Ruth Gledhill, writing in Friday’s Times about the silence of the Archbishop of Canterbury in regards to the Ugandan Anti-homosexuality bill, says that she has been told by Lambeth Palace: ‘It has been made clear to us, as indeed to others, that attempts to publicly influence either the local church or political opinion in Uganda would be divisive and counter productive. Our contacts, at both national and diocesan level, with the local church will therefore remain intensive but private.’
There is method in the silence, she says. It can taken for granted that Archbishop Rowan is against the draconian new law but speaking out publicly to this effect could have the opposite effect to that intended. Ruth Gledhill says “It would almost certainly be seen as white-led colonialism of the worst possible kind, as a misguided attempt to impose western liberal values upon traditional African culture. It would not help the local Anglican Church, which has yet to come out on either side. But we can assume that the word ‘intensive’ in his statement today indicates that he is as distressed as the 2,000 who have signed a petition against it.”
It might be seen in the way Ruth describes, but it isn’t seen in that way by those in western churches who believe that the church is sinful when it fails to protect and defend the lives and integrity of LGBT people, and believe this because the Primates and bishops have agreed this to be the policy of the Anglican Communion. It isn’t seen in the way Ruth describes by gug and the other lesbian and gay Ugandans who have access to the internet and have made their views known.
Gug, the blogging gay Ugandan, says it isn’t a lot to ask the Archbishop, who is safely outside Uganda, to state with clarity what the Church of England’s position is and what the documents of the Anglican Communion state.
The Anglican Church of Uganda is extremely, violently homophobic, says gug. They were initially very, very supportive of the bill until the international outcry from other churches and groups made them reconsider. Now they don’t have an ‘official’ position, which is in reality, says gug, a “double faced hypocrisy and a lie.” Pressure from Canada and mounting pressure from sister churches in England and the US checked their murderous Christian brothers and sisters in Uganda. Gug has no doubt that they support the bill wholeheartedly and cites the nasty sermon from the Bishop of Karamoja as proof.
I think Ruth Gledhill has been sold (and bought) a pup. The status of lesbian and gay clergy and readers in England has become steadily worse in the last two decades, in total contrast to progress made in secular society. But the problems experienced here in a church which is spineless in its failure to honour the ministry of LGBT people is nothing compared with the status of LGBT Ugandans.
The leaders of the Church of England are complicit with the Archbishop and bishops of the Church of Uganda. The trustees of Changing Attitude are united in condemning Lambeth Palace for having said nothing about the Bill, a Bill which in our view Anglican leaders have no alternative but to condemn and oppose. If the Ugandan Church is unable to accept Anglican teaching in this matter then they need to be shown how wrong they are. If it is acceptable for the Episcopal Church to be reprimanded when it is judged to have failed to observe Anglican Communion policy, surely it is even more critical to condemn the Bill in Uganda (which isn’t directly Church of Uganda policy) and to engage ‘intensely’ with the church there and with clarity tell them that they are outside Anglican polity.
If it is safe to tell the Americans when they are deemed to be failing in their duty, why isn’t it safe to tell the Ugandans, when something so evil is proposed? Or is the election and consecration of a gay bishop really thought to be more evil than the life imprisonment or execution of someone who is gay? Is this imposing ‘western liberal values’ on ‘traditional African culture’?