Spectrum is “a journal established to encourage Seventh-day Adventist participation in the discussion of contemporary issues from a Christian viewpoint”. As such, it is uniquely qualified to discuss the recent statements coming from Seventh Day Adventist religious leaders in Uganda in support of the proposed Anti-Homosexuality bill.
Spectrum’s Alexander Carpenter has written an online commentary expressing concern about the bill and the way in which support for it is contradictory to church policy.
Given this attempt to mix church and state, it is particularly troubling that the highest ranking Adventist leader in Uganda would support this law.
Furthermore, the law states that,
Where the offender is a corporate body or a business or an association or a non-governmental organization, on conviction its certificate of registration shall be cancelled and the director or proprietor or promoter shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for seven years.
Thus, if, as has happened in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, a church administrator turns out to be gay, John Kakembo’s support for this bill could actually threaten the work of the church in Uganda.
Given the parameters outlined in the Working Policy of the church, John Kakembo’s common cause on the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 lies outside our religious liberty principles, breaks church policy, and is opposite the goal of following Christ in helping, not jailing, the least of these.
In response, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has issued the following statement:
The church has made official statements on the issue of homosexuality. These continue to be our expressed position. Our inquiries with the Uganda Union indicate that not all that is being reported or interpreted in the media coverage is factual.
Our office has taken steps to inform the Uganda Union president’s office about the officially articulated position of the church regarding homosexuality. There will be on-going communication with the East-Central Africa Division and the church administration in Uganda.
I am uncertain what the church means by “not all that is being reported or interpreted in the media coverage is factual”. If that indicates that the church leader in Uganda, John Kakembo, has been falsely claimed as a supporter of the bill, then I am encouraged.
If, however, it indicates that the church is dismissive of public criticism of the bill, then that is most distressing. And sadly, while the statement of church principles does mention compassion and value, the only principles stated consist of condemnation of homosexuality and same-sex relationships and do not clearly articulate a position on criminalization of gay persons.
It is difficult to determine from this vague statement whether the Seventh-day Adventist Church opposes the bill or if it stands in the unique position of being the only denomination in the West to publicly endorse the death penalty as punishment for homosexuality.
I would encourage the church, and all Adventists, to read the language of the bill and issue a statement strongly condemning it as contrary to the teachings of Christ. Until it does so, the only position on record is that of Kakembo’s announcement of Seventh-day Adventist endorsement and of the Church’s refusal to refute that endorsement.