Monday, November 30, 2009

Faith-based hate-speech posted on the Daily Nation website against gays, Rev. Kimindu and his call for discussion on gay rights; and How the evangelical Africa Bible Commentary evidences and endorses the deep seated African faith-based anti-gay hate-speech.

Also: Mark A. Noll, in his new book The New Shape of World Christianity, says Ugandan President Museveni was "deeply touched" by the historic East African Revival, and that "his wife, Janet, remains identified with evangelical causes." The following article, in part, discusses the question: Does President Museveni and his wife's Christian beliefs justify, for him, his criminal hate-acts against homosexuals?

By Rev. Stephen Parelli, Other Sheep Executive Director, Bronx, NY,

On the Kenyan Daily Nation website, three individuals, as of this writing, have posted their for-or-against comments on Rev. Michael Kimindu's November 20th (2009) interview with Daily Nation in which he objected to the fact that gay rights were not included in the Kenyan draft constitution for discussion.

Two, of the three postings, solidly oppose Kimindu. The objectors both based their strong anti-gay remarks solely on their understanding of what the Bible says, speaking with absolute authority, as if their voice were the voice of God. Their comments reveal that their religious viewpoint is of the evangelical stripe: authoritative, final, and "Biblical."

Evangelical as they may be, their remarks fail to show any sings of "graciousness" such as is claimed in the American-evangelical ill-suited statement "love the sinner, hate the sin." ("Love the sinner, hate the sin" is the notorious failed-attempt of evangelicals in America to show love to the gay community; just ask any LGBT person.)

Actually, these two East Africans – I assume they are East Africans, and most likely Kenyans – have, by their sugar-free remarks, shortened this American pet-evangelical saying to simply "hate the sinner." African evangelicals, to their credit, haven't learned the American evangelical art of telling one's self that he or she is acting in love when the act is clearly one of oppression. Evangelicals, here in America, call their oppressive opposition to gay rights and to gay individuals who have at times taken their own lives because of the abject rejection of evangelical parents and churches, as "loving the sinner." (The word "sinner" should be a clue here as to how much love – or should I say, how little love – is actually being communicated by evangelicals.)

But, back to the Daily Nation postings. The first individual posted the following: "Are you gays trying to tell us the Almighty is wrong or was wrong? Did you guys hear about Sodom and Gomorrah? You deserve punishment in this world and hereafter" (emphasis mine). Note the link between Sodom and Gomorrah and deserved punishment now. The second out-of-sorts individual posted: "The said Reverend [Kimindu] will find out while in Hell, that what he did on earth . . .; and he will be among those to be immersed into the blackest of the blackest of Hell . . .; the cheap minded sheep, woe unto them, they are on their way to sheol." Not exactly a model for what some have called "friendship evangelism" or, how to win others over to your point of view.

The tragedy runs deeper than just two overly-religious comments posted on the Daily Nation website. The problem is this: how can we expect better of the African evangelical in the pew and in the pulpit when the evangelical leaders of Africa are crying out against LGBT people in very much the same manner as these two postings. Take for instance the now infamous article entitled "Homosexuality" in the 2006 Zondervan Africa Bible Commentary. (I saw my first copy of this misguided single volume commentary while visiting the Nairobi All Saints Anglican Cathedral in 2008). Yusufu Turaki, an evangelical Nigerian Bible scholar and author of the article, writes without criticism that "some [African] politicians" say "homosexuals are worst than beasts." And, as if to sustain the African politicians' bigotry, Turaki cites, again without criticism, the fact that "Anglican churches across the continent" have outright rejected Tutu's call for toleration and acceptance of LGBT people. Turaki's hate-speech article featured in this "landmark" (John Stott) volume authored by 70 African evangelicals sounds very much like the two who posted their hate-statements against Rev. Kimindu. Turaki's zero toleration and "worst than beasts" quotes put him right up there with the two anonymous postings.

The Africa Bible Commentary was a project/publication of Zondervan and the Association of Evangelicals in Africa (AEA). Recently, I received an email from an individual listed by name on the AEA website. He is officially in fellowship with the AEA. Speaking for himself only, he wrote me to tell me he is in full support of the Anti-Homosexuality bill of Ugandan which calls for the death penalty or life imprisonment of homosexuals who meet certain conditions. Is his evangelical Sodom-and-Gomorrah-bring-down-brimstone faith representative of the AEA (Association of Evangelicals in Africa)? Does he represent what is to be found in the average pew and pulpit of evangelical churches in Africa? Do most African evangelicals really believe that "homosexuals should be punished in this life" as was posted on the Daily Nation website and as evidenced by the Anti-Homosexuality bill of Uganda?

Mark A Noll, in his new book The Shape of World Christianity, has a chapter on "The East African Revival" in which he states "the current Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni was deeply touched as a young man by the East African revival, and his wife, Janet, remains identified with evangelical causes" [page 182].

It can now be said, that in Uganda at least, "revival" and "evangelical causes" equate the death sentence for homosexuals who meet certain conditions, unless the president of Uganda and his wife go on record as denouncing the bill. Not likely. Museveni has a long record of hate-speech against LGBT people.

As early as 1998, "President Yoweri Museveni made several strong antihomosexuality public statements." Again, in 1999, he "spoke out strongly, calling for the police to find and arrest, and jail homosexuals" [Anglican Communion in Crisis, by Miranda K. Hassett, page 84, 85; interestingly enough, the author further states on page 85 that "The Anglican archbishop of Uganda proclaimed his full support for Museveni's antigay position."].

I've often asked myself if the Old Testament stories from the King James Bible may have shaped Museveni's image of himself as president of Uganda. Is he modeling himself after the Old Testament king who, heroically and unlike his father-king before him, "took out of the land" "the remnant of the sodomites"? [Sodomites is an unfortunate abusive rendering of the Hebrew text here which should more accurately be translated 'male or female temple prostitute;' the Hebrew word sodomite is not in the text (I Kings 22:46, KJV).] Does Museveni emulate this heroic Biblical king who put-out-of-the-land-the-sodomites [i.e., temple prostitutes] as an example to follow?

It could easily be so, after all, President Yoweri Museveni "was deeply touched" by the East African revival and his wife "remains identified with evangelical causes" (Mark A. Noll). Evangelicalism and the literal reading and high veneration of the Bible, such as daily Bible readings, scripture memorization, and Bible preaching, are one and the same. This evangelical excessive love for the Word of God can border on bibliolatry which is the worship of the Bible (although evangelicals would deny they ever worship the Bible). When this is the case (which happens, at times, with evangelicals on a subconscious level, I would argue), instead of a Trinity, an evangelical would now have a Quad-unity, with the Bible as the fourth person of the Godhead. I would suggest that this is the present probable evangelical spirit in Uganda where the spirit of love and toleration towards a people-group defined by a different sexual orientation is axed by a spirit of hate and legalism which are justified enough, for religious Ugandans, by the reduction of the Bible to mere black ink on white paper (for example, "the Bible clearly says"), and thus, ironically, the elevation of the Bible to the status of a god (bibliolatry, by which one can now justify the execution of homosexuals). All this hate, grounded in a type of idolatry as I have opinioned, is the by-product of the work of zealous Bible-believing evangelical missionaries and the historic East African revival.

The sad part – in the supposed case of President Museveni modeling his presidency after the afore mentioned Old Testament king – is this: the King James Bible (if that is the version he uses, which was, no doubt, the version originally brought to Uganda) utterly fails him here by its erroneous translation. (In Rwanda, during our 2008 seminar, where we had the Bible in the language of the people, the same error in translation was noted. Evidently, in the Rwandan language, the translation was brought over from the King James Bible word sodomite and not from the Hebrew text temple prostitute.)

Now, let us return to the evangelical American pet-phrase of "hate the sin, but love the sinner" and ask again how this may or may not be an acceptable mode for evangelical Africans as a valid response toward homosexuals.  I've stated that African evangelicals simply "hate the sinner." Our answer does not have to come by way of the anonymous hate-post mentioned earlier, i.e., "You [gays] deserve punishment in this world and hereafter."  Instead, our answer comes right from Yusufu Turaki and the Association of Evangelicals in Africa (AEA) themselves. Turaki, in his hate-speech article cited above (from the Africa Bible Commentary), says "It is . . . academic to try to make a distinction between a homosexual person and a homosexual act, as if the latter is sinful and the former is not. Both are sinful."

The CISA (Catholic Information Service for Africa) condemns Turaki's article: "The Africa Bible Commentary (ABC) conflicts with certain Roman Catholic teachings . . . [For one], the commentary's views on homosexuality . . . [is] unacceptable to the Catholic Church. The Bible defines homosexuality as a sin, the commentary says." In support, the CISA cites Turaki's full statement on "Both are sinful," which quote is stated above in the final sentence of the preceding paragraph. According to the CISA, the Catholic Church, unlike the Africa Bible Commentary, makes an important distinction between a homosexual act and a homosexual person. (Source: article by Henry Makori entitled "CISA: Kenya Catholic Church rejects new Bible Commentary")

But this isn't just a Catholic objection to the Africa Bible Commentary, the evangelical "ex-gay" writers that I have read would agree with the CISA and would, for the most part, completely disown the Africa Bible Commentary article. Evangelical "ex-gay" proponents would disagree with Turaki's following uncritical statements: that homosexuals are "worst than beasts," that there should be zero toleration for homosexuals, and that homosexuality is sin [or that sexual orientation, when it is same-sex oriented, is sin].

So, the Zondervan Africa Bible Commentary apparently stands alone in the religious world when it says there is no distinction between the same-sex acts of gay people and the homosexual person himself [sexual orientation]. It appears, then, that if the evangelical in Africa hates the act ("the sin"), he also must hate the person who enters in upon the act ("the sinner"), for "both are sinful" says Turaki. This hate-the-sin/hate-the-sinner is exactly what is presently being played out in the parliament of Uganda where the Anti-Homosexuality bill is being considered. Therefore, in view of this East African evangelicalism of Bible-believing gay-hatred and legalized gay-bashing with religious sanctioning by evangelicals, the historic East Africa Revival and the present-day Ugandan "evangelical causes" – upheld by the wife of the president of Uganda – are now seen to have a very dark underside, where light and love are, ironically, lost to religion - not just to religion in Uganda but lost to religion wherever evangelicals will not speak out in utter horror of their brethren in Uganda.  This light and love, now apparently crucified-a-new in Ugandan churches, are urgently in need of being resurrected by some miraculous, timely supernatural intervention, before innocent Ugandan lives are literally snuffed out in the name of God and country.

Finally, on a happier note, what about the third individual who posted a comment about Rev. Kimindu's appeal for discussion on gay rights? There is hope! The third person was in agreement with Kimindu's call for discussion. Basically, the positive comment went something like this: "This is the 21st century, and if Kenya is drafting a constitution for the 21st century then gay rights are an obvious given." Evidently, the politicians' hate-speech that Turaki uncritically highlights in his Africa Bible Commentary article – "that homosexuals are worse than beasts" – does not fit the 21st century civilization that some Africans imagine for their country, even in spite of what some evangelical Africans say the Good Book says.

by Rev. Stephen Parelli, Other Sheep Executive Director,  
Bronx, New York, November 30, 2009

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