Western pressure causes change in Uganda

We are told that Lambeth Palace did not speak about Uganda’s draconian anti-gay legislative proposal because of concerns that neo-colonial pressure might backfire. So the Archbishop of Canterbury chastised ECUSA for a perceived violation of the Windsor process whilst ignoring a violation of the Windsor process in Uganda. And in case you are tempted to see equivalency there, it’s worth noting the worst-case scenarios of each. In ECUSA, the worst case (if you buy the argument that same-sex relationships are sinful) is that an “unworthy” person is ordained as bishop. In Uganda the worst case scenario is the death of thousands of people.

Now news comes that the president of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, has said that he will intervene to change the bill before the legislature. Why? Here’s today’s quote:

“We should not have an extreme position. The president will harmonize the two sides and address the concerns of the Europeans and our other development partners.” said Museveni’s spokesman.

Get that? It was pressure from development partners. So once again, the church has failed to gain any moral credibility on an issue of justice. Other international groups did not refrain from speaking out, while Lambeth Palace (and the Episcopal Church Center, for that matter) dithered. When will we see the pattern? Again and again, the church has lagged on vital moral issues: slavery, racial justice, and women’s equality to name a few.

It’s true that Archbishop Rowan Williams spoke about this in a recent interview, but that’s a long way from the gravity of a formal statement. There’s still time to rectify this. Williams could apologize for his reticence and issue a statement now. There’s no better time than the Feast of the Incarnation to teach the church about the care of God’s holy people.

For evidence that further work is required, I leave you with the understatement of the year, from Uganda’s ethics and integrity minister, Nsaba Buturo, “Killing them might not be helpful,” he added. Of course, the “them” is gay and lesbian people. Made in God’s image.

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