Relaymedia

African Traditionalists Tussle with Western Anglicans Over Anti-Gay Laws

( [email protected] ) Feb 05, 2014 04:48 AM EST
A growing acceptance of homosexuality may be sweeping the Occidental world, but not so on the continent of Africa. The Anglican or Church of England's denominational reach to the wealthy, yet troubled continent embraces homosexuality to the extent of ordaining homosexual ministers, yet African traditionalists oppose this move.
Archbishop Eliud Wabukala of Kenya (Facebook)

A growing acceptance of homosexuality may be sweeping the Occidental world, but not so on the continent of Africa. The Anglican or Church of England's denominational reach to the wealthy, yet troubled continent embraces homosexuality to the extent of ordaining homosexual ministers, yet African traditionalists oppose this move.

Archbishop Eliud Wabukala of Kenya, the chairman of this traditional group, has stated that this is "deeply troubling." He is concerned that "that which God calls sin" is being debated in Britain and projected into the Anglican Church.

On Monday, February 3rd, the Anglican bishops met in London and there came to the agreement that they would hold a "mediated dialogue" amongst the 80-million member Communion and will ponder the passages in the Bible that discuss homosexuals and will try to find a way to be more welcoming and accommodating to them.

For years now, this Communion has been split over this issue. The Anglican Church spans the English-speaking world and the issues of homosexuality is particularly of note in the Episcopalian branch which is right here in the U.S. The Episcopal Church ordained its first gay bishop in 2003.

Yet several of the larger African-Anglican churches have maintained their opposition to any reforms in this department. They are uniting within themselves a large band of traditionalists and has teetered on the edge of breaking away from the more liberal churches found in the U.K. and U.S.

"We cannot ... allow our time and energy to be sapped by debating that which God has already clearly revealed in Scripture," Archbishop Wabukala said referring to the council of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON). "Such dialogue only spreads confusion and opens the door to a false gospel."

The bishops in the Church of England have been debating how to accommodate same-sex marriage, but could not agree on whether or not to allow church ceremonies and blessings on the unions which has been opposed to date.

In March of this year, the first gay nuptials which were legalized by the English and Welsh Parliament the year before will take place.

The Anglican Church's "facilitated conversations" was spawned after a long-fought debate over the idea of women bishops which was decided in November 2013 and made the way for the first female ordinations which will take place late into this year. It took them twenty years to come to this conclusion.

The African continent, being more conservative in nature, is largely against homosexuality. In December of 2013, Uganda voted in life-long imprisonment for certain same-sex acts while Nigeria outlawed gay relationships just this month. Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni, has shelved the law stating he needs to study it further before doing so.

In contrast, may Occidental countries such as Britain have threatened to cut of government aid to the countries that have anti-gay laws. That would be 37 African countries out of 54-56 in total depending on how you reckon them. Recently, Archbishop Nicholas Okah was reported by the Nigerian press to say that the legalization of gay marriage would bring "nothing but disaster."

After England, Nigeria and Uganda rank second and third for the largest Anglican congregations although it would appear that the African attenders beat the British for regular attendance.

On Wednesday, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the head of the entire denomination and communion, sent a message to Nigeria and Uganda encouraging them to not victimize homosexuals. He as well as the Archbishop of York John Sentamu pulled up a statement from 2005 wherein the Anglican primates (member church heads) stated that gays are "children of God, loved and valued by Him and deserving the best we can give--pastoral care and friendship."

Archbishop Welby left for Africa Thursday on a five-day trip to promote conflict resolution in the nations of Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.