Saturday, 28 December 2013

Anti-homosexuality legislation in Nigeria and Uganda

Updated Monday lunchtime

This roundup from Religion Dispatches summarises the situation:

Nigeria and Uganda: Harsh Anti-Gay Legislation Passes

Harsh anti-gay laws that had been pending for years in both Nigeria and Uganda received legislative approval.

The Nigerian bill is called the Anti Same-Sex Marriage bill, but it does much more than ban and punish same-sex marriage with 14 years in prison. It calls for up to 10 years jail time for those who “aid and abet” same-sex marriages and for public displays of affection as well as public or private advocacy – even the creation of social clubs. The fate of the “Jail the Gays” law now rests with President Goodluck Jonathan. Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, is divided between a mostly Muslim north and largely Christian south, and has dealt this year sectarian violence. According to a Daily Trust story on the bill’s passage, “Senator Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan (APC, Yobe) said Nigeria is a religious country and the two major religions do not accept same sex marriage.” Nigerian student Udoka Okafor has published an open letter to the president, which invokes Nelson Mandela as an example for the country to follow.

In Uganda, where some U.S. religious conservatives have actively backed anti-gay forces there, parliament passed anti-gay legislation that had been pending for years. Once known as the “kill the gays bill,” the legislation as passed did not include the death penalty but makes homosexuality punishable by life in prison. The bill was pushed through even though Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi protested the lack of a quorum.

Passage was celebrated by Martin Ssempa, an outspoken anti-gay pastor who is allied with conservative evangelicals in the U.S., and it was applauded by the Anglican Church in Uganda. On Christmas, Bishop Wilberforce Kityo Luwalira praised the legislation and urged parliament to pass a ban on abortion as well.

Gay Star News reported on Dec 26 that in response to demand from Apostle Joseph Serwadda, leader of Pentecostal churches in the country, the he sign the bill, president Museveni said he would review it carefully before deciding whether to sign it. Jim Burroway at Box Turtle Bulletin explains that under the Ugandan constitution, the president does not have the power to veto the bill but can return it to Parliament twice, at which point it would need a two-thirds majority to become law.

Human Rights Watch released a video warning of violence against LGBT people and urged the president not to sign the bill. The White House reiterated its opposition to the bill, and a Christmas Eve statement from Jen Psaki, spokesperson for the U.S. State Department, read:

We are deeply concerned by the Ugandan Parliament’s passage of anti-homosexuality legislation. As Americans, we believe that people everywhere deserve to live in freedom and equality – and that no one should face violence or discrimination for who they are or whom they love. We join those in Uganda and around the world who appeal for respect for the human rights of LGBT persons and of all persons.

The European Union and the United Kingdom’s Foreign Office also released statements. Several news reports noticed the challenge facing western governments whose pro-equality advocacy is depicted as neo-colonial interference.

The UK Foreign Office statement about Uganda is here. There appears, at the time of writing, to be no corresponding statement about Nigeria.

There is a press briefing from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights here.

More detail on the Nigerian bill is in this Buzzfeed report from Lester Feder.

See also this report from Human Rights Watch.

Comments by Changing Attitude are included at the end of this article.

Update

Extensive comment by Changing Attitude is now published in Stark choices face the Primates and Bishops of the Anglican Communion in 2014.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 28 December 2013 at 1:10pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: equality legislation
Comments

The silence from our religious leaders in the face of these egregious abuses of human rights is deafening. Let's pray that the evil being perpetrated by the governments of Uganda and Nigeria is cause for deep reflection and prayer. And let's hope that at least one of our religious leaders rises to the occasion of speaking the Good News to all of God's children in the face of this horror being perpetrated in the name of Jesus Christ.

Posted by: Cynthia on Saturday, 28 December 2013 at 6:28pm GMT

African countries and their national Anglican churches have so many pressing concerns: Overwhelming poverty, disease, unemployment, sectarian strife, that urgently cry out for attention, and where churches -- and mosques -- could do a great deal of good.
Well,
These bills will not put one bowl of nourishing food in a starving child's hands. They will not prevent one case of AIDS. They will not kill a single malaria-carrying mosquito. They will not hire a single unemployed man or woman. They will not clean a liter of drinking water.
These bills are, however, a way for certain leaders to feel smug about themselves, secure in the knowledge that their poverty-stricken people are morally pure.
But, I guess we're supposed to be pleased that some Muslims and Christians can find something to join hands together in -- Gay bashing.

Kyrie Eleison

Posted by: peterpi - Peter Gross on Saturday, 28 December 2013 at 6:49pm GMT

Silence from the Archbishop of Canterbury, silence also from the likes of Robert Duncan of the Anglican Church of North America whose whole premise is underpinned by an anti gay philosophy. Can it be that they have become as it were 'bedfellows' in running away from the harsh realities of gay bashing pursed to its logical extreme?

Posted by: Concerned Anglican on Sunday, 29 December 2013 at 9:23am GMT

These kinds of developments must surely hasten the demise of Christianity or at lest, Churchianity among decent, thoughtful twenty-first century people ?

Posted by: Revd Laurie Roberts on Sunday, 29 December 2013 at 2:30pm GMT

The Nigerian legislation is inhuman.Come on AB Justin let us hear your opposition.

Posted by: Jean Mayland on Sunday, 29 December 2013 at 4:49pm GMT

I completely agree that these bills are unjust and inhuman and wrong.

However, I also think that archbishops of Canterbury can't win. When they try to influence theological debate in the USA they're told to mind their own business and not act as if they are the Anglican pope. But when they don't make an immediate comment on state legislation in African countries they are criticized for not speaking out.

Posted by: Tim Chesterton on Sunday, 29 December 2013 at 11:01pm GMT

"However, I also think that archbishops of Canterbury can't win. When they try to influence theological debate in the USA they're told to mind their own business and not act as if they are the Anglican pope. But when they don't make an immediate comment on state legislation in African countries they are criticized for not speaking out."

Er, um, isn't there a difference between a theological "debate" that involves justice and inclusion vs. a theologically influenced law that violates human rights with long imprisonment - that also inflames hatred and has resulted in murder and beatings.

Are those two things really equivalent? The ABC was not silent in the face of justice in TEC, but the current ABC is going to be silent in the face of real evil?

Posted by: Cynthia on Monday, 30 December 2013 at 12:04am GMT

It's the one-sidedness of their efforts to influence the debate, Tim Chesterton. My longstanding grievance with the Windsor recommendations is not only that they have been afforded near canonical status, but that only those provisions affecting TEC have been; it's always been a door that swings one way. I've been kvetching about this since 2009:

"TEC is one of the very few churches to actually observe the Windsor Report's recommendations to date. While we have complied with the request 'to effect a moratorium on the election and consent to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate who is living in a same gender union until some new consensus in the Anglican Communion emerges,' both in fact and in policy, what has happened to the reciprocal requests made of those provinces who took exception to TEC's decision to grant consent to the consecration of V. Gene Robinson?

The requested moratorium on cross-boundary interventions has been flouted by Nigeria, Kenya, the Southern Cone, and Uganda. (A helpful timeline is here). Now, the various Anglican spin-offs are trying to create an alternative North American province to entirely supplant TEC as the "Anglican entity" in the United States. I think we can call that one Windsor recommendation most effectively dustbinned."

Quote source, Full round-up, with links, here: http://anglocatontheprowl.blogspot.com/2009/07/and-away-we-go.html

And, as the above post also noted, the farcical listening process in which Nigeria's contribution was, effectively, "Shut up, that's why," was also basically a nullity.

So, yeah, we're fed up with the C of E hierarchy acting like Anglican Popes to appease traditionalists, and like Pontius Pilate to…appease traditionalists.

Posted by: John Wirenius on Monday, 30 December 2013 at 12:35am GMT

@Tim, that might be because putting a face to the Anglican Communion's commitment to human rights is an appropriate use of the ABC's time, while intervening in another province's internal doctrinal and disciplinary deliberations is not. It's not a "can't win" situation, just a matter of exercising some judgment about when it's appropriate to speak, and how.

Posted by: Geoff on Monday, 30 December 2013 at 1:09am GMT

Does anyone know if the Vatican or regional RC bishops have responded to these terrible developments reported here?

Posted by: Judith Maltby on Monday, 30 December 2013 at 8:33am GMT

Tim,
even if you personally believed that those two sides were of equal moral weight (and knowing you, I know that you do not believe that), there is still the question of how we are to treat our enemies, how we are to deal with sin. It is entirely appropriate and desirable that an ABC who is anti-gay but believes in Christian values speaks out strongly against this abuse of human rights.

Or does our theoretical concept of fairness in a debate go so far that we ignore the actual serious harm done to real people?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 30 December 2013 at 9:23am GMT

A good first step would be for our bishops and archbishops to give their unequivocal and public support to the statements put out by the Foreign Office and the UN Human Rights Commission. That would hardly be a radical thing to do. They should be challenged either to do that or to explain why they won't. As members of the House of Lords, it isn't at all unreasonable for Bishops to be prepared to say whether they do or do not support the small government action of making this Foreign Office statement.

Posted by: Turbulent priest on Monday, 30 December 2013 at 10:29am GMT

To answer Judith's question, there is this:
http://newwaysministryblog.wordpress.com/2013/12/28/papal-nuncio-responds-to-americans-concern-about-ugandas-anti-gay-bill/

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 30 December 2013 at 12:30pm GMT

It is in this context that we must view the political activity of Andrea M Williams and understand the danger it represents. Christian Concern wants us to believe that the antithesis of imprisoning gay people for life is the criticism she receives for her views.

That gay people should be able to live as free citizens and they and their families enjoy all the benefits of a civil society is, for her and her like, a denial of the Christian faith she espouses. Her faith is inimical to us and our own. She stands full square with those bishops who applaud this legislation, her friends and allies are those who have conspired to see it reach the statute books.

In the run up to the Dromantine meeting Rowan Williams was persuaded that he best he could achieve pro tem was to get the Primates to sign up to the Anathema that was subsequently released in their name. To achieve this he was willing to see the short term future of gay people suffer as he made the Communion adopt even less inclusive policies than his predecessor. At the time Canadian Primate Fred Hiltz gave a withering analysis of the place of gay people in the life of the "Anglican Church" Williams was trying to spin into existence.

There were gay activists willing to play along with this, seduced by the promise of something better along the line if they took a beating now.

The problem was that none of the churches who had the agenda Andrea M Williams advocates and who wanted the money from the anti gay lobby took the words of the Anathema seriously or faltered in their pursuit of legislation to persecute gay people more harshly.

I believe it was only after the meeting of Primates in Dar es Salaam had failed completely to respond to this hate legislation then being debated with such prominent Anglican support, that Williams realised the Domantine Anathema wasn't worth the paper it was was written on. I would like to think that this was a factor in Williams' thinking when he pulled the plug on "Rule by Primates" innovation just a few weeks later.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Monday, 30 December 2013 at 3:55pm GMT

Christianity has a sad proclivity to present itself in the most loathsome light. The Jews were the focus of this hateful self-parody for centuries. Now it is gays. Let us hope that the benighted fundamentalism and hate lances its own boil in an eructation of viscous pus before its poison spreads any further. Perhaps the fluffy feel-good rhetoric of Pope Francis is just what is needed now -- as a widely appealing alternative to fundamentalism. Perhaps people will come to their senses and Christianity will once again become a generally benign and comforting religion like Judaism or Buddhism.

Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Monday, 30 December 2013 at 5:07pm GMT

I disagree with Colin Coward's emphasis on Dromantine. Dromantine was part of a power play, which was morally wrong and politically unsuccessful. The Dar es Salaam fiasco, and the collapse of the Anglican Covenant, coupled with the failure of the Windsor Report's attempt to bargain Anglican unity out of rejection of gay bishops and blessings has left this whole chapter as history.

I do not agree with a communique from Anglican primates as a proper source of quasi law, and so I do not agree with an appeal to Dromantine as if it had any sort of canonical force. The wickedness of the Ugandan legislation is clear from basic gospel principles and there is no need to appeal to the Dromantine Communique in order to argue against it.

But I respect Colin Coward's moderation and humility, both of which are demonstrated by his patient fidelity to and respect for the processes which produced not only Dromantine, but the infamous Lambeth 1.10, which is, of course, affirmed in the Dromantine Communiqué. The Church of England is lucky that he has not simply recoiled in disgust, as so many others have, from the position now occupied by the Church of England and the Anglican Communion as leading supporters of discrimination against LGBT people.

Posted by: badman on Monday, 30 December 2013 at 7:36pm GMT

The U.S. government has also expressed concern about the Uganda bill: http://www.towleroad.com/2013/12/white-house-and-state-department-reiterate-opposition-to-ugandas-anti-gay-bill.html

Posted by: Lionel Deimel on Monday, 30 December 2013 at 8:01pm GMT

It's worth remembering that there was a fantastical strategy operating in a quite upfront way in the year from the meeting of the Primates in Dromantine to that in Dar es Salaam.

Otherwise sensible people were somehow drawn into an outrageous belief that the Anglican Communion was actually made up of mostly nice ordinary people with a sensible middle ground approach to most things - and then there was "out of control TEC" self destructing and pulling the Communion to bits as it did, along with its less outrageous but still feckless partner across the border in Canada. on the other hand there was the power hungry Primate of Nigeria egged on by the Calvinist entryists from Sydney with the corrupt church of Uganda trying its luck.

Then there were the reliable men who were at the centre of Church life, like Munīr Hannā Anīs Armanius, Ian Earnest and John Chew who represented this middle ground.

The strategy, clearly articulated by Canon John Rees at a meeting of ecclesiastical lawyers in Liverpool was to cut off or totally isolate these two extremes so that the moderate gentlemanly Anglicanism might flourish. That sad group, Fulcrum were amongst the most virulent pedlars of this disastrous and deeply flawed policy, hawking themselves around as some sort of honest broker while in fact giving the ammunition to dig deeper trenches.

The trouble was that the likes of John Chew were actively seeking in their legislature the criminalisation of lesbians for the first time when the ink on the Dromantine Anathema was still wet. Now the Global South rants are led by the bishops of Egypt and Mauritius, they are unlikely to give any support to the idea that gay people should not be diminished and deserve the best of pastoral care other than from prison chaplains!

This whole sad strategy helped to give credibility to the theology that now underpins the evil legislation being replicated throughout Africa. The silence from Anglicanism is deafening, and that applies to so called liberal Provinces too.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Monday, 30 December 2013 at 9:23pm GMT

Yes, Martin Reynolds makes a good point. The so-called Anathema is, ultimately, a lying document that says 'Peace, all is well' when all is decidedly not well and there is no peace. It is a work of profound deception and cynicism that shows the emptiness of the Anglican Communion as a coherent structure - on this theme at any rate, maybe they rise to coherence and insight on other topics.

Posted by: Craig Nelson on Monday, 30 December 2013 at 10:01pm GMT

"the most virulent pedlars of this disastrous and deeply flawed policy, hawking themselves around as some sort of honest broker while in fact giving the ammunition to dig deeper trenches"

I could have *sworn* those of us in "out of control TEC" tried to explain this at the time (Dromantine to Dar Es Salaam) and were told, No, WE were the problem, trying to dictate our Radical Gay Agenda to the Faith-Once-Delivered Anglican Communion.

Must.Not.Be.Ugly.Americans.Saying."We.Told.You.So." :-/

Posted by: JCF on Tuesday, 31 December 2013 at 5:28am GMT

Thank you, Martin, for this deep and perceptive view of the course by which the trenches were dug and bolstered.

There is the old saying that those who marry the spirit of an age are soon widowed. In this case, the "bride" was the false promise of peace under the pretense of Middle Way moderation, which has led now to some very uncomfortable bed-fellowship.

One might say, They have made their lie, now they bed it!

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Tuesday, 31 December 2013 at 3:01pm GMT

What, if anything, is the Ugandan-born Archbishop of York going to say publicly about this latest foray by the Anglican Church in Uganda into homophobia?

Another question: Do these latest statements from Anglican archbishops in Uganda and Nigeria make any difference at all to the constitution of Anglicanism around the world? Are we to be for ever tainted with this ethos of Gay-bashing?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 31 December 2013 at 9:30pm GMT

An interesting perspective from within Uganda which highlights the errors in western reporting, the counter-productive nature of the western statements of opposition and the exaggerated influence of Christianity.

http://namugongolife.wordpress.com/2013/12/04/homophobia-in-uganda-is-christianity-the-problem-or-the-solution/

Posted by: Andy on Tuesday, 31 December 2013 at 10:25pm GMT

That's great, Andy, except that it's dishonest. Perhaps if archbishops wouldn't speak out in favor of the bills, you could make your case.

You can't, because they do.

It is also dishonest to start with the premise that the essay does that - somehow, magically - because the bill doesn't actually say "Kill the Gays" that it is not a call to do just that. Best case scenario - how do you think prison in Uganda is going to play out for someone jailed for homosexual acts?

Now, I'm sorry, too, that the Christian religion has had such a hand in manipulating and intensifying the apparently inborn level of violence and cruelty found towards gays in parts of the world, including Africa, but we fail as Christians when we try to pretend that our religious excesses have not had a major part in creating violence and hatred in this world. To do that is to compound the errors of the past by simply pretending that we either have no part in them, or that they never happened.

I will leave to others the assumptions, prejudices and cheerfully-unconscious "White-Man's-Burden" mentality presented by your missionary, and the irony of its presence in an essay purporting to show how Western Christianity really has helped.

What is deeply unhelpful is attempts to whitewash evil. No one chooses to be gay, I assure you, and missionaries choose to be missionaries. A missionary chooses to take up the cross and place themselves in harm's way. That's part of the missionary calling. Put it down to fallen humanity, if that's your thing. If this missionary feels threatened, he has the option of leaving the mission field. Gays don't have that option. What I see in this essay is a long diatribe that amounts to "But what about MEEEEE?"

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Wednesday, 1 January 2014 at 6:37am GMT

This is not the first attempt to airbrush away the legislation in Uganda and elsewhere as a ‘cultural’ response to western notions of morality and ethics. Here is another one http://www.peter-ould.net/2013/12/30/the-problem-with-uganda/ Although both authors in their way condemn the legislation neither accepts that some things are just plain wrong, whether culturally authored or not. Neither condemns the enthusiastic endorsements given to the legislation by Anglican Bishops, who may protest at the international outrage but have no problem about interfering in ecclesial politics elsewhere.

Female Genital Mutilation is endemic in many societies. Whatever its cultural roots and its place in the cultures that embrace it, it is wrong and nothing changes that fact. If the origin of these evils is ‘cultural’ then that culture has to change and no amount of pussy footing around will do.
It’s also worth looking at a history of Buganda and the Christian martyrs to see what a complete mess competing religions, Islam and various Christian sects have made of the country

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Wednesday, 1 January 2014 at 11:13am GMT

Thanks Mark - I'm the author of the blog above that Andy linked to. It does appear that you have failed to actually engage with the argument I made in the post. You've just presumed that "the Christian religion has had such a hand in manipulating and intensifying the apparently inborn level of violence and cruelty found towards gays in parts of the world" but I'm trying to argue that actually that's not true. Gospel-minded churches are the best hope for persecuted LGBT folk here. You can't take the opposite premise of the argument and use that as the foundation to build your opposition on.

It’s a fact that the bill no longer has the death penalty. It’s still a horrific bill with an absurd punishment but I was only intending to point out the factual errors in the Western press. It does no good to then use that against me.

No-one chooses to be gay, and missionaries choose to be missionaries, you say. Of course. But I don’t get your point here, and how it relates to the argument of the blog. At no point am I suggesting that I am persecuted here. I’m simply saying that Missionaries, and Christianity in general, are not to blame for this bill. I’m not suggesting this is the only thing worth saying about the bill. It’ just one angle that, as far as I can make out, is not being made by anyone else. And it’s worth saying because that angle on the story will eventually cause supporters to turn away from gospel-minded missionary efforts in Uganda when actually that’s just what’s needed to help the LGBT community.

You’ve not engaged with the fact that Christian teaching here has hardly scraped the surface of ethical behaviour in his country. So why do you think, in this one area, Christianity has not only permeated into the national moral conscience, but done it to such an extent to be transcribed into a national law. That makes no sense. There’s something much deeper going on in this country/continent regarding cultural homophobia that the Western press, and yourself it seems, are not thinking about and not noticing.

Posted by: Chris Howles on Wednesday, 1 January 2014 at 11:16am GMT

Chris, your blog is most excellent. It is perhaps true that the Christian religion is not as influential as is perceived. However, this is a blog about the Christian, particularly Anglican, response. First of all, it is absolutely true that some very wealthy American conservative evangelicals have been visiting Uganda and affirming the homophobia of the Anglican bishops. Whether or not that plays out as a "proxy war" for the culture wars in the West, I'm not sure. But they've been there and they've spread their hate along with their money.

Second, these African Anglican bishops have been meddling in the affairs of North America in the name of homophobia. This is definitely fodder for discussion on an Anglican blog.

I can't quite get a grip on the homophobia overtaking some of Africa. South Africa has a very progressive constitution. Some stories I've heard talk about tolerance within some tribal traditions. Most of all, I'm puzzled that in places where rape is used as a weapon of war, they get all worked up over consensual sex.

Finally, but most importantly, the Church has an obligation to speak up for human rights and compassion and against injustice and cruelty. We probably agree there.

As for the Western Media, there is often an anti-religion bias, most apparent in the Guardian. That is beyond the control of the church.

Posted by: Cynthia on Wednesday, 1 January 2014 at 4:50pm GMT

"There’s something much deeper going on in this country/continent regarding cultural homophobia that the Western press, and yourself it seems, are not thinking about and not noticing."

So have Anglican bishops in Africa (a) supported or (b) opposed violently homophobic legislation?

Posted by: Interested Observer on Wednesday, 1 January 2014 at 6:38pm GMT

"I’m simply saying that Missionaries, and Christianity in general, are not to blame for this bill." - Chris Howles -

Was it Edmund Burke who said that all one needs to do to promote evil, is to ignore its existence?

Unfortunately for the world-wide Anglican Communion (which suffers as a result of the Ugandan and Nigerian statements made to support their countries' legislation against Gays) this behaviour on the part of Anglican Archbishops is seen as Anglicans actively supporting the sin of endemic homophobia.

Whether that is the intention of these archbishops or not, this is the perception that the world perceives as an Anglican initiative.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 1 January 2014 at 9:32pm GMT

This legislation is oppressive. Hopefully it will be overturned soon. However, Martyn is making too much of it. Most conservatives don't think consensual gay sex should be a criminal offence.

On the other hands I sometimes wonder whether there are any liberals who believe that people should be free to be conservative on sexuality - without fear of being sued or sacked!?

Posted by: Dave on Thursday, 2 January 2014 at 12:02am GMT

'"There’s something much deeper going on in this country/continent regarding cultural homophobia that the Western press, and yourself it seems, are not thinking about and not noticing."

So have Anglican bishops in Africa (a) supported or (b) opposed violently homophobic legislation?'

And that's what it boils down to?

So, Chris - are you saying these Anglican bishops really aren't Christian?

And, yes, I got you premise. I engaged with it, and you failed to understand that. You started with the premise that Christianity is somehow the last, best hope of LGBT's in Africa, which denies that there is something there calling itself Christianity and acknowledged as such by other Christians throughout the world. Do you follow that, so far?

Now, how did that Christianity get there? Aside from Ethiopia, there doesn't seem to have been a huge, national/regional movement toward it until Western missionaries set foot there - usually British or American. The current face of the Christianity that markets itself as such in Uganda, Nigeria, et al is a product of that missionary activity. We've moved on from those understandings in the West, why haven't they in the developing countries? Because, once they decided they didn't like being part of Empire, we abandoned them, taking our ball and going home. We didn't include them as brothers, but looked at them as untameable savages who might just get by with the Bibles we left them. Cut off, demonized, excluded from the larger movements of the world, there was syncretism. That's nothing new - Christmas, Christmas trees, Easter bunnies all are examples of more-or-less successful syncretism. There is national/local governmental interference? Of course. That happened in both the Inquisition and the Elizabethan Religious Settlement. The church isn't always the best answer for religion, any more than the state. Sometimes, the church isn't even the Church.

Now, the developing countries resist us, which is natural, as we ignored, deplored, and patronized them throughout the decades of their hard-won independence. You tell us, Chris, that it is our "interference" - by expressing our outrage - that makes it worse. You *imply* that, somehow, you and missionaries like you will make it better.

Your face, from your blog, is no less white and Western than mine, and a good deal more so than the leader of our current government, which is one you name specifically as causing the problems. Your attitude, as expressed in your blog, is that you have come to bring true religion to the backwards natives - I KNOW, Chris, that that has never formed a part of your conscious thought, but it's there.

How is any of that going to help?

Finally, all of that argument aside, you must, MUST realize that yes, Christianity the religion - not Jesus, not God, not Eternal Truth, but Christianity - has had a verifiable and undeniable exacerbating effect on local attitudes already prevalent. I hate to tell you, Chris, but the arguments they use to advance the hateful legislation is language left over from Nineteenth Century religious-pamphlet-missionary-society rhetoric. For a moment, stop playing semantics, and join the rest of us in the West in shouldering the responsibility of what Christianity - not Jesus, not God, not the Eternal Truth - has done there. What's happened there is a result of white men strolling in, forcing religion at gunpoint (so, see, we even provided a damned good example of government/church cooperation for oppression) and then cutting them off from the wider world view and buffetings and - frankly - affluence that has provided us the luxury of reassessing attitudes.

I don't see that you can possibly make it better. Sometimes, when we injure one another, only time can be the healer, and, in that time, there will be more pain, more hate and more misery. We are paying the emotional price of our past, and our brothers and sisters in the developing countries are paying in blood. Sometimes, there's no easy expiation for our sins.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Thursday, 2 January 2014 at 5:36am GMT

Dave,
"On the other hands I sometimes wonder whether there are any liberals who believe that people should be free to be conservative on sexuality - without fear of being sued or sacked!?"

Absolutely. As long as they live out their convictions in their own lives and do not insist on trying to impose them on others.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 2 January 2014 at 9:24am GMT

For me, the Churches are the greatest single block to faith.

Posted by: Revd Laurie Roberts on Thursday, 2 January 2014 at 1:00pm GMT

"whether there are any liberals who believe that people should be free to be conservative on sexuality - without fear of being sued or sacked!?" Dave

Of course - if the way in which that conservatism is expressed is within the law. But if it is within the law then there is nothing to fear anyway.

If the conservatism manifests itself in actions outside the law, why should religious scruple give anyone a free pass beyond the array of privileged equality exemptions the CofE - and others - have already secured for themselves?

Posted by: Laurence Cunnington on Thursday, 2 January 2014 at 6:05pm GMT

"whether there are any liberals who believe that people should be free to be conservative on sexuality - without fear of being sued or sacked!?" Dave

I don't know about being sued or sacked, it depends on how the conservative person manifests their beliefs.

Ultimately, some conservative positions are exclusive of other people. That causes suffering and injustice. Why on earth should the person and position causing the suffering and injustice prevail? Causing suffering and injustice on others is immoral.

So I would say that it's fine to hold exclusive beliefs, but it is immoral to act upon them to exclude others. It has become the problem of the 21st Century in progressive circles. How do you "include the excluders" without including their hurtful beliefs?

Should they be sued or sacked? If they cause harm, yes. If not, no.

Posted by: Cynthia on Friday, 3 January 2014 at 4:39am GMT

A thread that was supposed to be about clear and present danger to the safety and liberty of LGBTs in Africa has now been hijacked to be about imaginary threats to Christian conservatives in the West. It's sad how Dave wants all this to be about him and his friends instead of about African gays being locked up for the rest of their lives.

One notes the complete silence of Churches, ginger groups and mission agencies regarding the issue at hand with interest.

Posted by: The Rev'd Mervyn Noote on Friday, 3 January 2014 at 7:10pm GMT

I agree with Mervyn. I was prepared to give the churches etc. time. The original news is from 28 December after all, in the middle of the Christmas period.
But were now on 3 January and still no-one seems to have said anything...

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 3 January 2014 at 9:23pm GMT

"One notes the complete silence of Churches, ginger groups and mission agencies regarding the issue at hand with interest."

Yes, I think that our leaders have drunk the Kool-Aid that says that pressure from the West only entrenches the human rights abusers… And yet, due to Western outrage the bills were watered down from "Kill the Gays" to simply jail us for a long time. That pressure helped. So it is very, very difficult to understand the silence of our leaders in the face of these abuses. That goes for the ABC as well as the PB of TEC and the other Anglican churches.

Posted by: Cynthia on Friday, 3 January 2014 at 11:18pm GMT

I have a hard time getting all choked up over the travails of right wingers who once dominated everything and now find themselves marginalized.
Being fired or sued is hardly in the same league as being jailed, beaten, raped, and murdered. All of those things happened many times over to LGBTs for decades, and are still happening.

I can ride the subway to church secure in the knowledge that no one is going to attack me and beat me up in New York City (or in any Western country) for being a Christian. There are no mobs forming anywhere to burn down my church. I suffer no legal penalties for my religious beliefs. I don't worry about going to jail. I pay no extra taxes. I am not prevented from voting or holding public office. I am not barred from employment or from housing for being a Christian.

In large parts of the United States, I can still suffer legal penalties for being gay. I can be denied employment, public accommodation, and residence quite legally in a number of states. Walking hand in hand with my boyfriend would indeed be enough to provoke a mob even still in many parts of New York City.

Posted by: FD Blanchard on Saturday, 4 January 2014 at 12:03am GMT

4th of January and I still don’t hear any comments or press statement from the leaders of the mother Church, the Church of England about the Nigeria and Uganda Jail the Gays Bill.
http://76crimes.com/2013/12/31/new-years-optimism-for-threatened-nigerian-lgbts/

It’s like they simply don’t care, next step for me will be an open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury and York.

Posted by: Davis Mac-Iyalla on Saturday, 4 January 2014 at 9:20am GMT

"It’s like they simply don’t care, next step for me will be an open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury and York." Davis Mac-Iyalla

Which is about as much use as writing to the Queen. You will receive an anodyne standard email in response telling you that the Archbishop is too busy to read all his correspondence but thanking you for your interest.

Posted by: Laurence Cunnington on Saturday, 4 January 2014 at 11:05pm GMT

Not necessarily, David, I once wrote a very angry letter to Rowan and he answered personally. But that was Rowan, and my bishop delivered the letter. There's definitely no harm in trying.

Posted by: Lorenzo on Sunday, 5 January 2014 at 7:03am GMT

An open letter does not have to be delivered. It doesn't necesarily require a personal response to the writer. It's more of a formal public request for an official response. Depending on where it is published an open letter can be quite successful.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Sunday, 5 January 2014 at 10:21am GMT

"next step for me will be an open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury and York."

Saying what? That you don't think Canterbury and York should be silent when their fellow bishops are calling for the criminalisation of homosexuality? Wouldn't that involve Canterbury and York actually condemning African bishops for their homophobia? Do you really think that Welby is willing to do that? Welby's firstly completely unwilling to criticise African churches no matter what they do, and secondly unwilling to criticise homophobes in anything other than the vaguest of terms. So he's entirely relaxed about the whole business. Pretty much the same goes for Sentamu. The reason they haven't spoken up in this case is that they have nothing to say.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Sunday, 5 January 2014 at 11:52am GMT

I think an open letter is an excellent idea, even if the Archbishop never reads it. A lot of other people will.

Posted by: FD Blanchard on Sunday, 5 January 2014 at 1:08pm GMT

Where would one post this "open letter?" Could we write one as a group? Include the fact that it's Anglicans from CoE, TEC, and any other province that wishes mention and ask our leaders to stand up for justice, human rights, and the dignity of every person - all being created in the image of God. Perhaps invoke the UN's stance on human rights, maybe that Anglican "Dromantine" thing that Martin talked about, and even invoke the loving Christ who served the outcasts in opposition to the powerful.

I'm for it. If our leaders won't show moral leadership, than we should. I've written to the PB of TEC. Individual emails aren't going to get the job done.

But where would such a letter go? Anglican publications? Or real news outlets? I'll look into US options.

Posted by: Cynthia on Sunday, 5 January 2014 at 4:00pm GMT

"But where would such a letter go?"

Traditionally, the letters page of The Times.

Since The Times went behind a paywall, the Guardian has become more popular for such things.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Sunday, 5 January 2014 at 5:13pm GMT

It's definitely important that it does not go somewhere with a paywall but somewhere where people can subsequently share the letter to their Facebook or blogs if they want to do that.

Simon, do you happen to know where a letter like that is most likely to be accepted and published?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Sunday, 5 January 2014 at 8:37pm GMT

Aim to get hundreds or thousands of signatures from serving licensed clergy. That would be noticed wherever it was published. Needs to be on a suitable petition website where people can add their names. Have a separate letter for laity---what will catch attention is a substantial proportion of the entire clergy.

All just suggestions.

Posted by: Turbulent priest on Wednesday, 8 January 2014 at 12:09am GMT

The Guardian.

Posted by: The Rev'd Mervyn Noote on Wednesday, 8 January 2014 at 6:56am GMT

Just a few reflections on this thread.

Dave thinks I exaggerate and goes on to equate the judicial murder, torture and incarceration of gay folk with the civil penalties suffered by those who wish to continue discriminating against us in their business. This doesn't merit appearing in the same book yet alone on the same page.


My point was that conservative Christians should be at the forefront in refuting Mrs Williams but there is a great silence in response to her as there is in the Communion to the calamity of Ugandan and Nigerian legislation. Richard Ashby is a little ungenerous to Peter Ould who does make his position on the legislation clear even if his equivocal style bidding to placate his constituency does irritate. Pete likes to be all things to all ..... well, lets not get personal.

We hosted a family of five for Christmas who had escaped genuine persecution, it is profoundly disturbing to hear their story.

As regards touching hearts and minds on the tyranny being stoked up by Christians world-wide, I think we are going to find it hard to loosen tongues, allow me to repeat the story of Rowan Williams who in the wake of the Dar es Salaam fiasco promised in a confidential letter to LGCM that he would speak out on the legislation as soon as he thought it expedient ...........
Jonathan Cooper wrote a first class piece in the Huffington Post several months ago, he says it all really and we are no further forward
http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/jonathan-cooper/church-of-england-lgbti_b_3632337.html


Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Wednesday, 8 January 2014 at 3:09pm GMT

I'll sign, David, and link to it.

Posted by: Lorenzo Fernandez-Vicente on Wednesday, 8 January 2014 at 5:28pm GMT

Martyn, Erika, Meryvn and Cynthia, Thank you for your responses.

Firstly I'd like to note that my main statement was that: "This legislation is oppressive. Hopefully it will be overturned soon. However, Martyn is making too much of it. Most conservatives don't think consensual gay sex should be a criminal offence." Whereas Martyn's earlier post seemed to be suggesting that UK conservatives support oppresive legislation, in reality every conservative Christian knows that one of the most important commandments is to love your neighbour (good or bad, right or wrong)... and that Jesus told us to even love and pray for those who oppress us.

However, my primary statement seems to have just been overlooked in your reaction to my reflection on "whether there are any liberals who believe that people should be free to be conservative on sexuality - without fear of being sued or sacked!?

I had in mind, of course, the various people who have lost their jobs because they asked that their religious conscience rights be taken into account and that other people be assigned to the occassional duties that violated their religious rights by involving them in having to appear to approve of homosexual sexual relationships. That is not of the same order as being locked up for years, but it is not much fun to lose your job and possibly have your career ruined for life!

The problem is that the law as applied to them did not take into account their rights and balance them with the rights of the other people involved. Instead, it adopted a win-lose approach. This effectively allowed those with power to delete the rights of the people they thought were 'wrong'...

That was not the purpose of Human Rights!

We used to think that Human Rights were about respect for those who are 'wrong' - providing them with freedoms that others might disapprove of. But this new win-lose approach instead creates a struggle for power.... and any of us could be a member of the next group to 'lose'

Posted by: Dave on Thursday, 9 January 2014 at 1:32am GMT

"However, my primary statement seems to have just been overlooked in your reaction to my reflection on "whether there are any liberals who believe that people should be free to be conservative on sexuality - without fear of being sued or sacked!?"

A recent case in Glasgow:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-25621301

Posted by: Kennedy Fraser on Thursday, 9 January 2014 at 8:58am GMT

"the various people who have lost their jobs because they asked that their religious conscience rights be taken into account"

You mean the various people who have lost their jobs because they refused to do their jobs? Are you still trying to refight Ladele and McFarlane?

Let's get Ladele on the table. A woman who is a single mother of a child born out of wedlock, but nonetheless believes in the absolute primacy of Christian marriage and the sinfulness of sex outside it (apart from, presumably, her own relationships), takes a job as a registrar for marriages that are explicitly forbidden from having any religious content. She is therefore, presumably, presiding over marriages that she believes to be invalid, particularly re-marriages of people who have been divorced. She then gets in a stew about civil partnerships and refuses to preside over them.

Or MacFarlane. Again, someone who is so concerned about the primacy of Christian marriage that he takes a job providing sexual counselling to unmarried, divorced and otherwise adulterous couples, but then gets upset about the idea of providing the same service to homosexual couples.

These are not Christian issues, these are issues of straightforward homophobia. Neither of them were concerned about divorced or unmarried sex, it was just the gayz they got worked about. It's noticeable that they were both members of rather un-nuanced baptist churches. If Ladele had wanted to preside over Christian marriages, she should have got a job as a vicar. If MacFarlane didn't want to provide sexual counselling to unmarried couples, he shouldn't have taken a job with Relate. If their stories are the best you've got, it shows how vacuous the arguments are.

You can also, if you want, drag up Hazelmary Bull or even, most preposterously, the case of Eunice Johns (the judgement is simply hilarious from start to finish). Leaving aside the fact that no mainstream denomination would regard the opinions of any of these people as representative, which is why they kept a million miles away from the carcrashes of their court cases, they have been rejected completely in every court they have been presented in front of. If you want to keep harking back to lost causes, feel free, but you're preaching to the (small, and shrinking) choir.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Thursday, 9 January 2014 at 9:36am GMT

"I had in mind, of course, the various people who have lost their jobs because they asked that their religious conscience rights be taken into account and that other people be assigned to the occassional duties that violated their religious rights by involving them in having to appear to approve of homosexual sexual relationships. That is not of the same order as being locked up for years, but it is not much fun to lose your job and possibly have your career ruined for life!"

But Dave, the problem appears to be that these conservatives wanted to maintain their personal right to deprive others of their rights. That does not meet the standards of human rights and non discrimination for LGBT people. I'm sorry, but no one has the right to deprive another of their rights and discriminate against them because of their personal … you would call it religious conviction, I would call it bigotry. Their personal "conviction" actually does harm if it includes discriminating in the work place. That is the essence of discrimination and society is passing laws against it.

It is not a basic right to hang on to your job insisting on the "right" to discriminate against others. It's one thing to hold a belief, it's another thing to inflict pain and suffering on others for acting on it.

Theologically, what kind of religion supports inflicting pain and suffering on others? Where did Jesus inflict suffering on outcasts? The theology is flawed and protecting the "rights" of people who want to inflict pain and suffering on others for these flaws is off the table. Thank God.

When you talk about being sacked for what they believe, I say no to the sacking. When they are sacked for acting out those beliefs against the law, God, and human decency, then yes, the sacking is justified.

Gay people have accommodated straight people in the workplace forever. As have blacks accommodated whites. Why there should be a "special right" to discriminate is just bizarre.

Posted by: Cynthia on Thursday, 9 January 2014 at 5:29pm GMT

Daily Mail says the UK is increasing aid to Nigeria this year by £70 million. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2539471/Britain-condemns-Nigerias-draconian-Jail-Gays-law-dozens-gay-men-rounded-up.html

Posted by: Randal Oulton on Wednesday, 15 January 2014 at 6:40pm GMT
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