David Kato Honored as 'Fallen Hero' for Fighting Uganda's Anti-Gay Death Penalty Bill
U.S. Religious Leaders Urge National Prayer Breakfast to Pray for Slain Gay Rights Activist
New York, February 2, 2011 /LGBT News/ Key religious leaders are calling for 'A Prayer for David Kato' on February 3rd, the first day of the National Prayer Breakfast, to honor the Ugandan gay rights activist who was killed last week, amidst a storm of anti-gay sentiment in his country. Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson and Auburn Theological Seminary are spearheading this national call for prayer and remembrance.
Mr. Kato was one of the few openly gay Ugandans willing to speak out against the anti-gay fervor spawned by a bill that proposes life sentences and even the death penalty in some cases for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Members of "The Family," the private group that organizes the influential National Prayer Breakfast, were widely reported as having inspired this legislation last year.
"Coming off of the brutal murder of David Kato, and with this death penalty legislation potentially heading for a vote, it is vital now more than ever that the organizers of the National Prayer Breakfast join us in ending this hatred and violence," said Bishop Robinson. "As an act of good faith, we urge that at the National Prayer Breakfast this Thursday, they lead a prayer of compassion and concern for the family, friends and colleagues of David Kato, and pray for their protection from further harm."
Bishop Robinson and a coalition of religious leaders organized the American Prayer Hour as an alternative to the National Prayer Breakfast last year, and asked President Obama to use his appearance at the National Prayer Breakfast to denounce the anti-gay legislation in Uganda. He did, calling the legislation "odious"; and this past week the President released a statement about David Kato's recent murder: "David showed tremendous courage in speaking out against hate... The United States mourns his murder, and we recommit ourselves to David's work."
Building on Mr. Kato's work for LGBT people and others, Auburn Seminary in collaboration with the organizers of last year's American Prayer Hour, are gathering faith leaders committed to justice nationwide to come together across region, religion, demographic and issue, to embody the majority and stand with all those whom religious extremists have shunned or persecuted, such as Muslim-Americans, immigrants and LGBT people.
"Many participants of the National Prayer Breakfast recognize that prejudice and violence against any group of persons goes against all of our faiths," said The Reverend John Vaughn, Executive Vice President of Auburn Theological Seminary. "However, the Breakfast's organizers have embarked on a path that has led to dangerous situations in places like Uganda. We implore them to change course and they can begin with a prayer in memory of David Kato."
Auburn Theological Seminary has an almost 200-year history of being at the forefront of social justice causes – from suffrage to civil rights. Auburn is spearheading its newest cause: to help heal the divisive religious landscape in the U.S. To do so, Auburn is creating a broad constituency united around shared concerns and values to stop intolerance in the name of faith.