My colleagues and I often care for patients suffering from hallucinations, prophesying, and claiming to speak with God, among other symptoms—in mental health care, it’s sometimes very difficult to tell apart religious belief from mental illness…. Our conclusions frequently stem from the behaviors we see before us. Take an example of a man who walks into an emergency department, mumbling incoherently. He says he’s hearing voices in his head, but insists there’s nothing wrong with him. He hasn’t used any drugs or alcohol. If he were to be evaluated by mental health professionals, there’s a good chance he might be diagnosed with a psychotic disorder like schizophrenia. But what if that same man were deeply religious? What if his incomprehensible language was speaking in tongues?
Statement from the Synod of Bishops, 8-11 February 2010
The Anglican Church of Southern Africa
Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Draft Bill
We, the Bishops of the Anglican Church in Southern Africa, meeting at Thokoza Conference Centre, Swaziland, from 8 to 12 February 2010, are disturbed by the debate among Ugandan law-makers of a draft bill that seek to criminalize homosexuality and to prosecute gay people. It even proposes imposing the death penalty, which we regard as a breach of God’s commandment, “You shall not murder,” given in Exodus 20:13.
We also deplore the statement, attributed to our fellow Bishop, describing those who are opposed to this legislation as “lovers of evil”. Though there are a breadth of theological views among us on matters of human sexuality, we see this Bill as a gross violation of human rights and we therefore strongly condemn such attitudes and behaviour towards other human beings. We emphasize the teachings of the Scriptures that all human beings are created in the image of God and therefore must be treated with respect and accorded human dignity.
We are therefore also deeply concerned about the violent language used against the gay community across Sub-Saharan Africa. We thus appeal to law-makers to defend the rights of these minorities. As Bishops we believe that it is immoral to permit or support oppression of, or discrimination against, people on the grounds of their sexual orientation, and contrary to the teaching of the gospel; particularly Jesus’ command that we should love one another as he has loved us, without distinction (John 13:34-35).
We commit ourselves to teach, preach and act against any laws that undermine human dignity and oppress any and all minorities, even as we call for Christians and all people to uphold the standards of holiness of life. We call on all Christians to stand up against this Bill so that its provisions do not become law in Uganda or anywhere else in the world.
We also call on our President and law-makers to engage in dialogue with their counterparts on the rights of minorities.
Note for Editors: The Province of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa comprises Angola, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, St Helena and Tristan da Cunha.
Issued by the Office of the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town Inquiries: Cynthia Michaels on 021- 763-1320 (office hours)BACK TO TOP