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.
Rev. Canon Aaron Mwesigye
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.