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Church Times on the links with South Sudan

The Church Times has a news report by Madeleine Davies ‘We face attacks if C of E marriage policy changes’

BISHOPS in South Sudan have confirmed the Archbishop of Canterbury’s warning that Christians in their country face a violent reaction if the Church of England permits same-sex marriage and blessings…

On Tuesday, the Bishop of Maridi, the Rt Revd Justin Badi Arama, verified this report. “Gay relationships in the Church of England would mean the people of South Sudan going back to their traditional religions which do not take them to same-sex practice,” said. “Secondly, there would be continued violence against Christians [in the fear] that they would bring bad and shameful behaviour or homosexual practice, and spread it in the communities.”

Any change would lead to a rift, the Bishop of Wau, the Rt Revd Moses Deng Bol, warned on Wednesday. “The Church of England blessing gay marriages will be dangerous for the Church in South Sudan, because people here, like many African countries, strongly oppose gay marriages. And so they would want the Church here to break relationship with the Church of England.

“As a Church, we need to remain united as a body of Christ. We must be mindful of our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world when taking decisions, because what affects one part of the body affects the whole body as well.”

Bishop Arama concurred: “As South Sudanese, we very much value the partnership, and all the efforts of the Church of England to support the Church in Sudan during all the difficult moments in our history. Same-sex practice would distort this long history, because light and darkness cannot stay together.

“It is our prayer that the Church of England should not follow the world into darkness, but lead the world into light.”

But the online version of this story has been updated since the paper edition went to press, with this additional passage, expressing a slightly different view:

On Thursday, the Bishop of Cueibet, the Rt Revd Elijah Matueny Awet, said that, if the Church of England blessed gay relationships, Christians in South Sudan would “go back and worship their traditional beliefs and Gods [rather] than worshipping the true God. . . Islam will grow rapidly in South Sudan because of the pagan believing on same-sex marriage.”

He argued, however, that it would not lead to reprisals in South Sudan, which would take a different path to that pursued in the West.

“We have been described by English people and American that we are a rude community . . . The question now, is who is rude now? Is it the one who is claiming his or her right? The one who is forcing people to accept his behavior?”

The leader column, which is behind the paywall, includes the following comment:

…But gay people are victims, too, and Archbishop Welby’s comments on LBC (News) involved the Church of England in their plight. It is unfair to accuse him, as some have, of allowing the C of E’s policy on same-sex marriage to be dictated by evil men. The nearest parallel is with hostage-takers. You do nothing to upset them, all the while resisting the desire to appease them. It is an agonising situation, felt keenly by the Archbishop, despite his ambivalence, to put it no more strongly, on the subject of same-sex relationships.

For all that, it is unlikely that the Church of England’s restraint will be matched by the murderous militias in Sudan, the DRC, and elsewhere. It assumes an unlikely degree of patience and sophistication on the part of the gunmen to suppose that they might understand the nature of the Church’s relationship with the state, its tolerance of principled dissent among its clergy, and the lack of a juridical bond between the different provinces of the Communion. The assumption that Christianity and Western decadence are cut from the same cloth has long plagued the Church’s relationships with its neighbours in Africa, the Middle East, and countries such as China…

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CynthiaSavi HensmanJohn AshworthFather Ron SmithPaul C Recent comment authors
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Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

So, African Christians are like hostage takers, whom we should be careful not to upset in case they start shooting?

Racism of low expectations.

And it also ignores that one of the main reservoirs of homophobia in Africa is the Christians themselves.

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

“The nearest parallel is with hostage-takers. You do nothing to upset them, all the while resisting the desire to appease them” While I accept the parallel, Jeffrey John would be an example where the resistance gave way. Or do we end up in the numbers game? For the message we got immediately before the Dromantine meeting of Primates was that we were a small enough group to be sacrificed, in the short to medium term, for the greater good. Fr Joe, as an RC observer, has some perceptive comments on earlier threads. I suspect he understands the realpolitik guiding the… Read more »

Father David
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Father David

So there is truth in the Archbishop of Canterbury’s linkage. Instead of being vilified he should be duly recognised for pointing out the possible cause and effect that certain actions in England may have in the rest of the world. Alas persecution is all too great a reality for Christians throughout the world and in some cases leads to martyrdom. Archbishop Justin in his statement was simply witnessing to the witnesses.

Jeremy
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Jeremy

“Same-sex practice would distort this long history, because light and darkness cannot stay together.”

This is homophobia incarnate–and it is coming from Christian bishops!

Why should gays in England be prevented from marrying, because bishops in the Sudan are homophobic? If they do not attend Lambeth 2018, then there’s always Lambeth 2028, 2038, and 2048.

Should people in England really be prevented from marrying, because bigoted foreign prelates refuse to attend a conference?

Pat O'Neill
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Pat O'Neill

“So there is truth in the Archbishop of Canterbury’s linkage.” Ummmm…no. There is a statement–without any evidential backing…from an individual with a vested interest in the situation that this is so. In addition, of course, correlation is not causation. Should there be anti-Christian events in the Sudan area, there would be no hard evidence that they are caused by anything the rest of the Anglican Communion does. Even if those who perpetrate these events say that is the cause, why should we believe them? It is just as likely they would have found some other excuse for their actions. The… Read more »

Lionel Deimel
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Perhaps the next Lambeth Conference should be held in Sudan or Uganda or Nigeria, since it seems to be Africans who are controlling the trajectory of the Anglican Communion.

Jane Charman
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Jane Charman

I seem to see a profound moral irony at work here. Many African churches have endorsed, encouraged and in some cases actively participated in the persecution of LGBT people and that was fine. But now they are afraid that the treatment they have meted out to others is about to rebound on themselves. The solution? The C of E must continue to marginalise LGBT Christians so that homophobic Christians in African countries will not be exposed to risk from homophobes of other religions. An alternative analysis might go something like this. It is precisely because homophobia is not compatible with… Read more »

Cynthia
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Cynthia

It is the homophobia of the African bishops and African Christians that needs to be addressed! I do not accept that my beautiful relationship causes murder or that I should sacrifice it and live in lonely misery (also economic discomfort) because it would save the lives of bigots in Africa. I can’t believe that if TEC, Canada, and CoE suddenly cast out all of their LGBT members, that there would be peace in Africa! What is particularly disgusting is that the conflict in Sudan has been going on for 50 years and instead of working the real problems on behalf… Read more »

Nathaniel Brown
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Nathaniel Brown

“Perhaps the next Lambeth Conference should be held in Sudan or Uganda or Nigeria, since it seems to be Africans who are controlling the trajectory of the Anglican Communion.”

Simpler, really, to relocate Canterbury to Uganda. Then we could really get about driving the scapegoats – the LGBT community – out into the wilderness.

JCF
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JCF

Deng Bol: “We must be mindful of our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world when taking decisions”

Have these Sudanese (among other African) bishops shown the *slightest sign* of being compassionately mindful of their LGBT brothers and sisters in their OWN parts of the world?

Beyond that, I’m too angry to say anything else except “ITA” w/ most of the comments here. I refuse to be dictated to by trigger-happy (Jesus-ignoring) hostage-takers!

Paul C
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Paul C

The Leader article: “The assumption that Christianity and Western decadence are cut from the same cloth has long plagued the Church’s relationships with its neighbours in Africa…” It seems the church is caught between two cultural norms here and is suffering on both ends; deservedly in both cases, I’m afraid. On one hand, the homophobic bigotry that the church itself fostered throughout much of our history is said to be rebounding on ourselves as Africans understand “that Christianity and Western decadence are cut from the same cloth.” Meanwhile, here in the west, the same can be said in reverse: there… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
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I can report that here in New Zealand, many people are perplexed by the ABC’s seeming inadvertent consequentialism – in his suggestion that the Church of England pulls back on any affirmation of Same-Sex monogamous partnerships – in order to appease African thugs who would kill Christians in their own countries as a direct response. This seems naive, to say the least. The churches in Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya have already criminalised same-sex relationships in their countries – by direct association with the implementation of new laws against them. Is that not enough for would-be murderers of Gay people and… Read more »

John Ashworth
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John Ashworth

“the conflict in Sudan has been going on for 50 years and instead of working the real problems on behalf or their people”

That’s really a very unfair and ignorant comment. The Anglican bishops of Sudan and South Sudan are and always have been in the forefront of working for peace and reconciliation and addressing “the real problems on behalf of their people”, often at great personal risk. Disagree with them on homosexuality if you wish, but please don’t throw such cheap jibes at them.

John Ashworth, Juba, South Sudan

Cynthia
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Cynthia

“Disagree with them on homosexuality if you wish, but please don’t throw such cheap jibes at them.” They are blaming some of the killing on western tolerance, when they are homophobic and have laws against LGBT people. Apparently, at least one of them said something the the ABC to the effect that “we need your help and couldn’t take it if you do SSM.” Talk about cheap emotional blackmail when the bigger picture has nothing to do with LGBT people. TEC is there. South Sudan is accepting our help. I’ve supported some of the activity from afar (being gay, I’m… Read more »

Savi Hensman
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Savi Hensman

Jane Charman makes an important point.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

As Jim Naughton points out in another article, a lot of human rights organizations have looked into the various massacres in Africa and none have attributed the murders to gay friendly churches in the US or anywhere else.

So much for the moral arguments.

A lot of upset was caused over this untruth. I’m sure it’s true that Justin was told that gay inclusion was the cause, but Justin should listen to more Jazz, because “It Ain’t Necessarily So.”

What seems possible is that certain people used the murders to further their anti-gay agenda. Woe to them.