Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Manhattan Declaration, the Uganda Gay Death Bill, and attacks on GLBT rights

The Forces of Ill have put together something they call The Manhattan Declaration stating their opposition to marriage equality with all the same, tired slippery slope arguments and self-righteous victimhood. From The New York Times:
Citing the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s call to civil disobedience, 145 evangelical, Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christian leaders have signed a declaration saying they will not cooperate with laws that they say could be used to compel their institutions to participate in abortions, or to bless or in any way recognize same-sex couples.

“We pledge to each other, and to our fellow believers, that no power on earth, be it cultural or political, will intimidate us into silence or acquiescence,” it says....

The manifesto, to be released on Friday at the National Press Club in Washington, is an effort to rejuvenate the political alliance of conservative Catholics and evangelicals that dominated the religious debate during the administration of President George W. Bush.......

The document says, “We will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other antilife act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent.”
It's a pretty creepy document. You can read the whole thing at Good As You. (I won't give the haters' site any hits)

All the Usual Suspects of intolerance have signed it, Maggie Gallagher and all her buddies. And it isn't limited to Americans. One of the signatories is Abp Peter Akinola of Nigeria whom Episcopal Church watchers will know as a fomenter of schism in the US church over the issue of gay rights.

Thus providing yet another link in the chain between right-wing anti-gay Christianist extremists in the US and the African churches that has led to the Ugandan Gay Death Bill (text here). This is the one that increases penalties against GLBT Ugandans, up to and including death.

Although this has been met with protests by some governmental entities, most churches have ignored the subject, tip-toeing around it, afraid to say that KILLING PEOPLE IS WRONG.

Now, a new study Globalizing the Culture Wars: US conservatives, African Churches, and homophobia (PDF) explicitly links the US culture war with the escalation of homophobia in Africa, and argues that the GLBT Africans including those in Uganda, are collateral damage to this effort.
The Executive Summary includes the following:
US Conservatives have successfully recruited a significant number of prominent African religious leaders to a campaign seeking to restrict the human right sof lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. The flagship issue of this campaign is the ordination of LGBT cleargy by mainline protestant denominations....

American conservatives who are in the minority within mainline churches depend on African religious leaders to legitimize their positions.....

While homophobia in Africa is fomented largely for US domestic purposes, by depicting advances in the United States as evidence of a worldwide neo-colonial homosexual threat, US conservatives have engendered an insidious inverse relationship between LGBT rights in the United State and in Africa. Scott Lively and other evangelicals portray victories for equality in the United States as evidence of the encroaching gay conspiracy, exciting bigotry and violence among their African audiences. In this respect, Africans have become a kind of "collateral damage" of the US culture wars.
Importantly, the report highlights examples where American extremists have rewritten statements that purport to express the African point of view, by opposing social justice in favor of anti-Islamic rhetoric. They have attacked the long history of mainline churches in supporting African churches by linking progressives to homosexuality, and persuaded the African churches to re-orient and switch to conservative-approved funding, which is characterized by absence of accountability, and individual political benefit.

The conservative groups have moved under the radar to patiently develop and assemble a base by which to attack progressive values and social justice. It is similar to their strategy in local politics and school boards in the US, where they establish a majority and then attack sex education and evolution. And nearly every time, well-meaning progressives and liberals are caught off guard by the relentlessly disciplined message of hate. Yes, they really DO hate us. Really.

One of the big advocates in Uganda of The Other Side is Scott Lively, who is a viciously anti-gay activist and Holocaust revisionist ; the Southern Poverty Law Center considers his flagship organization to be a hate group. He claims gays were responsible for the Holocaust. Rick Warren has also attacked homosexuals in African as an ally of a prominent anti-gay pastor, although he is trying to distance himself recently. And of course, our old friend the IRD and its twisted tendrils deep in the Episcopal/Anglican schism.

There's more on this at Religion Dispatches.

The signatories of the Manhattan Declaration just like the haters in Uganda purport to represent Christianity. We know they represent conservative Christianists, Roman Catholics, and others. What's their view of the Uganda Bill...any guess?

The Anglican Church of Canada and Global Ministries of the United Church of Christ & Disciples of Christ have released statements decrying the proposed Uganda law. But other churches are strangely silent. Well, we know that the Vatican has a "better dead than wed" policy towards gays, but I am a little surprised that other denominations are not speaking out.

Now, the battle continues to escalate on our own borders. Emboldened by the success of their dishonest campaigns in ME and CA, the bad guys are ramping up the attack with this new declaration. But it's PAST TIME for the forces of good to stand up to them and say NO MORE in the same forceful terms that they have used against us. Whispers and soft voices have not worked. It's PAST TIME for the leadership of liberal, progressive Christian denominations to SPEAK OUT loudly against intolerance and divisiveness and hatred masquerading under religion's name whether here at home, or overseas. Maggie Gallagher et al do NOT represent all Christians, not by a long shot. It's PAST TIME for there to be strong voices from both civil and religious circles who opposethe Gay Death Bill in Uganda, strong voices that call the Manhattan Declaration out for the prejudiced, intolerant document that it is.


Göran Koch-Swahne said...

The Swedish Minister for Aid, Ms Carlsson (Conservative) has spoke out. Translations and Links on my Blog.

IT said...

Thanks Göran--glad to hear it.

Göran's blog here.