ACNA speaks out on Uganda anti-homosexuals bill

It took a while to be noticed, but ACNA recently issued a “Communique from the First Annual Provincial Council“. According to the communique issued December 11, “The Provincial Council is the governing body of the Anglican Church in North America and consists of bishops, clergy and laity representing each of the twenty-eight constituent dioceses, clusters or networks.”

The communique did not say much, but if you read towards the end you find a statement on the anti-homosexuals bill before the Ugandan parliament. ACNA says:

And, mindful of the controversy surrounding a bill concerning homosexual behavior that is being considered by the Uganda parliament, restated our commitment to the sacredness of every human person as made in the image of God, from conception to natural death and without regard for religious convictions or manner of life. We also gave thanks for the faithful witness of the Anglican Church of Uganda and encouraged them to stand firm against all forms of sexual exploitation and in their publicly stated commitment that “the Church is a safe place” for all persons, especially “those struggling with sexual brokenness.”

You might think that means they condemn the bill. But think again. The Anglican Church of Uganda has not condemned the bill, nor has ACNA. What ACNA and the C of U say is identical — actually the C of U is able to bring itself to saying it opposes the death penalty for any crime and ACNA does not. But compare ACNA’s statement with the C of U statement and see if you don’t agree there is no difference.

[Addendum. Lionel Deimel has an excellent analysis of ACNA’s statement on Uganda.]

There is growing evidence that the Church of Uganda does support the bill. Will ACNA have something to say about that? Remember the C of U recognizes ACNA and Bishop of John Guernsey of ACNA continues to have a very close connection the Church of Uganda.

The political climate is driving not just homosexuals underground reports NPR in its story this morning, Taboos Silence Opponents Of Uganda Anti-Gay Bill:

Erias Lukwago, a first-term lawmaker, says he doesn’t like the bill but can’t afford to disagree with it in parliament.

“I’m telling you I cannot. I fear the reaction of society to be associated with gays — highly stigmatized, ostracized. Even for this interview alone it might be perceived that the gay community is paying me,” he says.

This in a country where 36% of the population is Anglican. But it’s not surprising because that’s exactly the avowed perception of Archbishop Orombi and his American allies. Passage of this legislation is likely.

Monday, on the occasion of Human Rights Week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made her most direct condemnation yet of the Ugandan bill:

President Obama’s speech also reminded us that our basic values, the ones enshrined in our Declaration of Independence – the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – are not only the source of our strength and endurance; they are the birthright of every woman, man, and child on earth. … That, however, is a dangerous belief to many who hold power and who construct their position against an “other” – another tribe or religion or race or gender or political party. … [G]overnments should be vigilant in preventing law from becoming an instrument of oppression, as bills like the one under consideration in Uganda would do to criminalize homosexuality.

And then in response to an audience question on LGBT rights she responded:

[O]ver this past year, we have elevated into our human rights dialogues and our public statements a very clear message about protecting the rights of the LGBT community worldwide. … We have expressed our concerns [about the Ugandan legislation] directly, indirectly, and we will continue to do so. The bill has not gone through the Ugandan legislature, but it has a lot of public support by various groups, including religious leaders in Uganda. And we view it as a very serious potential violation of human rights.

The independent Monitor reports this and other international opposition to the bill. For instance, in an editorial the Sunday Times of South Africa says if the bill passes we can “sit back and watch as Uganda is dragged back to the dark and evil days of Idi Amin.”

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