Saturday, 28 November 2009

Uganda continued

Andrew Brown wrote last Thursday at Cif belief about A gay witch hunt in Uganda.

The Bishop of Bristol, Mike Hill had quite a lot to say about the Ugandan situation in his recent address to the Bristol Diocesan Synod. Read the PDF file here. The relevant portion is copied below the fold here.

I linked previously to the following item, but because it was buried in the updates at the bottom of another article, some may have missed it.

Bishop Joseph Abura of Karamoja Diocese, Province of the Anglican Church of Uganda, has written an article for Spero News. Read For some Anglicans, Vices are now Virtues. That diocese has links with Winchester rather than Bristol. Winchester diocese has made no public statement, as far as I know.

British and other politicians are now speaking up about this, at the Commonwealth conference now in progress in Trinidad:

Also, Newsweek has an article by Katie Paul Eric Goosby: No Hold on PEPFAR Funds for Uganda

Extract from Bishop Mike Hill’s address to the Bristol Diocesan Synod on 24 November 2009.

What I just want to inform Synod of is a development in Uganda which is not a church development as such. A Private Members Motion for an Anti-Homosexuality Bill has arisen that will come before the Ugandan Parliament sponsored by a Member of Parliament in Uganda called David Bahati.

Whatever view we take of the issues on the Human Sexuality debate, this piece of legislation is so pernicious and so unpleasant, that I hope that Christians on both sides of the debate would stand as one and say that this is unacceptable. I think, for example, the application of capital punishment to gay and lesbian people is wholly, totally and bizarrely unacceptable.

Now there is some debate as to whether this Bill, as it is at the moment, will get into the Ugandan Parliament in the immediate future. We have been working in the background, Chris Dobson, has been doing some sterling work trying to find out exactly what is going on here and we think that the Ugandan Church would oppose the legislation partly on the basis that in former times they have disassociated themselves from capital punishment. You don’t need me to sketch in that if the law allows that kind of thing then it will just legitimise violence against gay and lesbian people. Whichever side of the debate, we must stand together in the face of that and resist that.

Now, our assumption is that the Ugandan Church will not go down this route and support the legislation, though there are aspects of the legislation which previous statements of the Ugandan House of Bishops would appear to support. My view is that I hope they will oppose it lock, stock and barrel rather then purely the capital punishment clause in it. So we have been trying to contact the Archbishop, who has been in the Karamajong of late and not contactable. They put out an interim statement which is partly good that it ratified their view that capital punishment was unacceptable to Christians. But it did contain a quotation that I would think would be inflammatory, because there was no evidence supplied with it, attributed to the Archbishop that says something like, ‘I am horrified to learn that homosexuals are trying to convert people to homosexuality in our schools’. I hope that, in our own diocese, those of us who take a more conservative line on this will be extremely careful in the kind of language which we use. Because the language we use can be used by some people to legitimise violence against lesbian and gay people. As Christians if we can’t stand up against violence then we need to think again.

So there is a rather complicated situation. That is where we are and what we are working with and we regard your prayers as really important in all of this. I was at the Uganda Link Committee meeting recently. It was a great, encouraging meeting with a lot of energy and a lot of enthusiasm and at this stage I think it is fair to say that the hope and prayer and effort of everybody in the Uganda Link Committee would be placed in the area of making sure that, if we can, our link is maintained and is in good shape.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 28 November 2009 at 5:12pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion

"The Prime Minister (Gordon Brown) raised the issue of proposed new laws in Uganda with the country's president Yowen Museveni. Mr Brown made it clear to him that he was opposed to the laws when the two men met in Trinidad"
- Andrew Porter - Telegraph.

The outcry from Gordon Brown, and other Heads of Government in Trinidad, against the repressive initiative against the LGBT community in Uganda, needs to be heeded by the Anglican Communion Primates. This Gospel movement seems to be more easily embraced by civil governments than by the Church. Shame on us!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Saturday, 28 November 2009 at 11:44pm GMT

Why am I reminded of the latest report of child abuse in the Irish Catholic church? I heard a BBC radio interview that laid much blame on the unitary nature of church and state in Ireland. Thank goodness church and state are not so intertwined in the UK -- despite the established nature of the Church of England. When the moral backbone of one falters, the other can stiffen and even hold the other to account by example. Gordon Brown is not worried, I take it, that his outspokenness will upset the Anglican Communion house of cards that the ABC is protecting. At least when there it isn't contrary to the UK's foreign policy interests he is able to speak out against vile attacks on human rights.

Posted by: John B. Chilton on Sunday, 29 November 2009 at 1:55am GMT

Now, now Fr. Smith, the ++ABC is just staying inside the parameters set forth by Lambeth 1.10.

I was at 815 Second Avenue last week as was assured that something was going to be said by our primate, and the excuse that something hadn't be said to this point was "we don't want to interfere in what is a civil matter". Sounds like Pius whatever number he was during WWII.

Shame on our leadership you should mean.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Sunday, 29 November 2009 at 2:01am GMT

My strongest reaction to this set of articles is this: will straight people infected with the HIV virus be sentenced to death if they have sex? Hmmm...

Then comes the prison terms for not reporting gays - it's not clear if that includes priests who learn such things in the confessional. It doesn't sound like the "Anglicans" are looking at this issue, and might even be pleased to turn someone in to the authorities, despite the sanctity of the priest-parishioner relationship.

And Ubura is just either hateful, crazy, or ill-informed. Or a politician first and foremost.

Posted by: Lynn on Sunday, 29 November 2009 at 5:31am GMT

"This is a witch craze, pure and simple. It takes the perfectly genuine prejudices of the ignorant, inflames them, and enshrines them in law. I do not expect any bishop of the Church of England to have the courage to speak against it. Give them a hundred years, though, and they will turn up at a memorial service to weep for the victims."
- Andrew Brown, Guardian -

Well, Choirboy, I'm rapidly getting diillusioned with the inaction on the part of those English Dioceses which have links with the Anglican Church in Uganda - and who have not yet spoken out agaisnt the culture of repression there.

I see Andrew Brown's article as indicative of how American money is used by US conservatives to exacerbate and support the growing hysteria against the LGBT communities in Africa. The warning came with the attempt on the part of an African Bishop (and his American Evangelical associates) to exorcise a Gay Anglican priest at the 1998 Lambeth Conference. This should have sent signals to all the Bishops at the Conference that primitive juju/theology was at work among at least some of the overseas bishops. Action then might have prevented the Archbishops of Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Nigeria from their homophobic activism, which is presently bringing the Anglican Communion into grave disrepute - on account of the many Christians, and others, who are being marginalised because of their intrinsic sexual difference.

If the Church lags behind the world, in it's condemnation of the proposed anti-gay legislation in Uganda, the Communion may never recover from the scandal that will arise from this inaction.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 29 November 2009 at 10:26am GMT

It appears the proposed Ugandan legislation is heavily linket to the Family;

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Sunday, 29 November 2009 at 3:00pm GMT

Ultra conservatives accuse The Episcopal Church of just going along with the culture in America instead of remaining true to the Gospel.

But when it is time for them to stand up and say these repressive laws against GLBT persons are simply beyond the pale, they are silent.

Who is following the culture now?

Posted by: Dallas Bob on Sunday, 29 November 2009 at 3:58pm GMT

I do agree that this is a crunch time for the Anglican Communion as well as for conservatives inside it.

Are promises made genuine or just for show?

Does moral seriousness mean anything?

Is the conservative view point compatible with the defence of even basic human rights?

I am not optimistic and the reverberations will cascade down the next few decades and possibly longer.

Posted by: Craig Nelson on Sunday, 29 November 2009 at 8:55pm GMT

The long article from Bishop Abura is a summary of current Ugandan theology and ethics, aimed mainly at justifying indeed requiring new applications of state force targeting queer folks in Uganda. Read the law, and you will find aspirations to target queer folks outside of Uganda, strictly speaking.

Sadly, the bishop appears to be utterly ignorant of (A) any critical biblical or related ancient near eastern studies research which could possibly qualify his thinking, let alone reposition his thinking. Ditto, for (B) the bishop's disconnections from modern human and social sciences (with law and public policy implications) which have significantly driven changed thinking about human nature and sexual orientation.

What the bishop does clearly demonstrate is the unfortunate force of a manner of reading the scriptures which conflates their spiritual and ethical and religious revelation message - Jesus of Nazareth as Risen Lord - with everything else that could possibly be true. Thus, we are right back again, as in the era of Copernicus and fellows, trying to read science, law, and public policy rather directly and literally and completely, all right from parsing scriptures. This failed in the shift from Ptolemaic Cosmology to Modern Planetary Models; and slowly, painfully - and if Uganda has its church-state ways, violently - this backwards mis-use of scriptures will also fail. Many people, queer folks and those who love them as family or friends or neighbors, will probably suffer. All signs point now to very great suffering.

Thanks, Uganda. Your point actually could not be clearer. Alas. Lord have mercy.

Posted by: drdanfee on Sunday, 29 November 2009 at 10:07pm GMT

Oh Fr. Smith, I was singing at an (southwest) English Cathedral last year with our choir on tour with a certain American Bishop schmoozing with the local diocesan; the American being from a diocese that would surely like to break apart, despite it being a major progressive city in our south. It was evident that they were plotting and planning for the upcoming Lambeth tea party. The local bishop gave a party for us choristers as well, and it was too bad, he was a man of solid command presence, and I couldn't have been a bad guest and say to him, "hey, wait a minute". But he saw the rainbow flag on my choir folder after a certain evensong.....

What's shameful is the lack of a statement over here in the U.S., I would expect more from ours. And why would anybody be surprised at the American money backing this nonsense...we have some of the most sick people ensconcing themselves in their gated communities over here.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Monday, 30 November 2009 at 2:41am GMT

"That diocese has links with Winchester rather than Bristol. Winchester diocese has made no public statement, as far as I know."

+Michael has had important domestic matters to deal with recently. ;-)

Posted by: ezlxq on Monday, 30 November 2009 at 12:11pm GMT

An old story, now, but I feel I must add my hap'orth/dime (maybe it's a kind of witness). The silence of RW, JS and (very surprisingly, I would have said before) KJS is disgusting. It's impossible not to believe that this reflects a high-level decision: 20 million Anglicans in Uganda (whatever it is/supposed to be), don't want irrevocably to lose them, don't want irrevocably to scupper the ambitions of JS. Why on earth should any of us ever after accord any respect to the views on any matter, still less any theological matter, of any of these individuals or any other bishop/archbishop who has said nothing? They are rank, rank hypocrites. Three cheers for the Reformation. Three cheers and more for the URC.

Posted by: john on Monday, 30 November 2009 at 7:10pm GMT

From a CNN article about the arrest of a Roman Catholic priest for his role in the Rwandan genocide:

"So far, four Catholic priests have been indicted by the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Human rights activists say the small number of indictments do not accurately represent the church's role in the genocide.

"By failing to issue swift condemnation, the church opened the door for slaughter in the name of God, according to the global group Human Rights Watch."

We now stand on the brink of a similar situation in Uganda, and the church has not learned its lessons. It is sad, but as a life-long Anglican, I do not look to the church for moral leadership. It is a compromised institution. I find a truer moral compass among many secular folks whose compassion is not so jaded.

Posted by: Henry on Monday, 30 November 2009 at 7:42pm GMT

I am the author of D005 of the 2006 General Convention "Opposing the Criminalization of Homosexuality". Despite this clear position statement, passed with near unanimity, our leaders in TEC have been as quiet as y'all's on the Ugandan bill. So I have begin an ipetition to allow the grassroots to speak.

Just over night we have collected 96 signatures on the "Anglicans Opposing Uganda's Anti-Gay Bill". So please stop by and sign . There is allowance for a comment so leave a prayer for Uganda's glbt citizens or a comment urging the leaders of TEC to act. Feel free to forward the invitation to all your friends, parishioners and colleagues.Please sign an leave an "urging in love" message to your leaders.


Michael Russell, Rector
All Souls' Point Loma
C4 San Diego 2009 MA, MDiv,

Posted by: Michael Russell on Monday, 30 November 2009 at 9:28pm GMT

""By failing to issue swift condemnation, the church opened the door for slaughter in the name of God, according to the global group Human Rights Watch." - (CCN article).
- Henry, on Monday -

And, Henry, if we don't watch them and pressure them, the same might be soon said of the Church authorities in Uganda - and Nigeria - and ??

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 1 December 2009 at 12:49am GMT

Bonnie Anderson, who presides over the House of Deputies, has issued a strong condemnation of the proposed legislation. You can read it on Episcopal Cafe.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Tuesday, 1 December 2009 at 12:38pm GMT

over night we have collected 96 signatures on the "Anglicans Opposing Uganda's Anti-Gay Bill". So please stop by and sign .

There is allowance for a comment so leave a prayer for Uganda's glbt citizens or a comment urging the leaders of TEC to act

(Quote-see above)

Unfortunately, my comments didnt come out at all. And in fact the comments box to the right of my name was shaded in grey- I don't think I failed to press the correct buttons. I notice some others similarly shaded -but only a few. I can't see any way of writing the organisers directly.

Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Wednesday, 2 December 2009 at 11:37am GMT

Cynthia, I have since read the Statement from the TEC House of Deputies, headed by Bonnie Anderson, and am impressed that this House has trumped the House of Bishops by beating them to the post, in their denunciation of the shennanigans in Uganda. Thank God for the TEC House of Deputies!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 2 December 2009 at 8:56pm GMT
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