31 January 2011

Anglicans and gay fights

You can find just about any view you want on homosexuality among the clergy of the Anglican Church. In Britain, the archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, urges the government to offer protection to gay and lesbian people seeking asylum in the U.K. His urging follows the murder of a prominent gay rights activist in Uganda last week, an event magnified in Britain by the threatened deportation of a Ugandan lesbian, Brenda Namigadde. Namigadde insists she will be tortured or killed if she is sent back to Uganda and claims most of her friends in that country have disappeared.

Meanwhile in Uganda at the funeral of the murdered activist, as if to justify Namigadde's fears, Anglican pastor Thomas Musoke shocked the gay men and women present, as well as the foreign diplomats in attendance, by launching into a homophobic tirade. Police had to escort him away.

Somewhere in between these extremes is the Anglican archbishop of Uganda, the Most Rev Henry Orombi. Orombi has been outspoken in his opposition to homosexuality, gay clergy and same-sex marriage, yet opposes a bill before the Ugandan parliament that would imprison homosexuals for life.

The British people have come to accept that gays should be treated equally and the Anglican Church, reluctantly perhaps, follows their lead. In Uganda, the mob wants gays persecuted and the Church, with less reluctance perhaps, responds accordingly. The Church it seems, rather than preach eternal truths, on this issue at least just follows the trend. And this is no bad thing. In the case of gay rights, people generally seemed to have arrived at a compassionate conclusion well ahead of the Church. It seems they have done a better job of tapping into the teachings of the gentle Jesus than his self-appointed interpreters.

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