Sunday, October 24, 2004

A Secular Sermon on Anglican Homophobia

Delivered from a Marxist Pulpit in Montreal by The Irreverent Onyango Oloo

1.0. How I Lost My Golden Opportunity to Become an Anglican Bishop

If life had turned out differently, I may very well have been part of the Kenyan Anglican contingent contributing to the Lambeth Commission that looked into the issues surrounding the ordination of openly gay US bishop Gene Robinson.

As I have detailed elsewhere, I grew up in a staunchly Anglican family. My grandfather was a lay reader at our local church which was built on land that he and his brother, Paulo Opiche (the father of Prof. BA Ogot) donated to the Luanda Doho Anglican Parish. My auntie, Margaret(the better half of BA Ohanga, the well known Nyanza educator and colonial era minister) was among the very first women in Got Regea, north Gem to start preaching in church way back when. My own mother was not only a devout Anglican, but a deeply committed Born Again Christian for the last fifteen years of her 40 year old life.

I taught Sunday school from the age of nine and right up to the age of fifteen, if you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said without hesitation:

An Anglican BISHOP.

That is right!

Somewhere along the way, I veered off course and became a godless COMMUNIST.

What happened?

Don’t even go there...

Instead, go to this link...

It is because of this very palpable Anglican legacy in my own upbringing that I feel I owe my readers, especially the CONSERVATIVE Christians in our midst a SECULAR SUNDAY SERMON on the subject:

“Homosexuality, Anglicans, Hypocrisy, Social Justice and The Rise of Evangelical Madness”.

2.0. Finally Lambeth Commission Unsheaths Windsor Report

But before we get to that sermon let me adhere to Anglican tradition by prefacing my own address with a series of readings, but not necessarily from the Bible.

Our first reading is from the Reverend William Alberts talking about Faith Based Deceptions.

Next I want to share with you what this man

Bishop Gene Robinson had to say when he heard that the Lambeth Commission had issued the Windsor Report. According an article penned by Elizabeth Day in today’s(Sunday October 24, 2004) edition of the London Daily Telegraph, Bishop Robinson, in an interview with the British paper, condemned the Windsor Report for its “deficiencies and unfairness.”

The paper went on to quote the Episcopal Bishop as saying:

"Not only was I not called in front of the commission, but my requests to appear were also denied, as were those of other diocesan representatives. There wouldn't have been a commission without my ordination."

"I found it astounding that the Lambeth Commission had no gay or lesbian representatives," said Bishop Robinson. "Would you have a commission on racism with no people of colour? Or a commission on sexism that was all men? And yet it's supposed to be OK to discuss these weighty matters without the input of the people most affected. As a result, the report was deficient." The Bishop, who lives with his lover Mark, and has two adult children from his marriage, said that the experience of the past few months had been "draining", but that he had felt "surrounded by the love and support of my clergy and lay leaders.I feel positive about the report. I do not want to see the American Church go its own way. I am committed to our full participation in life within the Anglican Communion.I have nothing but the utmost respect for the Archbishop of Canterbury. I am very interested to see what he does with this report, but I have full confidence in him."

He also expressed “no regrets” in an interview with the Associated Press that is covered by this Wichita, Kansas, newspaper.

Before we get too ahead of ourselves, let us start with the basics. First, here is the Windsor Report itself.

There have been some immediate internal reactions from within the Anglican communion, like this one from the from the Primates’ Standing Committee, a response with stands in sharp contrast to the livid rage of the
Primate of All Nigeria which is remarkably different from the response from the Primate of Cape Town.

A Kenyan newspaper report demonstrates how closely some Kenyans are to some Nigerians on the question of homosexuality and the church.

The Diocese of New Hamphshire which is at the very centre of the controversy was not slow to respond; Reuters is reporting today (Sunday, October 24th that the US Episcopal Church is unlikely to reverse its decisions on gays and lesbians.

And this 22nd October-2004 statement from Utah's Bishop, the Rt Revd Carolyn Tanner Irish on the Windsor Report eloquently delineates the fault lines in the simmering Anglican feud:

"I believe all of us are grateful to the members of the Lambeth Commission, appointed by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, following the action of Episcopal Church of the United States (ECUSA) in voting to affirm the election of Gene Robinson as Bishop Coadjutor of New Hampshire. Robinson is a gay man living openly with his partner in a covenant relationship. Our action caused great distress to some in the American church and 'strained the bonds of affection' among other members of the Anglican Communion.

"The task of the Commission was to seek ways of strengthening our unity as a Communion. Their work cannot have been easy, since diversity and provincial autonomy have always been hallmarks of Anglicanism. Homosexuality was the presenting issue, but ultimately the Commission determined that it had to consider matters of polity or governance in the Communion as well. This appears to be the primary challenge of the resulting 'Windsor Report' (so-called because that is where the Commission held its last meeting).

"The Report itself is lengthy and complex. We will spend considerable time reflecting on its analysis and discussing its recommendations. I sincerely hope the conservative bishops in our church will join in this process, though for the most part they have not attended House of Bishops meetings since the summer of 2003.

"My sense is that the Report challenges all of us to go more deeply and stretch more broadly in our understanding of how we are to live out the gospel in this enormously challenging world-within the structures of our tradition and the bonds of our affection. The Report does not reprimand the US Episcopal Church as some had hoped it would. We are, however, called to sensitivity and patience, and to the use of every opportunity for education, reflection, and communication.

"I believe we are perfectly willing to apologize for any harm and hurt our actions have caused, and many among us have done so publicly. On the other hand it is entirely unlikely that we will be willing to set the clock back on the actions themselves, or to cease acting inclusively-'respecting the dignity of every human being' as we promise in our baptismal vows. What would a reversal such as that say to our gay sisters and brothers? Go back to the closet? To deceit and dishonesty?

"Further, our church has not acted rashly or in haste, without study, conversation, and prayer over a long period of time. A significant majority of our governing body (the General Convention of ECUSA) had a strong sense of timeliness and rightness about our church's actions.

"We are not in fact a church, but a communion of autonomous and interdependent churches all over the world who trace their historical roots to the Church of England-the American Episcopal Church being the first of these outside the British Isles. Our bonds are not confessional (uniformity of belief) nor do we share common histories or cultures.

"So personally, I do have concerns about more tightly articulated and centralized structures of governance in our Communion. I doubt that these would be helpful to our ultimate unity and communion in Christ, or in our care and affection for one another. Indeed they may yet again present a distraction from our active mission in God's world, or even divide us further."

3.0. What Does The Most Well Known Anglican in the World Think About Homophobia in the Church?

Who is the most famous contemporary Anglican still breathing?

As if you did not know:

Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s views on homophobia can be seen in this link

And he alluded to the same theme when he was visiting New Jersey not too long ago as you can read here

With his incisive wit and engaging humour the Nobel laureate fights not only homophobia, racism and other forms of discrimination, but has been at the forefront of opposing the excesses of the so called war on terror. Earlier this month he stripped off his religious collar to don an actor’s garb in an Off Broadway play about the detainees at Guantanamo. He played a British judge. Later on,
Amy Goodman of Democracy Now caught up with him for a wide ranging interview
That you can LISTEN to here

READ about over here.

And that interview can be augmented with this earlier one he did with the Canadian Broadcating Corporation.

Archbishop Tutu is also actively campaigning to influence the voting in Florida come November 2nd as you can see in this letter he sent to the people of that state that is riddled with Republican swindlers and anti-Castro Cuban right wing Mafiosi.

4.0. Was The Anglican Church Started by a Blood Thirsty Serial Wife Killer?

I used to think that this late unlamented lout and louse called

King Henry VIII was
the guy to blame for the formation of the Church of England:

But that was before I read more extensively on the history of the Anglican Church starting with its own internal sources such as
this one.

All the same, I cannot fathom the hullabaloo about the peaceful, non-violent ordination of a gay Bishop when one of the most notorious heads of the Church of England was a lying glutton and land grabber, an adulterer; a wife killing sinner who probably coveted his neighbour'ass- effectively breaking almost every single one of the Ten Commandments in the course of his 56 year old life...

5.0. The Union Jack Bendera Followed the Anglican Msalaba in Kenya

If you go over to the website of the Anglican Church of Kenya you will find a link that direct you to an overview of the Church's history in Kenya.

What you will not find, even if you are armed with the MOST POWERFUL MICROSCOPE is ANY mention of the role of the Church in the imperialist conquest and colonial domination of Kenya or its continued role as a conduit of the neo-colonial ideology of slavishness to the United Kingdom and other former colonial powers. The fact that the Church in Kenya still calls itself ANGLICAN, a full FORTY ONE years after we claimed formal independence is perhaps the clearest indicator of its institutional bias in being a bedrock of the British Empire, now renamed the Commonwealth headed by that rich half German grandmother married to the racist Greek xenophobe.

To glean the sordid racist and imperialist legacy of the Anglican Church in Kenya, you have to look elsewhere, of course.

Suffice to say that the Anglican Church in its INSTITUTIONAL ROLE as an IDEOLOGICAL force bolstering colonialism was BY DEFINITION RACIST- most notably in which, like other Christian missions in Kenya sought to obliterate our indigenous and diverse national cultures, customs and traditions and superimpose on it an artificial, ahistorical Christian stamp. I remember growing up and hearing whispers of how so and so could not be buried properly by the Church because of this and that...We saw the ujinga(not necessarily of Anglicans) of some Christian leaders who practically hijacked the funeral of the late Karisa Maitha even though that war lord was far from being a devout Christian himself, completly shunting to the margins the traditional Giriama leaders from the funeral ceremony.

Christianity(and by extension the Anglicans) had a somewhat mixed legacy when it came to championing gender rights. One might argue that the early opposition to female genital mutiliation, even when it was couched in overtly racist terms did bolster the rights of girls and women; one may add that the mission run schools helped to break the back of precolonial communal and semi-feudal patriarchy by drawing girl children into the educational system as opposed to just leaving them at home to be fattened into future co-wives for lecherous polygamists. But we know that this was not unalloyed. The struggle against the ordination of women as ministers in the Church exemplies the fact that the Anglican Church as other male dominated religious institutions, both Christian and non-Christian, have still not overcome their innate fear and insecurity for the equal and dignified participation of women in ALL the MAJOR matters in society.

Extrapolating from this racist and sexist legacy and baggage we can see that the systemic homophobia in the Anglican Church is not embedded in the Bible but rather, in history and social relations determined concretely over time, even though the regular suspecting texts will be trotted out-Leviticus, Romans- to boost the worn out empty headed cliches about Adam and Eve and not Adam and Steve, yada yada yada blah blah blah.

Today I will urge my readers to get off their lazy behinds and GOOGLE for a change- why should I do all the heavy lifting when it comes to simple internet based research all the time?

Instead I will give references to other experiences from other parts of the world.

Here, for instance,is a perspective from a Canadian youth who went on an exchange to the Philippines.

I do ADMIRE the way the Anglican Church in CANADA has tried to come to terms with its racist colonial legacy as it pertains especially to how it treated Indigenous people in this country. This link gives a small hint of the soul searching that has been going on for several years now.

Next we see an insider's look at this colonial legacy.

6.0. What Will Anglicans Do About Their Sickening Homophobia?

Most people reading the Windsor Report will conclude, with considerable justification, that the Lambeth Commission has come out resolutely against including gays and lesbians among the leadership of the Anglican Church, despite the FACT that MANY Archbishops and Bishops in the Anglican Communion, are in fact, practising homosexuals who are tolerated as long as they cower in the hypocritical closets of Christendom.

I really do not wish to rehash all the arguments and counterpoints of the various sides to the issue of the ordination of the gay Bishop in the United States. I will confine myself to providing links.

On the side of the rabid homophobes you have powerful arguments such as
this one and this this next one.

On the other side of the divide you see Gene Robinson's supporters challenging the alleged Biblical justifications for the mainstream homophobia within the Anglican Comunion. You can access one one such argument here.

7.0. Beyond Theology: The Crisis in the Anglican Church as a Manifestation Of Equality Struggles in the Real World

Not too long ago, the World Reformed Church movement was wracked with a similar controversy- only that time it was on the question of apartbeid since many of the Dutch Reformed Churches were part and parcel of the edifice of white minority racist misrule in South Africa.

In United States we know that Baptist and other Protestant congregations have been deeply split in the past over the question of whether not Black people could even attend their services and in fact it was not until they met in St. Louis, Missouri on March 10, 1990 that the Southern Baptists formally apologized to African-Americans over slavery.

In other words, the struggles of gays and lesbians in the Anglican Church to be recognized and treated as human beings is no different from the struggles of South Africans against apartheid or African-Americans against Jim Crow laws or Kenyans against British colonialism-all three struggles having as a common denominator the Christian institutions firmly backing the status quo.

I urge my readers who are obsessed with anal sex to retrieve their pathetic minds from the gutter and remember that celebrating the personhood of gays and lesbians among us is no different from celebrating the humanity of people of colour, people with disabilities, women, youth and people from minority cultural or religious groups.

In any case, it is not as if NONE OF the livid, ever so sanctimonious, oh so holy, regular Church going Christian men out there who rail against homosexuals on the grounds that anal sex is "unnatural" it is not as if they do not fuck their own prissy and puritanical wives up the ass for crying out loud-or actually give blow jobs to their own brothers in Christ on the Down Low. Give me a break already. Same applies to you dainty ladies of the Church. Let us not even talk of the times you have accepted a back door present, O Ye Sisters in Christ. I now want to ask some of you to come forward and confess about that steamy downtown session you had with your girlfriend in Form Three. Did you like it when she sucked you down THERE yes, THERE while massaging those hard and horny nipples?

Hey, please go ahead and shoot me.

Or bite me, if that is your culinary preferance.

8.0. The Anglican Church Has to Decide Whether it is the Church of the Future or the Past

The raging controversy in the Anglican Church is NOT, in my estimation about whether or not gays, bisexuals, lesbians and transgendered people should become bishops and so on. That is what is floating on the surface.

Underneath that is a very intense struggle between the forces of backwardness and reaction and the forces of progress and inclusiveness.

Today no one in his or right mind will say something OPENLY racist in PUBLIC if they want to be seen as a serious Christian. But we know that this did not happen overnight or automatically. People of colour fought tenaciously against the embedded overt racism, not totally destroying it, because we know it still persists in various insidous systemic forms, but shaming it into the furtive netherworld of code words and subliminal channelling. Likewise the hatred and contempt of women which is still very much a reality is not as blatant as it was back in the day when the Feminist movement was in its infancy.

NO ONE, in my opinion, can in this day and age, CLAIM to be "progressive" if they still harbour, spout and perpetrate bigotry and hostility against other people simply based on their sexual orientation. And I do not care whether you use Biblical, Koranic, traditional African fake excuses to try and sugar coat your putrid hatred.

As a straight person who has struggled for decades with my homophobic socialization, I know from experience that gays and lesbians DO NOT POSE A THREAT TO ME AS A FULL BLOODED HETEROSEXUAL. By and large, I have NEVER HAVE NEVER HAD A GAY MAN COME ON TO ME(small correction: there is a closeted Kenyan man who has been stalking me for over two years, but he is on the internet, in another country, in another time zone and possibly grappling with some serious mental health challenges that makes him hallucinate a lot) but if it ever happened, I would deal with it in the same way any other straight person deals with sexual harassment from someone of the opposite sex- firmly pointing out that this is not acceptable and actually quite disrespectful.

One Catholic priest has suggested that the Anglican Church has
THREE souls- Catholic, evangelical and liberal- all fighting for mastery.


I prefer to see the fissures in the Anglican Church as first and foremost mediated by the ongoing cleavages and struggles in the real world as well as the the coming to terms of the Anglican Communion with the creeping realization that the sun is indeed rapidly setting FOR GOOD, AT LAST, THANK GOODNESS on the very last vestiges of the British Empire. The Anglican Communion extends to at least 44 countries around the world and some people estimate that it is the third largest Christian congregation.

As an institution, the Anglican Church has to remain relevant to its adherents or risk fading into oblivion.

In North America, it has to contend with the secular forces out there that have been helping to democratize society through various equality struggles by people Naomi Klein dubbed ID Warriors: in other words, the Identity Politics of gays, lesbians, people of colour, people with disabilities, youth etc are a manifestation of the quest for global equity and deepening of social justice victories in all spheres including the religious institutions.

Clawing back against these social forces for human progress are the various FUNDAS- the Christian Fundamentalists, the reawakening Islamists, the Hindu nationalists etc who would use religion to roll back historic democratic gains, especially for women.

Homophobia is the FINAL FRONTIER for all xenophobes and bigots.

I was speaking to an older comrade sister who helped mentor me ideologically over the years and we both noted with awe and alarm how on this one issue of homophobia Kenyans of the Left and the Right are FIRMLY UNITED in their narrow mindedness.

When I was in Nairobi last year, I remember having fierce debates with, yes, some of my MARXIST-LENINIST comrades who fell back on the most tawdry, shallow and ridiculous cultural nationalist bull crap to justify why they thought the new supposedly demoncratic constitution being cobbled together at Bomas should NOT include equality rights for Kenyans who happened to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered. This stinking hypcrisy is underscored by the fact that the CURRENT KENYAN CABINET has at least ONE GAY member who slinks in the closet and at least ONE OF THE CKRC commissioners is a LESBIAN if I am not mistaken.

I remember reading an interview a few years ago about this young Kenyan in Europe who threatened to expose all his gay lovers WHO WERE HAPPENED TO BE KENYAN MPs, assistant ministers and ministers if they did not shut up already about disgusting homosexual acts this, unnatural homosexual acts that.

Anyways, since I am a straight shooter(pun intended) I will always say it the way it is-and like I said, if you do not like what I am saying, you can do everybody a huge favour by flushing yourself down the nearest toilet or something.

The Anglicans are treading on very shaky and treacherous ground.

On the one hand, branches of their Church(the ordination of gays in the States; reparations to Native communities in Canada) are at long last doing the right thing. In the South(with the notable exception of South Africa) Anglicans seem to be trying the damnedest to prove that they can just be as stupid and pig headed as Jerry Falwell, Billy Graham and Pat Robertson.

The only problem for the Anglicans is that currently, the allure among the youth in Africa for evangelical variants of organized Christianity is far more SEXIER than those drab, boring, completely mind numbing Anglican church services. The Anglicans are losing their flock in droves to those neo-conservative fundamentalist Born in the USA evangelical churches.

The Anglican Church has therefore to decide in terms of next moves, whether it will turn sharply RIGHT to stem the flow of lost followers to those right wing churches or veer a little to the left and embrace the socially conscious liberal and liberation theologians who know that the doctrine of Jesus Christ bears very lttle resemblance to the teachings of the modern Pharisess and Sadducees to be found among the Anglicans, the Catholics and yes, especially among the fire and brimstone-mail your check today-televangelical crusaders.



Then it is


For now at least.

Onyango Oloo

No comments: