Rick Warren’s homosexuality double standard; UCLA students versus tuition hikes; a preview of upcoming Copenhagen coverage.



Halting climate change will require global cooperation on an unprecedented scale. Reporting on international climate change negotiations is somewhat less daunting–but still, it’s nice to have friends. That’s why

The Nation

is partnering with

Mother Jones




The UpTake

, the

Center for Investigative Reporting


Planet Green



to provide wall-to-wall coverage of the UN’s Climate Change Conference, which kicks off in Copenhagen on December 7 and runs until December 18. For the duration of the conference, Nation correspondents

Naomi Klein


Mark Hertsgaard


Robert Eshelman

will be filing from Copenhagen on the latest diplomatic twists and activist actions, as well as providing analysis of the conference’s politics. See their posts, dispatches and videos at You’ll also find content from our partner organizations, like dispatches from

Kate Sheppard


Chris Mooney

for Mother Jones and video from the crew at The UpTake, as well as a constantly updated feed of headlines from the collective’s coverage.


Total number of nonfarm private-sector jobs as of October 1999, according to the

Bureau of Labor Statistics

: 109,487,000. Total number of nonfarm private-sector jobs as of October 2009: 108,401,000. Net difference: -1,086,000. Gain in US population from 1999 to 2009: 34,573,000.


It was a sign that students were in danger of making a difference when, on December 1, the Academic Council of the University of California issued an open letter “to remind everyone of the limits of protest.” Twelve days earlier, the UC Regents met at UCLA and voted to raise undergraduate tuition by 32 percent, setting off a wave of occupations. At UCLA hundreds of students locked arms to prevent the Regents from leaving the scene of the crime. Within hours, students occupied buildings on the university’s Berkeley, Davis and Santa Cruz campuses. Dozens were arrested. “We can’t sit down and let this happen,” said UCLA sophomore

Stephanie Anyanwu

. “We have to shake things up.”

UC president

Mark Yudof

has done his best to paint the tuition hikes as inevitable, the painful but necessary outcome of California’s budget crisis. But the state’s once proud higher education system has been on a steady march toward privatization since well before the crisis began. Since 2003, says

Robert Meister

, a UC Santa Cruz professor who served on the UC Budget and Planning Committee, administrators have been pledging tuition revenue as collateral for construction bonds, borrowing money on the basis of students’ ability to take out loans. This leaves California students in a situation like that faced by citizens of developing countries subject to IMF-imposed austerity programs, sacrificing their futures for the sake of someone else’s profit. Neoliberalism comes full circle.   BEN EHRENREICH


Maybe antigay pastor

Rick Warren

has been so busy living the purpose-driven life that he’s forgotten some of the Ten Commandments, like the sixth: “Thou shalt not kill.” Or maybe his application of biblical judgment is selective. Warren, who denounces abortion as “a holocaust,” has refused to condemn a bill in Uganda’s parliament that would punish anyone convicted of “aggravated homosexuality” with death. That includes serial offenders, HIV-positive people and those who use drugs or alcohol to facilitate gay sex. The bill also would decree life imprisonment for anyone found guilty of the “offense of homosexuality.” And witnesses to an act of homosexuality who fail to report it to the police within twenty-four hours could face up to three years in prison.

If this sounds like something straight out of the Old Testament, it’s because it essentially is. The “Anti-Homosexuality Bill” was introduced by Ugandan legislator

David Bahati

, a member of

The Family

, the fundamentalist Christian group whose devotees include Congressmen

Bart Stupak


Joe Pitts

, Senator

John Ensign

and South Carolina Governor

Mark Sanford

. According to an NPR interview with

Jeff Sharlet

, whose 2008 book documents The Family’s influence in US politics, Bahati organizes Uganda’s National Prayer Breakfast and runs something called the

African Youth Leadership Forum

, an alumni group associated with

Youth Corps

, part of The Family’s


leadership academy. Other backers of the bill include President

Yoweri Museveni

, who, according to Sharlet, has “a deep relationship [with The Family] that goes back more than two decades,” and

James Nsaba Buturo

, the minister for ethics and integrity and another organizer of the National Prayer Breakfast. Buturo told the Guardian that the government hopes to pass the bill this year, even if it means withdrawing from the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. “We believe there are limits to human rights,” he said.

According to a report by Inter Press Service, the idea for the bill was sparked by a March conference in Kampala featuring US Christian-right activists

Scott Lively

, head of Abiding Truth Ministries;

Don Schmierer

, a board member of Exodus International and an advocate of gay “reparative” therapy; and

Caleb Lee Brundidge

, a “therapist” with the International Healing Foundation. The seminar was organized by Ugandan pastor

Stephen Langa

, who afterward started a petition urging tougher antigay laws. In an e-mail to the Guardian, Lively subsequently denounced the bill, writing, “It is far too harsh and punitive.”

And where does Warren fit into all this? He has been a longtime ally of pastor

Martin Ssempa

, who has made appearances at Warren’s Saddleback Church and has actively campaigned for the bill. In the past, Ssempa publicly burned condoms and published the names of suspected homosexuals in newspapers. In the wake of Ssempa’s involvement in the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, Warren said, “Ssempa does not represent me” and claims to have severed all ties to him in 2007. But when pressed by journalists to comment on the bill, Warren said, “It is not my personal calling as a pastor in America to comment or interfere in the political process of other nations”– a dodge he later repeated on Meet the Press when he said, “As a pastor, my job is to encourage, to support. I never take sides.”

Warren, however, did take sides in 2008, when he endorsed California’s Proposition 8. He also provided encouragement and support–at President Obama’s inauguration.   RICHARD KIM

Thank you for reading The Nation!

We hope you enjoyed the story you just read. It takes a dedicated team to publish timely, deeply researched pieces like this one. For over 150 years, The Nation has stood for truth, justice, and democracy. Today, in a time of media austerity, articles like the one you just read are vital ways to speak truth to power and cover issues that are often overlooked by the mainstream media.

This month, we are calling on those who value us to support our Spring Fundraising Campaign and make the work we do possible. The Nation is not beholden to advertisers or corporate owners—we answer only to you, our readers.

Can you help us reach our $20,000 goal this month? Donate today to ensure we can continue to publish journalism on the most important issues of the day, from climate change and abortion access to the Supreme Court and the peace movement. The Nation can help you make sense of this moment, and much more.

Thank you for being a supporter of independent journalism.

Ad Policy