Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Archbishop of Uganda says anti-gay law still needed

Last Friday, the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2014 was declared invalid by a Ugandan constitutional court, because it had been passed by Parliament without a proper quorum.

See reports of this, such as Uganda Anti-Gay Law Struck Down by Court in the New York Times or Uganda anti-gay law declared ‘null and void’ by constitutional court in the Guardian.

There are now reports that Archbishop Stanley Ntagali, Primate of Uganda, has called for its prompt re-introduction:

Religion News Service Uganda’s Anglican leader doubles down on anti-gay law

Uganda’s top Anglican leader criticized the constitutional court for striking down the country’s controversial anti-gay law on a technicality, saying the law is still needed to protect children and families from Western-imported homosexuality…

Episcopal News Service Uganda’s Anglican leader says anti-gay law still needed

…Anglican Archbishop Stanley Ntagali called the decision a disappointment for the Church of Uganda, religious leaders and many Ugandans.

“The ‘court of public opinion’ has clearly indicated its support for the Act, and we urge Parliament to consider voting again on the Bill with the proper quorum in place,” Ntagali said on Aug. 4.

Uganda’s religious leaders had widely supported the law, but opposed an earlier clause threatening the death penalty for some homosexual acts. Most Ugandan church leaders say homosexuality is against God’s order and African cultures. Such a law was needed to protect families, children and youth, the leaders stressed.

“I appeal to all God-fearing people and all Ugandans to remain committed to the support against homosexuality,” said Ntagali, whose church cut ties with the Episcopal Church, the United States-based branch of Anglicanism, after the election of an openly gay bishop in 2003…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 6 August 2014 at 9:00am BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion
Comments

There are essentially three problems here:

First, the inherent conservative nature of equatorial African society.

Secondly, the pernicious influence of North American conservative evangelicals not least the Anglican Church of North America.

Thirdly, the historical legacy of colonial evangelisation.

The end result is what seems like a very nasty and distinctly unchristian statement on the part of Stanley Ntagali.

Posted by: Concerned Anglican on Wednesday, 6 August 2014 at 9:36am BST

This has already been reported on LGBT sites around the world, further damaging (possibly beyond repair) ANY faith-claims associated w/ the term "Anglican". Kyrie eleison!

And what *if anything* will the ABC say? Can he muster a "tsk, tsk"? Lord Christ, RE-FORM Your church!

Posted by: JCF on Wednesday, 6 August 2014 at 10:16am BST

Is there going to be any sort of disciplinary action taken by the Anglican Communion Office over this scandalous action by an 'Anglican Archbishop'? Or will this simply be another breach of the principle of justice for all, that the Church represents?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 6 August 2014 at 11:40am BST

Archbishop Stanley's ¨Court of Public Opinion¨ seems nothing more than a fear/hatedriven lynch mob that needs spiritual healing and much pastoral care (and not encouragement to terrorize, marginalize and demonize fellow citizens, Anglicans and others).

Leonard Clark Beardsley

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Wednesday, 6 August 2014 at 1:46pm BST

And Rowan didn't invite Gene Robinson to the Lambeth Conference. Shame on him.

Posted by: Sara MacVane on Wednesday, 6 August 2014 at 2:29pm BST

Which viewpoint should our church really be aligned with? The viewpoint of leaving it up to each individual who they intimately love? Or the viewpoint that people who practice or don't report gay relationships should be imprisoned for a long time?

The 'official' position of the Church of England (which is not backed by the majority views of its members) is still punitive towards lesbian, gay and bisexual people - as we have sadly seen in the case of Jeremy Pemberton.

It is an appalling witness to non-Christians in our country, and an ultimately untenable position.

Meanwhile, the Church of England 'leaders' (who are leading us nowhere in this issue) bend over backwards to placate people like Archbishop Ntagali, and suggest that gay and lesbian couples in England should put their lives on hold, and live in imposed celibacy, for the sake of prelates and their churches in entirely different cultures, who are pursuing policies which in England would be reprehensible.

Let each Anglican church, priest and PCC in England decide - at a local level - how they choose to celebrate and bless (or not) the relationships and marriages of ordinary people, be they lesbian, gay, bisexual or even heterosexual.

Otherwise, we're back in the 'Covenant' territory - trying to please homophobic churches in Africa by imposing uniformity on a Church of England which has multiple views on this subject and no consensus whatsoever. Conscience should be protected (including the consciences of gay married priests) and the integrity and consciences of local church communities and their PCCs.

More than half the Church of England accepts and celebrates gay sexual relationships. The bishops' assertions are not expressions of what people in the Church of England actually believe. England is not Uganda.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Wednesday, 6 August 2014 at 4:43pm BST

The clock is ticking, rather loudly. Will the Archbishops utter a word, or are they too busy disciplining priests entering into legal marriages?

Will Canterbury and York walk by on the other side of the road, or cross it, to comfort the victims?

Posted by: Nathaniel Brown on Wednesday, 6 August 2014 at 5:31pm BST

Maybe if the ABC would take a "pastoral" approach" to the Ugandan primate, he can see and hear for himself, once and for all, what this type of reading of scripture is and does to some minds - and those minds' victims. Welby wasn't far from such a reading himself when he went to Lambeth. I've a sense he's learned something since.

Be that as it may, I, for one, am tired of being on the receiving end of the savage barbarisms of some types of "christians." It's long, long past time for Christians in leadership and other parts of the church to cry, "Hold! Enough!"

Posted by: Daniel Berry, NYC on Wednesday, 6 August 2014 at 5:56pm BST

"And what *if anything* will the ABC say?"

He'll say "if gay men are killed in Uganda, it's the fault of British gays for not staying in the closet".

Posted by: Interested Observer on Wednesday, 6 August 2014 at 8:00pm BST

'I have to reserve the right to withhold or withdraw invitations from bishops whose appointment, actions or manner of life have caused exceptionally serious division or scandal within the Communion'. (Rowan Williams 2007)

With the next Lambeth conference only four years away, will the criteria (scandalous, divisive etc) applied to Gene Robinson to deny him an invitation to the last one apply to counterparts elsewhere who wish to see him and his kind jailed for life?

Posted by: Andrew on Wednesday, 6 August 2014 at 11:03pm BST

"The 'official' position of the Church of England (which is not backed by the majority views of its members) is still punitive towards lesbian, gay and bisexual people ,,."

Problem is, Susannah, I believe it is backed by the majority: passivity is a type of endorsement.

Liberals don't speak out because we're complicit. The last time Synod voted on this, in '87, it condemned gay relationships by an overwhelming majority (403 to 8). The second they faced pressure, the church's liberal wing caved in en masse. We made accomplices of ourselves.

We won't make progress until we face our own wrongdoing, and admit that we're no better than the bishops. The leadership behave this way 'cause we given them license to do so. Only when we take the hit can we move forward.

Posted by: James Byron on Wednesday, 6 August 2014 at 11:04pm BST

@Interested Observer: I want to believe you're wrong.

Posted by: Daniel Berry, NYC on Wednesday, 6 August 2014 at 11:09pm BST

My experience in church pews, James, is that ordinary church attenders reflect national changes of attitude on LGBT issues.

Admittedly, I can only speak from the T part of LGBT, but I've experienced warmth and affirmation and acceptance from most people (as I do from the general public, and all my patients in the hospital where I nurse).

The country really has moved on since 1987, so much so that the Church's official stance now seems bizarre and offensive to many people. And recent polls of Anglicans in the pews seem to reflect this sea change in attitudes.

The Church of England is not 'owned' by its leaders. The Church of England is you and is me. That's why I regard deference on this issue of conscience as risible. Arguments of canonical obedience are irrelevant to the actual harm being done through discrimination towards people who are LGBT, whose valid, legal and decent relationships are institutionally devalued, and - especially in the case of priests - made subject to punitive sanctions.

Conscience is a God-given gift. We should not forget that. It is time that church members stopped letting themselves be infantilised by concepts of 'obedience' to other people's consciences, and started exercising their own consciences more often.

Which brings me back to your very valid essential point. If we are not to collaborate, if we are not to acquiesce, then what should we (whether gay or straight) DO to repudiate the diminution of gay and lesbian relationships in the life of the Church? What does solidarity and support actually "look" like in the case of Jeremy and his partner, or Andrew and his, or all the other couples who we may not know about?

How is the bishops' attempt to impose uniform conscience on local priests, PCCs, and communities to be repudiated?

What are you suggesting we should do in terms of actual practical action, and standing up and being counted?

(Along with our ongoing call to love one another, and our attempts to live out a Christian life in service and openness to God...)

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Thursday, 7 August 2014 at 12:47am BST

Susannah has a very valid point here. Why should the Church arrogate to itself the exercise of our individual consciences? One's conscientious response - though formed by society, cannot be taken over by it.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 7 August 2014 at 11:03am BST

"With the next Lambeth conference only four years away, will the criteria (scandalous, divisive etc) applied to Gene Robinson to deny him an invitation to the last one apply to counterparts elsewhere who wish to see him and his kind jailed for life?"

No. Because given the choice between a church consisting of a small hard-core clique of violent homophobes who want to repeal the Sexual Offences Act 1967 so as to declare open season on gays, and an open and inclusive church that welcomes people irrespective of sexuality, Welby knows exactly which side he'd prefer.

My trip to East Germany left me in awe of the sheer bravery of the Christians of the Nikolaikirche in Leipzig, who in the face of the armed threat of the Stasi nonetheless did what is right to bring down oppression. The leaflets in the Nikolaikirche describing what happened, written by the then pastor, are a bit self-congratulatory, but they are people with much to congratulate themselves about.

Welby's their precise opposite. In the face of oppression, he is a coward. He is frightened of saying or doing what is right, for fear of upsetting people. I'm not sure if cowardice in the face of bigotry is more or less shameful than active participation in bigotry, but I'm equally not sure which of those paths he's taken anyway.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Thursday, 7 August 2014 at 2:29pm BST

The practical ideas I've posted up here largely mirror your own, Susannah: mass disobedience of the episcopate until it overturns its homophobic policies. At the very least, congregations declaring themselves opposed, and, crucially, withholding their parish share.

Bishops won't budge, however, so long as they feel they're being condemned. It's a lot easier to admit you're wrong if your opponent doesn't act better than you, and offers you an amnesty.

Posted by: James Byron on Thursday, 7 August 2014 at 7:34pm BST

It is important to note that the Uganda court struck down the anti-gay law, not because of concern over human rights or the dignity of all people, but because of procedural issues.
It would be similar to the US Supreme Court in the 1950s striking down segregationist laws in the Southern USA, not because black people deserve equality, but because of improper voting during second reading of the bills.
I have no doubt the Uganda parliament will pass the bill again, this time with all the i's dotted, t's crossed, and the homophobia intact, with the blessing of Ugandan Christian and Muslim clergy.
God/Allah must weep over "God Is On Our Side./It is Allah's will."

Posted by: peterpi - Peter Gross on Thursday, 7 August 2014 at 8:17pm BST

Mass disobedience of the episcopate? In the Church of England? How do you tell the difference from the normal state of affairs?

Posted by: Jo on Thursday, 7 August 2014 at 11:29pm BST

The views of the Ugandan Anglican bishops are homophobic and deeply disturbing, but I do not believe that is true of the views of the English.
As a liberal Anglican, welcoming official civil unions, I nonetheless do not believe in "marriage equality" and "gay marriage" - for lay-people or clergy - and the reasons for this position, readily accessible, deserve thoughtful consideration rather than thoughtless dismissal.

Posted by: The Revd Dr J R Bunyan on Friday, 8 August 2014 at 12:03am BST

Doctor Bunyan,

I completely respect your affirmation of lesbian and gay civil unions, while holding a different view to you on marriage. But I rationally understand that people like yourself in good conscience may draw the line at marriage. We just hold different views.

My complaint is that the bishops are imposing and trying to enforce *their* conscience against the consciences of priests, PCCs, and local church communities, who do not share your views.

It is this imposition and enforcement of conscience - similar to the failed attempt of 'the Covenant' to impose uniformity - which in my view constitutes a kind of top-down imperialism that runs contrary to the views of many people in the Church of England, and even more in the public at large.

Why should individuals, and local churches and their PCCs, not act in good conscience, in a diversity of expressions - ministering in their own ways, in their own local circumstances?

When the Church is clearly divided on this issue, why do the bishops assert there is only one right way?

I am, as I say, very willing to affirm my confidence in your own integrity and good conscience. Why cannot the same respect be afforded to decent priests and local churches that also act with integrity and in good conscience?

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Friday, 8 August 2014 at 1:17pm BST

"'With the next Lambeth conference only four years away, will the criteria (scandalous, divisive etc) applied to Gene Robinson to deny him an invitation to the last one apply to counterparts elsewhere who wish to see him and his kind jailed for life?'

"No. Because given the choice between a church consisting of a small hard-core clique of violent homophobes who want to repeal the Sexual Offences Act 1967 so as to declare open season on gays, and an open and inclusive church that welcomes people irrespective of sexuality, Welby knows exactly which side he'd prefer."

Which sounds very much like Caiaphas's justification, "You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed." (Jn. 11:50) Keeping the homophobic provinces in the Anglican Communion is apparently worth sacrificing a few bishops.

There is currently at least one other openly partnered gay or lesbian bishop in the Anglican Communion. At this point, if he, she, or they are not invited to the next Lambeth Conference, I think there will more even more a stink than there was the last time.

Posted by: dr.primrose on Friday, 8 August 2014 at 3:51pm BST

Frankly, I think it's unwise to assume that there will be another Lambeth Conference in four years time. There's no visible sign of any planning for this having started yet, and for that timescale to be met, there should have been.

And if some future conference does occur, it might not be in anything like the same format as the recent ones.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 8 August 2014 at 11:25pm BST

Could someone please explain to me the Ugandan captivity of the Church of England?

I'm American, so I am sure there is something about England's relations with her former colonies that I am missing, but it seems that the CoE's leaders are more concerned about Africa than the nation their church supposedly serves. They are willing to make the church an object of contempt in their own country in order to appease angry prelates on another continent.

What's going on here?

Posted by: jpm on Saturday, 9 August 2014 at 12:30am BST

Simon Sarmiento is correct.

When LGCM mounted its "Half Way to Lambeth" conference back in 2003 there had already been some talk about the.format of 2008. Just four months later the first formal meeting of the Lambeth design group took place in London.

By that standard the arrangements are already running at least six months late.
If any gathering of bishops does happen in 2018 we can be relatively sure that Uganda and Nigeria will not be there.
The alternative structures of GAFCON are just that, alternative.
As Simon says if there is a meeting it will be different.
The division has already happened.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Saturday, 9 August 2014 at 12:49am BST

Re, Simon Sarmiento, Lambeth may not be on horizon, could it be true? One lives in hope. Queen Vic is dead, time we Anglicans buried her.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Saturday, 9 August 2014 at 4:04am BST

"They are willing to make the church an object of contempt in their own country in order to appease angry prelates on another continent. What's going on here?" I'm not British either but have lived here for decades, I think it boils down to politics: the right wing in the church will die on gay hill and the left wing are rather blind to the bigotry present in so many cultures in the developing world. It's the same with their relationship to Islam: they'd rather die of imperialistic shame than affirm the superiority of Western "Christian" culture, but they'd never live in an Islamic country for all that. Either way, LGBT folks aren't getting much support from either side.

Posted by: Lorenzo Fernandez-Vicente on Saturday, 9 August 2014 at 11:22am BST

I won't spam the "Statement from Archbishop of Canterbury on Iraq" thread, but I will note:

"What we are seeing in Iraq violates brutally people’s right to freedom of religion and belief"

...as opposed to what we are seeing in Uganda, which violates brutally---with the Anglican Church's encouragement!---people’s right to love who they love. Yet the ABC still says nothing.

A Christian leader speaks out for persecuted Christians. Is it TOO MUCH TO ASK a *straight* Christian leader to speak out for persecuted LGBTs?

Posted by: JCF on Saturday, 9 August 2014 at 8:20pm BST

Susanna makes an interesting point. The legislation for women bishops makes the views of the parish and PCC as to whether they will accept the ministry of a woman diocesan paramount. The CofE is supposed to be accepting two integrities on this issue. It accepts 'two integrities' over the remarriage of divorcees. Unlike these two issues it is trying to impose uniformity by fiat, by a'pastoral statement' which is nothing of the kind, which has no authority, has never been discussed by any representative body of the Church and which seems to be disowned publicly or privately by many of those who aparently agreed to it. One of the consequences is that no one can be found to publicly defend the actions of Bishop Inwood's refusal to grant a licence to Jeremy Pemberton. Calumny compounded by cowardice.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Sunday, 10 August 2014 at 7:59am BST

"Could someone please explain to me the Ugandan captivity of the Church of England?"

Well put. I've been asking this too. And pointing out that the CofE cannot serve two masters--England and the Global South.

"Welby knows exactly which side he'd prefer."

I'm not so pessimistic as this--in fact, any Lambeth delay might best be explained by Welby trying to sit on the fence, at least for now.

I hope Welby has learned from the women-bishops fight. Indeed, I suspect that the questions in Parliament, the private meeting with frustrated MPs, and the sustained mockery from the national press, may have convinced Welby that if the CofE takes the Global South side, it will have too much explaining to do to the people of England.

The Church of Uganda may now, unwittingly, be assisting this evolution in Welby's views. Life imprisonment for gay people is hardly a winning manifesto in the UK.

But like most politicians, Welby must be led to the right result. He must be shown that the CofE rejects homophobia.

So pressure from the Global South must be counteracted with pressure from home. And that includes a reformed Synod, with the anti-women-bishops members voted out this coming spring.

Letters to bishops will only do so much. It's when the membership of Synod shifts that Welby will realize he has more room for maneuver at home.

So the thing to do is to organize around the election process. Everyone who voted against women bishops should be challenged, and explicitly for that reason.

Posted by: Jeremy on Sunday, 10 August 2014 at 12:00pm BST

Still no statement from the Archbishops of York or Canterbury on this scandal of their fellow Anglican Archbishop of Uganda aiding and abetting a policy of criminalisation against LGBTI people in a fellow Commonwealth country? Has GAFCON won a battle here?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 10 August 2014 at 12:40pm BST

Jeremy
The next General Synod election is due to take place in the late summer/early Autumn of 2015, not in the Spring.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 10 August 2014 at 4:55pm BST

But will Uganda be at GAFCON, if it has women bishops by 2018.Will the anti-woman bishop evangelical Church of England bishop be there? The plot thickens.

Posted by: robert ian williams on Sunday, 10 August 2014 at 6:43pm BST

Thanks, Simon; I stand corrected.

Posted by: Jeremy on Monday, 11 August 2014 at 11:01am BST

If the Archbishop of Canterbury believes he prefers the company, companionship and righteousness of the Ugandan bishops, I say give him what he wants. It'll serve him right.

Posted by: Daniel Berry, NYC on Monday, 11 August 2014 at 7:34pm BST

Daniel, I want Welby to sit down with Evan Davis on Newsnight with a Ugandan bishop beside him and explain why Davis should be in prison. Then he can go on Graham Norton and repeat the exercise. If Welby's new position is that it is entirely Christian to call for the jailing of gay people, and Welby is happy to break bread with such people, then he should at least have the honesty to tell people. Instead he wants it both ways: he wants to break bread with homophobes who want to jail people, while claiming he isn't a homophobe who wants to jail people.

At least the Ugandan bishops are honest about their homophobia. Welby is simply dishonest and tells people what he thinks they want to hear.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Tuesday, 12 August 2014 at 7:22am BST

@ Interested Observer: Sounds like a plan. But I get a fiendish delight at thinking of Welby being forced to share a compartment and conversation with the Ugandan primate on a long train ride or layover in an airport in an African capital with nowhere to hide. We'll see how long Justin can stomach the rectitude of African bishops.

Posted by: Daniel Berry, NYC on Thursday, 14 August 2014 at 7:31pm BST

"We'll see how long Justin can stomach the rectitude of African bishops."

What makes you think they are more prejudiced against homosexuals than Welby is? Welby didn't just want to deny Christian marriage to gay people, he wanted to deny any form of marriage to gay people, even those that are nothing whatsoever to do with the CofE. He's made it quite clear that he stands shoulder to shoulder with homophobes.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Friday, 15 August 2014 at 10:13am BST
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