Americas / Faith and religion

Uganda’s anti-gay law divides U.S. churches

Journalist Jim Naughton from the gay-friendly Episcopal Church in the United States argues that the relatively small breakaway Anglican Church in North America is in a bind — seeking support from people who support the human rights of LGBT people, but unwilling to anger allies in the Church of Uganda by criticizing that country’s harsh Anti-Homosexuality Act.

The U. S. government and every major human rights group have publicly opposed the [law], but Archbishop [Robert] Duncan, leader of the Anglican Church in North America couldn’t bring himself to do it.

Archbishop Robert Duncan (Photo courtesy of Anglicans Ablaze)

Archbishop Robert Duncan (Photo courtesy of Anglicans Ablaze)

Instead, along with some of the African archbishops who supported the Ugandan bill and others like it, he recently signed a statement decrying the western backlash against the legislation.

The Anglican Church in North America is led by a man who was so deeply offended by the ordination of a gay bishop that he decided to break away from the Episcopal Church and take tens of thousands of other people with him, but who is comfortable with church leaders who have successfully urged their governments to round up LGBT people and their supportive friends, and put them in jail.

For years, breakaway Anglicans have tried to downplay the role that simple anti-gay bigotry has played in their movement. They’d say that they didn’t hate gay people, they just didn’t think they should be able to be ordained or married. Or they’d say that homosexuality was just one symptom of the Episcopal Church’s drift from Biblical truth. Duncan’s unwillingness to say in a simple and straightforward way that he doesn’t think gay people and those who do not inform on them should be put in jail gives the lie to these arguments, as does the obsession with homosexuality evident in statements from the GAFCON primates council [of the conservative Global Anglican Future Conference].

What we are seeing now is a comfortable white American religious leader who cannot bring himself to say that it is wrong to throw LGBT Africans in jail because he doesn’t want to offend the African archbishops who have been his allies.

Duncan is in a bind. On one hand, the bogus claim that the Anglican Church in North America is part of the Anglican Communion depends entirely on its relationships with Anglican provinces led by archbishops who support anti-gay legislation. On the other hand, ACNA’s leaders in this country know that their church won’t survive if its homophobic roots and willingness to countenance human rights violations that advance its institutional interests become widely known. His strategy at the moment seems to be to sign on to homophobic documents that circulate widely within the Anglican Communion while hoping that the U. S. media and the wider public doesn’t notice.

For more information, see the full commentary in The Lead:“Why won’t ACNA say it is wrong to put gay people in prison?

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10 thoughts on “Uganda’s anti-gay law divides U.S. churches

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