Anglican Church of Uganda endorses a milder evil – do local Anglican Churches?
February 10th, 2010
The Episcopal Cafe has posted a copy of the press release issued by The Most Rev. Henry Luke Orombi , the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda (Anglican) which clarifies the church’s stance on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill (the Kill Gays bill) currently under consideration in that nation.
The Church of Uganda does not endorse the bill and believes that this particular piece of legislation is not needed. However, they do call for a piecemeal approach which would serve much the same purpose: increase official harassment and incarceration of gay Ugandans and deny basic civil rights. They are not clear as to whether they support life sentences.
Here are the four goals which the Anglicans in Uganda wish achieved:
We particularly appreciate the objectives of the Bill which seek to:
a) provide for marriage in Uganda as contracted only between a man and woman;
b) prohibit and penalize homosexual behavior and related practices in Uganda as they constitute a threat to the traditional family;
c) prohibit ratification of any international treaties, conventions, protocols, agreements and declarations which are contrary or inconsistent with the provisions of the Act;
d) prohibit the licensing of organizations which promote homosexuality.
The order of this list is interesting. One could imagine it as a scale by which intolerance and disrespect for human dignity could be measured in a society.
The first point could simply be a reflection of tradition, misunderstanding, and unnecessary fears. Prohibition and punishment of private sexual expression is an indication of animus, heterosexism, and religious hegemony. The rejection of international treaties and protocols is a sign of arrogance and a hostility to gay persons that verges on hatred.
But the Church of Uganda goes all the way to their fourth point – the rejection of freedoms of speech, assembly, or political diversity. They endorse totalitarianism and reject basic human rights and democratic ideals. This is an attitude that has been shared by every society that is held up as an example of excess, inhumanity, and abuse.
And it is “loopholes” which allow the sort of freedoms that a modern state values that Orambi finds in need of correcting.
We affirm the need for a Bill in light of the existing loopholes in the current legislation, specifically sections 145-148 of the Penal Code Act (Cap 120), which do not explicitly address the other issues associated with homosexual practice such as procurement, recruitment and dissemination of literature.
As Parliament considers streamlining the existing legislation, we recommend that the following issues be taken into consideration:
2. Language that strengthens the existing Penal Code to protect the boy child, especially from homosexual exploitation; to prohibit lesbianism, bestiality, and other sexual perversions; and to prohibit procurement of material and promotion of homosexuality as normal or as an alternative lifestyle, be adopted.
Let us be clear. Anyone who believes in human rights, anyone who believes in freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of thought, anyone who believes in freedom of religion, all will find the position of the Church of Uganda to be abhorrent.
Yet many Americans have attached their very religious identity to Archbishop Orambi and his anti-gay campaign. The congregations that broke away from the Episcopal Church over the place of gay people within the body of the church have formed the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and the only two bodies with which they have full communion are the Church of Nigeria and the Church of Uganda. Several of these congregations have declared that they are under the direct authority of Archbishop Orombi.
I doubt that these American churches endorse the abolition of the freedom of speech in America and I suspect that if cornered many would refuse to publicly endorse recriminalization of homosexuality. Yet, to date, neither the ACNA nor a single member church has spoken against the efforts of the Church of Uganda. None has expressed even the slightest discomfort about being publicly aligned with those who endorse human rights abuses.
While it is likely that this is because they are hesitant to appear in any way that can be construed to be tolerant of the “sinful act of homosexual behavior”, it is also possible that they simply have not been asked. It is likely that the local newspaper reporters in the cities in which these Anglican churches reside are unaware of the Orombi’s stance. And even if so, they are not likely to know that the Church of Uganda is only one of two churches which are in full communion with the Anglican Church in North America.
Perhaps it is time that they become informed. And perhaps it is time that these individual churches come face to face with what they have endorsed.
I invite our readers to go to the ACNA web site and find churches in their area. Then they can contact the reporter on the Religion beat for their local paper and inform them of the issue.
Please, please, do not editorialize in your contact. You don’t need to call the church names or point out hypocrisy or quote the Bible or denounce all religion or anything else which would cause the reporter to dismiss you as a crank. Nor should you start by writing a letter to the editor as this is far less effective than having a reporter cover the story.
Feel free to email them some variation of the following letter:
Dear Religion Reporter,
I wish to bring to your attention an international issue which has a strong local link. This matter is of great importance to many in the community and I hope that you would find this story to be worthy of your efforts.
As you may be aware, there is a bill in the legislature in Uganda which would call for the death penalty for some gay Ugandans and demand life imprisonment for the rest. The Church of Uganda, an Anglican church, does not support this bill (usually referred to as the “Kill the Gays Bill”), but has instead called for separate legislation that would do the following:
- prohibit and penalize homosexual behavior (along with “lesbianism, bestiality, and other sexual perversions”)
- ban any organizations that “promote homosexuality” as normal or as an alternative lifestyle
- make it illegal to advocate for gay people
- make it illegal to disseminate any material or literature that advocates for gay people
- declare that homosexual behavior is not a human right
- declare that advocating for gay people is not a human right
A copy of the press release can be found here.
You may also be aware that XXX Anglican Church on Main Street is a member of the Anglican Church in North America. This congregation was part of the Episcopal Church until they broke away from that denomination in part because of disagreement over the Episcopal Church’s level of acceptance of gay people in the body of the church.
The Church of Uganda is one of only two Anglican Churches in the world which are in full communion with the Anglican Church in North America (the other is the Church of Nigeria which has made similar statements.) The efforts of break-away Episcopal churches was supported by and influenced by the Ugandan and Nigerian archbishops.
I have not yet heard XXX Anglican Church’s position on these actions in Uganda. Neither they nor the Anglican Church in North American have issued a statement suggesting that their ecclesiastical partner is in any way in error. And as they broke from the Episcopal Church (Anglican Church in Canada) over the issue of homosexuality, I wonder whether their position may be the same as that of the Church of Uganda.
As a member of the Local City community, I have an interest in the religious beliefs of the local churches, one that I’m sure I share with many other residents.
I would very much like to know whether XXX Anglican Church supports the criminalization of homosexuality and the incarceration of gay men and women either in the United States (Canada) or Uganda. Do they share the Church of Uganda’s desire to ban the freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, or freedom of religion on issues of homosexuality? And finally, is XXX Anglican Church in any way troubled that their only ecclesiastical partners oppose human rights and other freedoms? Will they make a statement of disagreement or use their affiliation to work against any religious advocacy in foreign nations which they think is excessive or unChristian; or, alternately, are they content with the goals of the Church of Uganda?
I certainly don’t wish to tell you how to write a story, but for perspective and contrast I would find it interesting to hear the position of other local church leaders, including those who did not leave the Episcopal Church.
I do hope that you share my interest in this issue and consider this story to be worth inquiry and reporting.
Box Turtle Reader
Please let us know who you contacted and whether they expressed interest in the story.