Rick Warren: Not for executing gay men and lesbians, but not willing to stand up against it, either

Rick Warren, the American mega-pastor who has worked with the Ugandan pastors and government officials pushing the death penalty for homosexuality in that country, has refused to condemn laws that would result in the life imprisonment of anyone caught having gay sex, the execution of anyone caught having gay sex repeatedly, and the prosecution of anyone who failed to turn in suspected gay-sex havers.

Warren has taken steps to distance himself from the Ugandan legislation, and apparently cut off ties with Martin Ssempa, one of its key proponents, in 2007. Which is why his refusal to take sides on the legislation now makes even less sense. From Newsweek's Human Condition blog…

Warren won't go so far as to condemn the legislation itself. A request for a broader reaction to the proposed Ugandan antihomosexual laws generated this response: "The fundamental dignity of every person, our right to be free, and the freedom to make moral choices are gifts endowed by God, our creator. However, it is not my personal calling as a pastor in America to comment or interfere in the political process of other nations." On Meet the Press this morning, he reiterated this neutral stance in a different context: "As a pastor, my job is to encourage, to support. I never take sides."

I'm not a big fan of putting words in the mouth of any deity, but I'm pretty damn sure that's not what Jesus would do. In fact, we know what Jesus does in this situation: He steps in to protect the condemned and shames the executioners into walking away. Maybe Rick Warren needs a reminder of that.