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The Ugandan Bill under analysis in this article is the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill that was introduced in 2009. The Bill outlaws homosexuality in Uganda and it carries a life sentence or is punishable by death, though this depends on the nature of the offence. Individuals found guilty of consenting to homosexual activities should be sentenced to life imprisonment (Bailey 1). The Bill also factors the aggravated type of homosexuality defined as homosexual activities with a minor, disabled person, or a person under one’s custody. A HIV infected aggressor also falls in this category and the Bill proposes that all the aggressors found guilty of ‘aggravated homosexuality’ should get a death penalty. It goes ahead to state that those found guilty of assisting homosexuality activities should be imprisoned for seven years (Bailey 3).
This Bill has elicited a lot of controversy between Christians in Uganda and those in America. Ugandans claim that the Bill is the right step towards curbing harmful behavior brought about by moral decadence, therefore, it should be enforced, though it requires amendments because it carries a very harsh sentence. On the other hand, Christians in America argue that it is discriminatory and it reverses the gains that Christianity has made over the years. The West claims that the punishment is unwarranted because the church should be a place where the gays can be accepted. Some of the American religious leaders concur that homosexuality among other types of sexual immorality should not be advanced but they argue that such actions should be corrected by showing love and compassion as per Christian teachings rather than through punishment. Other American religious leaders cite that outlawing homosexuality would be a violation of human rights.
Some American churches have accepted homosexuality and they have even appointed lesbians and homosexuals to leadership positions in their respective churches. Ugandan churches have rejected homosexuality because the behavior has been unacceptable in the African culture since time immemorial. Some Ugandan churches even posit that Americans are trying to interfere with the sovereignty of the African state, yet they are not in the right standing to tell them what course it should take on the issue (Bailey 1).
One thing is clear, both Ugandans and some American Christians concur that homosexuality should not be promoted and that the punishment it carries is too cruel, therefore, it should be amended (Bailey 2). However, there is a division on whether homosexuality should be outlawed or not. America has legalized homosexuality but Uganda has opposed the legalization of the act.
Critical Evaluation of te Article
This article is intended for the Christians in America and their leaders. I take this opinion because the author has highlighted the developments in America pertaining to homosexuality, and why the Ugandan churches have remained opposed to homosexuality. For instance, Rt. Rev. Dr. David Niringiye, of the Church of Uganda, has challenged American Christians for attacking the proposed bill (Bailey 1). I further support my opinion with the statement from Rev. Dr. Christopher Byaruhanga, who also claims that American Christians are not justified in attacking the bill because this will create tension between Christians from both countries. He goes ahead to add that Americans do not have a clear understanding of the Ugandan culture. Therefore, they cannot compel them to adopt homosexuality simply because it is acceptable to the American society (Bailey 1).
The author’s main objective is to underscore the difference in the opinion between African and American clergy mainly because of cultural variation. The article highlights the values that Africans hold on to because they have been in existence from the time of their ancestors and even though the African culture has embraced some aspects of the Western lifestyle, there are aspects they have chosen to reject. For instance, homosexuality has been unacceptable in Uganda as can be illustrated by the killings of 45 Roman Catholics and Anglican Christians in 1885, after they defied engaging in sexual activities with the king and they are commemorated on 3rd June of every year as martyrs (Bailey 3). This article indicates that Uganda, for example, is a sovereign state, therefore, it can choose what is good for its people, and what is not, irrespective of what the Western world tries to advocate. Rev. Dr. Christopher Byaruhanga has clearly indicated that the two cultures are different when he affirms that Americans should not compel Ugandans to accept homosexuality because they have accepted it in America. He mentions that Americans have no idea what the Ugandan culture is about, therefore, they are not well positioned to dictate what is best for the people of Uganda. Rev. Byaruhanga further reiterates that the West has no moral standing to tell Ugandans what is best for them because the Episcopal Church in America has accepted homosexuality (Bailey 1).
A growing rift can be foreseen between the Global North church in America and Europe and the Global South church in Africa. This is can be supported by the fact that Martin Ssempa of Uganda challenges the appointment of Mary Glasspool, a lesbian bishop, to head a church in Los Angeles (Bailey 2). Although this has nothing to do with the Ugandan culture, Ssempa argues that this was not right according to the teachings of the Bible, which has categorically spoken against homosexuality.
The author has also underlined other issues, though they are not the primary issues being highlighted in the article. For instance, not all American religious leaders are openly in support of homosexuality. For example, Exodus International concurs that homosexuality is a sin, but that is no reason to impose such harsh punishment on homosexuals or homosexual offenders. The Church posits that assisting such individuals feel the compassion and love of Christ would be more appropriate in helping them find their identity (Bailey 2). Charles Colson of Prison Fellowship and Professor Robert P. George of Princeton University share similar sentiments as they advocate for Christian principles in discouraging homosexuality instead of using punitive measures such as those being used by the Ugandan government (Bailey 2). In addition, there are Ugandan clergy who do not support the death penalties and life imprisonment for homosexual offenders, but they have thrown their support that such offenders should be punished to a reasonable extent. For instance, Fred Wantaate, of Full Gospel Church Makerere supports legislation that will discourage the behavior but it should not carry a harsh punishment (Bailey 3).
The primary objective of the author is clear in the article because it has projected the clear distinction in opinion between Ugandan and American clergy on the homosexuality matter. While American clergy is against the prohibition of homosexuality, Ugandan Christians have vehemently opposed homosexuality, albeit they have accepted some Western culture aspects. In addition, the Ugandan people perceive America as the origin of homosexuality explaining why America is pushing for legalization of homosexuality, whereas the African culture has never advanced such relationships as can be illustrated by the execution of Catholic and Anglican believers in Uganda when they failed to give in to male sexual relationships with the king.
This article has brought out the difference in the opinion between Ugandan and American Christians in issues pertaining to homosexuality. The American clergy has been at the frontline in condemning the proposed Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, with some citing that the punishment was too cruel. Therefore, it would reverse the gains that Christianity has made in spreading compassion and love to all people. Others cite that the act should not be prohibited because it goes against human rights. Whichever the case, Ugandan Christians are in support of criminalizing homosexuality because their culture and the Bible do not advocate for such behavior, though they concur with some American clergy who argue that such activities should not carry very harsh sentences.