THINKING ANGLICANS

Anglican reactions to Nigerian and Ugandan legislation

Updated Monday lunchtime

Update According to the Daily Monitor Church ready to split from England on homosexuals

The Archbishop of Church of Uganda (CoU) has responded to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, saying Uganda is ready to break away from the Church of England if its views on homosexuality are not respected.

Addressing Christians at St Andrews Church, Bukoto yesterday, Archbishop Stanley Ntangali said the Ugandan-born Archbishop of York John Sentamu recently wrote to him, saying the Church of England was concerned about the CoU’s anti-homosexuality stand.

“I have written back to Archbishop Sentamu. I told him it does not matter even if we do not work with them because the Church of England is a product of repentance and USA is founded on Christian values but they seem to have become spiritually blind,” Bishop Ntangali said…

And AFP reports, via the Telegraph Uganda church warns of Anglican split over gay law

“The issue here is respect for our views on homosexuality, same sex marriage as a country and church. If they are not willing to listen to us. We shall consider being on our own,” Uganda’s top Anglican, Archbishop Stanley Ntagali, told AFP.

“Homosexual practice is incompatible with scripture, and no one in the leadership of the church can say legitimise same sex unions or homosexuality,” he said, urging the “governing bodies of the Church of England to not take the path advocated by the West”.

“If they do we shall have no choice but to be on our own,” he said.

[Original article started here]

The most recently published statement by the Church of Uganda on the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality legislation appears to be in this statement dated 30 January:

The Church of Uganda is encouraged by the work of Uganda’s Parliament in amending the Anti-Homosexuality Bill to remove the death penalty, to reduce sentencing guidelines through a principle of proportionality, and to remove the clause on reporting homosexual behaviour, as we had recommended in our 2010 position statement on the Bill. This frees our clergy and church leaders to fulfill the 2008 resolution of our House of Bishops to “offer counseling, healing and prayer for people with homosexual disorientation, especially in our schools and other institutions of learning. The Church is a safe place for individuals, who are confused about their sexuality or struggling with sexual brokenness, to seek help and healing.”

The Church of Nigeria has recently published this letter sent to the Church of Uganda, commending it for its position on homosexuality.

And there is this news story from Nigeria itself in the Daily Post: Anglican Church in Nigeria subjects members to oath denouncing homosexuality

The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) has introduced a clause in its constitution subjecting members, who intend to hold positions in church, to take an oath of allegiance to God denouncing homosexuality.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the public denunciation took place in Abuja on Sunday at St. Matthews, Maitama, during the swearing-in of new members of the Parish Church Council (PCC).

The Vicar of the church, Ven. Ben Idume, who administered the oath to members of the PCC, said the church recognised that those with such sexual orientation needed help and counselling.

“But they would not be allowed to hold any position in church,’’ he said.

The legislation is significant because it applies to members of the laity, clergy and house of bishops of the church.

It also banned bisexuals from holding any church office.

The text of the vow reads: “I declare before God and his Church that I have never been a homosexual/bisexual or (have repented from being homosexual/bisexual) and I vow that I will not indulge in the practise of homosexuality/bisexuality.

“If after this oath I am involved, found to be, or profess to be a homosexual/bisexual against the teachings of the Holy Scriptures as contained in the Bible.

“I bring upon myself the full wrath of God and subject myself willingly to canonical discipline as enshrined in the constitution of the Church of Nigeria, so help me God.’’

The Archbishop of Kenya is reported by The Star via allAfrica.com to have said this: (original report here)

KENYA does not need a new law on gay relationships as the constitution clearly outlaws homosexuality, Anglican Church of Kenya Archbishop Eliud Wabukala said yesterday.

Wabukala was responding to journalists’ questions on the sidelines of the Anglican Development Service meeting at the All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi.

He said whereas Uganda’s Parliament and President Yoweri Museveni accepted a law that penalised lesbian gay bisexual transgender relationships, “Kenya’s constitution clearly outlaws” them.

“As the Anglican church in Kenya we are very clear when it comes to matters of relationship which should be between two opposite sexes,” Wabukala said.

He said the church will not accept anything that is not allowed in scripture.

Wabukala faulted those who support the human right of LGBTs. He said human rights are not the same as rights.

“Human rights and rights are different. Human rights have no values while rights have values.”

“Just like Uganda has been guided by the constitution, Kenya has a more clear constitution on the relationship.”

On the other hand, the archbishops of New Zealand have published this: Archbishops: Pray for Uganda.

…Dear Friends and Colleagues in Christ,

Anglicans throughout Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia continue to wrestle with divergent views on many aspects of human sexuality, and on a Christian response to the marriage or blessing of same gender couples in particular. However, we believe that all Anglicans are united in condemning homophobic attitudes or the persecution of people on the basis of their sexual orientation.

Many of us will have seen reports this week (eg: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-26320102 ) that Uganda’s President has signed into law a bill that toughens penalties for gay people.

This new law includes the provision of life sentences for certain of these new ‘crimes’, and the legislation appears to have been passed with the encouragement of Uganda’s Joint Christian Council – which includes the country’s Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican bishops.

We recall Resolution 1:10 from the 1998 Lambeth Conference, which encouraged Anglicans throughout our Communion “to minister pastorally and sensitively to all, irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals…”

We note with dismay these developments in Uganda, and encourage you to remember that country, those placed further at risk by these laws, and those who lead the Church and the state in Uganda, in your prayers…

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Susannah Clark
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Susannah Clark

I think the Church of Uganda comment is chilling: that it will seek to “offer counselling, healing and prayer for people with homosexual disorientation, especially in our schools and other institutions of learning”. The thought that the church there seeks to be proactive in teaching children that homosexual attraction is not a sexual orientation but a “disorientation”… is profoundly at odds with what our bishops here in the UK are suggesting (as a minimum concession to lesbian, gay and bisexual people). Frankly, the proactive teaching of children and students of this kind of vilification of LGBT lives and actions is… Read more »

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

“I declare before God and his Church that I have never been a homosexual/bisexual or (have repented from being homosexual/bisexual) and I vow that I will not indulge in the practise of homosexuality/bisexuality.”

Short of shooting homosexuals on live TV and then selling the spent brass as holy relics, can anyone speculate as to what the African churches could do that would provoke condemnation from Justin Welby?

FD Blanchard
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FD Blanchard

The word “unhinged” comes to mind.

Susannah Clark
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Susannah Clark

My daughter is working in Uganda, with deep Christian commitment and integrity. We love each other dearly, we are close, her acceptance of me is humbling. But if I were to go out to Uganda, as a Christian, as an Anglican, as a transsexual woman… I would be part of the subject of stigmatisation, part of the Church’s narrative of ‘disorientation’ and perversion (even though I am a nurse, even though I am a Christian), and more seriously, liable to arrest in a society to which the Anglican Church offers backing for vile legislation. The reason I would not go… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

Thank you, Susannah, very well said.

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

Susannah,
one caveat, though, if I may. While I strongly support the concept of unity in diversity in principle, I cannot do so in this case.

What is happening in Uganda, in Nigeria, in Russia etc. has to be called out for what it is. We cannot just accept it as a theological difference.
Our current official silence is silence in the face of approaching genocide and utterly immoral.

Susannah Clark
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Susannah Clark

(Continued, page 2 of 2) No-one is *forced* to be gay. The bishops’ statement is disastrous. It is the opposite of unity-in-diversity. It is the Covenant all over again. This way lies no future, only the enforcement of one view against other people’s conscience and integrity. If a local PCC, and their priest, want to bless LGBT couples… if a priest loves his or her partner and wants to marry them… these should not be punitive matters. That is so immature. These should be matters where people with differing views agree to disagree, but don’t trample on each other’s consciences…… Read more »

Kajsa Ahlstrand
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Kajsa Ahlstrand

The Swedish Mission Council has recently sent this letter to the President of Uganda: http://www.missioncouncil.se/wp/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/to_President_of_Uganda.pdf The Swedish Mission Council has 34 member organisations: Evangelical, Pentecostal, Reformed, Baptist, Church of Sweden, Quaker, Roman Catholic, and Syrian Orthodox (http://www.missioncouncil.se/om-smr/medlemsorganisationer/?lang=en).
Kajsa A

William Raines
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William Raines

I wish some of our Bishops had the courage to bring upon themselves the full wrath of GAFCON.

James Byron
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James Byron

The false distinction between orientation and “practice” is again shown. Acts are an expression of orientation; to condemn gay sex is to condemn gay people. Vile as these statements are, they’re at least honest in explicitly targeting both.

Tim Chesterton
Guest

I agree that this is truly abominable, and I’m encouraged that the NZ archbishops have expressed their concern. I have to say, though, that we are the ones who have ultimately created this state of affairs, in which the state and the surrounding culture sets a policy and the Anglican Church sees it as its business to support it. It’s built into our Anglican DNA, all the way back to Christendom, the establishment of the ‘Church of England’ as a national entity under the thumb of the government, and the concept of an ‘established church’. It’s very clear to me… Read more »

Liam Beadle
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Liam Beadle

Even allowing for a conservative hermeneutic, I can think of little more unbiblical than requiring people to say they have never been homosexuals before they can hold office. Paul addresses his first letter to the Corinthians to former fornicators, idolators, adulterers, prostitutes, sexual abusers, thieves, greedy people, drunkards, slanders and swindlers. But they were washed, sanctified and justified in the name of Jesus and by the Spirit – and therefore completely acceptable to God and to one another. Such washing, sanctification and justification would seem to count for little in Nigeria. It is very hard to see what is evangelical… Read more »

James Byron
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James Byron

I agree with Erika, unity has its limits.

Maintaing communion legitimizes the views of those with whom we disagree. There laws in Nigeria and Uganda are as illegitimate and depraved as apartheid. The response should be the same: isolate the countries involved.

The Anglican Communion should be broken.

Concerned Anglican
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Concerned Anglican

As I’ve blogged before what is happening in Uganda and Nigeria, much of it in the name of ‘Traditional’ Anglicanism, with circumstantial evidence that North American conservative factions are fuelling the hatred … is disturbingly like what happened to the Jews in Germany before the last War.

We are now all waiting for a full and clear statement from ‘Archbishop’ Robert Duncan of the ACNA whose church is predicated on an anti-gay stance and is strongly supported by both the Ugandan and Nigerian Provinces. This needs to be followed up by a statement from GAFCON whose position is very similar.

Bob McCloskey
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Bob McCloskey

“AC should be broken.” NO it has been broken for at least 3 decades, the attempt to maintain a façade of unity by 3 consecutive Arbps of Canterbury notwithstanding. George Carey hijacked the 98 Lambeth by sidestepping an official commission led by the Arbp of Capetown, and co-opting the issue with his own agenda. Rowan Williams sold his soul in attempting to maintain a façade of unity, and now Justin Welby continues this charade. GAFCON has made it quite clear that it does not honor communion with several provinces. So let’s drop the talk of a false unity in the… Read more »

Susannah Clark
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Susannah Clark

James, I disagree on this one. As far as I am concerned, I am in communion with anyone else who has sincere faith in Jesus Christ. My being “in Christ” is not the result of my own moral rectitude. Their being “in Christ” is not the result of their moral rectitude. As far as I’m concerned, we all come to God with selfishness and wrongs, but the redemption we are offered in Christ means that, like it or not (and regardless of leadership proclamations and denominational distancing) we are all One in Jesus Christ, and therefore, eternally, in communion with… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

Tim, I wonder what we mean by countercultural. I don’t think it means grabbing hold of the same topic but pulling in another direction. Being countercultural would mean not sharing that obsession about sex at all. It would mean not defining ourselves over and against one another and absolutely having to be right, rather than standing side by side and focusing on God. And I’m not entirely sure how a church can come to different conclusions on social issues than the surrounding culture. After all, its members come from that culture and are a part of it as much as… Read more »

Nathaniel Brown
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Nathaniel Brown

++Uganda should watch this video, and seee where certainty leads: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0jl2w3xYFHQ&list=PLT22xnTtFLbc6wkF9Pk5JMXAnLKOdbg9v It is tragic that things have taken this course, but it has happened in an atmosphere of appeasement and and a vacuum leadership (made worse, it has to be admitted, by the interference of American evangelicals – itself an area where a strong statement from Canterbury might have helped shape things differently). Were the C of E to stand up at this point and say, “We regret parting ways, but we believe in the equality and priesthood of ALL.” it might gain respect and set a prophetic tone. But… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

What does this statement from Kenya actually say?

“Wabukala faulted those who support the human right of LGBTs. He said human rights are not the same as rights.

“Human rights and rights are different. Human rights have no values while rights have values.””

What does it mean to say that human rights have no value?

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

“There laws in Nigeria and Uganda are as illegitimate and depraved as apartheid.”

The difference this time is that the Anglicans are enthusiastic proponents. The Dutch Reformed Church was always outside global protestantism, and did not get much, or any, support in its pursuit of apartheid. The homophobia is now being advanced and supported by a significant range of Anglican affiliates, which places Welby in a much harder position.

Nathaniel Brown
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Nathaniel Brown

“We are now all waiting for a full and clear statement from ‘Archbishop’ Robert Duncan… “

I’m not.

It’s totally irrelevant.

peterpi - Peter Gross
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peterpi - Peter Gross

Suzannah Clark, thank you for your posts.

########

“Are you now, or have you ever been, a homosexual or bisexual?” sends a chill up my spine. Will the Nigerian and Ugandan churches create Unanglican Activities Committees? Haul people before the UUAC or the NUAC and demand that they formally answer that question, and, regardless of how they answerr, demand they denounce and name in public Anglicans they know to be gay or bisexual? Will priests and laity who courageously refuse be ostracized, blacklisted, shamed, excommunicated (either in the literal or social sense)?

Jesus still weeps.

Simon W
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Simon W

I wonder what the response to these statements and the associated developments is from the English dioceses that have close links with the Anglican churches of Nigeria or Uganda.

Sam Roberts
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Sam Roberts

Imagine the following: Nigerian man, married for ten years with three kids, a successful businessman, and straight as far as anyone knows, is about to take up an office as head churchwarden. Taking the oath he says, “I, X, declare before God and his Church that I have repented from being homosexual and I vow that I will not indulge in the practise of homosexuality.” I suspect that on those facts, X would not hold that position for very long.

George Waite
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George Waite

Pathetic. Cut off their funding, their travel allowances and stop inviting them to conferences. Send their clergy back and refuse to invite them to participate in official events.
Why pay for this stupidity?

Nathaniel Brown
Guest
Nathaniel Brown

“The Jesuit magazine America published an editorial today in which it calls on Catholic leaders to explore how they “contribute, perhaps even inadvertently, to a culture of fear and shame” that leads some LGBT to feel wounded and even to take their own lives. “…The editorial said it is “especially disturbing that such legislation is immensely popular in predominantly Christian countries” and said that opposing same-sex marriage “cannot justify these excessive and punitive measures.” “They called laws like the one in Uganda “unjustifiable assaults on the human rights and inherent dignity of gay and lesbian people” and said Catholics have… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Tim Chesterton gives a very shaky view of what the Church needs to do in order to be true to the Gospel of OLJC. When he talks of counter-culture being the norm for Christians, he surely has to take into consideration the sort of national ‘culture’ he wants to be ‘counter’ to. In GAFCON territory, this certainly is a Christian attitude – where the local government is bent on the persecution of Gays made in the image and likeness of God, whose only sin is to be as God has made them. Counter-culture here would be life-giving, instead of deadly.… Read more »

Nathaniel Brown
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Nathaniel Brown

“Are you now, or have you ever been, a homosexual or bisexual?”

In the United States, that question must send chills down every back that remembers the dark years of the McCarthy witch hunts, which ruined so many lives and careers. “Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist Party?”

Can anyone imagine Jesus asking such a question?

rjb
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rjb

“What does it mean to say that human rights have no value?” I think, Erica, this might be evidence that using Western rhetoric around ‘human rights’ has a pretty limited currency in non-Western cultures. I don’t agree with the Archbishop of Kenya about much, but I do tend to agree that the confidence Western liberals place in rights-rhetoric generally, and in the language of ‘human rights’ particularly, may not be the best basis on which to establish a dialogue with African Christians about the condition of LGBT people. To many non-Westerners (and indeed to me much of the time) talk… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds
Spirit of Vatican II
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Spirit of Vatican II

Their clerical ranks are no doubt full of gays; “repented from homosexuality” is the loophole clause fabricated to accommodate them and make the hypocrisy complete!

John
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John

Interesting comment from rjb. Presume he’s right on main point (don’t know). Personally, as a highly secularised western Christian, I do accept the language and moral imperatives of ‘human rights’, but even in the West, when one’s trying to construct arguments that might have some chance of persuading church people, one has to use ‘Christian’ arguments – a point (I believe) repeatedly ignored by many TA commentators. On the other hand, appeal to the Gospel is no picnic either, as we all know. Personally, I prefer more pragmatic approaches and think they will eventually do the job. Interesting report in… Read more »

RPNewark
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RPNewark

And now, over to Canterbury…
Posted by: Nathaniel Brown on Monday, 3 March 2014 at 11:31pm GMT

Don’t, please don’t, hold your breath.

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

That’s a very good point, rjb, thank you.

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

“To many non-Westerners (and indeed to me much of the time) talk of ‘human rights’ looks like the language of benevolent colonial paternalism.”

I presume that if Germany re-passed the Nuremburg Laws and started rounding up Jews to be “shipped East”, you wouldn’t shrug your shoulders and say that we shouldn’t impose non-German concepts of human rights on a sovereign country. So what’s the difference?

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

Yes John, your thoughts are in line with Allport’s classic ‘contact’ theory (1954) – that prejudice tends to reduce when people actually encounter and get to know the discriminated group. When you start getting to know a person as a person, rather than as an ‘othered’ category, then it opens up the possibility of moving beyond the prejudice and recognising the person’s value and legitimacy. I’m convinced this explains why lesbian and gay people are far more accepted in society today: because more and more people experienced ‘out’ LGB people in their own families or circle of friends, until it… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

While this legislation is new and draconian, it is part of a steady stream of anti gay statutes and constitutional amendments that appeared to be encouraged by the republic of South Africa’s constitution guaranteeing gay equality. Twelve years ago this hate filled language, was, if anything even more pronounced. The Welsh Primate returned from a meeting of bishops in Africa where a fellow bishop told him there were no gays in his diocese. In a cool voice without visceral emotion, as if it were clearly the right thing to do, he described how gay people were stoned or “necklaced” when… Read more »

John
Guest
John

Thank you, Susanna.

I often find what your write beautiful and moving.

Caelius Spinator
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Caelius Spinator

Tim Chesterton is entirely right to trace this state of affairs to the Erastianism stuck in our ecclesial DNA. While I commend Elizabeth I by being uninterested in making windows into men’s souls, her successors were not so conscientious. I’ve seen that Nigerian oath through a funhouse mirror, and this is how it read, “I, A.B., do solemnly and sincerely, in the presence of God, profess, testify, and declare, that I do believe that in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper there is not any transubstantiation of the elements of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

It’s an interesting analogy, Caelius. And it points to the need for a kind of ‘settlement’ that allows for diverse understandings within a single communion in Jesus Christ. What you represent there is – in essence – what the promoters of the ‘Covenant’ were trying to do. To pin down people to a dominant dogma, with the intent of enforcing uniformity and pushing out ‘heretics’ aka The Episcopal Church in the US etc. And there seems only a subtlety of nuance, between the African mandatory declarations of uniformity/orthodoxy, your example above, and the more ‘polite’ enforcement of uniformity over conscience… Read more »

Savi Hensman
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Savi Hensman

But rjb, many African, Asian and Latin American countries and independence movements helped to develop, or signed up to, the concept of universal human rights in the 1940s and ’50s. For instance ‘Respect for fundamental human rights and for the purposes and principles of the charter of the United Nations’ was the first of a list of principles agreed at the 1955 Bandung Conference, an Afro-Asian gathering. However senior clergy in certain countries who suck up to repressive politicians may find it convenient to pretend, even to themselves, that the concept of human rights is somehow unique to the West.

Bill Ghrist
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Bill Ghrist

I would recommend reading a new book: “Backpacking Through the Anglican Communion: A Search for Unity” by Jesse Zink for some useful insights on this issue. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Backpacking-Through-Anglican-Communion-Search/dp/0819229016 The author’s experiences are both encouraging and discouraging. Encouraging: It is possible to engage in respectful discussion about the church and homosexuality when one has established a personal relationship with people, in spite of opposing viewpoints. Unity in diversity is not an impossibility, at least on a local, personal basis. Discouraging: In countries such as Nigeria and Uganda the attitude toward homosexuality is for most people simply a given, not something that they… Read more »

Cynthia
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Cynthia

“I think, Erica, this might be evidence that using Western rhetoric around ‘human rights’ has a pretty limited currency in non-Western cultures.” The UN has a concept of Human Rights that is a part of the lingo of all member nations. They have conferences that are run by and focus on the issues in various parts of the world, including Africa. There was one on human rights for women in Africa that had a gazillion African women speaking to their issues – not one of them said that their human rights was a product of western colonial paternalism. They said… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

Hmmm, this is turning into an interesting discussion re “human rights”. I wonder if EVERY society pushing for “human rights” has basically meant “the right of everyone to be like Me&MyKind” . . . and are then shocked-shocked to find out just HOW DIFFERENT these competing visions are. “Unity in Diversity”: in long-developed nations, we may have a more “let diversity BLOOM!” ethos. In less-developed nations—nations which may be only a few decades old, molded out of multiple religions, languages, ethnicities—diversity is inevitably seen as a THREAT. Obviously, I don’t have the answers here . . . which is why… Read more »

John
Guest
John

Cynthia,

And how many of these gazillion African women are speaking up for gay rights?

peterpi - Peter Gross
Guest
peterpi - Peter Gross

Their clerical ranks are no doubt full of gays; “repented from homosexuality” is the loophole clause fabricated to accommodate them and make the hypocrisy complete! Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Tuesday, 4 March 2014 at 8:58am GMT Vatican II, it reminds me of the “bad ol’ days” in the US military, when you could be other-than-honorably discharged if caught in a physical embrace or other physical acts with a person — military or civilian — of the same gender. There was an exception — dubbed the “queen for a day” rule, after a popular 1950s American TV game… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

But what rjb says does make sense. Here too we have a large number of Christians who do not get that human rights are not “human rights” and that they are not “only human rights” as something opposed to theology, as if God could ever be against human rights.

When that’s the prevailing mindset appealing to human rights is usually pointless.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“And how many of these gazillion African women are speaking up for gay rights?” I’m glad you asked. This is a good start. Drill through and you’ll find tons on equality and human rights issues. http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/csw/57sess.htm Google UN and human rights for African Women and a lot comes up. Try this one: http://www.un.org/womenwatch/directory/human_rights_of_women_3009.htm The idea that human rights is exclusively Western is balderdash. Indeed, there is a UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the post has been held by a lot of non Westerners. From the UN website on Human Rights: https://www.un.org/en/un60/60ways/rights.shtml Human Rights is totally a Western concept?… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Oops, I got John confused with rjb. So my links for the UN’s vast non Western human rights work is for those who are considering buying into the idea that Human Rights is a Western thing. Hopefully the links show that’s not true. The question of John: And how many of these gazillion African women are speaking up for gay rights? I don’t know. I have not come across mention of it in the conferences; the papers I’ve seen stayed focused on women’s issues. The female president of … was it Senegal? told President Obama to mind his own business… Read more »

John
Guest
John

Cynthia, don’t apologise. You have all my good-will.