BREAKING NEWS IN UGANDA

What you see below is a recent important development. A good friend of mine is a very influential person with connections to not only the Ugandan government, but The Church of Uganda as well (yes, I have been trying to work through them to arrange meetings to speak to the Ugandan leaders pushing this legislation through). My friend just sent me this statement from Rev. Canon Aaron Mwesigye, the Provincial Secretary of The Church of Uganda:

“The Church of Uganda is studying the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill and, therefore, does not yet have an official position on the bill. In the meantime, we can restate our position on a number of related issues:

1.      Our deepest conviction as the Church of Uganda is that, in Christ, people and their sexual desires are redeemed, and restored to God’s original intent. Repentance and obedience to Scripture are the gateway to the redemption of marriage and family and the transformation of society. (Position Paper on Scripture, Authority, and Human Sexuality, May 2005)

2.      The House of Bishops resolved in August 2008 that “The Church of Uganda is committed at all levels to offer counseling, healing and prayer for people with homosexual disorientation, especially in our schools and other institutions of learning. The Church is a safe place for individuals, who are confused about their sexuality or struggling with sexual brokenness, to seek help and healing.”

3.      The Church of Uganda upholds the sanctity of life and cannot support the death penalty.

4.      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.”

5.      “Homosexual practice is incompatible with Scripture.” (Resolution of the 1998 Lambeth Conference of Bishops.)  Homosexual behaviour is immoral and should not be promoted, supported, or condoned in any way as an “alternative lifestyle.”  This position has been repeatedly reaffirmed by the House of Bishops and the Provincial Assembly of the Church of Uganda.

6.      We cannot support the blessing of same-sex unions or the ordination of homosexuals (Resolution of the 1998 Lambeth Conference of Bishops), and we will oppose efforts to import such practices into Uganda.  Again, this position has been repeatedly reaffirmed by the House of Bishops and the Provincial Assembly of the Church of Uganda.

Sincerely,

Rev. Canon Aaron Mwesigye

Provincial Secretary

Church of Uganda”

This statement is deeply troubling to me. Let me break them down in accordance with their statement:

1. I have no problem with the general conservative theological understanding of redemption, repentance, the family and transformation of society. This is consistent with any other conservative faith tradition.

2. “The Church of Uganda is committed at all levels to offer counseling, healing and prayer for people with homosexual disorientation, especially in our schools and other institutions of learning.” This is a very scary statement because it is based off of the two main assumptions that are the claimed impetus of the Bill—that the gay community is recruiting Ugandan youth in schools to be gay, and that the ‘evil gay agenda’ will influence Ugandans to become like American or European culture. With that said, what then happens to GLBT Ugandans who don’t become straight after counseling, healing and prayer?

3. I am glad that The Ugandan Church made it clear that they are not for the death penalty, however, that means for those who don’t become straight after counseling, healing and prayer will still be imprisoned up to a life sentence. That is not acceptable, nor does it in the least bit align with any biblical ethic.

4. This is the worst statement of all—I have no problem with believers holding to what they believe, but “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” is such a bland statement, it can not only mean anything, but in light of the proposed legislation, means that The Church of Uganda thinks criminalization of not only GLBT people, but straight people who don’t turn in GLBT people, is the acceptable means to be ‘a watchman’. Wow.

5. Once again, this statement is based off of the presupposition that the gay community is recruiting youth to be gay. From any of my contacts in Uganda (including gay, government officials and straight Christians), none of them say this is actually happening. It is a fear-mongering tactic, and unfortunately fear motivates and convinces people of falsities that become “truth”.

6. I have no problem with conservatives who do not agree with same-sex marriage, that is consistent with many conservative faith traditions. However “opposing efforts” does not mean imprisonment, oppression or forced counseling. I don’t know how I can make that any more clear!

The Church of Uganda is not acting like the Church. They are acting like an oppressive dictator who uses the name of God to promote the things they want. In no way, shape or form is that how the Kingdom of God works—and far be it for anyone, especially The Church of Uganda, to act as recklessly, dangerously and unbiblical as they are. They can say all they want that they “don’t have an official position” but it means nothing. Their words and stamp of approval for criminalization and forced therapy speak louder than any “official statement” might have.

My heart is deeply pained, and my soul is stirred to continue to bring light to what true, authentic Christianity is all about—not a political church that thinks she can do whatever she wants. The Church of Uganda has become their own idol in this fight, and they need to be stopped.

Much love.

www.themarinfoundation.org

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About Andrew Marin

Andrew Marin is President and Founder of The Marin Foundation (www.themarinfoundation.org). He is author of the award winning book Love Is an Orientation (2009), its interactive DVD curriculum (2011), and recently an academic ebook titled Our Last Option: How a New Approach to Civility can Save the Public Square (2013). Andrew is a regular contributor to a variety of media outlets and frequently lectures at universities around the world. Since 2010 Andrew has been asked by the United Nations to advise their various agencies on issues of bridging opposing worldviews, civic engagement, and theological aspects of reconciliation. For twelve years he lived in the LGBT Boystown neighborhood of Chicago, and is currently based St. Andrews, Scotland, where he is teaching and researching at the University of St. Andrews earning his PhD in Constructive Theology with a focus on the Theology of Culture. Andrew's research centers on the cultural, political, and religious dynamics of reconciliation. Andrew is married to Brenda, and you can find him elsewhere on Twitter (@Andrew_Marin), Facebook (AndrewMarin01), and Instagram (@andrewmarin1).

  • http://mattnightingale.blogspot.com Matt Nightingale

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Andrew. Will be praying and doing what I can to help.

  • Adam

    Andrew:

    I appreciate your efforts to bring this to light. One word of caution. I know you have been invited to the National Prayer Breakfast in DC. Before you attend, please take the time to look into Jeff Sharlet’s excellent reporting on the group that runs this event, The Family. The Family and the fundamentalist politicians they support are directly influencing the Ant-Gay bill in Uganda, and are strong proponents of the criminalization of homosexuality everywhere.

    I understand wanting to speak truth to power, but please be aware that these powerful men will seek to influence you and your beliefs the more time you spend with them.

    Be innocent as a dove and wise as a serpent if you feel you must accept their invitation, but I would strongly advise you to stay away.

    Peace.

  • Matthew

    Andrew, I’m sorry but I have to take issue with your statements here. You are doing the very thing you keep saying you are fighting against and reading assumed intentions into the statement.

    Statement 2: you assume that his statement “based off of the two main assumptions that are the claimed impetus of the Bil” yet nothing in this document says these are the basis for this statement. This particular statement sound exactly like the stand of the majority of conservative churches in America.

    Statement 3: you assume on the basis of what the church says here that the result will be those who do not become straight will be imprisoned. Yet the statement from the church says no such thing. the statement even cautions that they have not yet finished examining and discussing the Bill so whether the church is for or against any assumed result can not be determined, certainly not on the basis of this preliminary statement. All they have said is they are against the death penalty for anything – everything you say here is something you have read into it.

    4. You admit this is a bland statement and choose to interpret it in light of the proposed bill even though the church has specifically said this list of statements are not yet directed at the bill itself and they have not even finished examining it. Are you a fortune teller that you can already foresee what they will decide even when they do not yet know themselves?

    (5) actually second half of 4 – recruiting can mean many things. Many Christians, at least here in the US, see the sometimes artificially positive light in which homosexual relationships are intentionally portrayed in the media and some school material to be recruiting. Also some see the enticement of young people into sexual relationships with same sex adults as being recruiting. I happen to think “recruiting” is a bad choice of wording. Firstly, because homosexuals have often been treated very badly, I rather approve the desire to move in the opposite direction even if at time the portrayal is rather artificial. Also, the enticement of young people into sexual relationships is the result of predators, both gay and straight and not related to homosexuality per se. I will, therefore, agree with you on this point. The idea of worrying about whether homosexuals are “recruiting” or not should be dropped and we should worry instead about how the church has contributed in its own way to the issues. So, yeah, I understand what they mean but it is bad wording and does show a misunderstanding of the real problems.

    6: Again, you are assuming the agree with the Bill even though they have not made one single statement about the bill itself. i also oppose same sex marriage and oppose efforts to bring it into the US. That does not mean I support imprisonment, oppression or forced counseling. That is your conclusion and is not based on this statement at all.

    In fact, reading the statements on their face alone without your interpretation the Church of Uganda is acting exactly like the Church. (well, with the exception of really bad word choice and blindness on the “recruiting ” issue). I would say it is you who are acting counter to Christ by assuming you know the minds of other people and then presenting that “knowledge” as if it were what the other person had really meant.

    May I respectfully suggest, this is not exactly the way to build bridges?

  • Matthew

    I should mention that I am homosexual, by the way, but I don’t see hysteria over a fairly Innocuous statement as being conducive to anything positive.

    I have often been hurt by fellow conservative Christians making false assumptions about me. I do not choose to make those false assumptions in return.

  • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

    Matthew – I appriciate your critiques and take them very seriously. I am not saying that the American Church has done any better than the Ugandan, except for the fact that the American church is not trying to pass legislation to kill and/or criminalize homosexuality. There is a dignity that comes with human life – life in general, and this legislation, being based off of biblical doctrine, does not give that dignity to humanity. I don’t care how conservative one’s theological belief system is, murder/criminalization for being gay is not correct. Also, I am not ‘assuming’ they are basing their thoughts off of recruitment – see point #4 in their statement in the post (where they use the word “recruit”) and also watch this video by Stephen Langa – head of the Christian ministry working towards passing the Bill:

    http://www.exgaywatch.com/wp/2009/03/video-stephen-langa-whips-up-anti-gay-sentiment-violence-ahead/

    And no, I do not know their hearts, and I don’t claim to either. But I can see their actions and statements, and those leave no room for interpretation. They could have said something a lot more clear and consice that would put an end to all of this. An example would be something like the following:

    “The Church of Uganda opposes the Anti-Homosexual Bill. We do not agree with the death penalty for gays and lesbians, we do not agree with the criminalization of gays and lesbians or the criminalization of straight people who don’t turn in known gays and lesbians. The Church of Uganda does believe in the redemptive process of Christ and upholds the belief in Scripture that God created one man to marry one woman, but we don’t agree with the government forcing gays and lesbians into ‘reparative therapy.’ The Church of Uganda believes in a fully inspired, tradtional interpretation of Scripture and we will work to love all of those created in God’s image while learning how to speak the Truth to those who might not agree with our theological position.”

    It’s that easy, and this would all be over.

  • Kevin

    Matthew – After reading your words, the quote that comes to mind is “All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.” That quote is typically attributed to Edmund Burke, who is even regarded by many as the “father” of modern conservativism, but whether or not it was only paraphrased from a speech that he said or if someone else actually said the quote does not change the truth that it speaks to this situation.
    In line 3 they state “The Church of Uganda upholds the sanctity of life and cannot support the death penalty.” For that I applaud them as they are standing up and being the church by calling out an unjust law. At the same time, their failure to take an official position on the bill (as this issue did not just pop up over night) speaks for itself. I hope and pray that they do step up and speak out against the bill, but for the time being their silent acquiesce is doing nothing to counter this heinous assault on the dignity and human rights of the Ugandan people. And as Andrew is a part of the transnational kingdom of God, he is attempting to call out other brothers and sisters in the body of Christ that are not standing up for justice themselves. The church’s role is to stand up for the oppressed and pressure must be put on the Ugandan Church by other Christians until they succeed in carrying out this mission. Even if we cannot draw direct conclusions from the language that they use, that does not take away the responsibility to hold them accountable to what they should do.
    When it comes to building bridges, there is also a difference between attempting to bridge a disconnect that has been perpetuated by two different groups in society compared to seeking to stand up against human rights violations that could be legitimized by their being signed into law. This attempt to legislate “morality” into law is Constantinian in its nature to the core and the Ugandan Chruch is complicit in this injustice until they make clear statements against it.

  • James Wartian

    Andrew, I don’t seem to hear you talking about the other side of the story in Uganda. I just had the wife of an Anglican bishop of a diocese in Uganda stay with my family for 5 days. She had some very specific examples of the intimidation tactics and pressure gay activists are exerting in Uganda, both on the Ugandan government and on the church. She was quite clear that their church was against violence done against anyone who was gay, but they feel compelled to speak out because of the pressure being put on them by gay activists, many of them guests who are not native to Uganda.

    There has been recent history leading up to this. As you are most likely aware, the Ugandan church protested and rejected the direction of the American Episcopal church in terms of allowing ordination of actively gay individuals and allowing gay marriage. As a result, the Episcopal church has removed all funding for the Anglican church in Uganda (we are talking millions of dollars). In fact, that missions money is now being used to sue any Episcopal church here in America who disagrees with a pro-gay stance within the church. The irony is, there are more Anglicans in just this one bishop’s diocese than there are Episcopalians in all of America. Uganda has the second largest number of Anglicans of any country in the world.

    Is Uganda trying to legislate morality? Yes. But these actions are not happening in a vacuum. There is enormous pressure being put on the country and the Ugandan church to not just tolerate but to advocate and promote homosexuality and gay marriage. I agree with you that killing or imprisoning gay individuals is not right. But be slow to condemn the church in Uganda without fully understanding the context from which they are acting.

  • http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/ Jon Trouten

    I don’t get it, James. The worldwide Anglican church is pulling itself apart. That’s been going on for a while.

    Are you saying that there would be no effort to enact legislation that would impose the death sentence or a life sentence on gay people and a three year prison sentence for het folks who don’t report gay people to the government within 24 hours if the American Episcopal church hadn’t withdrawn money from Uganda’s Anglican church? Or are you suggesting that Uganda’s Anglican church’s opposition to their government killing gay people and imprisoning those who harbor gays is contingent on them getting back money from the US Episcopals?

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    Andrew,

    That statement has been out for about a month now. I commented on it back at the start of November – http://www.peter-ould.net/2009/11/07/church-of-uganda-on-anti-homosexuality-bill/

    Peter+

  • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

    Oh Peter, you crazy Anglicans always get the breaking news first! :)

    When my friend sent me this letter they said it was new. I guess “new” meant “relative”. Thanks for keeping me right and staying on the forefront of fighting this legislation. Much love brother.

  • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

    James – That is because the only public statements from “the other side” are propagating this legislation. Just know that I post nothing off-the-cuff and put much thought and effort before I publicly write anything, in any forum. As my friend Shane Claiborne just wrote in Esquire, What if Jesus Meant All That Stuff?

    http://www.esquire.com/features/best-and-brightest-2009/shane-claiborne-1209

    What if Jesus meant turn the other cheek? What if Jesus meant to love your neighbor as yourself, even if that neighbor hates you and wants to kill you? What if in Proverbs 16:7 Jesus meant that if your ways are pleasing to the Lord even your enemies will be at peace with you? I could go on and on. I believe He meant it all. And that, then, also means the Ugandan Church (or at least the leadership of it) is leading them in the wrong direction—a political one that does not show dignity, respect and love amidst the disagreements.

  • Hihopes

    This is ugly and as, Kevin has already quoted, “All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.”………
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3KVb8PaH3f0

    And for what Adam encourages for you to think twice about going to DC? If not you, who? And, while I have no voice that any would care to listen to, I will join you in unity if you would like…..

  • David

    I’m sorry, James, but I really don’t see any other side to this story. Even if what your friend the bishop’s wife is saying about pressure and activism is true (and from everything that I’ve read on the issue, that allegation seems dubious), the simple fact is that enacting legislation that would kill anyone, or force a term of life-imprisonment because of someone’s sexuality is immoral, unChristian, and runs counter to everything that Christ taught. We can agree to disagree on all kinds of matters related to faith & sexuality, but there is no middle ground on this legislation.

  • Paul Henry

    I’ve not taken time to read all the comments; but I find that I agree with Matthew. I wouild caution that we need to be careful about reading “Ugandan language and terminology” through an English/American lexicon – in that the way words and phrases are used in Ugana may be differnet than what Americans mean by the same words and phrases. Maybe comment should be held until the Church in Uganda reads and comments upon the full legislative bill.

  • Kevin

    Paul- I agree that we could misinterpret some language and terminology as they could use some words in slightly different ways along with contributing different connotations to words that we may not pick up on, but the main principles that this bill is communicating seem to be very clear. I find it hard to misinterpret the fact that this bill would lead to death for “aggravated homosexuality” which I have read in the bill written by Ugandans as a gay person having sex with a minor, a disabled person, or someone who is HIV positive who has sex with another person will also fall in this category. Life imprisonment for just being gay along with straight individuals facing an imprisonment term of three years for not reporting someone who they know to be gay is also language that I find hard to misinterpret.
    We should be cautious in interfering with the political process of other countries as in some cases it could constitute a form of modern day colonialism. In this case though from everything that I have read, even though people do not always agree with who has been linked to the inception of this bill, all signs continue to point back to prominent politicians, evangelical Christians, ex-gay leaders, etc. So since this problem has largely originated from US influence, we must also be a part in setting right this unfortunate legislation that is coming into being.
    As far as the Ugandan church goes, it cannot be guaranteed that they will even come out with a statement in opposition to the bill even though I hope and pray they do and we could still be waiting even after the legislation passes. As far as waiting goes for us and the Church of Uganda, I think that some quotes by MLK Jr. are applicable as he said “To ignore evil is to become an accomplice to it” and “a right delayed is a right denied.” There is not a large difference between waiting and ignorning in this situation as they will have the same effect considering the passage of this legislation is rising quickly on the horizon.

  • Paul Henry

    Kevin – I agree with you that, though the use of “language” may change given the cultural contex, that there is no reason that one “group” should be discriminated against by “the other”; when taht discrimantion is clearly enunciated (as in the Bil). In the Episocopal Prayer Book’s Baptismal Covenant we agree to “respect the dignity of every human being”.

    When one group, within one’s nation, tries to exploit another group within another nation (as is the case as you show above), then there should be a stand against that form of discrimiation and “modern day colonization”. As Andrew stated, I would hope that America will stand with Switzerland against rampant discrimination; as well as stand against those, in this country, that fuel that discrimiation.

  • Paul Henry

    Sorry – it is Sweden, not Switzerland; mea culpa!


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