Since his enthronement in March 2020, Archbishop Stephen Samuel Kaziimba has consistently spoken against homosexuality.
Archbishop Kazimba in his Christmas message didn’t mince words before a youthful crowd in Mukono on December 12. He said since the Church of England elected an openly gay man, Dr David Monteith as dean of Canterbury, the Church of Uganda which he superintends would be forced to sever ties as they (British) are veering off the right path.
Dr Mugalu’s words are not different from his predecessor, Archbishop Stanley Ntagali’s words or actions of much of the Anglican church on the continent, most of whom severed ties with the American church that consecrated a bishop who was gay. The archbishop reiterated these sentiments in his Christmas message that was read at the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda head offices in Mengo.
Much as the Church of Uganda claims or has autonomy, we know its roots are indeed colonial and much as it has become some sort of fig tree, locally, that seed was planted by the British from whom Dr Mugalu seeks to break.
Dr Mugalu’s sentiments are not merely words of any Tom, Dick, or Harry. They are selectively chosen words by a person in a position of authority who commands so much influence. This ‘homophobic’ slur not only threatens but also puts this already vulnerable community in mortal danger.
Dr Mugalu should find the words of Pope Francis who said; “Homosexual people have a right to be in the family. They are children of God. They have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out of the family or made miserable over this. What we have to make is a law of civil coexistence, for they have the right to be legally covered. I stood up for that.”
These words by the pontiff were said on public signifying support for civil unions for LGBTQI folks. Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury has apologized for the huge damage and hurt caused to the LGBTQI community within the church. This kind of thinking by leaders in these two great faiths is reflective of the fact that many of our churches and institutions in ways more than one are ripe for change or they break.
Any institution worth its salt must always negotiate its way into the future by always morphing and growing from what it was years ago to a new thing. This may also explain the drastic rates of numerical growth among evangelicals. This is by no means to suggest that they are any better as regards LGBTQIA rights.
This move represents a major shift from their anti-gay stances that they even transplanted to our dear continent through penal law. The attacks on the gay community we have been reminded of severally are often scapegoats of something greater than those at the locus of power are not letting us in on.
It’s no surprise that these attacks come at the tail end of the year when churchgoers are supposed to be asking for the annual accountability. Queer people would be the perfect red-herring as the subject is evocative of both ignorance and emotion. Ideally, it’s a go-to anyone who is seeking a public relations re-birth.
Bishop Michael Bruce Curry the 27th presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church stated in an interview with the New York Times ‘anytime anybody is excluded, it hurts’.
Bishop Curry also tells us that God’s house is big for us all and he further emphasizes the loving nature of Christ when he states, "If it’s not about love, it’s not about God.”
The Church of Uganda itself is not unique to controversy. Recently, its former leader who always castigated homosexuality as not being Christian apologized for having had ex-marital affairs. Even the controversy surrounding the name of Church House’s real name and why the name Janani Luwum was scrapped.
As Paul reminds us in Romans 3:23-24 “We all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace makes us right in his sight. He did through Jesus Christ when he freed us from penalty of our sins. The moral arc of the universe bends towards justice and in festive times such as these we should spread more love than anything as 1st Corinthians 13:4 says love is patient and kind. Love doesn’t envy or boast… love is love; happy holidays
The author is a peace and human rights advocate