Inter-Religious Council steps out gingerly against anti-gay bill

Carried as news in only one major Ugandan publication, it came forth quietly over the past few days and has taken a while to gain the ears of the world.

We’re talking about a statement by the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda which (though perhaps shot through with a late-in-the-game sanctimony that reverses previous positions) has that key group finally denouncing the kill-the-gays bill now before the Ugandan parliament.

The statement represents the views of its Council of Presidents who are the “Supreme Heads” of Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Muslims, Christian Orthodox and Seventh-Day Adventists in Uganda. And yes, it therefore publicly lists Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi of the Church of the Province of Uganda as signatory.

Notice of the Council’s latest position statement was carried on Uganda’s New Vision site last week. Among its particulars:

2. The IRCU Council of Presidents, therefore, condemns homosexuality as an undesirable evil that should not be allowed in our society.

3. Our religious teachings promote respect, compassion and sensitivity. We, therefore, condemn the sin but welcome the sinners to confess, repent and seek a new beginning. This is based on the belief that all people are called by God to fulfill His will in their lives; IRCU, therefore, decries the proposed death penalty and life imprisonment in the proposed Bill as unwarranted. We believe homo-sexuals need conversion, repentance, support, and understanding and love in order to abandon their practices and return to God fully.

4. Since the proposed death penalty and life imprisonment do not provide the sinner an opportunity to repent, hence falling short of compassion to those who need conversion, repentance, support and hope, they are unnecessary.

“Unwarranted” and “unnecessary” may strike the reader as politically timid language (just for starters President Obama went with “odious”), and you have to shuffle through a lot of other language to discover that the Council is actually condemning the bill first and the practice of homosexuality second. Still, a statement’s a statement, even if it’s a haystack hiding a needle.

Certainly as time goes on and the bill heads before the Parliament for voting (there is some justifiable doubt it will ever get out of committee), every voice of authority that can be summoned to speak out should. Certainly for Anglicans both in Uganda and elsewhere, there have been plenty of opportunities to go on the record. But finally, when so many lives and livelihoods are on the line, is there really ever such a thing as “too little, too late”?

h/t Box Turtle Bulletin

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