill out this form and verify their trans-friendliness with a photo of a gender-neutral bathroom placard or other clear form of expression. Upon approval, businesses are represented on the map as a roll of toilet paper. For those lacking, the Safe Bathrooms website goes one step further and shows businesses where they can obtain gender-neutral bathroom signs for their private spaces.

Waggoner and Luck know personally how useful such a map can be. Waggoner says she’s had to stake out bathrooms to make sure the coast is clear, like a Secret Service member. One time, she says, “We were in a restaurant waiting to use the bathroom. We could feel the tension in the air and feel the stares. And it became very uncomfortable because people at the bar were openly just watching which bathroom River was going to go into. And we feared for his safety and our safety.”

Luck continues, “We ended up having to leave and go to a friend’s house so I could use the bathroom and detoured the whole evening plans so I could pee safe.”

Clearly the problem won’t end once HB 2 and other anti-trans laws like it are repealed. The attitudes that brought these policies into being still exist and must be dealt with. But, as Luck attests, there is a definite support system of love and acceptance in North Carolina. He found it in Greensboro as a music teacher at New Garden Friends School, a Quaker school. “They were so open and embraced diversity that I could be an out lesbian,” says Luck.

Greensboro has very distinct pockets of support, which is where a lot of the safe bathrooms appear on the map. But even in places less supportive deeper south, Waggoner notes there are still good friends to be found: “It’s been cool to see some of the small-business owners in some of the more rural towns popping up. Like in Salisbury, North Carolina. It’s really brave of them to do that—to be the first in their town to speak up and say something, and be the first on the map.”

The outpouring of support may be having an effect: University of North Carolina President Margaret Spellings recently gave a statement saying that she would not enforce HB 2 or change any of the school’s current provisions. Spellings did originally plan to enforce HB 2. It wasn’t until U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch declared the state in violation of civil rights and threatened to cut up to $4.8 billion in federal funding to the school that Spellings changed her position (and McCrory sued the federal government).

Before Spellings changed her decision, students from various on-campus alliance groups held loud protests outside of buildings in which she was attending meetings, in efforts to sway her judgment. Students at schools across the state affected by the law are making their opposition known.

On a K-12 level, there are organizational efforts through nonprofit Gay-Straight Alliance groups such as Time Out Youth, which offers resources and aid to LGBTQ minors living in inclusive North Carolina and South Carolina school districts. Its website lists student rights, including the rights to gender expression, confidentiality, and respective pronoun usage, as well the right to attend school functions and report on instances of bullying (which state public schools are required by law to deal with).

Luck has spent most of his life traveling against the grain of society’s intolerance–from a misunderstood kid living with his grandparents, to a determined and proud trans man working hard to end the ritual persecution of his fellow person.

Growing up in North Carolina in a conservative Baptist household, Luck remembers being called a “tomboy” and being told “not to act like a boy” as young as 3 years old. Luck attended and was eventually kicked out of a Christian high school for identifying as a “lesbian” (this was before he identified as trans). Luck says he’s been working steadily since he was 13, when his first job was at a Chick-fil-A.

In college, Luck had a psychology professor who taught that homosexuality was a disorder.

“I remember sitting in the class waiting for someone to say something, because I didn’t want to say anything,” Luck says.

After going to the head of the psych department, and then the head of the school, Luck managed to get the homophobic lesson pulled from the syllabus.

“That was a time in my life where I realized if I didn’t say something, no one would. And so I had to. That’s when my activism really started,” Luck says.

Coming to Boston for grad school, Luck found his new home to be much less critical of his outward gender appearance, and found true love in his partner. Luck says Waggoner accepted and supported his transition every step of the way—from coming out (a second time) as transgender, to life-affirming surgeries and ongoing treatments, to his sweeping romantic proposal involving a trip to New York City, a rare Harry Potter book, and a cleverly inserted engagement ring.

Luck and Waggoner hope to expand upon all the ground they’ve covered in North Carolina and take their Safe Bathrooms map to national and international levels.

Luck says he wants to ultimately see the whole state of North Carolina become “a giant roll of toilet paper.”

“We’d [also] love for it to grow to be an international thing, especially given all the anti-LGBT sentiments in other countries. Because we’re everywhere. And everybody needs to have that access,” he says.

The two do have an app in the works to accompany their Safe Bathrooms map, which they hope to give a Yelp-like interface to allow community members to find safe bathrooms on the go, and review and share their own individual bathroom experiences.

All of this work points to a very simple goal: to make it so trans people don’t have to endure daily humiliation exercises to find a toilet that comes with no strings attached.

“The bottom line is … I’m a human being who happens to be trans. But before I would label myself trans, I would say I’m an activist, an actor, a student, an artist, a musician, a good partner, a good relative … All these other qualities that define me that have so much more weight,” says Luck.

To show support for the trans community and be included on the Safe Bathrooms map, visit SafeBathrooms.club.

Roundups Politics

Trump Taps Extremists, Anti-Choice Advocates in Effort to Woo Evangelicals

Ally Boguhn

Representatives from radical anti-abortion group Operation Rescue praised Trump’s commitment to its shared values during the event. “I’m very impressed that Mr. Trump would sit with conservative leaders for multiple questions, and then give direct answers,” said the organization's president, Troy Newman, who was in attendance at a question-and-answer event on Tuesday.

Making a play to win over the evangelical community, presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump met with more than 1,000 faith and anti-choice leaders on Tuesday for a question-and-answer event in New York City and launched an “evangelical advisory board” to weigh in on how he should approach key issues for the voting bloc.

The meeting was meant to be “a guided discussion between Trump and diverse conservative Christian leaders to better understand him as a person, his position on important issues and his vision for America’s future,” according to a press release from the event’s organizers. As Rewire previously reported, numerous anti-choice and anti-LGBTQ leaders—many of them extremists—were slated to attend.

Though the event was closed to the media, Trump reportedly promised to lift a ban on tax-exempt organizations from politicking and discussed his commitment to defending religious liberties. Trump’s pitch to conservatives also included a resolution that upon his election, “the first thing we will do is support Supreme Court justices who are talented men and women, and pro-life,” according to a press release from United in Purpose, which helped organize the event.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-choice Susan B. Anthony List, told the New York Times that the business mogul also reiterated promises to defund Planned Parenthood and to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, a 20-week abortion ban based on the medically unsupported claim that a fetus feels pain at that point in a pregnancy.

In a post to its website, representatives from radical anti-abortion group Operation Rescue praised Trump’s commitment to their shared values during the event. “I’m very impressed that Mr. Trump would sit with conservative leaders for multiple questions, and then give direct answers,” said the group’s president, Troy Newman, who was in attendance. “I don’t believe anything like this has ever happened.” The post went on to note that Trump had also said he would appoint anti-choice justices to federal courts, and repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Just after the event, Trump’s campaign announced the formation of an evangelical advisory board. The group was “convened to provide advisory support to Mr. Trump on those issues important to Evangelicals and other people of faith in America,” according to a press release from the campaign. Though members of the board, which will lead Trump’s “much larger Faith and Cultural Advisory Committee to be announced later this month,” were not asked to endorse Trump, the campaign went on to note that “the formation of the board represents Donald J. Trump’s endorsement of those diverse issues important to Evangelicals and other Christians, and his desire to have access to the wise counsel of such leaders as needed.”

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

Much like the group that met with Trump on Tuesday, the presumptive Republican nominee’s advisory board roster reads like a who’s-who of conservatives with radical opposition to abortion and LGBTQ equality. Here are some of the group’s most notable members:

Michele Bachmann

Though former Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann once claimed that “women don’t need anyone to tell them what to do on health care” while arguing against the ACA during a 2012 appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press, her views on the government’s role in restricting reproductive health and rights don’t square away with that position.

During a December 2011 “tele-town hall” event hosted by anti-choice organization Personhood USA, Bachmann reportedly falsely referred to emergency contraception as “abortion pills” and joined other Republican then-presidential candidates to advocate for making abortion illegal, even in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment. During the event, Bachmann touted her support of the anti-choice group’s “personhood pledge,” which required presidential candidates to agree that:

I stand with President Ronald Reagan in supporting “the unalienable personhood of every American, from the moment of conception until natural death,” and with the Republican Party platform in affirming that I “support a human life amendment to the Constitution, and endorse legislation to make clear that the 14th Amendment protections apply to unborn children.

Such a policy, if enacted by lawmakers, could outlaw abortion and many forms of contraception. A source from Personhood USA told the Huffington Post that Bachmann “signed the pledge and returned it within twenty minutes, which was an extraordinarily short amount of time.”

Bachmann has also claimed that God told her to introduce a measure to block marriage equality in her home state, that being an LGBTQ person is “ part of Satan,” and that same-sex marriage is a “radical experiment that will have “profound consequences.”

Mark Burns

Televangelist Mark Burns has been an ardent supporter of Trump, even appearing on behalf of the presidential candidate at February’s Faith and Family Forum, hosted by the conservative Palmetto Family Council, to deliver an anti-abortion speech.

In March, Burns also claimed that he supported Donald Trump because Democrats like Hillary Clinton supported Black “genocide” (a frequently invoked conservative myth) during an appearance on the fringe-conspiracy program, the Alex Jones show. “That’s really one of my major platforms behind Donald Trump,” said Burns, according to the Daily Beast. “He loves babies. Donald Trump is a pro-baby candidate, and it saddens me how we as African Americans are rallying behind … a party that is okay with the genocide of Black people through abortion.”

Burns’ support of Trump extended to the candidate’s suggestion that if abortion was made illegal, those who have abortions should be punished—an issue on which Trump has repeatedly shifted stances. “If the state made it illegal and said the premature death of an unborn child constituted murder, anyone connected to that crime should be held liable,” Burns told the Wall Street Journal in April. “If you break the law there should be punishment.”

Kenneth and Gloria Copeland

Kenneth and Gloria Copeland founded Kenneth Copeland Ministries (KCM), which, according to its mission statement, exists to “teach Christians worldwide who they are in Christ Jesus and how to live a victorious life in their covenant rights and privileges.” Outlining their opposition to abortion in a post this month on the organization’s website, the couple wrote that abortion is wrong even in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment. “As the author of life, God considers an unborn child to be an eternal being from the moment of its conception,” explained the post. “To deliberately destroy that life before birth would be as much premeditated murder as taking the life of any other innocent person.”

The article went on to say that though it may “seem more difficult in cases such as those involving rape or incest” not to choose abortion, “God has a plan for the unborn child,” falsely claiming that the threat of life endangerment has “been almost completely alleviated through modern medicine.”

The ministries’ website also features Pregnancy Options Centre, a crisis pregnancy center (CPC) in Vancouver, Canada, that receives “financial and spiritual support” from KCM and “its Partners.” The vast majority of CPCs  regularly lie to women in order to persuade them not to have an abortion.

Kenneth Copeland, in a June 2013 sermon, tied pedophilia to the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, going on to falsely claim that the ruling did not actually legalize abortion and that the decision was “the seed to murder our seed.” Copeland blamed legal abortion for the country’s economic woes, reasoning that there are “several million taxpayers that are not alive.”

Copeland, a televangelist, originally supported former Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (TX) in the 2016 Republican primary, claiming that the candidate had been “called and appointed” by God to be the next president. His ministry has previously faced scrutiny about its tax-exempt status under an investigation led by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) into six ministries “whose television preaching bankrolled leaders’ lavish lifestyles.” This investigation concluded in 2011, according to the New York Times.

James Dobson

James Dobson, founder and chairman emeritus of Focus on the Family (FoF), previously supported Cruz in the Republican primary, releasing an ad for the campaign in February praising Cruz for defending “the sanctity of human life and traditional marriage.” As Rewire previously reported, both Dobson and his organization hold numerous extreme views:

Dobson’s FoF has spent millions promoting its anti-choice and anti-LGBTQ extremism, even dropping an estimated $2.5 million in 2010 to fund an anti-choice Super Bowl ad featuring conservative football player Tim Tebow. Dobson also founded the … Family Research Council, now headed by Tony Perkins.

Dobson’s own personal rhetoric is just as extreme as the causes his organization pushes. As extensively documented by Right Wing Watch,

Dobson has:

Robert Jeffress

A Fox News contributor and senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, Jeffress once suggested that the 9/11 attacks took place because of legal abortion. “All you have to do is look in history to see what God does with a nation that sanctions the killing of its own children,” said Jeffress at Liberty University’s March 2015 convocation, according to Right Wing Watch. “God will not allow sin to go unpunished and he certainly won’t allow the sacrifice of children to go unpunished.”

Jeffress spoke about the importance of electing Trump during a campaign rally in February, citing Democrats’ positions on abortion rights and Trump’s belief “in protecting the unborn.” He went on to claim that if Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) or Hillary Clinton were elected, “there is no doubt you’re going to have the most pro-abortion president in history.”

After Trump claimed women who have abortions should be punished should it become illegal, Jeffres rushed to defend the Republican candidate from bipartisan criticism, tweeting: “Conservatives’ outrage over @realDonaldTrump abortion comments hypocritical. Maybe they don’t really believe abortion is murder.”

As documented by Media Matters, Jeffress has frequently spoken out against those of other religions and denominations, claiming that Islam is “evil” and Catholicism is “what Satan does with counterfeit religion.” The pastor has also demonstrated extreme opposition to LGBTQ equality, even claiming that same-sex marriage is a sign of the apocalypse.

Richard Land

Richard Land, now president of the Southern Evangelical Seminary, was named one of Time Magazine‘s “25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America” in 2005 for his close ties with the Republican party. While George W. Bush was president, Land participated in the administration’s “weekly teleconference with other Christian conservatives, to plot strategy on such issues as gay marriage and abortion.” Bush also appointed Land to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in 2002.

According to a 2002 article from the Associated Press, during his early academic career in Texas, “Land earned a reputation as a leader among abortion opponents and in 1987 became an administrative assistant to then-Texas Gov. Bill Clements, who fought for laws to restrict a woman’s right to an abortion” in the state.

Land had previously expressed “dismay” that some evangelicals were supporting Trump, claiming in October that he “take[s] that [support] as a failure on our part to adequately disciple our people.”