It is not often I comment on the activities of Bishops, or on the actions of Anglican provinces outside of my own. One of the joys of being an Anglican has always been the ability to relish difference – we are of all colours and communities, embody the theological spectrum, yet despite our differences have managed to remain “more or less” united under the Anglican umbrella (ok, less and less as time goes on, but thats another story).
I dont like the idea of the Anglican covenant. I object to other provinces telling my Bishop(s) how to handle church affairs in Scotland, and am dismayed that this is becoming the norm between provinces – more and more visibly since the controversial election (and forced standing down) of Jeffrey John as the Bishop of Reading in 2003 and the consecration of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire in 2004.
However, if there is one thing I truly hate, it is prejudice of any kind – you may have guessed this already, from previous posts. there are times when one Province has to speak to another, and when the church in one sanctions the breach of human rights, that is a pretty good time to speak out!
In Uganda at the moment an horriffic bill is being passed which will continue to aggravate violence against gays and those who are suspected of being gay – the bill itself is bad enough, you can read it here . It stands against the commonwealth agreement to uphold human rights, imposes life imprisonment or the death penalty on gays, and puts at risk those who fail to report homosexuality to the authorities.
A huge part of the church, and church life, is the understanding of who we are, who we were created to be, and living that with justice and integrity. I see no justice in this bill: only threat, oppression and hatred. the church’s response? pretty much silence – one or 2 provinces have spoken out, but not many, and dissapointingly not my own. Uganda’s church, however, has remained vocal and offensive to say the least! (thanks Kimberly for the link). Disgusting! Shameful. Denying basic human rights. Bishop Abura is “appalled by the agitation” of the West in response to his government’s bill – I am appalled at any Bishop who would sanction such a bill!
Sometimes challenging the oppression we see in the world, making space for people to see the humanity in others rather than the feared or the potentially offensive (regardless of the riduculess nature of the offense) means we have to take a stand. Occasionally we have to look beyond ourselves and our own concerns and name the damage being caused to others for what it is – oppression, inhumanity, murder. It is part of our calling to be the voice for those unable to cry out, to bring freedom to the oppressed, good news to those in bad places. Please, Scottish Bishops, do not sanction this bill or the words of Bishop Abura by your silence, be the voice for those who have none!
(if you want to sign the petition calling on Church leaders to end their silence on this matter, see here)