Photo by daniel james on Unsplash
Unfortunately, religion continues to play its pernicious role in opposing acceptance and rights for LGBTQIA-plus individuals.
While there are many Christian sects today that are more accepting, most of them have hopped on the bandwagon belatedly. Even Pope Francis recently said priests can “bless” gay unions. For the Catholic Church, that’s progress. After all, it took 350 years for the Vatican to admit that Galileo was correct about the Earth’s revolution around the sun. However, Catholic prelates around the world, especially in Poland, East Asia and Africa are in open revolt.
Rev. Sanctus Lino Wanok, the bishop of Lira Diocese in Uganda, where a law was passed last year stipulating life imprisonment for same-sex activity, is one of those protesting. “It’s shameful to see some people promoting sin and luring people to join in committing sin,” he told Religion News Service. “People must not accept homosexuality because it’s a mockery of God, our creator.”
Rev. Francis Xavier Kikomeko, the parish priest of Kisubi in Kampala, Uganda’s capital, contends: “We want to make children and parents aware that homosexuality is a sin, and pro-gay activists should never influence them to join LGTBQ groups because it’s evil and not accepted in the bible.”
Most horrifying, the Catholic president of Burundi late last year called for LGBTQIA-plus people to be stoned.
These Catholics are among many other African religious leaders and public officials claiming that acceptance of LGBTQIA-plus individuals and their rights is a form of new colonialism. Catechist Charles Kiwuwa, of the Archdiocese of Tororo in Uganda, told Religion News Service. “They have told us that polygamy is a sin because they know most Africans embrace it and that homosexuality is righteousness because we disagree.”
How ironic, when the many draconian laws against LGBTQ individuals in Africa stem from colonialism.
“These terrible laws are the direct result of centuries of Christian missionary work,” notes FFRF’s Equal Justice Works Legal Fellow Kat Grant. More than 30 countries throughout Africa ban same-sex relationships, although Uganda is the first on the continent to ban homosexuality entirely.
That missionary influence continues, as American evangelicals have established a stronghold of influence in Uganda and other African nations to lobby against abortion and LGBTQIA-plus rights. Christian nationalists have poured more than $50 million to oppose LGBTQIA-plus and abortion rights in Africa. The Fellowship Foundation (the recently ousted sponsor of the National Prayer Breakfast) has poured over $20 million into Uganda to oppose such rights, and was heavily involved some years ago in the writing of the infamous “Kill the Gays” bill there, which didn’t pass but paved the way for the 2023 law.
Let’s now look at the role of religion against queer rights closer to home. Notably, the rupture that’s taken place within the United Methodist Church, which has lost a quarter of its churches, mostly in the South, is largely due to a split over LGBTQIA-plus rights. Most of the departing churches opposed the loosening of its restrictions to allow the ordination of LGBTQIA-plus individuals and marriage of same-sex couples. In all, 7,631 churches have left the fold, with Religion News Service reporting that more than half are now affiliated with the conservative splinter group Global Methodist Church. This split is the vein of the creation of the Southern Baptist Convention, which formed to support slavery (“an institution of heaven”).
“Religion — and its ceaseless demand to dictate civil laws — is the problem here in the United States and around the world, where we’re facing a full-frontal assault on LGBTQIA-plus rights,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with over 40,000 members across the country. Our purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.