Bruce Knotts defends religious freedom in Uganda, but Religious Right won't like this

In his April 2014 UU-UNO Director’s Report (Unitarian Universalists-United Nations Office), posted May 5, 2014, Bruce Knotts reported that he has “been advocating religious freedom which is violated by the anti-LGBTI laws passed by Uganda and Nigeria.”

In his report, he shares one particular interesting account of intervention:

“Even before the Ugandan law had been officially put in force, the Ugandan police questioned our Unitarian Universalist minister in Uganda, Rev. Mark Kiyimba, for over two hours. He was asked why he and his Unitarian Universalist congregation were supporting homosexuality. Before this incident and immediately after it, I had extensive conversations with the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and the United States Department of State about the need to enforce religious freedom for progressive religious practices which are under threat by the newly enacted laws in Nigeria and Uganda. I made the point that our faith does not promote any particular sexuality, but rather is welcoming and affirming to all regardless of sexuality.

The Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs immediately contacted their high commission in Nairobi which also represents Canada in Uganda and the U.S. Department of State contacted the U.S. Embassy in Kampala. The head of the U.S. Embassy Political section contacted Rev. Mark Kiyimba and visited his congregation in a profound demonstration of solidarity.”

Other Sheep on Liberty of Conscience (2012)

In 2012, Other Sheep (Rev. Stephen Parelli and Jose Ortiz), by invitation of two pro-LGBT organizations, conducted seminars with each group. One of the workshops presented at both was on “Liberty of Conscience.” The paper, along with other materials taught, was subsequently presented to individuals in high office by a local activist.

Twesigye on Uganda and Separation of Church and State

In the book Religion, Conflict, and Democracy in Modern Africa edited by Samuel K. Elolia (2012), Emmanuel Kalenzi Twesigye, in his article on Church and State Conflicts in Uganda (pages 148-192), says, in his concluding paragraph (page 192), that ”lasting peace will not come to Africa, especially Uganda, until [among other things listed] intolerance and violence rooted in religious sectarianism [emphasis mine] and ethnic nationalism (or tribalism) have been fully transcended, and negated.” He further concludes by calling for ”an inclusive and secular based American constitutional model of separation of Church and State” and the elimination of “religiously based politics and violence.”

“Fundamentalism married to Nationalism”

What we now have in Uganda and Nigeria is what Murray and Roscoe dreaded: “religious fundamentalism married to nationalism, wielding the apparatus of the modern state to persecute (and murder) homosexuals” (Boy-Wives and Female Husbands: Studies in African Homosexualities,1998, page 278).

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To read the Other Sheep blog, click HERE.

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