Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Society of Biblical Literature member charges religious publisher with anti-gay hate speech

Blatant hate speech against homosexuals in Zondervan's Africa Bible Commentary cited at Society of Biblical Literature 2009 Annual Meeting
Panel respondant reports churches in South Africa "are hungry" to know what the Bible realy says about homosexuality
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISANNA - November 23, 2009
by Rev. Steve Parelli, Other Sheep Executive Director

The African Biblical Hermeneutics Section of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) featured a paper today at the SBL annual meeting centered around the "Lot and Abraham Story" from the Africa Bible Commentary (Zondervan, 2006). The respondent to the paper, Gerald O. West of Kwa-Zulu Natal University, in his remarks, made a brief reference to the Africa Bible Commentary's featured article entitled "Homosexuality," found in the Romans section of the single volume commentary, to illustrate how the "Lot and Abraham Story" of the Africa Bible Commentary is predisposed to the evangelical anti-homosexual position.

During the open discussion that followed the papers, Rev. Steve Parelli, Executive Director of Other Sheep, said the publisher, Zondervan, was guilty of "hate speech" against homosexuals. Parelli said the Zondervan Africa Bible Commentary article quotes uncritically a so-called common-enough view held in Africa that "homosexuals are worse than beasts." The Africa Bible Commentary article further states, said Parelli, that "the Anglican Church in Africa has rejected Bishop Tutu's call for tolerance and acceptance of homosexuals." Parelli said, because the Africa Bible Commentary article links, uncritically, the two statements that "homosexuals are worse than beasts" and that "the Anglican Church rejected Tutu's call for tolerance" that the article is hate speech against homosexuals, that the evangelical Nigerian author of the article, because he is uncritical of the quotes he uses, owns the quotes as his own viewpoint.

Parelli said Rick Warren of the United States, John Stott of England, and Douglas Carew of Nairobi, Kenya, have all endorsed the Africa Bible Commentary.

Parelli, citing Uganda as an evangelical country, tied the evangelical view of homosexuality to the current criminal Anti-Homosexuality Bill of Uganda that calls for the death sentence and life imprisonment of homosexuals who meet certain conditions.

Another attendant of the SBL session, sitting at the rear of the room, who did not identify himself when he spoke and who left early, thanked the audience for their comments on the Africa Bible Commentary and said that the "insensitivities" of the Africa Bible Commentary as noted in this meeting would be taken into consideration. Apparently, from his remarks, the gentleman is somehow associated with Zondervan, but that notion was not confirmed.

West, in his final reply to the audience as the respondent, thanked Parelli for his comments on the Africa Bible Commentary and related his own disappointments with the volumn. In addition, West gave an account of how religious groups within South Africa are forming meetings around the study of the issue of homosexuality and the church in Africa in order to discuss seriously the Biblical texts traditionally associated with homosexuality. West said South Africans "are hungry" to really know, and not assume, what the Bible does and does not say about homosexuality especially in light of the very really present situation that their

South African constitution provides for the right of same-sex marriage.
Robert Wafula, Drew University, and Robert Wafawanaka, Virginia Union University, each gave a paper and West responded to each paper separately. Elelwani Farisani, University of South Africa, presided. In 2008, Parelli and his same-sex spouse, Jose Ortiz, conducted Other Sheep seminars on the Bible and homosexuality in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.

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