David Kato's murder is a wake-up call. Now is the time for church leaders to proclaim that there is no excuse for killing a person simply for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Christianity - and the Anglican Communion in particular - must be a force for good in the world. Integrity calls on all faith leaders to speak out for peace and justice in the face of violence and hatred.
The Call to Action asked Integrity members and friends to send an email to the Archbishop of Canterbury (the head of the Anglican Communion, of which both the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Uganda are members). We suggested that the emails request that the Archbishop urge bishops within the Anglican Communion to proclaim that: “All people are beloved children of God. While we acknowledge that we are not of one mind on issues of human sexuality and gender identity, we state unequivocally that it is absolutely unacceptable for a person to be persecuted or murdered because he or she is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), or because a person speaks out in favor of people who are LGBT. Violence that is perpetrated against people simply because they are "different" is against the basic principles of Christianity, and a grave sin.”
Since Integrity released this call to action, the Archbishop of Canterbury and several leaders of the Episcopal Church – including the Presiding Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Katherine Jefferts Schori, the bishops of the Diocese of New York, and others - have spoken out against the hatred and violence that take the lives of LGBT people in Uganda and throughout the world.
On January 28, the Archbishop of Canterbury said, "The brutal murder of David Kato Kisule, a gay human rights activist, is profoundly shocking. Our prayers and deep sympathy go out for his family and friends - and for all who live in fear for their lives. Whatever the precise circumstances of his death, which have yet to be determined, we know that David Kato Kisule lived under the threat of violence and death. No one should have to live in such fear because of the bigotry of others. Such violence has been consistently condemned by the Anglican Communion worldwide. This event also makes it all the more urgent for the British Government to secure the safety of LGBT asylum seekers in the UK. This is a moment to take very serious stock and to address those attitudes of mind which endanger the lives of men and women belonging to sexual minorities."
Integrity welcomed the Archbishop’s condemnation of bigotry and violence. But we were disappointed that he supported the Archbishop of Uganda and his anti-gay stance in his country. We called for an end to mixed messages as well as the blatant homophobia.
In response to David Kato’s tragic death, many of the top leaders of the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion have explicitly condemned violence that is perpetrated against people simply because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender – often for the first time. There is much work to do, but it has been gratifying to see this progress.
Integrity will work to continue such progress with the activity of our thousands of members, dozens of chapters, hundreds of allied churches, and countless partners and friends. Out voice makes a difference and we have seen where our bishops of the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion respond to the priorities they hear from the people in the pews. Our members have been and will continue to be wonderful witness to God's inlcusive love. As we witness to the Archbishop of Canterbury at General Convention 2009, the LGBT faithful are not the problem, we are the solution.
Blessed Paul the Apostle has urged us to recognize that whether Greek or Jew, Slave or Free, Male or Female, we are indeed ONE in Christ. We agree with Paul. No racial/ethnic, class or sexual barrier exists to our oneness in Jesus. For believing this we face the sting of sanction.
We are upbraided good and proper for our "inclusivity.” We have been marginalized by great swaths of the Communion.
In the meantime, I am reassured that the Episcopal Church has the courage of its convictions. We are paying a dear price for our faith and our courage. We await your help.
God bless you as you squirm about this. I do not envy your position.
B.P.+ - Salem, Massachusetts
We saw Bishop Christopher preach love and understanding. He is committed to helping gay and straight people work together toward common, worthy goals such as vocational training for widows and jobless LGBT people. He is truly a man of God.
L.M - San Diego, California
I beseech you to stand up for the inherent worth and dignity of all Abba's children. We can no longer stand behind the sin of judging some based upon biblical tradition when that particular tradition calls human beings an abomination. The same tradition that justified burning brothers and sisters at the stakes and reminds all by label some of us "fagots" centuries after the flames of righteousness sacrificed its last precious child of God.
Q.J.D. - Lafayette, Louisiana
Silence is equivalent to support of such violence and hatred. Please make use of your pastoral office to lead us in addressing this deathly issue.
B.M.B. - Dallas, Texas
If we have reached a point in the Anglican Communion where the condemnation of cold-blooded murder, clearly motivated by hatred fueled by misguided religious beliefs, is considered too controversial a position to be adopted swiftly and explicitly, I no longer wish to be a member of that communion. I am sure that hundreds of thousands of Anglicans and Episcopalians throughout the world feel the same way.
C.R. - Granby, Massachusetts
Evil prevails when good people do nothing. If we say nothing, we are culpable. If we do not stand up for the rights and lives of "the least" we are not living the Gospel.
G.L.N.+ - Savannah, Georgia
It concerns me greatly that so much energy seems to get expended on other issues when the church has been completely silent about the policies of terror towards LGBT people in Uganda, including the recent murder of David Kato. In order to help stop this violence against our LGBT sisters and brothers, it is imperative for you to speak out.
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Anglicans throughout the Communion are grateful for your call for greater protection of sexual minorities in response to the murder of David Kato. And, we yearn for you to be a strong voice calling the Communion to a basic and informed understanding of the God-given nature of our sexuality.
Silence allows those who demonize us to do so without having their consciences challenged. Teaching the truth about human sexuality is required of us today, just as teaching the truth regarding slavery became a mandate for the church in the nineteenth century.
You are a most respected leader, theologian and teacher. We look to you to break the silence and lead the Communion into a new day in which the murder of a Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual or Transgender person because of their sexuality will be abhorrent in all parts of the Communion.
+O.C. - San Francisco, California
That the clergy of the Anglican Church of Uganda who were present at David Kato's funeral should turn it into an anti-gay rally and then refuse the rites of Christian burial to our departed brother is un-Anglican and un-Christian. This hatred, fueled by western Christian fundamentalists and supported by the Anglican Church of Uganda, as well as many other churches within the Anglican Communion must stop.
P.J.L. - New York, NY
I am a baby Episcopalian, having been confirmed two years ago. I am a Licensed Eucharistic Minister. If I lived in Uganda, I would be dead...because I am gay. Please speak out against the violence in Uganda. God loves all of His children, and we should do no less. Gay Christians in Uganda deserve our support.
J.F. - Quitman, Georgia
Where is the outcry against this murder that would equal the outcry that ensued over the ordination of Bishop V. Gene Robinson?
The murder of David Kato makes it all the more clear that the Church must be a prophetic voice on behalf of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender brothers and sisters. It is actually not just on their behalf, but for those of us with heterosexual privilege as well since practicing, or even silently permitting, hate and discrimination is soul-killing for all of us.
L.B. - Oakland, California.
Thanks to ALL those who wrote emails.