The Times reminds readers that the deep prejudice against homosexuality in Africa has been fanned by the row within the Anglican communion over gay clergy and by the tentative attempts by a few gay Africans to call for greater tolerance. Political groups have seen easy advantage in exploiting this prejudice. Branding homosexuality as a Western perversion is an easy way to hit out at perceived Western cultural dominance for the Church. The link has been reinforced not only by the recent visit of leaders of US conservative Christian ministries that promote therapy for gays to become heterosexual but by the campaign waged by Anglican conservatives in the Global South/FoCA alliances.
People who have written to Lambeth Palace have been receiving responses in an email from Marie Papworth:
“Thank you for your message and for taking the trouble to write about this deeply painful issue.
“The Archbishop of Canterbury 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. It is a cause of deep concern, fear and, to many, outrage. The Archbishop has publicly stated that “the proposed legislation is of shocking severity and I can’t see how it can be supported by any Anglican who is committed to what the Communion has said in recent decades.
“For its part the Church of Uganda has clearly restated its opposition to the death penalty. As the Ugandan Church continues to formulate its position on the bill as a whole, 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.
Press Secretary to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Lambeth Palace, London, SE1 7JU”
Almost 5,000 people have joined the Facebook group Anglicans who want THIS statement from Canterbury, which calls on the Archbishop to repent of his earlier statement and issue this one instead:
"The proposed legal actions that would make homosexuality punishable by death in Uganda, and the lack of outrage regarding this proposed action by the Church of Uganda, raises very serious questions not just for the Church of Uganda and its place in the Anglican Communion, but for the Communion as a whole."
"The proposed legislation has not yet become law, and could be rejected, with the Anglican Church of Uganda leading the opposition. That decision will have very important implications. The bishops of the Communion have collectively acknowledged that offering pastoral care and listening to the experience of homosexual persons is necessary if our bonds of mutual affection are to hold."
In a post to the group today in the light of the email from Marie Papworth above, Susan Russell questions how deep does concern and how unacceptable the Bill have to be before the Archbishop of Canterbury uses his moral authority to speak out on behalf of gay and lesbian Ugandans who cannot speak for themselves?
Susan believes that speaking out to protect gay and lesbian lives in Uganda is less important than speaking out to protect the Anglican Communion from a lesbian bishop and that the leader of the Anglican Communion is more concerned about preserving institutional unity than he is protecting innocent Ugandans.
She invite members of the group to: Send another email; Write another letter; Post another blog; urging the Archbishop to use the power he has as the moral leader of this worldwide Anglican family of ours to speak the truth of God's inclusive and abundant love for ALL people.
I invite readers of this blog to join the Facebook group if you haven’t already, and email or write as Susan suggests, to Lambeth Palace.
The Times recognizes the Bill as bigoted and inhumane, an open invitation to a witch-hunt that will cause suffering for thousands of innocent people. It will cause suffering for tens of thousands in reality, not only those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered but their parents, brothers, sisters, extended family, teachers, pastors and priests. The Bill will solve none of the problems it claims to target but will criminalize innocent people because of their sexual identity.
It will also exacerbate the potential for schism in the Anglican Communion between conservatives who want to further criminalise LGBT people and those working not only for full inclusion but for Christian truth, justice, the protection of human life and fidelity to those elements in church teaching which affirm these core values.