No peace and very little goodwill in Uganda this Christmas

A post by Neil Hart on Homosexuality, LGBT, lesbian and gay stuff and the Lutheran Church of Australia.

The Ugandan parliament has  finally passed its Anti-Homosexual Bill (2009). I have written about this Bill previously. It was called the Kill The Gays Bill because its original wording included the death penalty for any homosexual who was deemed to be a *serial offender* (?). While the death penalty has been removed from the recently passed Bill, a person convicted of homosexuality will still suffer a maximum penalty of life in prison. From what I understand about conditions in Ugandan prisons, a life sentence is tantamount to a death penalty anyway.

Barak Obama and Desmond Tutu  have called the bill *odious* and *the new apartheid*. Jesus wept.

In opposition to these world leaders the Christian Churches in Uganda have used this holy time of peace on earth and goodwill toward men to actually celebrate the passage of this horrible bill.

I am not surprised that this reporter chose Christmas worship services as the backdrop to her celebratory report. The Ugandan population is 85% Christian and the passage of the bill would not have been possible without the support of the churches.

Significant Christian leaders have played a large part in stirring up anti-gay sentiment and fear over the 4 years that the bill has been considered.  The  infamous *eata da poo poo* youtube clip was just one example of this.

As I listened to the Christmas Day celebration of a Bill that puts gay people into prison for life and the obvious fear based rhetoric of the likes of Pastor Ssempa,  I was initially struck by the cultural differences between this African nation and our own country. But then I realised how similar Pr Ssempa*s comments were to those made at a 2012 lecture on homosexuality given to Lutheran Church of Australia pastors, school chaplains and church workers.

Lutheran Church Missouri Synod Psychologist Dr Beverly Yahnke laments that in our culture we are teaching toleration and anti discrimination from age 6 up to university level as a *reasonable alternative strategy*. She makes the nonsense claim that homosexuality is virtually unknown in cultures that kill their gay citizens. And, after a Ssempa-like litany of perversities she states…

My heavens we need to have our people informed. We need to have our people made safe. The last thing we want is to have our children imagine that (homosexuality) is an equitable alternative lifestyle.

Dr Yahnke*s tone is more measured than Pr Ssempa*s but her message and intent are identical to his. Her lectures are not contrary to  the official position of the LCA on homosexuality and broadly reflect the views of many LCA pastors, chaplains and church workers. On reflection it would appear that there is very little difference between the Christians in Uganda and our own church.

And yet, there IS a cultural divide. Our culture would not tolerate the passage of a bill that would imprison our LGBT citizens for life simply for loving who they love.  So, where is the divide? What is the difference between Australia and Uganda?

My best guess? The Bill has broad support in Uganda precisely because the country is 85% Christian. The Bill would not have parliamentary or broad community support in Australia because we are not.

How terribly sad that the name *Christian* has come to be identified with such things.

Christians, the group who claim to belong to the one born in Bethlehem are, by far, the largest group of people on earth making up a full one-third of the population. We could choose to join the Angels and with one voice proclaim Gods universal message of peace and goodwill (Luke 2.14).

We could change the world.

Instead, we shrink back into our fear of things we do not understand and our suspicion of those who are different.

And we choose to cling to harsh and outdated laws in a forlorn attempt to protect ourselves and control them.

And our christmas worship is empty, our carolling is hollow and the world is as it always has been.

Uganda*s Anglican Bishop Wilberforce prayed that his country might live by the *culture of heaven*.  I think his understanding of that culture is profoundly wrong.  If the president signs the bill then the Bishop*s law-based and fundamentalist type of *biblical morality* will rule from the courts as well as the pulpits of Uganda.

Then, with the Government and the Church united against them, our LGBT brothers and sisters in Uganda will truly have nowhere to turn.

Merry Christmas everyone.