Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Uganda: the church must speak up

Savi Hensman has written at Cif belief about A new homophobic law in Uganda. Some extracts below. Read the whole article for links to source documents.

Every day millions of Christians pray to be spared from being put to the test. For some in Uganda, where an anti-homosexuality bill (pdf) is being put to parliament, this prayer may be especially deeply felt. This extremely unpleasant proposed law targets not only lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) people but also human rights and Aids prevention activists and people in positions of trust. While some in the church are backing the bill, other Christians face a challenge to the principles at the heart of their faith…

The bill is a particular challenge for Christians because clergy have helped to whip up fear and hatred and undermine respect for human rights. Nicodemus Okille, Dean of the Province of Uganda, in his Christmas sermon in 2007 as Bishop of Bukedi, reportedly condemned advocates of gay rights as having no place in the kingdom of God. “The team of homosexuals is very rich,” claimed Archbishop Henry Orombi in 2008. “They have money and will do whatever it takes to make sure that this vice penetrates Africa. We have to stand out and say no to them.” However Anglican Bishop Stanley Ntagali of Masindi-Kitara diocese has recently spoken out against the death penalty for homosexuality, while supporting imprisonment….

…Anglican leaders such as the Archbishop of Canterbury have avoided challenging their Ugandan associates’ complicity in anti-LGBT abuses while soundly condemning Anglican provinces moving towards equality for all.

Sixty years ago, the Anglican Communion was at the forefront of the drive for universal human rights. Though commitment to rights for all, including LGBT people, has been repeatedly endorsed at international gatherings, and many churches are passionately committed, it now tends to be referred to in vague terms by top leaders. But they will have to decide how to respond to this legislation, especially since their own Ugandan-born clergy and parishioners will be affected. What they do, or fail to do, will affect their ability to witness to a God who does not abandon the abused and exploited. These are testing times.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 28 October 2009 at 9:39am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion
Comments

Finally!
A couple of weeks ago Inclusive Church published a sample letter that people could send to their bishops.
http://www.inclusivechurch2.net/Inclusive-Church-October-20-09-41def4a

People living in the UK can also lobby their MP.

Posted by: ErikaBakerUK on Wednesday, 28 October 2009 at 12:08pm GMT

Leave it to a newspaper reporter to say what the ACC is too chicken to mumble about.

Shame on ++Canterbury!

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Wednesday, 28 October 2009 at 2:03pm GMT

Oh it´s worse than that...the very fact that we ¨soften¨ the thuggery with words of ¨challenge¨ is missing the point...James Buturo, Minister of Ethics and Morals ¨fear and hate¨ campaign is a religiouslike centered pogrom that calls for murder and long sentences of jail for accomplices such as those who ¨minister¨ to LGBT people our families and friends...even Anglican Bishop heterosexual Christopher Ssenyonjo, Retired bishop of West Buganda, Uganda, was excommunicated by Archbishop Orombi after establishing a ministry for gay and lesbian believers in his community of marginalized/persecuted LGBT Anglicans...we NEED FAR MORE than whispers of ¨what ought we do¨ about possible mischiefmaking at The Anglican Communion Providence of Uganda where REAL LIVES are being denegrated/threatened by ¨religious¨ extremists who apparently are challenged by BLIND fear, resentment and hate...some say for money, prestige and bloated egos too, others, ¨it´s only a distraction from Ugandas REAL problems of rampant governmental corruption and human sacrafice!¨

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Wednesday, 28 October 2009 at 2:16pm GMT

Thank you Leonardo Ricardo!!
And "Deo Gratias!" for people like Savi Hensman for speaking out. Something has got to be done.
The silence is absolutely deafening. ABC Williams instantly reacts to any move in TEC, while showing absolute blindness to what's going on in Uganda. Is his desire for keeping the Communion together so strong that it comes at any cost to human dignity?
I've written my own bishop. I may be better off writing to my elected members in the US Congress and to our State Dept.

Posted by: peterpi on Wednesday, 28 October 2009 at 5:12pm GMT

Horrible, horrible!

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Wednesday, 28 October 2009 at 6:29pm GMT

Silence from Rowan++ is just deafening. Is he afraid to offend Ratzi? By contrast, today President Obama signed legislation aimed at reponsing to hate crimes, and for the first time, glbt people were explicitly mentioned as a protected class.

I am hoping that when he learns of it, Phred Phelps' head explodes.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Wednesday, 28 October 2009 at 8:36pm GMT

However did the ABC get himself manoeuvred into this position? I will write. I will pray. I will also rage at intervals.

Posted by: Rosemary Hannah on Wednesday, 28 October 2009 at 8:39pm GMT

"The bill is a particular challenge for Christians because clergy have helped to whip up fear and hatred and undermine respect for human rights. Nicodemus Okille, Dean of the Province of Uganda, in his Christmas sermon in 2007 as Bishop of Bukedi, reportedly condemned advocates of gay rights as having no place in the kingdom of God. “The team of homosexuals is very rich,” claimed Archbishop Henry Orombi in 2008. “They have money and will do whatever it takes to make sure that this vice penetrates Africa. We have to stand out and say no to them.” - Savi Henseman -

Once again, Savi Henseman is one journalist who understands what is going on in the Global South Churches with reference to their treatment of the LGBT Community in their territories. The likes of Orombi and Akinola have fuelled a hatred of a sector of humanity which, because of their God-given sexual orientation, is condemned by these Christian Leaders to imprisonment and worse. With homophobes like these as propsective partners in the proposed 'Covenant' relationship within the Anglican Communion, who would really want to join?

It really is time for other Primates of the Anglican Communion to speak out against this culture of discrimination - all in the name of God and of the Anglican Churches in those parts of the world which have not yet come to terms with what science has to say about human sexuality and cultural prejudice. Will the Anglican Leaders have to wait until homosexuals are actually imprisoned in these countries before they actually decide to do something?

"How long, oh Lord, how long?"

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 28 October 2009 at 9:42pm GMT

No matter how many letters of protest flood The Archbishop of Canterbury from lay people, clergy and bishops around the world, Rowan Williams remains silent. His failure to speak up regarding the most recent developments with Rome and the violent developments against glbt people and their supporters in Uganda tells me Rowan is a dysfunctional leader who is also displaying the traits of a coward. I used to think he was the kind of man who would stand up for the disenfranchised people on this planet. It is very sad and pathetic that he remains silence at such a crucial moment in history. I hope this is just an anomaly, but I rather doubt that I am that far off from my read of Rowan's behavior. I hope I am proven wrong.

Posted by: Chris Smith on Wednesday, 28 October 2009 at 9:49pm GMT

Williams says nothing because he is a spineless coward who doesn't care about anything which might threaten the human organisation he worships - organised religionism. I despise him.

Posted by: Merseymike on Wednesday, 28 October 2009 at 11:53pm GMT

The proposed First Tier in the two-tier Anglicanism proposed by the Covenant seems to be people with murderers. Shame.

Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Thursday, 29 October 2009 at 12:08am GMT

"No matter how many letters of protest flood The Archbishop of Canterbury from lay people, clergy and bishops around the world, Rowan Williams remains silent. His failure to speak up regarding the most recent developments with Rome and the violent developments against glbt people and their supporters in Uganda tells me Rowan is a dysfunctional leader"

yes - but worse - he is a moral coward. He is despicable. He did not decry the proposed legislation in Nigeria. He is silent now.

There is a rude southern US saying, that I now will apply to Rowan - and pardon if this is offensive to the faint of heart. He, Rowan, is lower than snake shit.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Thursday, 29 October 2009 at 12:16am GMT

Oh, and by the way, I would also like to hear a word from our own Presiding Bishop.

KJS - where are you?

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Thursday, 29 October 2009 at 2:25am GMT

People in some non-Western nations often seem to say that homosexuality is a corrupt Western practice foreign to their own culture (I once had a Serbian Orthodox priest tell me in Confession that there were no gay people in Serbia). I think what they really mean is that not killing gay people is a corrupt Western practice foreign to their culture.

Posted by: BillyD on Thursday, 29 October 2009 at 11:57am GMT

I'm with Billy D ;=)

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Thursday, 29 October 2009 at 2:04pm GMT

As for letters and such to the ABC, I wonder how many actually get to him. It's quite common for people in those positions to be very isolated and even cocooned. Depending on who the gatekeepers are, what he does receive might be fairly slanted. That's not to take away responsibility from Rowan. He can't possibly be THAT clueless about what's going on. Does anyone know what kind of people he has on staff who would be controlling the flow of information to him?

Posted by: Kevin Montgomery on Thursday, 29 October 2009 at 4:39pm GMT

BillyD, people in Western countries suffer the same delusion about GLBT people being non-existent. I used work with a legislative advocacy group on behalf of GLBT people. I would have conversations with rural legislators in Colorado who insisted that there were no GLBT people in his district, that we were all in decadent Denver!

Posted by: peterpi on Thursday, 29 October 2009 at 4:59pm GMT

I think that prayers for Archbishop Rowan, which I offer every day, need to be substituted for the wrath that is being poured on him by many of our supporters of women and the LGBT community around the world at this time. "There are more things wrought by prayer than this world dreams of".

I just would not like to take on the tremendous responsibility Rowan has for doing his best to keep the Anglican Communion together. Perhaps the time has come for the Communion to be shaken up and stirred, so that homophobes and misogynists might be 'let go'. Only then can the present stand-off be, in any way, resolved.

And anyway. What sort of things would change, do you think, if Bp. Nazir-Ali had become the ABC? Or even if Rowan's predecessor were still in office? Their silence would be at least equally deafening. Rowan is a man of prayer himself and, hopefully, will be inspired to move on the likes of Orombi and Akinola at the most apporpriate time - which must surely be soon.

On reflection though, what can an Archbishop of Canterbury do - when other religious leaders are doing nothing to prevent this intolerable state of affairs in Uganda and elseswhere? Oremus!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 29 October 2009 at 6:27pm GMT

Gee folks we're Anglicans; one may be angry with Rowan Williams for his silence and his ineffectual leadership on hot button controversies; and pray deeply-warmly for him at the same time.

Regards the former, our dilemma is that his faults stretch large over all of us thanks to his position - an bullhorn amplification that harrows even the person himself, probably. Regards the latter, either we are a praying community, deeply rooted in incarnational theologies, or we are what the evangelical and Anglo-Catholic right wings consistently try to mistake us as being.

Speak up, discern, investigate, decode, pray, give thanks ... all in a day's discipleship, every single day?

Posted by: drdanfee on Thursday, 29 October 2009 at 7:23pm GMT

"As for letters and such to the ABC, I wonder how many actually get to him."

I wrote to His Silence some time ago, objecting to his use of language about glbt people. {it was an email]. I got an email back from some functionary that was along the lines of "Thank you for your comments." I doubt he reads anything that hasn't been vetted by someone - probably someone even more prejudiced and clueless than Himself.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Thursday, 29 October 2009 at 8:27pm GMT

I respect Father Ron Smith's post about The Archbishop of Canterbury, in this thread. I think the reason most people of good will are upset by The Archbishop's silence at this time is because they expect a man such as Rowan to stand up for ALL HUMAN BEINGS when violence and hatred are being perpetuated upon them. After-all, he made a statement about the Environment today, so why does he fail to address the Church in Uganda. It's the spiritual power his office carries, I understand he has no power over bishops who act in in Uganda, but sometimes there is a need to speak up and I believe that time is now. I would hope Rowan does not wait much longer. I still believe a statement from Rowan Williams in the form of a video that could be broadcast via TV media and posted on the internet and newspaper websites, would carry plenty of weight. By the way, I am not related to nor have I ever met the good Father Ron Smith. I always choose to believe the best in people so I hope you are right about Rowan Father Ron, because a great deal is at stake.

Posted by: Chris Smith on Thursday, 29 October 2009 at 8:47pm GMT

He has already shown himself willing to insert himself in the internal affairs of other churches with his comments on gay bishops and unions and how troubling women bishops are to those poor oppressed Anglo-Catholics. That he doesn't comment on this tells us a lot about this man - and none of it is good.

He should resign. People should march in Canterbury demanding that he resign. He should be met with catcalls and heckling everywhere he goes. People of goodwill should get up and openly walk out of services when he steps into a pulpit. He has reduced the position so much that publicly confronting him is no disrespect to the position of ABC.

Until he resigns he deserves nothing but scorn and openly displayed anger. Perhaps Rome will take him. Damaged goods and they are free to have him.

Posted by: Dennis on Thursday, 29 October 2009 at 11:10pm GMT

Does the Queen of England as Supreme Governor of the Church have the authority to request that The Archbishop of Canterbury relinquish his throne and step down? Has this ever happened?

Posted by: Chris Smith on Friday, 30 October 2009 at 1:43am GMT

Cynthia Gilliatt wrote earlier:

"Oh, and by the way, I would also like to hear a word from our own Presiding Bishop. KJS - where are you?"

I really don't think it would matter too much if she spoke up. She would be written off, as she usually is.

What *would* carry some weight would be if some of the moderate or "orthodox" American bishops were to write publicly in condemnation. John Howe, William Love, Don Wimberley, Mike Klusmeyer. Let's hear from guys like these.

Posted by: DeaconScott on Friday, 30 October 2009 at 4:12am GMT

So, we are supposed to excuse the coward Williams because he allows himself to be isolated? Is he in a lead-lined box in a bunker somewhere, that he doesn't know about the Ugandan monstrosity?

He is fully culpable for his silence. Sometimes, the best thing to pray for people to have is consequences.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Friday, 30 October 2009 at 4:30am GMT

Scott
it doesn't matter how speaking up would be perceived, everyone has a moral duty to speak up very loudly, and the higher up the hierarchy you are, the more important it is that you do not appear to condone violence like this.

Even if you look at it from a purely practical point of view, can you imagine how they will pounce on KJS whenever she tries to make a moral statement in the future, having clearly shown herself to be selective by not responding now? Her opponents would rightly have a field day.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 30 October 2009 at 10:16am GMT

"it doesn't matter how speaking up would be perceived"

It matters a great deal, Erika. If our speaking up will only inflame people and make them more likely to carry out the acts of violence we are opposing, then our speaking out will have had exactly the opposite effect we want. To refine this a bit, it matters a great deal HOW we speak up, I guess. I think it's pretty obvious that Uganda, or Nigeria will use any protest against this as yet another example of the arrogant authoritarianism of "the West" that is keeping Africans oppressed, as more evidence of the smug superiority of white people, of the continuation of White colonialism, and God knows what else. If killing gay people is then held up as the perfect way to oppose that Western arrogance, and it looks to me very much like that is precisely what is happening, then simply "speaking up" with no consideration of how to do it most effectively will not be a very good thing.

This chills me to the bone. I am not being at all hyperbolic, I don't think, to fear that an anti-gay genocide is coming, all the organizational factors are falling into place. Now that the Ugandan government wants to "register" gay people, I think Ugandan gays have real reason to fear the Pink Triangles are just around the corner. And if it were to start in Uganda, how far would it spread? If we have any hope at all of stopping it, we have to be very careful how we proceed. We can't ignore this, but simply screaming our outrage isn't going to be helpful.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 30 October 2009 at 5:47pm GMT

Ford
leaving aside the question of whether speaking out is necessarily counter productive or not - what, precisely, are you doing to help these people? And what, precisely, would you suggest others do?
Or are you saying that in order not to make their lives worse we remain quiet when others are making their lives worse?

I will credit that your view has some kind of morality I cannot at the moment detect. Please tell me how you would counterbalance the detrimental effects of just looking on.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 30 October 2009 at 7:34pm GMT

Ford, I am inclined to agree with you - to the extent that uncoordinated action against the policy of Uganda could do more harm than good; not just to the victims of this discrimination against the LGBT Community there, but also the individuals who voice their concern.

The dangers of Western Church and Governmental authorities speaking out individually against the governments (& Churches) of the Global South countries which seek to reinforce the entrenched prejudices of the pre-enlightenment era, are legion. We are not just battling pre-historic attitudes in colonial churches here - but the cultural inheritance of ex-colonial government.

"Softy, softly, catchee monkey", may sound a bit crafty in the new millennium, but we must realise that cultural prejudice is still alive and well - not only in former colonial countries, but also in certain parts of the Western Democracies. and sometimes it is all too easy for ex-colonials to court the prejudice of conservatives in the West.

The United Nations has a duty to look into and expose the tribal taboos of homophobia and misogyny - besides the barbaric customs of some part of the world - like some African countries, which still put children to death on suspicion of witchcraft. Unfotunately, the voice of the Church is often weakened by what might be called archaism and *political correctness*.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Friday, 30 October 2009 at 9:22pm GMT

"Please tell me how you would counterbalance the detrimental effects of just looking on.?

Where did I ever suggest that we only look on? There is a vast difference between sitting back and doing nothing on the one hand and going off half cocked, insulting and further enraging people who now have the power to enact a genocide against gay people in Uganda. 30s style appeasement is also not an option. But they have already painted homosexuality as an something imported by white people to oppress Africans. Gay people are "not African", even AIDS is a white plot to keep Africans down, as you well know. So if our expressions of our justified outrage come across as a bunch of snotty white post colonialists telling those benighted Ugandans how to run their country like Real People do, I very much doubt any of them would listen. Would you, if a bunch of Africans started telling you that you uncultured primitive whites better start behaving like real civilized people and stop killing your own babies because you think a woman has the right to decide whether or not another human being gets to live? You'd probably give them the finger. Why would you expect them to do any different? As I have said on several occasions, inaction is not an option. I am very afraid a genocide is in the offing, actually. But I also believe that Western actions, IF THEY ARE NOT DONE PROPERLY, could very well hasten that. We have to do something, no question. God may well forgive us if by sincerely trying to follow the Gospel we, by ill thought out action, provoke a genocide. How many of the victims would be equally inclined? And why does caution against going off half cocked come across to you as council for inaction? And how imortant do you think my and your actions actually are? I mean, the outrage of westerners certainly did a lot to get rid of apartheid, didn't it? How long were we boycotting SA wine? 20 years? Yeah, real effective!

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 2 November 2009 at 2:29am GMT

"An something imported"

How very G and S of me!

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 3 November 2009 at 12:21am GMT
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