Las Vegas Megachurch Aids Anti-Gay Ugandan Pastor
Ssempa 'wants to redeem people,' says US pastor
By Mary Papenfuss, Newser Staff
Posted Jul 14, 2010 3:55 AM CDT
Martin Ssempa is a key figure behind Uganda's push to criminalize homosexuality.   (Psychvideos)

(Newser) – A controversial Ugandan pastor who claims that many gays are pedophiles who deserve death is being supported by an evangelical "megachurch" in Las Vegas. Pastor Martin Ssempa is a powerful force behind Uganda's anti-gay bill—which would criminalize homosexual activity and impose the death penalty for gay sex with a minor. Yet the 6,000-strong Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas is financially supporting Ssempa's church. Ssempa has been "misrepresented," insists Canyon Ridge pastor Kevin Odor.

"His heart is not to kill people," Odor tells NPR. "His heart is to redeem people. We want to help the AIDS problem in Africa, and we found somebody who is making a difference, so we support him." Warren Throckmorton, a professor at the evangelical Grove City College in Pennsylvania, blasts Canyon Ranch's support for Ssempa. "The church wants to be viewed as moderate and outreach-minded and compassionate, and yet they're supporting a set of values and principles elsewhere that are very harsh and deadly, frankly, to the very community you say you want to reach," he said.