Anglican Communion’s Tangled Connections To Uganda’s Anti-Gay Pogrom
November 14th, 2009
There has been considerable consternation over the worldwide Anglican Communion’s silence on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill that is now before Uganda’s Parliament. That bill would reaffirm a penalty of life imprisonment for anyone convicted of being gay and impose the death penalty under certain circumstances. It would also criminalize all advocacy on behalf of LGBT citizens, and impose criminal penalties on family, friends, teachers, counselors and ministers who fail to report LGBT persons to the police.
The Anglican Church is the second largest Christian denomination in Uganda, making its voice an exceptionally important one as the bill is debated. One would think that with the draconian nature of this proposed legislation, a denunciation would be easy. But so far it hasn’t been forthcoming, save for some reservations about the death penalty. Other than that, the Anglican Church’s official spokesperson in Uganda has been largely supportive of the bill, while the worldwide Anglican Communion has remained silent. This despite public calls for a statement against the bill directed toward Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, head of the Anglican Union, as well as the Archbishop of York John Sentamu, who is the number two man in the Anglican Communion. Sentamu, who was born and raised in Uganda, has already vowed to remain silent on the Ugandan proposals now before Parliament.
Why stay silent in the face of such obvious evil? Good question, and it turns out the answer looks like a tale that one would only expect to find in the most outrageous soap operas.
It turns out that Archbishop Semtamu is the older brother of a megachurch pastor by the name of Robert Kayanja. If that name rings a bell, it may be because we reported last May that Kayanja, a wealthy and powerful pastor of the Rubaga Miracle Center in Kampala, was accused of being gay by rival pastors led Solomon Male. Kayanja’s personal aide was allegedly kidnapped and tortured by armed men and held for five days, as his captors demanded that he make a video accusing Kayanja of sodomy. Kayanja accused another rival, Pastor Michael Kyazze of the Omega Healing Center of being behind the plot.
Pastor Martin Ssempa, who has been the recipient of US HIV/AIDS prevention funding and has past ties to American megachurch pastor Rick Warren, also played a prominent role in the accusations against Kayanja, as well as other well-known pastors in Uganda.
Police investigated Kayanja and found the charges baseless, although its unclear what role his donations for refurbishing police barracks or his close ties with Uganda President Yoweri Museveni may have played in the investigation. But at any rate, it appears that Kayanja is now officially in the clear, while Ssempa, Male and others were investigated for providing false accusations to police. A police report released last August called for Ssempa and the other false accusers to be brought up on criminal charges.
So does Kayanja’s brush with deadly-serious accusations of homosexuality explain the silence of the Archbishop of York, Kayanja’s brother, on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill? Or is it merely the same blatant hatred of LGBT people that infects much of Uganda’s religious community that is holding Archbishop Semantu’s tongue? And how does the silence of the Communion’s second in command affect the Archbishop of Canterbury’s refusal to address these life-and-death developments in one of the Church’s most active countries?
We can expect more false accusations and score settling should the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Act become law, with its requirement that anyone who knows someone is gay report that individual to local police. We can also expect the Act to fuel further public vigilante campaigns against private Ugandan citizens similar to the one waged by the tabloid Red Pepper last April.
Meanwhile, the largest components of worldwide Christianity remain silent, while others actively stoke the hatred and antagonisms fueling this year’s anti-gay pogrom. Active American participants in this current campaign have included Exodus International board member Don Schmierer, Holocaust Revisionist Scott Lively, and International Healing Foundation’s Caleb Brundidge, who kicked off the latest spasm with a three-day anti-gay conference held in Kampala last March. The College of Prayer’s Fred Hartly has direct ties to the two Members of Parliament who are cosponsoring the proposed bill. And the U.S based shadow Christian group known as “The Family” or “The Fellowship” has identified Uganda President Museveni as “their man in Uganda.” I’m not one for wild conspiracy theories, but watching all of this unfold is simply breathtaking. And with the Anglican Communion’s continued silence on the issue, they are becoming complicit in this bloody web as well.
[Hat tip: GayUganda]