The following article has also been posted in the public area of africanloft.com on the 11th December 2009, on a topic which concerns all Africans. I have not researched again what the position is in Nigeria at present, but know that similar legislation was introduced to the Nigerian Parliament recently.
Ugandan Anti-gay Proposed Legislation 11.12.2009
In response to the comments of “a patriolist who loves her country with all her soul and will do anything to make sure the bill is enacted”, I respectfully bring to your attention, and to the readers of NigeriaVillageSquare the following, which I have based on the writing of my award-winning online friend Jendi Reiter:
“People of good faith can disagree about what the Bible says about homosexuality, but persecution is clearly not the gospel way. Jesus invited people to transform their lives by offering them love, not violence. Nothing could be further from "family values" than coercing family members to turn in their gay relatives to the police. Nothing could be less in keeping with the spirit of Jesus, the great healer, than interfering with HIV/AIDS care and education. The world is looking to us to show that religion is about love, not hate.”
Actually, I changed only one word in the paragraph, by substituting “religion” for “Christianity”, for I have just attended the 5th Parliament of the World’s Religions, which was held in my hometown of Melbourne, Australia from the 3rd to the 9th December. Every one of those that I spoke to were “open-minded” people. They came from “far and wide” the world over. They were of diverse faiths and practices. All claimed that “their” religion was founded upon Love, and acknowledged that the “Golden Rule” in all its forms was known to them. The closing ceremony closed with a song which included the words, “If we don’t see God in ALL, then we don’t see God at all !”
For the love of God and each other, please, please write to your local church leaders, as well as to international religious leaders worldwide to oppose this draconian proposal, which is reminiscent of the changes Hitler brought about – with tragic consequences for all – innocent Jews, Christians, Homosexuals, Gypsies, and the dis-Abled etc – the whole of the Second World War being brought about because one evil-minded person was able to exercise his influence over others.
To the shame of many in the Catholic and Lutheran churches in particular (whose leaders were mindful of their own connections and “spheres of influence”, and of the potential to offend a powerful enemy), their leaders said nothing, when they had the chance to avert the inevitable abomination – a World War – where millions of people were traumatised and imprisoned, literally or not. Starvation rations were the order of the day for many years, and people’s lives the world over were ruined – shattered by the disruption and chaos, the indiscriminate loss of loved ones, loss of hard-earned property and livelihoods, and the destruction of infrastructure needed by civilized societies.
Dietrich Bonheoffer was a man of principle, and denounced the Nazi’s at every turn. He suffered the penalty for speaking the truth, while others also suffered the penalty of saying nothing. Bonheoffer may have been imprisoned and executed at the pleasure of Hitler, but Hitler died by his own hand, a cowardly death. Others, millions of others, also suffered, and through no real fault of their own, all for want of heroes prepared to “speak the truth” – to speak of Love.
From the books, letters and papers* of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, I have extracted a timely reminder to you, the people of Uganda, as your politicians consider the Bill (which has, I note, also prompted an appeal from US evangelical megachurch pastor Rick Warren, who has issued a public statement condemning the proposed legislation. I trust that the conscience of Nigeria’s Anglican Archbishop Peter Akinola, who has supported similar, but less draconian legislation in Nigeria recently, will prompt him to do the same.):
It is an evil time when the world lets injustice happen silently. P279 TF The precept of nonviolence applies equally to private life and official duty. P317 TF Blessed are you outcasts and despised, you casualties of society, you men and women without work, you broken and ruined ones, you lonely and forsaken, you who endure violence and unjustly suffer, you who suffer in body and soul. Blessed are you since God’s joy will come over you, and remain eternally with you. This is the Gospel…. P205 TP Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. P448 TF
From peace between twos and threes, let us put an end to all hate, mistrust, envy, disquiet, wherever we can. P448 TF
Grace is costly, precisely because it is pure…. P55 D The despiser of humanity despises what God has loved. P87 E
Faith and evil intentions cannot exist together, even for an instant. P148 E
The church is the “church” only when it exists for others. It… must share in the secular problems of ordinary human life, not dominating, but helping and serving. It must exist for others. For it is not abstract argument, but example, that gives its word emphasis and power. P382 TP We need to get right down to fundamentals to come to terms with life. P271 TP “God’s blessing”… includes in itself, all earthly Good. P374 TP One simply cannot read the Bible (or any other religious texts) like other books. We must be prepared really to question it (them). P425 TF
We are what we are. Substitutes repel us. P167 TP Keep your (own) heart with all vigilance; for from it flows the spring of life. P297 TP It is most reprehensible to sow and encourage mistrust. P12 TP Nothing that we despise in “an other” is entirely absent from our (own) selves. P10 TP
The only profitable relationship to “others”… is one of Love…. P10 TP Basic respect for ultimate laws and human life is (also) the best means of self preservation…. P11 TP For once Having become a passive instrument, the fool will be capable of any evil. P9 TP Evil always carries the seeds of its own destruction. P8 TP
Regard people less in the light of what they do (or omit to do), and more in the light of what they suffer. P9 TP
The meaner the base contempt for humanity becomes, the more willing and pliant a tool it is in the hand of the tyrant. P86 E The elimination of the weak is the death of the community. P96 LT
Inward liberation must be preceded by outward liberation. P8 TP Civil courage can grow only out of the free responsibility of the free. P6 TP We must be alive to the danger of “not seeing the wood for the trees” – and – keep a warm heart, as well as a cool head. P276 TP
Spiritual love does not desire, but rather serves; it loves an enemy as a brother or sister. P43 LT Diversity is a reason for rejoicing in one another, and serving one another. P90 LT Seek to do good unto all. Make peace, as far as it depends on you, with all. P296LT We must not spare our hand where it can perform a service. P100 LT No one must hunger as long as the other has bread…. P73 LT
God has called us to be “as children”, and made us “brethren”, that there cannot be any hate or enmity, but only the “best will” to understand each other. Otherwise, we would offend the glory of God, who is a God of love, and not hate. P188 TF
The worth of a life is measured by how much love it has. Everything else is nothing. Nothing at all. P241 TF
Let us All remember (it is well to remember), that We collectively spring from the remnants of peoples scattered and swept by the tides of history – from place to place. Our fate, and the hopes of our descendant brothers and sisters, rests with Us, now, in the present moment – Together, for All People have a common destiny – which is to love, and to be loved, in return. Pride has no place in the overall scheme of things, and is balanced at every turn by the aspirations of others, who are all equally placed. For All Beings are vital ingredients in the mix of talents which form the Whole.
Our One Hope Unites All. The sooner we recognize this Grounding Principle, the sooner the component parts of the body will be reconciled and enabled to radiate the energy, warmth and light, which is within Each One, so that the Whole Body may Truly Live in Peace and Harmony, within the Universe, and Cosmos, which is the Creating Force of what we may call “God”.
And so, if not for your sake, or for my sake, but for the love of God and each other, please, please – “do not allow corrupt politicians to introduce measures which you would hate for yourself, were they to apply to you”. For they will, one way or another…. Please do not let the lives of Viktor Jara, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and other courageous martyrs for God’s Love and Truth and Compassion – let alone the innocent victims of the World Wars etc – go, unappreciated. Now is the time to speak up, for “good” cause ! For God’s sake, “Let the world cry out against this ignominy” (Victor Jara).
Let there be no compulsion in religion (Koran). See http://www.nigeriavillagesquare.com/forum/blogs/a-piper-too/grand-perspectives-1076
With all my heart, your faithful friend. (Dietrich Bonhoeffer - P277 RF)
5. NB: Re Dietrich Bonhoeffer: (TF=A Testament to Freedom; TP=Letters and Papers from Tegel Prison; D=Discipleship; E=Ethics; RF=The Power of Religious Friendship)
6. NB: Re Victor Jara: “Let the world cry out against this ignominy” are words contained in his last prison cell statement, before he was brutally murdered. Please continue his work of love.
7. NB: Unknown “patriolist” (as reported on the 8th December 2009 at http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Comments:Uganda_introduces_anti-homosexual_legislation ).
8. NB: http://www.endcorporalpunishment.org/pages/reform/index.html United Nations initiative, February 2009
9. NB: http://www.endcorporalpunishment.org/pages/pdfs/LegalReformHandbook.pdf United Nations initiative, February 2009