Thursday, January 30, 2014

Rev. Gay Clark Jennings on Churches' Role In, and Against, Homophobia in Africa

Rev. Gay Clark Jennings

Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the Episcopal Church’s lay and clergy House of Deputies, on the role of Western Christians in bequeathing to African Christians a legacy of biblical fundamentalism that is now yielding bitter crops of homophobia:

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.

As Rev. Jennings also notes, the strident homophobia found among some Christian leaders in Africa is also being deliberately "amplified by large infusions of money from American right-wing culture warriors," and the best response Western Christians can make to the situation is to speak out for human rights, acknowledge our responsibility for the tragic legacy of empire, and stand with African Christians working to address the homophobia and human rights abuses now roiling many African nations.

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