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Posts for December, 2009

Catholic Doublespeak In Uganda – Did The Bishop Tacitly Support Anti-Gay Bill During Christmas Mass?

Jim Burroway

December 26th, 2009

On Wednesday, Archbishop Cyprian Lwanga of the archdiocese of Uganda appeared on national television to denounce the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Today’s issue of the independent Daily Monitor has a round-up of Christmas sermons which reveals that the archbishop may support some aspects of the bill:

Bishop of Kampala Archdiocese Cyprian Kizito Lwanga, who led celebrations at Rubaga Cathedral, told hundreds of Christians that homosexuality is immoral and forbidden.

“The Catholic bishops of Uganda applaud the government’s effort to protect families and the church teachings remain clear. Homosexuality acts are immoral and evil and are against the divine laws of nature,” he said.

He added: “The church condemns homosexuality because we were created in God’s image and we must remain that.” The archbishop attacked donors whom he accused of forcing their harsh positions onto Ugandans desperate for aid. “We shall not allow acts of homosexuality to be promoted in the country and we shall not accept the donors’ positions,” he said.

He, however, said MP David Bahati’s Bill that seeks to criminalise homosexuality is unnecessary since there are already laws that outlaw the practice.

The clause in the Bill that calls for the death penalty in cases of “aggravated homosexuality” is uncalled for, Dr Lwanga said, adding that it does not allow for rehabilitation.

Combined with his Wednesday statement, it’s hard to know exactly what the Archbishop supports. He says that the Bahati bill isn’t needed because “there are already laws that outlaw the practice,” which is a very positive statement. If there is any hope for this bill being dropped, it will be for that reason alone and not out of a sudden awakening to the fact that criminalizing LGBT people goes against all principals of human rights.

But if the death penalty were dropped, as many of the bill’s supporters have hinted, would it then past muster with the Archbishop despite all the other draconian penalties that the bill would provide for gay people and straight people as well?

That ambiguity however doesn’t extend to his Anglican counterparts:

At St. Paul Cathedral, Namirembe, Bishop Wilberforce Kityo Luwalira urged the faithful to oppose all external forces seeking to promote homosexuality in the country, adding that it is against the order of nature. “We know what we want as Ugandans and we shall not be intimidated to accept homosexuality because it is against the order of nature,” he said, drawing a standing ovation from the congregation that included Prime Minister Apolo Nsibambi.

Rev. John Bosco Sendagala, of Christ the King Church, Kampala, said everyone should fight homosexuality. The same call was made by the Bishop of Ankole Diocese, the Rt. Rev Dr. George Tibesigwa.

Click here to see BTB’s complete coverage of recent anti-gay developments in Uganda.

Archbishop of York Denounces Uganda’s “Kill Gays” Bill

Jim Burroway

December 24th, 2009
The Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu

The Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu

The Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, who was born in Uganda and has a brother who is a prominent Pentecostal there, appeared on BBC Radio 4′s Today to denounce the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Act that is now before Parliament. Among its many draconian provisions, the proposed bill would provide the death sentence for LGBT people under certain circumstances (including so-called “serial offenders” or where the accused is HIV-positive), outlaw all advocacy on behalf of LGBT people (with seven years’ imprisonment) and criminalize the failure to report LGBT people to police within 24 hours (with three years’ imprisonment).

Archbishop Sentamu said:

I want to go back to the Dromantine communiqué of 2004 by the Primates of the Anglican Communion when we said we wish to make it clear that our discussion and assessment of moral appropriateness of specific behaviors, we continued to be unreservedly committed to pastoral support and care for homosexual people. The victimization or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered toward people of the same sex is anathema to us. “We assure homosexual people that they are people of God, loved and valued by him, and deserving of the best we can give of pastoral care and friendship.”

…I am fully opposed to the death penalty. I am also quite unhappy when you describe people with the kind of language you find in this private member’s bill which seems also not only victimizing but diminishment of individuals.

The Archbishop also talked about the growing gulf between the Church of Uganda and the rest of the Anglican Communion:

The gulf can actually grow when it seems as though we’re having a dialogue with the deaf, and the reason why Canterbury and I haven’t actually come out publicly with anything is not because we don’t want to say anything because the position is very clear, but rather because we’re trying to help. And we’re trying actually to listen.

…And I’m absolutely committed that the church of Uganda — and I can only speak about the church of Uganda — is committed to the pastoral care which is in the Dromantine Communiqué, and is also committed to the listening process with the experience of homosexual people. And people may have clear, what I call “traditional” views about sexuality, but we as a Communion actually committed to listening to the experience of homosexual people. You can’t do that on one hand and then have language which in many ways seems to suggest all these people are not children of God. I mean, they are valued by God, they deserve the best we can give in pastoral care and friendship, and I’m quite sure that the response the Church of Uganda will make in due course will have to take account of all these realities.

The interview is available on the BBC web site.

Click here to see BTB’s complete coverage of recent anti-gay developments in Uganda.

LGBT Group: Archbishop of Canterbury Quietly Condemns Uganda’s Anti-Gay Bill

Jim Burroway

December 17th, 2009

The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM) has issued a press release indicating that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has condemned Uganda’s proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill. According to the press release:

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s press secretary has told LGCM that Archbishop Rowan Williams is “very clear that the private Member’s Bill being discussed in Uganda as drafted is entirely unacceptable from a pastoral, moral and legal point of view.” The press office went on to tell LGCM that the proposed Bill was “a cause of deep concern, fear and, to many, outrage.”

LGCM has spoken recently on its concern that the Archbishop had not spoken out against this Bill, the Archbishops office assured LGCM that “the Archbishop has been working intensively behind the scenes (over the past weeks) to ensure that there is clarity on how the proposed bill is contrary to Anglican teaching.”

LGCM now calls on the Archbishop to “instruct all Anglican clergy in Uganda to speak out against this Bill and to take whatever action is needed to safeguard the lives of lesbian, gay and bisexual people.” I would also add that it would be helpful if the Archbishop would issue a condemnation directly to the public from his own hand, and not have his dissaproval passed along through his press secretary to another group with the task of making the third-hand information public.

Click here to see BTB’s complete coverage of recent anti-gay developments in Uganda.

Archbishop of Canterbury Mumbles Something About Uganda

Jim Burroway

December 13th, 2009

Britain’s Daily Telegraph published a fawning interview Saturday with the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, in which the topic of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act happened to come up ever so briefly:

“Overall, the proposed legislation is of shocking severity and I can’t see how it could be supported by any Anglican who is committed to what the Communion has said in recent decades,” says Dr Williams. “Apart from invoking the death penalty, it makes pastoral care impossible – it seeks to turn pastors into informers.” He adds that the Anglican Church in Uganda opposes the death penalty but, tellingly, he notes that its archbishop, Henry Orombi, who boycotted the Lambeth Conference last year, “has not taken a position on this bill”.

Apart from invoking the death penalty, it’s hard to say that the Archbishop of Canterbury took much of a position either. In contrast, Saddleback Pastor Rick Warren is looking positively bold when he said, “I oppose the criminalization of homosexuality. The freedom to make moral choices is endowed by God.” Fortunately, reporter George Pitcher quickly changed the subject before things became too uncomfortable for the good Archbishop.

Click here to see BTB’s complete coverage of the past year’s anti-gay developments in Uganda.

Ugandan Church Leaders Back “Kill Gays” Bill

Jim Burroway

December 9th, 2009

The independent Ugandan newspaper The Daily Monitor reports on a meeting of 200 religious leaders held in Entebbe this week in which participants encouraged the government to cut diplomatic ties to all countries demanding withdrawal of the Anti-Homosexuality Act that is now before Parliament.

The meeting brought together church leaders representing Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox, Seventh Day Adventist churches as well as Muslim kadhis. Participants pledged to actively campaign for the bill in their houses of worship. According to the Monitor:

At their three-day meeting in Entebbe this week, the spiritual leaders came up with several recommendations that are opposed to homosexuals. “Government should cut ties with donor communities and other groups which support ungodly values such as homosexuality and abortion,” one of the resolutions reads.

…The Secretary General of the Inter-religious Council of Uganda, Mr Joshua Kitakule, told Daily Monitor yesterday that development partners should not  interfere in the process of legislation in Uganda.

“Those countries should respect our spiritual values. They shouldn’t interfere,” he said. “All senior religious leaders have been given copies of the Bill to read and educate people in the churches and mosques,” he added. Mr Kitakule said the Bill, which was tabled last month by Ndorwa West MP David Bahati, has not been understood by human rights activists and homosexuals. “The Bill is ok. But it has been misunderstood. We need to educate people on this proposed law,” he said.

Member of Parliament David Bahati, who introduced the bill into Parliament, was also at the conference and spoke in favor of the legislation. Echoing Richard CohenDon Schmierer, Scott Lively and other American ex-gay advocates, Bahati said:

“It is a learned behaviour and can be unlearned. You can’t tell me that people are born gays.   It is foreign influence that is on work,” he said.

Click here to see BTB’s complete coverage of recent anti-gay developments in Uganda.

Archbishop of Canterbury reacts to lesbian bishop

Timothy Kincaid

December 6th, 2009

Via the Guardian

Rowan Williams, spiritual leader of the world’s 77 million Anglicans, urged restraint following the choice of the Rev Mary Glasspool to become the second openly gay bishop in the global Anglican fellowship. The election needs approval from a majority of Episcopal church dioceses before she can be consecrated.

Williams said: “The election of Mary Glasspool by the diocese of Los Angeles as suffragan bishop elect raises very serious questions not just for the Episcopal church and its place in the Anglican communion, but for the communion as a whole.

“The process of selection, however, is only part complete. The election has to be confirmed, or could be rejected, by diocesan bishops and diocesan standing committees. That decision will have very important implications.”

That decision has already been made when the body of the church voted to no longer hold itself constrained by the biases and animus of foreign churches. So you have plenty of reason to be concerned, Archbishop.

Your first concern, however, should be whether you will embody Christ’s welcome and inclusion or whether your fears of schism will bind you to the policies of ignorance and exclusion that dominate the enemies of love.

Archbishop of Canterbury In “Private Talks”; Ugandan Pastor Calls “Kill Gays” Bill “Genocide”

Jim Burroway

December 4th, 2009

There are two developments reported today on the Anglican Church’s response to the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Act that is now before Uganda’s Parliament. First, The Times of London‘s religion correspondent Ruth Gledhill reports that the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams, who is head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, is in private “intensive” talks with leaders of the Ugandan Anglican Church. Rowans has been severely criticized for his silence, but Gledhill reports:

But there is method in his silence. Today, Lambeth Palace told me: ‘It has been made clear to us, as indeed to others, that attempts to publicly influence either the local church or political opinion in Uganda would be divisive and counter productive. Our contacts, at both national and diocesan level, with the local church will therefore remain intensive but private.’

In fact, we can take for granted that Dr Williams is against the draconian new law. But speaking out publicly to this effect could indeed, as he says, have the opposite effect to that intended. It would almost certainly be seen as white-led colonialism of the worst possible kind, as a misguided attempt to impose western liberal values upon traditional African culture.

Canon Gideon Byamugisha

Canon Gideon Byamugisha

One Ugandan Anglican pastor however is not so timid about labeling the bill for what it is:

Canon Gideon Byamugisha said the bill, which recommends the death penalty for anyone repeatedly convicted of having gay sex and prison sentences for those who fail to report homosexual activity to the police, would breed violence and intolerance through all levels of society.

“I believe that this bill [if passed into law] will be state-legislated genocide against a specific community of Ugandans, however few they may be,” he said.

Canon Byamugisha said that gay people were being used as scapegoats for Uganda’s social problems, and that politicians were using LGBT people as political fodder for the upcoming 2011 elections. (We’ve also discussed that dynamic here.) Canon Byamugisha elaborates:

“They [politicians] are exploiting the traditional and cultural abhorrence to same-sex relationships to their advantage. They know that if they criminalise homosexuals, homosexual tendencies and homosexual acts, they stand a better chance of winning votes from the majority of religious followers and leaders, because most of us may not be able to distinguish what may be considered ‘unacceptable’, from the point of view of religious and cultural belief and opinion, from what is ‘criminal’, from the point of state law that is meant to keep peace, order and justice,” he said.

“What makes this proposed law truly distasteful is the amount and level of violence that is being proposed against suspected, rumoured and known individuals who are gay, and their families and community leaders in their places of worship, residence, education, work, business and entertainment.”

He added: “When you say that parents of homosexual children, and that pastors and counsellors who extend spiritual guidance and psycho-social support to homosexuals, will be regarded as ‘accomplices’ in promoting and abetting homosexuality if they don’t report them to police, then you take the law a bit too far.”

April 19, 2009 edition of Uganda’s Red Pepper (Scans via GayUganda. Names and faces obscured by Box Turtle Bulletin. Click to enlarge).

April 19, 2009 edition of Uganda’s Red Pepper (Scans via GayUganda. Names and faces obscured by Box Turtle Bulletin. Click to enlarge).

As we have already reported, there was already one full-scale public vigilante campaign waged in public media last April against LGBT people. The Red Pepper published names and photos of those accused of being gay, an act which resulted in several arrests and blackmail attempts. Others were denounced in radio and television, as rival pastors took revenge on one another through accusations of homosexuality. It is feared that if the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Act becomes law, it will unleash a new round of vigilantism and extra-judicial torture.

Canon Byamugisha’s courageous stand is nothing new.After the death of his first wife of AIDS in 1990, he discovered he was HIV-positive. Two years later he became the first practicing African priest to publicly declare his HIV status, which was a bold step in a continent in which HIV/AIDS carries an enormous stigma. His has since become a vigorous campaigner on behalf of those living with AIDS. n 2003 he established the Friends of Canon Gideon Foundation to end the stigma of HIV/AIDS, provide education for safe sex practices, improve access to treatment, and support children who have lost parents to the disease. He is canon for two cathedrals, in Uganda and Zambia. This year he was awarded the Niwano Peace Prize for his work.

Click here to see BTB’s complete coverage of recent anti-gay developments in Uganda.

Possible Movement On Uganda from US Episcopalians

Jim Burroway

November 24th, 2009

The Episcopal News Service in the United States reports:

A teleconference meeting of the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council will take place on Dec. 7 to discuss a possible statement on Ugandan legislation that would imprison for life or execute people who violate that country’s anti-homosexuality laws.

This would be a welcome addition to the Anglican Church of Canada’s statement. But so far, no signs of life are emanating from the Anglican Communion itself

Canada’s Anglicans oppose Uganda’s ‘Kill Gays’ bill

Timothy Kincaid

November 20th, 2009

From the Episcopal News Service:

The Anglican Church of Canada’s Council of General Synod has expressed its dismay and concern over the draft proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill currently before the Ugandan Parliament.

“The proposed bill would severely impede the human rights of Ugandan citizens both at home and abroad by infringing freedom of speech, peaceful assembly, freedom of organization, and legitimate advocacy of civil rights,” the Council of General Synod said Nov. 15. “It would impose excessive and cruel penalties on persons who experience same-sex attraction as well as those who counsel, support, and advise them, including family members and clergy.”

Canada’s Council of General Synod called upon the Church of Uganda to oppose the bill. It also called “upon our own Government of Canada, through the minister of external affairs, to convey to the Government of Uganda a deep sense of alarm about this fundamental violation of human rights and, through diplomatic channels, to press for its withdrawal…”

Meanwhile Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury has remained too busy to oppose the proposed execution of gays in Uganda. He was in Rome today meeting with the Pope to discuss Rome’s poaching of anti-women and anti-gay Anglicans.

Click here to see BTB’s complete coverage of recent anti-gay developments in Uganda.

Anglican Communion’s Tangled Connections To Uganda’s Anti-Gay Pogrom

Jim Burroway

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.

Archbishop of York John Sentamu, the number two man in the Anglican Communion.

Archbishop of York John Sentamu, the number two man in the Anglican Communion.

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.

Uganda megachurch pastor Robert Kayanja, younger brother of the Archbishop of York.

Uganda megachurch pastor Robert Kayanja, younger brother of the Archbishop of York.

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.

L-R: Unidentified woman, American holocaust revisionist Scott Lively, International Healing Foundation's Caleb Brundidge, Exodus International boardmember Don Schmierer, Family Life Network (Uganda)'s Stephen Langa, at the time of the March 2009 anti-gay conference in Uganda.

L-R: Unidentified woman, American holocaust revisionist Scott Lively, International Healing Foundation's Caleb Brundidge, Exodus International boardmember Don Schmierer, Family Life Network (Uganda)'s Stephen Langa, at the time of the March 2009 anti-gay conference in Uganda.

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]

Click here to see BTB’s complete coverage of recent anti-gay developments in Uganda.

Nigerian calls on Anglican Communion to oppose Ugandan “Kill Gays” bill

Timothy Kincaid

November 11th, 2009

Before the current efforts to enact draconian punishment in Uganda for being gay, there was a similar effort in Nigeria. In that African nation, Anglican Archbishop Peter Akinola led the charge for enhanced sanctions which, as does the Ugandan bill, criminalized speech and association. And some leaders in the Church of Nigeria even called for the death of gay men and women.

Although many conservative American Christians revere free speech and free association as being nearly a Christian tenet in their home country, few were outraged by this anti-freedom effort on the part of anti-gay African clerics. In fact, just as in Uganda, it was influential conservative American Christians who lent their credibility to those who called for the restriction on basic human rights. In the United States, Akinola became a hero and a rallying figure for anti-gay Anglicans. Some churches who left the Episcopal Church declared themselves to be under Akinola’s authority.

mac-iyallaAnd gay Nigerians did suffer under the Church of Nigeria’s influence. Especially gay Nigerian Christians who dared speak against the church’s incivility. One gay Anglican in a leadership position, Davis Mac-Iyalla, fled for his life and has since been vocal in making Western Anglicans more aware of the blind hatred towards gay and lesbian Christians within some African churches that is driving the Anglican Communion towards a schism.

Now Mac-Iyalla is confronting the Anglican Church about its inaction in the face of church sanctioned evil in Uganda. He is unwilling to write this off as a “difference of opinion” or a local cultural peculiarity. Mac-Iyalla is directing his call to those most responsible for the Anglican Church’s inaction, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and the primates of Anglican Churches around the world.

In an open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury and primates of the Anglican Communion published by The Guardian, Mac-Iyalla calls the Church out to follow its own commitments:

I would like to remind you that the Lambeth Resolution 10 in 1978 recognised the need for pastoral concern for those who are homosexual. Resolution I.10 from 1998 commits the communion “to listen to the experience of homosexual persons and we wish to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ.” It also condemned the “irrational fear” of homosexuality and called on the communion to assure homosexual people that “they are loved by God.”

Legislation of the kind proposed in Uganda is based on irrational hatred and a desire to entrench the stigmatisation of LGBT people. There is no place for love, understanding or acceptance in such laws. As such, the Church of England has a duty to condemn the anti-homosexuality legislation and put pressure on those MPs who support such laws. Whatever the divisions within the communion about homosexuality as a moral issue, Anglicans should unite in condemnation of violent persecution and discrimination of LGBT people whoever and wherever they are, particularly when it is carried out in the name of Jesus Christ.

With the publication of this letter in a major UK newspaper, Williams can no longer pretend that he is unaware of the situation in Uganda. Nor that he is ignorant of the part that the Church of Uganda, a member of the Anglican Communion, is playing there.

I do not envy Rowan Williams. It cannot be easy to preside over a body in which one segment seeks to treat gay people as they would like to be treated and the other seems intent on defining their identity by the extent to which they hate and abuse gay people. It must be frustrating and challenging to know that the largest, most vibrant, and growing segment of your communion is one which is charged by fear, animosity, and hostility towards a powerless minority.

But we are not judged by our administration of easy solutions. Rather, the measure of a man is his response to challenges in difficult times. And so far, Williams seems to have adopted a Chamberlainian model for administration. He appears to seek appeasement of evil and conciliation of haters out of fear that he would oversee a breakup of the world’s second largest church.

But Williams needs to recognize that history is not kind to those who choose the easy course over that which is right, who allow the bigotry of the majority to dictate the terms of life for the persecuted. Especially if you do so in the name of religion.

Click here to see BTB’s complete coverage of recent anti-gay developments in Uganda.

The “Biblical” Worldwide Anglican Communion

Jim Burroway

November 7th, 2009

When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!” — Matthew 27:24

I guess the worldwide Anglican Communion can’t be accused of being unbiblical after all.

We reported earlier that the Rev. Canon Aaron Mwesigye of the Anglican Province of Uganda spoke mostly in favor of the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda. Mwesigye expressed reservations over the death-penalty and extraterritorial provisions, but was perfectly happy with the lifetime imprisonment and other provisions that would criminalize free speech on behalf of LGBT people.

The Uganda Province has now released a statement in which it is “studying” the bill and has no other comment on it. Well, except to repeat the wild, unsubstantiated rumors — and here they freely admit that they are rumors but push them nevertheless — of rich, predatory homosexuals supposedly recruiting children in schools. Most appallingly, it is Uganda’s Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi who is spreading the slanderous gossip:

In April 2009, Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi said, “I am appalled to learn that the rumours we have heard for a long time about homosexual recruiting in our schools and amongst our youth are true. I am even more concerned that the practice is more widespread than we originally thought. It is the duty of the church and the government to be watchmen on the wall and to warn and protect our people from harmful and deceitful agendas.”

Meanwhile, the rest of the Anglican Communion — much like most of Christianity in general — has remained silent.

Click here to see BTB’s complete coverage of recent anti-gay developments in Uganda.

A Simple Anglican/Catholic Proposal

Jim Burroway

October 21st, 2009

The Vatican has announced that they have set up a special structure in which disaffected Anglicans and their clergy can become Roman Catholics while keeping their married priests, the Anglican liturgy and Book of Common Prayer. The Vatican wants to woo Anglicans who are angry over the church’s acceptance of women and gay clergy and the blessings of same-sex unions.

This news reportedly was sprung on Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the Anglican Communion, just hours before it was made public. Archbishop Rowan tried to put a positive spin on the move, calling it an “end to uncertainty for such groups who have nurtured hopes of new ways of embracing unity with the Catholic Church.”

But I think this represents an interesting pathway that could be a two-way street. After all, there are many disaffected Catholics (myself included) who find great comfort in the Roman liturgy and customs, a deeply felt comfort and meaning that, to us, the Anglican liturgy and the Book of Common Prayer just can’t approach. I don’t mean this as a knock against Anglican traditions. The Vatican move recognizes the deep fondness dissafected Anglicans hold for their familiar Anglican rite and makes room for it within Roman Catholicism. But the same is true both ways: the Roman Missal embodies all of our cherished touchstones just as the Anglican liturgy and customs embodies theirs.

So why not set up a similar structure within the Anglican Communion where disaffected Catholics can continue to worship using the great historical richness of the Roman liturgy and customs while simultaneously entering the 21st century?

Nuns Become Catholic

Timothy Kincaid

September 9th, 2009

USA Today

Ten Maryland nuns — almost an entire religious community — converted from the Episcopal Church to Catholicism on Thursday, saying their former denomination had become too liberal in its acceptance of homosexuality.

To which my first thought was, “There are Episcopal nuns?”

Episcopal Bishop of Maryland Eugene Sutton said in a statement that “despite the sadness we feel in having to say farewell, our mutual joy is that we remain as one spiritual family of faith, one body in Christ.”

Well, except for the lesbians of course. They need to stay chaste and, oh I don’t know, become nuns maybe.

New Anglican Bishop in Zimbabwe

Timothy Kincaid

July 27th, 2009

The Anglican Church Province of Central Africa is, perhaps, less homophobic than many on the African Continent. Which has caused an internal fight with one Bishop who pulled his diocese from the fellowship, citing their inadequate anti-gay positions.

And because in Africa the church is often strongly involved in the politics of a nation, the previous bishop, Nolbert Kunonga, with his connection to strongman Robert Mugabe, had delayed the return of property and title by means of court decisions and police action.

It now appears that the installation of his replacement has occured. (New Zimbabwe)

THE Anglican Church in Zimbabwe sought to open a new chapter in its troubled recent history with the consecration of Chad Gandiya as Bishop of Harare.

The consecration, watched by thirteen bishops, was followed by an enthronement in the Cathedral Church of St Mary & All Saints. Such defiance of Kunonga would hardly have been possible as recently as some months ago without violence by his state-backed shock troops.

Gandiya is known as a liberal in the Anglican Church which has been battling sharp divisions, particularly with the church in Africa, over the ordination of gay bishops.

It is always hard to tell to what extent this will impact the lives of gay Zimbaweans, but it certainly a movement in the right direction.

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