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The Plight of African Christians


Mmegi/The Reporter (Gaborone)
August 26, 2005
Posted to the web August 26, 2005

By Bugalo Chilume

In African culture, homosexuality is taboo. President Robert Mugabe has been widely reported to have said that homosexuals are worse than pigs, which didn't go down well with the West. Sam Nujoma is also known to have publicly unpalatable terms to describe homosexuality. In fact, he is reported to have ordered the arrest and deportation of homosexuals from Namibia.

Across the continent, homosexuality is a criminal offence, except in South Africa, where the minority white race was in power prior to majority rule - they ensured that the country's new constitution guaranteed freedom of sexual orientation before relinquishing power to the Africans.

Traditional Christian teachings frown upon homosexuality, as does African culture. It is against this background that the majority of African Christians, Anglicans in particular, are agonising over the consecration of Gene Robinson, an openly gay American divorcee of two, as bishop of an Episcopal Church, the American version of the Anglican Church. Most are horrified, and the consecration was met with harsh condemnation across Africa. The Kenyan Anglican archbishop is reported to have lamented that, "the devil has clearly entered the church. God cannot be mocked".

The majority of Anglican churches in Africa were against the consecration, with the notable exception of the South African church. Obviously, mindful of the provision of his country's constitution, Njongokulu Ndungane, the Archbishop of Cape Town, is reported to have welcomed Robinson into the church's fold: "Robinson has been consecrated by his province and that makes him a bishop of the church".

In white societies, homosexuality is an accepted lifestyle - even same sex marriages are recognised under law and enjoy the same legal rights as heterosexual marriages. Robinson's appearance at his nomination victory celebration with his gay partner by his side didn't cause much of a ripple in the white Christian movement. His consecration had been a foregone conclusion despite spirited opposition from church leaders of non-white races, who make up about 70 percent of the worldwide Anglican membership.

To the dismay of many African Anglicans, the Archbishop of Canterbury and spiritual head of the Anglican Church (a.k.a. Church of England) didn't rebuke the diocese in the US state of New Hampshire that firstly nominated and then consecrated Robinson. If anything, the archbishop was very accommodating in his remarks.

The current trials and tribulations of African Christians emanates from the fact that you cannot divorce indigenous culture from indigenous religion. When this happens, a society becomes dysfunctional, thus impeding its advancement economically, politically and spiritually.

Religion is the foundation upon which cultural values of a society are based; a framework within which these values function. By forsaking his own religion to embrace the religion of another race (white) that has totally different societal values from his, has left the African in a cultural limbo. As a result, African Christians, at least the Anglicans, are now in despair and utter confusion over the recent developments within the Anglican Church. Indeed, even without the consecration of the gay bishop, African Christians on the whole have always found it difficult to harmonise the spiritual demands of Christianity with their traditional African way of life.

Despite their opposition to the consecration of Robinson, there is nothing much the African and other non-white Anglicans can do to reverse this milestone in the Christian history, although they outnumber their white counterparts by far - clearly a master-servant relationship.

The consecration has taken place and the church has accepted it.

African Anglicans just have to bear it, toe the line and conform to the dynamics of the cultural values of their white masters, even if these are at loggerheads with their own African values.

Christianity is a religion of the white race, and therefore impervious to the cultural and social needs of its African and other non-white followers.

The near-hysterical opposition to contraceptives by the Vatican is incomprehensible, to say the least. Widespread poverty in Africa, where economic growth is largely stagnant, at best, makes it absolutely imperative that modern family planning methods be employed to contain runaway population growth; yet, the Roman Catholic Church instructs its many followers in Africa (and other developing parts of the world) not to use contraceptives. What is this?

Christianity is a white man's religion that he rightly wants to be in tandem with the dynamics of his own culture, and, needless to say, culture evolves over time to accommodate changing needs of society.

Given the comparatively pitiful low levels of economic development in the continent, African culture hasn't evolved to the same degree as European culture - hence the current deep cultural split between the races over the consecration of an openly gay bishop.

African Anglican ministers are reported to have accused their white counterparts of allowing their societies' increasingly secular morals to corrupt the traditionalist beliefs of Anglicanism.

What do they know? African Christians accepted the white man's religion when they were not party to its formation, now, what gives them the right to dictate to the owners of the religion?

Whites own the religion and should do whatever they damn well please with it!

In fact, over the years whites have made changes to their religion to suit the requirements of the times. Ineffectual gestures such as severing ties with the diocese of which Robinson is bishop is the most that African Anglican leaders can do to show their consternation at the consecration.

If, indeed, they believe that the consecration of an openly homosexual man as a bishop goes against the basic teachings of the Bible, and that it is an abomination, why don't they break away from the Anglican Church altogether? The church has broken up many times in the past to spawn new Christian denominations over less contentious issues.

The sad truth is that there is nowhere for them to go, no other spiritual home, for they were party to the destruction of their own true spiritual home.

Meekly, they will toe the line because they have been conditioned to always obediently follow the white man wherever he leads them, even if it is to their own deaths. Poor Africans.

Copyright © 2005 Mmegi/The Reporter. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).

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August 26, 2005 in Africa | Permalink


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In this essay, Christianity is described as a white man's religion.

Jesus was born at the meeting point of Africa, Asia and Europe, referred to as the Middle East. It is most likely that Jesus had dark skin and dark curly hair. I believe he looked more like an African than a European.

We can make a good case that the origins of Christianity are Middle Eastern and Jewish in culture. St. Paul was forceful in opening up Christianity to gentiles and making an appeal to Romans.

So, in it's origins or authentic core, I believe Christianity is not a white man's religion.

However, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and largely white cultures have had control over religious institutions.

God, in his wisdom and power, has brought many in Africa to Christian faith. Much of it through white missionaries. But, as I understand it, the African Christian faith is solidly supported by the Bible and solidly holding on to eternal core Christian beliefs and life.

Even though Christian faith was brought back to Africa in recent centuries through white missionaries, God has brought forth a vibrant, believing Christianity in Africa; while the European and white distortions of Christianity are shrinking.

In summary, Christianity has its origins outside of white Europe. Christianity in Africa, whoever brought it back, is stronger and more vibrant than in Europe. Within this century, leadership of the Christian institutions will be from Africa, and the Europeans and other white versions of Christianity will no longer be dominant.

Posted by: David in Wisconsin | Dec 23, 2005 10:25:29 AM

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