Wednesday, July 9, 2008

A lead from "The Lead"

The Lead is a newsy bit of a website called "The Episcopal Cafe" which had a relevant entry today entitled "Archbishop Orombi believes gay people are out to kill him."

Archbishop Henry Orombi is the Primate of Uganda, in case the name doesn't ring a bell. He is quoted in the New Vision, a Ugandan daily, saying that he doesn't dare wear clericals when in countries that have supporters of homosexuals. “I am forced to dress like a civilian because those people are dangerous. They can harm anybody who is against them. Some of them are killers. They want to close the mouth of anybody who is against them.”

Lead has this trenchant comment: "One might have supposed that Henry Orombi could have walked down any street in America wearing a t-shirt that said, 'Hey, I'm Henry Orombi' and people still wouldn't have recognized him." Here's his picture so that you can indeed identify him, though I guess he won't be wearing the purple and collar.

A couple of thoughts:

One--one of the things I came to realize during my time in Uganda is that the perception is almost (and I emphasize almost) as important as the reality as far as the West is concerned. (More on this later.) Now, it is possible that the Archbishop has received threats, and if so, that is deplorable.

Two--on the other hand, is this merely demonizing "those people"? This is the same kind of language used to support bigotry the world over: Those people are dangerous. There's a significant difference between saying, "I am afraid" and "People are trying to kill me." It's the difference between saying honestly where I am and projecting motives onto other people, and it is an important and significant difference.

Three--I think he's in more danger for being black than for being anti-homosexual in most of these supposedly "gay-supporting countries." And, as the Lead says, "the instances of violence against gays and lesbians are likely to remain more numerous than the instances of violence by gays and lesbians against Anglican archbishops." One comment I read on this is that this kind of speech may very likely spark violence against homosexuals in Uganda (because, of course, they are threatening killers, the Archbishop says so) than it is to provide the Archbishop with any needed protection, if indeed he needs any.

Four--it seems like the way to counteract this kind of perception is for the Archbishop to meet and know gay and lesbian people, to love and be loved by them, to take away the demon mask that he sees them wearing.

And finally, on a different note--I didn't take my clericals to Uganda, not knowing how the people there would react to a woman in a collar. I was fearful, and it turned out to be unnecessary. And I did the very same thing I suspect the Archbishop of doing: instead of saying, "I am afraid," I immediately went to "What will they do when they see me?"

Perfect love casts out all fear. That's what I'm praying for. For all of us.

1 comment:

qoe said...

Matt 5:44-45, to my way of reckoning in this modern era, is a charge to refrain from identity politics, which fuel discontent and fan wars, not to mention obscure the deeper underlying problems (such as fear). So, I pray with you.