Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Moral Crisis in Uganda

It's ironic that, as we celebrate today the commemoration of Bishop James Hannington and the other martyrs of Uganda, our Anglican gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender sisters and brothers in Uganda are facing possible, and for some, actual, martyrdom simply for who they are as God's creation -- at the hands of many "Christian" fellow citizens of their own country. The outcry from the leadership of the Anglican and Episcopal communities around the world has been a deafening SILENCE!

Bishop Pierre Whalon, who has care of the Episcopal (Anglican) communities in Europe, is one of the exceptions. His blog today is to valuable not to share with as many as have ears to hear:


What would Bishop Hannington say?

Thousands of Ugandan Christians have died as witnesses (martyrs, in Greek) to the Good News of Jesus Christ, Lord of all and Savior of humanity. Today we remember dozens of Anglican martyrs, beginning with a missionary Bishop, James Hannington.

He and his companions was murdered by King Mwanga, who feared the expansion of Christianity. They were joined in their witness by about one hundred African Christians, among whom were several young pages who had refused to submit to Mwanga’s sexual advances.

These martyrs have been held up as part of the reason Ugandans hate homosexuality. Mwanga himself was bisexual, having 16 wives, as well as a pedophile.

Today, that country is considering a law that would make homosexuality a serious crime, even in some cases a capital crime. What would the Martyrs of Uganda say? It is unimaginable that they who paid the ultimate price for their faith would demand that gay people be executed. Quite the contrary!

The Anglican Church of Uganda should strenuously oppose this bill, in conformity with the clear, repeated teachings of the Lambeth Conferences (1978, 1988, 1998—see also the 1998 report—hard to find, scroll down— and 2008, see section H) that homosexuals are beloved of God and should be allowed to be members of the Church. At least one Ugandan bishop has spoken out against the proposed imposition of the death penalty so far.

While some will retort that the 1998 Lambeth Conference resolution I.10 declares homosexual practice to be incompatible with Holy Scripture, they would do well to read the whole passage:

“We commit ourselves 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;

“while rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture, calls on all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals…”

Nothing in here or other Lambeth Conferences can justify support for the criminalisation of homosexuality.

As for Mwanga, he died in exile in the Seychelles apparently in 1903 (sources differ slightly), after having converted to Christianity and Anglican.

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