Dear Elder Wilson and Elder Caldwell:
East-Central African Division President Pr. Blasious Ruguri recently made the following statement against Ugandan homosexuals at a public meeting at Mbarara SDA Church, Southwestern Uganda Field:
“Our stand is ‘zero tolerance’ to this vice and to western influence on this crucial issue because God says no to it. We are together with the President and the Speaker and we fully support the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. I call upon all religious ministers, all Ugandans, and all Africans to say no to Homosexuality. Let us stand for our sovereignty as Ugandans and as God fearing people even [though] the heavens fall (1).”
Seventh-day Adventist Kinship International is appalled by the pastor’s use of Ellen White to appeal to common anti-gay and xenophobic sentiment, especially because of the hostile climate Ugandan politicians and allied church leaders have been stoking across the country. This fall, Ugandan lawmakers reintroduced the “Anti-Homosexuality Bill” first proposed in 2009. This law uses the force of the state to undermine the freedom of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Ugandans, those “suspected” of being as LGBT, their family members, and any educators thought to be “promoting” the equality of LGBT people.
We’re disappointed that the church’s discussion of compassion at Annual Council this October did not constrain the division leader as he spoke to the Mbarara congregation, regional politicians, and members of parliament. Pr. Ruguri attended Annual Council this year and so heard the church accepting its Christ-given responsibility to offer “caring ministry and words of solace” because “all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, are loved by God (2).”
Pr. Ruguri is also a board member of the church’s International Religious Liberty Association, but his recent statement does not express care for the many SDA members in Uganda and Africa who aren’t heterosexual or respect for their religious liberty or human rights. Through Pr. Ruguri’s statements and the Adventist church’s continued membership in the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda, the church is now justifying the prosecution, imprisonment, and potential execution of Ugandan LGBT people and their families.
As Adventists, and regardless of the church’s statements on human sexuality, we believe that the Seventh-day Adventist church should never stand for the violation of basic human rights. The recent End It Now campaign is just the latest example of our church’s track record of standing against violence and abuse. Because of that track record, we do not accept that one of the church’s top-ranking leaders can support legalized violence against a minority group or use the pulpits and authority of the worldwide church to do so.
On its own website, the church affirms the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its firm stand “for human dignity, liberty, equality, and non-discrimination of minorities (3).” The Seventh- day Adventist church has an obligation to strongly and clearly state that it does not support the rhetoric or lobbying of anyone who has promoted putting the lives of hundreds, if not thousands of members, in jeopardy.
Our members in Uganda and other parts of the world now look to you to respond in a Christ-like way to these threats to their life, liberty, and security of person, given Pr. Ruguri’s recent statements in the church’s name.
Sincerely, Yolanda Elliott, President Seventh-day Adventist Kinship International
- Ellen White. (1952). Education, p. 57. | Fred Turyakira. (December 17, 2012). Uganda: Church Speaks Out on Anti- Homosexuality Bill. Retrieved December 18, 2012, from http://www.allafrica.com/stories/201212172222.html
- Edwin Manuel Garcia / ANN. (October 17, 2012). Church’s view on gays, lesbians adjusted to emphasize “compassion.” Retrieved December 19, 2012, from http://news.adventist.org/archive/articles/2012/10/17/churchs- view-on-homosexuality-adjusted-to-include-compassion
- General Conference Administrative Committee. (November 17, 1998). Statement on the 50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Retrieved December 19, 2012, from http://adventist.org/beliefs/statements/main-stat39.html Full text of UN Declaration: http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/4961