The challenge Uganda is presenting to the Communion

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Almost three weeks ago, news reports began to circulate of new proposed legislation in Uganda that would criminalize even the creation of coordinated efforts to defend the rights of LGBT Ugandans. Colin Coward, of Changing Attitude is very troubled by the silence that has reverberated within the Anglican Communion as a result:

“The Anglican Communion and its leaders have reached a critical moment of judgement in its attitude to homosexuality. It is now 19 days since the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009 was tabled by David Bahati, the MP for Ndorwa West in Uganda but the leaders of the Communion have remained silent. The only Anglican groups to have responded are those working for the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

[…]The proposed Bill legislates for capital punishment, will criminalize anyone who responds in any way to a homosexual person in Uganda and increases prejudiced attitudes towards homosexuals. American conservative Christian groups are complicit in encouraging the tabling of the Bill.

[…]The Anglican Communion MUST therefore, oppose the proposed Ugandan and Nigerian legislation. There is no possible alternative position. It must do so in Uganda because the legislation proposes the death penalty (to which the Communion is opposed) and in both countries because the Bills will oppress members of the Ugandan and Nigerian churches, me”

(NB: In UK usage, tabling a motion means “to propose it for consideration”)

Read the full essay here.

Thinking Anglicans has excellent coverage of the recent developments around this issue here.

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12 Responses to "The challenge Uganda is presenting to the Communion"
  1. I only heard of this bill last week from Christopher Mwawa, dean of the Anglican seminary in Lilongwe, Malawi. And Dean Mwawa's question - will the death penalty push 'conservative Anglicans' globally and in the U.S. to say, 'No, that's too far even for us?' Or will they be complicit and so deny, even by their lights (that is that they do judge all homosexual relations sinful) the mercy of God who does not desire the death of a sinner?

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  2. "I only heard of this bill last week ...."

    The world would hear of it loud and clear if the Archbishop of Canterbury expressed his opinion, and reproved the Church of Uganda for measures like those in the bill.

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  3. I just sent this to the Press Officer of the ABC:

    I have not yet seen or heard a statement from Dr Williams about the state-sponsored persecution of LGBT persons in Uganda - a persecution which seems aided and abetted by the Anglican Church in Uganda.

    Here are three simple equations which anyone can understand:

    Silence = Death.

    Silence = Complicity.

    And, worst of all,

    Silence = Public-relations-nightmare

    noted, with bitter sarcasm.

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  4. What about TEC? Any pronouncements from the national office regarding the proposed legislation in Uganda? If so, I am not aware of such a statement.

    June Butler

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  5. I never ever see any condemnation of anything "cultural" in Africa by anyone in the Episcopal Church, ever. Why? I'm not talking about Rwandan genocide or all that stuff you can see on CNN, I'm talking about Anglican priests, for instance, telling married women that they must submit sexually to their HIV+ husbands. My priest bore witness to this, he told the woman to leave her husband, then was screamed down by the local priest as a liberal American, "but that is not our way".

    How does this not impair communion immediately? But no one wants to touch stuff like that, ever. They want to have stories about it on the BBC or something, or maybe NPR, but for the Church to get up and say, this is wrong, death-loving and evil, oh no, that couldn't happen! Why?

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  6. Sexual Minorities Uganda, a GLBT activist group, has issued a call for international protests at Ugandan diplomatic missions a week from today, Nov. 9.

    In response, some interest is stirring in Chicago, but Uganda doesn't have a working consulate there. I don't know if there is action planned in DC.

    I think it's foolish to expect anything out of Rowan. He lost his moral authority years ago. The last thing he's going to do is to stir the Gay pot.

    Ditto with TEC. A hundred bishops went to Lambeth, but the Gay one had cooties. This is a job for the laypeople.

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  7. My suggestion: go to Starbucks or Whole Foods and dump Ugandan coffee for the cameras. THAT will get attention in Kampala like nothing else.

    (Pay for what you dump, of course.)

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  8. There OUGHT be a Emergency Meeting of the Primates...how dare these people ignore the persecution and outcasting/demoralizing of Anglicans...does Lambeth 1.10 and the Windsor Report mean nothing to these irresponsible clergypeople? Do these same Primates expect ANYONE sane to enlist them to protect the Faith once delivered? Silence does equal=death and we await the ¨agreed¨ pastoral ¨care¨ of Archbishop Rowan and others as the blood of LGBT Christians/others continues to flow!

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  9. Friends,

    D005 from GC 2006 put TEC on record as opposing the criminalization of homosexuality and required the Sec'y of GC to inform not only the ++ABC but all the Primates and many legislators. I was assured the Sec'y office did so.

    I believe we must push our PB to remind the Ugandan, Kenyan and Nigerian Primates, plus the ++ABC of this position. She could also file a complaint with the ++ABC naming the complicity of these Primates in the furtherance of these laws in violation of Windsor and Dromantine.

    So I am going to write my fellow deputies here in San Diego and my Bishop to ask that they protest this complicity and call for action from the PB and the ++ABC. We can all do the same with out own deputations and bishops.

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  10. How can we claim to "seek and serve Christ in all persons" if we don't oppose this? SERIOUSLY oppose it. Silence is the voice of complicity.

    I think we're getting over the '90s PC hypersensitivity to real or imagined 'cultural imperialism' that allowed a legitimate desire to avoid imposing merely cultural mores to grease the slippery slope into total moral relativism.

    But as Christians, we need to have the wisdom to discern when being faithful to our baptismal covenant means rejecting cultural values, whether our own or another. Christians were persecuted by Rome specifically because our loyalty to Christ meant resisting the cultural prescriptions of Roman civic religion.

    The example above, of a priest telling a woman to submit to the sexual demands of her HIV+ husband, presents a case where most of us would agree, Christ and culture are in conflict. Where does our loyalty lie? That's the question. And if the local priest doesn't see a conflict, we need to have the courage of our convictions: clearly one of us is right, and the other wrong. If we believe the Holy Spirit is leading us into all truth, it must be true that one of us is being led there a little faster. If our faith means anything, we have to be willing to assume the prophetic role in which the Spirit has placed us, recalling our Anglican brothers and sisters who are blinded by dusty tradition and local culture to the truth of God's love which transcends all earthly customs.

    This is the role of an Isaiah, a Jeremiah, a John the Baptist.

    A voice crying in the wilderness, make straight the paths of the LORD.

    This is why the Church is One, and Catholic: We are all one body, and the truth proclaimed by the Church is universal: if no Jeremiah is showing up in Uganda, if the prophetic call is heard more clearly in Chicago than in Uganda, well, the Holy Spirit knows what she's doing, it's our job to heed the call and trust in God.

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  11. How can we claim to "seek and serve Christ in all persons" if we don't oppose this? SERIOUSLY oppose it. Silence is the voice of complicity.

    I think we're getting over the '90s PC hypersensitivity to real or imagined 'cultural imperialism' that allowed a legitimate desire to avoid imposing merely cultural mores to grease the slippery slope into total moral relativism.

    But as Christians, we need to have the wisdom to discern when being faithful to our baptismal covenant means rejecting cultural values, whether our own or another. Christians were persecuted by Rome specifically because our loyalty to Christ meant resisting the cultural prescriptions of Roman civic religion.

    The example above, of a priest telling a woman to submit to the sexual demands of her HIV+ husband, presents a case where most of us would agree, Christ and culture are in conflict. Where does our loyalty lie? That's the question. And if the local priest doesn't see a conflict, we need to have the courage of our convictions: clearly one of us is right, and the other wrong. If we believe the Holy Spirit is leading us into all truth, it must be true that one of us is being led there a little faster. If our faith means anything, we have to be willing to assume the prophetic role in which the Spirit has placed us, recalling our Anglican brothers and sisters who are blinded by dusty tradition and local culture to the truth of God's love which transcends all earthly customs.

    This is the role of an Isaiah, a Jeremiah, a John the Baptist.

    A voice crying in the wilderness, make straight the paths of the LORD.

    This is why the Church is One, and Catholic: We are all one body, and the truth proclaimed by the Church is universal: if no Jeremiah is showing up in Uganda, if the prophetic call is heard more clearly in Chicago than in Uganda, well, the Holy Spirit knows what she's doing, it's our job to heed the call and trust in God.

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