Friday, January 15, 2010

Unholy Alliances The limits of Anglican soulmating.

From Newsweek-

In 2004 the members of St. James Church in tony Newport Beach, Calif., voted to secede from the Episcopal Church of the United States. Like dozens of other conservative Episcopal churches at the time, St. James found the theology of its denomination insufficiently orthodox (and the consecration of a gay Episcopal prelate unbiblical). So it, and others, sought—and found—protection among the conservative Anglican bishops of Africa. For administrative and theological purposes, St. James became an African church. It submitted to the authority of an African bishop and paid dues to an African diocese.

Church members were thrilled about their new connection. The church of the global South "is growing and exploding because we took the Bible to those countries, and they believed it," explained a St. James lay leader to a PBS news reporter in 2005. "They have seen the power of the Bible … and we wanted to be part of that."

The prelate who took St. James under his wing was Henry Luke Orombi, the archbishop of Uganda, a man who campaigns relentlessly against homosexuality. And though the spiritual head of the Anglican church, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, has condemned the anti-homosexuality bill now before Parliament in Uganda—which proposes the death penalty for gays in some cases—Orombi has not. In a statement, the rector of St. James, Richard Crocker, reminds us that his church now belongs to the recently established, L.A.-based Diocese of Western Anglicans, though it continues "to engage" with the Ugandan churches. "We do not condone the excessive sanctions in the legislation being considered by Ugandan politicians," he says. "Criminalizing homosexuality is unjust. God's love and compassion for humanity is not reflected in this bill."

American culture wars are kindergarten play compared with those in places like Uganda, where democracy is a sham and tolerance rare. And American conservatives who insist on romanticizing Africans for the purity of their Christian belief must guard against escalating those wars and endangering lives—intentionally or not—by giving support and money to Christian leaders with insufficient regard for human rights. "The culture war which has been fought in the U.S. has been exported to Africa," says Ochoro Otunnu, a Ugandan human-rights lawyer based in New York. But, he adds, there's a big difference. "In America you can have an open debate about homosexuality knowing full well you have an array of legal and constitutional protections. Those protections don't exist in some of the African countries—Uganda being a case in point. When this debate is conducted in public you can actually endanger an entire minority community."

More here-

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