House of Bishops President Accuses Africans of “Homophobia” and “Repression” of Gays. But is it true?

By David W. Virtue DD

The President of the Episcopal Church’s lay and clergy House of Deputies, the Rev. Gay Jennings has blasted laws in parts of Africa that she says, “are brutally repressive to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.”

Her views on Africa and homosexuality were recently published by the Religion News Service (RNS) and picked up by the Huffington Post. VOL believes that she has not understood the historical context, theological principles, and spiritual consequences of homosexuality in Africa. She also ignores the enormous damage her point of view has done to The Episcopal Church.

This reporter has been travelling to Africa for more than 35 years and watched the evolution of sexuality issues as they have been pushed on Africans by Western pansexualists who have an agenda they want advanced at any cost to justify their own behavior.

JENNINGS: In the last month, many Westerners watched in horror as Uganda, and then Nigeria, enacted laws that are brutally repressive to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The fate of a bill passed by the Ugandan parliament remains uncertain after President Yoweri Museveni refused to sign it, but news reports from Nigeria indicate that there have been mass arrests of gay men following President Goodluck Jonathan’s signing of the National Assembly’s anti-gay bill.

VOL: Uganda has every reason not to want to allow or promote sodomy as they have experienced this first hand historically. The Uganda Martyrs were Christian converts who were murdered for their faith in the historical kingdom of Buganda, now part of Uganda. The main reasons for their murder were their objection to and resistance to King Mwanga’s homosexual practices. Why would they see anything good coming out of accepting this behavior if young men were prepared to lay down their lives rather than submit to the king’s sexual advances?

Furthermore, it should be noted again that Uganda President Museveni did pull back from the extremist aspects of the gay law in his country.

However, the emergence of homosexuality has been a mostly western phenomenon and is only a problem made so but not by Africans. You can’t blame Africans if they feel that the West is making it an issue for them when in fact it is not.


Vanguard, a leading newspaper group in Nigeria has learned that the US is committing “substantial” resources to fund the emergence of gay clubs and advocacy groups across Nigeria. Ms. Jennings conveniently ignores this fact. The Canadian Government cancelled a planned state visit by President Jonathan next month. The Canadian government’s action, which came within a week after the bill was signed into law, is widely believed to be that country’s reaction to the President’s action of assenting to the bill which has so far enjoyed popular support in the country.

Here is a note Nigerian Archbishop Nicholas Okoh sent to VOL regarding Jennings views; “Our position on gay marriage is well known; we don’t accept gay marriage; we don’t condone gay marriage and we don’t regard it as part of Christian life; but we have no hatred for anybody. We want to show them love by rehabilitating them and helping them to abandon that habit which they have acquired and is inconsistent with the scriptures.”

The Primate is on record saying, “Our argument is that, if homosexuals see themselves as deviants who have gone astray, the Christian spirit would plead for patience and prayers to make room for their repentance. When scripture says something is wrong and some people say that it is right, such people make God a liar. We argue that it is a blatant lie against Almighty God that homosexuality is their God-given urge and inclination. For us, it is better seen as an acquired aberration.”


The Church of Nigeria sees its view based upon the witness of Scripture. The House of Bishops issued a detailed and clearly argued statement analyzing both Old and New Testament texts. They concluded that all these texts show how homosexuality is regarded as an abominable deed. The statement concludes, “Thus it is clear from the passages considered that the Old Testament regards homosexuality as an atrocious and unnatural act. The Mosaic Law is against it and stipulates capital punishment for the offender. It is classified among the most offensive crimes like idolatry involving the sacrifice of children, having intercourse with animals, or marrying a woman and her mother.”

Furthermore, the church there has not talked about or defended the outworking of the new “jail gay” laws. Its position is that THEOLOGICALLY AND BIBLICALLY, homosexuality is wrong. What about this does Ms. Jennings not understand?

Former Ambassador Suleima has also described homosexuality and lesbianism as degrading to humanity. Reacting to US threat of sanctions against Nigeria over the anti-gay law, he said Nigerian leaders should not be dependent on foreign assistance for governance.

He added, “Homosexuality and lesbianism are offences against God; if anybody wants to do it, he should do so secretly. It is not only animalistic but diminishes mankind.

“If it is the money the US gives to us, let them keep the money. Nigeria is rich enough to take care of her people unlike other countries.”

Archbishop Okoh has reiterated that the Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion is strongly opposed to Homosexuality adding that they will not be involved with any Church that admits this practice. The Episcopal Church beware.

Even Archbishop Justin Welby said in an interview recently that “all cultures don’t agree with each other over this issue.” What about that does Ms. Jennings not understand? Why should Uganda and Nigeria be singled out by Ms. Jennings for special opprobrium? The one Nigerian Anglican who has vociferously opposed his church’s teaching, former Nigerian Anglican homosexual activist Davis Mac-Iyalla was exposed by VOL as a (homo)sexual predator on a tour through the US and TEC and described by blogger Peter Ould as a hypocrite.

JENNINGS: World leaders, including United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, have expressed their dismay. Many Christian leaders around the world, regrettably, have been largely unwilling to criticize Christian leaders in Africa who cheered the passage of these punitive laws.

The Anglican primates of Uganda and Nigeria enthusiastically support anti-gay legislation in their countries. I, like them, am a member of the Anglican Communion, a worldwide body of more than 80 million Christians. I am troubled and saddened that fellow Anglicans could support legislation that fails to recognize that every human being is created in the image of God.

Western Christians cannot ignore the homophobia of these church officials or the peril in which they place Ugandan and Nigerian LGBT people. The legacy of colonial-era Christian missionaries and infusions of cash from modern-day American conservatives have helped to create it.

Twice in the last three years, I have traveled to Africa to meet with biblical scholars, grass-roots activists and church officials at consultations about the Bible and sexuality. These brave leaders have taught me that there is no getting around the Bible when searching for the origins of the homophobia that is rampant in many African cultures. What’s more, Europeans and North Americans bear much of the historical responsibility for this sad state of affairs. As Zimbabwean biblical scholar Masiiwa Ragies Gunda has written, it is “far-fetched to look beyond the activities of Western missionaries” when considering the role of the Bible in Africa.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Western missionaries, fired with fervor to save souls in what they called “the dark continent,” sought to translate the Bible into indigenous languages so that converts could hear the Word of God, with special emphasis on the passages that urged hard work and submission. We know the result: as former President Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya reportedly said, “When the missionaries arrived, the Africans had the land and the missionaries had the Bible. They taught us how to pray with our eyes closed. When we opened them, they had the land and we had the Bible.”

Along with the Bible, Western missionaries also bequeathed to Africans a literal understanding of how to read it. Today, that literalism continues to encourage fundamentalist interpretation of difficult passages like the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. Although many scholars in Africa now understand that these passages are properly read in context of the ancient cultures that produced them, people can still fuel grass-roots homophobia by appropriating a handful of biblical texts that seem to vilify gay people.

VOL: This is a list of flat out historical inaccuracies. Missionaries who came to Africa brought with them the gospel that liberated millions of Africans from spiritual darkness and material squalor. In every Nigerian Anglican diocese I have visited, there was always a picture of the white western missionary who brought the gospel to their geographic location and for which they (the Africans) are eternally grateful hanging from the bishop’s wall. Most of these missionaries brought their own coffins knowing they would die of Malaria, sometimes within a few months of being there.

In the more than 200 years the church in Africa has raised up a mostly western educated class of African clergy, bishops and archbishops who know how to interpret Scripture without debunking its literalness, conforming to higher criticism, demythologizing or deconstructing it to suit postmodern minds. Many of them have earned Ph.Ds.

Today the Anglican provinces of Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda have some 40 million Anglican Christians and growing by the millions while The Episcopal Church can barely muster 700,000 practicing Episcopalians on any given Sunday. Unless the Episcopal Church adopts the gospel proclaimed by these Africans, TEC will be out of business in less than two decades and no one will care what it said, believed or thought. They will be a footnote to American ecclesiastical history.

JENNINGS: As a result, Christians who publicly advocate for more historically accurate biblical interpretations and more generous treatment of LGBT people can find themselves jobless, homeless and in grave danger.

The situation is not hopeless. Across Christian Africa, tools like contextual Bible study, developed in post-apartheid South Africa, provide new ways to read the Bible and what it has to say about sexuality and other central issues in the lives of African Christians. These new readings of old texts encourage Christians to accept LGBT people as God’s children.

Even so, progressive African Christians are fighting an uphill battle. The voices of strident homophobic leaders in Africa have been amplified by large infusions of money from American right-wing culture warriors such as Howard F. Ahmanson Jr., who has bankrolled homophobia on both sides of the Atlantic and helped make common cause between right-wing American Anglican splinter groups and the Anglican churches of Nigeria and Uganda.

VOL: “Progressive African Christians” are few and far between and only get publicity from the organized liberal Anglican media like ENS and ACNS and they are NOT the majority in Africa. There are more earned doctorates in Nigeria than TEC, ACoC and the CofE put together. All the Nigerian bishops and archbishops have been trained in universities and seminaries in the west, some even liberal, but they returned solidly orthodox in faith and morals. Western liberal media gives a Nigerian bishop like Josiah Fearon (demoted from archbishop) cyber ink because he is vulnerable and can be manipulated. So too with the new Ugandan appointment of The Rev. Canon Dr. Isaac Kawuki Mukasa who has been hired to maximize resources of mission for The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada who will cooperate in their efforts to foster missional relationships in Africa. INTERPRETATION. He will be used to try and neutralize the African evangelical Anglican witness and push the Western pansexual agenda with large handouts of money. Trinity Wall Street will support TEC.

Bishop Stacy F. Sauls, Episcopal Church Chief Operating Officer gloated, “I have no doubt that he will help us be the good and faithful partners that we want to be with our sister Anglican churches in Africa.”

You won’t see Mukasa working with his own archbishop Eliud Wabukala who heads up GAFCON, or Nigerian Primate Nicholas Okoh or Archbishop Onesphorus Rwaje of Rwanda. He will look for vulnerable and needy African provinces like the Sudan, Congo and Central Africa that need money and be open to changing their minds about sex in order to get the check.

JENNINGS: Western Christians cannot fix the homophobia that is currently gripping Nigeria, Uganda, or other African countries. We can, however, stand in solidarity with progressive Africans and support their efforts to teach new ways of interpreting the Bible and understanding sexuality. When we see human rights abuses, we can speak out. And most of all, we can acknowledge with humility that we bear our share of the responsibility for this tragic legacy of empire and insist on repudiating contemporary efforts to expand its reach.

VOL: This is not about homophobia. That’s a word like “bigot” and “fundamentalist” used against anyone who is not inclusive or does not show significant lip service to diversity and used on ANYONE who does not buy into The Episcopal Church’s pansexual theology.

It is precisely the Episcopal Church’s acceptance and practice of deviant sexual behaviors that has caused the church to lose more than 100,000 members resulting in the formation of the ACNA cost the church more than $33 million in property lawsuits, the loss of hundreds of clergy and much more. If that is what TEC has achieved then they should excuse themselves from the Anglican Communion. Psst. And they won’t be missed. The Global South and GAFCON own the Anglican Communion. The profile of the Anglican Communion is under 30, Black and male/female. Western Anglicanism is but a shadow by comparison.

Jennings and the Episcopal Church’s liberal elite are angry and frustrated because they no longer control the debate. The West is done for. Liberalism has destroyed the churches of the West. Africa is thriving and they will not be bullied by false charges of “homophobia” or “repression.” Anglican churches of the Global South will still be around preaching the Good News about Jesus when TEC, the ACoC and the Church of England (if Archbishop Carey is to be believed) will be a footnote to history.

You can read Gay Jennings speech here:

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