While more than 100 senior Anglicans were urging the Church of England to repent for “discriminating” against homosexuals, religious leaders in Malawi yesterday blamed the gays for the country’s drought.
According to this report, messages against homosexuality dominated inter-denominational prayers for the rains that took place at Bingu International Conference Centre (BICC) yesterday.
During the prayers attended by delegates, including President Peter Mutharika, above, sermons given by Reverend Flackson Kuyama of the Seventh Day Adventist and Reverend Alex Maulana of Malawi Council of Churches dripped venom. Their messages labelled homosexuality as an “evil” that could lead God to punish the country.
Reporting here on this idiocy, human rights activist Leo Igwe wrote:
The presidential advisor on religious affairs, Apostle Timothy Khoviwa says that Mutharika believes firmly that divine intervention is critical to governing a country. So, he believes that God could command the rain to fall and ensure good harvest for Malawians? Right? How does he expect god to do this?
President Mutharika believes that as a God fearing nation we need to come to pray together from time to time. We are coming from a year of many challenges such as lack of donor aids and flood which had a bearing on the economy.
The silly carry-on in Malawi underscores a growing gulf over homosexuality that divides religious leaders in the West and reactionary leaders in Africa.
The Guardian reports that the Church of England is braced for a de facto split in the worldwide Anglican communion in the coming week over the issues of gay rights and same-sex marriage. Church leaders from six African countries are expected to walk out of a pivotal summit called by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Bitter divisions among Anglicans on the issue of sexuality are expected to intensify at the week-long meeting of the 38 leaders of national churches at Canterbury cathedral. Archbishops from conservative churches in Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, South Sudan, Rwanda and Congo are likely to walk out of the summit within a day or two of its opening on Monday.
Said a senior C of E source:
There’s going to be a lot of drama. It’s 90% likely that the six will walk out. If we get past Tuesday, we’ll be doing well.”
The meeting of Anglican primates was called by Justin Welby in a last-ditch effort to move the global church – which claims 85 million followers – beyond the issue of homosexuality in order to focus on other pressing matters such as religious violence and climate change.
Welby is proposing that, in the face of intractable differences, the communion reshapes itself as a loose confederation of churches rather than adherents to a common doctrine.
The six African churches are insisting on sanctions against the US Episcopal Church, which tipped the simmering conflict over gay rights into open hostility when it consecrated gay priest Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire in 2003.
This week, Archbishop Stanley Ntagali – leader of the Anglican church in Uganda, which has backed the criminalisation of homosexuality in the east African country – warned that he would walk out of the primates’ meeting if :
Discipline and godly order is not restored.
Archbishop Eliud Wabukala of Kenya said:
The truth [of the Gospel] continues to be called into question in the Anglican communion.
And he warned against:
The global ambitions of a secular culture.
C of E leaders acknowledge that the issue of homosexuality has fractured the communion, but believe that a looser relationship of churches linked to Canterbury yet not to each other is the only way to overcome institutional dysfunctionality.
The call for the C or E to “repent” was made in a letter to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York ahead of the meeting of the 38 primates.
Signatories say the Church must acknowledge that LGBT members around the world have been treated as “second-class citizens”.
The letter asks the two archbishops “to take an unequivocal message” to the meeting. It urges them to tell the other leaders that the Anglican Church needs to acknowledge it “failed in our duty of care” to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Christians and:
Apologise for our part in perpetuating rather than challenging ill-informed beliefs.
The letter was organised by Jayne Ozanne, former director of the Accepting Evangelicals group which campaigns for the rights of gay, bisexual and transgender Christians. She told BBC News a “line” had been reached.
It was time to stand tall and actually call the Church back to its roots to reminding them about the fact that we are there to welcome and serve all. We have not treated the gay community as equal members. We’ve actually vilified them.
But Michael Nazir-Ali, the former Bishop of Rochester, said he does not agree with the argument that there can be “different interpretations of scripture” on the issue.
The Bible is clear on many things, including its teaching on human sexuality and the Church has upheld that teaching for 2,000 years.
Hat tip: Leo Igwe (Malawi report) and BarrieJohn