Among the reasons to appreciate what’s been going on in the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships Advisory Council is the following language from the draft report from the Inter-religious Cooperation Taskforce.
Religion is abused by extremists using religion to incite violence and hatred, by unscrupulous leaders manipulating sectarian differences for their own ends, by those seeking to exploit victims of poverty and human rights violations, and by instances where media scapegoats religion in situations of conflict.
Religious communities should be engaged to help achieve solutions for peace, security, human development, and respect for fundamental human rights that undergird these solutions.
Now apply this to the situation in Uganda. All non-crazy persons, including even conservative Republicans like Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, recognize the proposed anti-homosexuality bill as a gross violation of human rights. What the Advisory Council recognizes is that religion can be “abused” to violate human rights. (See, in this regard, the Anglican Church of Uganda’s determination to keep gay rights off the human rights agenda.) To counter that, the Council wants the federal government to encourage religious communities to promote respect for human rights–i.e. to oppose bills like Uganda’s. In a word, this could get interesting.