In his press conference yesterday in Dublin, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, condemned the actions of the Ugandan rag "Rolling Stone" (not to be confused with the US magazine) for calling for the hanging of "homos". He pointed out that words matter ..... when uttered by what he called "this rotten, disgraceful Ugandan publication" and they have serious consequences. Responsibility needs to be taken, he said.
The same goes for the Archbishop. Words matter. In the same press conference he defended Ugandan Archbishop Henry Orombi's anti-gay stance. The Irish Times put it this way: "Defending Bishop Orombi, Archbishop Williams, head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, emphasised that, as with other relevant Anglican primates, Bishop Orombi’s position concerned “exclusion from ministry on grounds of behaviour, not orientation”.
Those words uttered by the Archbishop, supporting the institutionalized homophobia in the Church of Uganda, matter. They send a dangerous mixed message that does nothing but perpetuate an atmosphere of fear and discrimination. An atmosphere that could lead to violence and death. He needs to take responsibility for muddy-ing the waters.
Here is the Church of Uganda's position on homosexuality:
From a plain reading of Scripture, from a careful reading of Scripture, and from a critical reading of Scripture, homosexual practice has no place in God’s design of creation, the continuation of the human race through procreation, or His plan of redemption. Even natural law reveals that the very act of sexual intercourse is an experience of embracing the sexual “other”. The Church of Uganda, therefore, believes that “Homosexual practice is incompatible with Scripture” (Resolution 1.10, 1998 Lambeth Conference). At the same time, the Church of Uganda is committed at all levels to offer counseling, healing and prayer for people with homosexual disorientation, especially in our schools and other institutions of learning. The Church is a safe place for individuals, who are confused about their sexuality or struggling with sexual brokenness, to seek help and healing.
The Archbishop supports Orambi's exclusion of homosexuals. How does excluding people for who they are even pretend to be Christian?
Word matter. Our words matter as well. We need to continue to urge the Archbishop of Canterbury and all faith leaders to step up and speak out against homophobia. We need to ask the Archbishop to stop speaking out of both sides of his mouth. He needs to hear words that say: Supporting those who support homophobia is no different than supporting homophobia yourself.
Yesterday the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts-Schori, called upon us all to "heal the world". A giant step toward healing is ending homophobia. A good start would be for the Archbishop of Canterbury to recognize his words matter. No more mixed messages. Please!!!!!!
Louise Brooks is a Media & Messaging Consultant.