Church of England’s call for dialogue on gays rebuffed in Africa

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Archbishop Justin Welby with Archbishop Eliud Wabukala during Welby's recent visit to Nairobi. RNS photo by Fredrick Nzwili

Archbishop Justin Welby with Archbishop Eliud Wabukala during Welby's recent visit to Nairobi. RNS photo by Fredrick Nzwili

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(RNS) Ahead of his five-day visit to Africa, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby issued a statement reminding Anglicans of the commitment the Church of England made to the pastoral care of gays and lesbians. So far, the statement has not convinced African leaders.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    Usually Westerners are, rightfully, super sensitive on issues of cultural imperialism of any kind.
    But along comes the Archbishop of Canterbury virtually ordering African Christians to bow to aspects of Western morality which many–even in the West– consider immoral. What happened to the cultural imperialism issue????

  • Atheist Max

    Religion is just doing what it always does.
    Ruin everything.

  • Larry

    The bishop is addressing it. Trying to undo the damage caused by it anyway. The cultural imperialism of mostly American Evangelicals exporting rabid and in this case violent bigotry to Africa.

    You don’t have to be coy, African nations are enacting laws you would love to have in the US but could never get enacted. American Evangelicals have no problem supporting human rights violations abroad.

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  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    Max read a history of the 20th Century. Christians aren’t perfect and have made many mistakes over the millennia–but as bad as Christians have been in living up to Christ’s “love your enemy” standard atheists win the prize for numbers of dead left in the wake of their desire for power and absolute control. Ever heard of the Ukrainian Famine– courtesy of atheist Joe Stalin????. Ever hear of the mass slaughters perpetrated by super atheist Lenin???. Ever heard of the Christian and Jews murdered by religion hater Adolph Hitler. Ever heard of martyr Rev. Dietrich Bonhoeffer or Bishop Von Galen as well as the martyred White Rose students–religious all—standing up against Hitler while atheists were busy hiding under their desks or helping in the killing. One should finish by reading the chilling exploits of Chairman Mao and above all Pol Pot. Both of them and their followers murderers– AND atheists

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  • Atheist Max


    The Russian people were strong believers in miracles thanks to the nonsense of religion that had always been there. Stalin claimed the role which had been the czar’s and replaced God with himself!

    He claimed miracles! Lysenko was said to produce TOMATOES THE SIZE OF A CAR!

    The role of Czar in Russia is a place between God and Man! Stalin anointed himself in that role and that is why he killed off other religions. North Korea does the same thing.
    Claiming yourself to be God is NOT atheism!

    These Straw-men are NOT examples of Atheism:

    Stalin was a self-appointed intermediary (CZAR) between God and the religion of the state. He demanded FAITH in that religion including the miracles of Lysenko, or death.
    That is not Atheism – it is FAITH.

    Pol Pot was a Theravada Buddhist who ‘divined supernatural heaven’ of which he appointed himself leader and he demanded allegiance as self-appointed head of the religion of the state of Cambodia. He was against all education and science. What Atheist ever did that?
    That is not Atheism – it is FAITH.

    Hitler and his SS were all confessing Catholics and Christians, hailed a faith in the Aryan Race divine by God’s judgement and demanded full faith in the religion of the state. “Gott Mit Uns” God With Us.
    That is not Atheism – it is FAITH.

    Emperor Hirohito, was another cult of the sun god – the sacrificial Kamikazes and the war with ‘sacred’ Japan.
    That is not Atheism – it is FAITH

    However, there is no nonsense of gods or FAITH in the United States Constitution which remains the only Godless constitution in the world even today. Thomas Paine and Benjamin Franklin, THAT IS A-THEISM!

    Show me where Benjamin Franklin ever cooked a witch!

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  • glebealyth

    Deacon John,

    I hope you have taken the time to read and consider Max’s response.

    Quite apart from the facts he has presented, which demolish your straw man argument completely, it also shows up your et to quoque argument for what it is.
    Whether or not any atrocities have ever been committed by people who identify themselves as atheists, the fact remains that thousands, even millions of deaths have been caused directly by, and continue to be justified by, religion,

  • glebealyth

    Why does the church pick and choose which “laws” and “prohibitions” in scripture which it espouses?

    There are far more strictures about the uncleanness and abomination which is menstruation, and rules about how it should be dealt with than ever there are about homosexuality, yet there are no active campaigns to keep menstruating women out of church. Why is this?

    Why do not menstruating women who eat shellfish whilst wearing mixed fibres cause the church the same amount of apoplexy as do homosexuals?

    Perhaps homosexuals are just an easier target.

  • Shawnie5

    The answer to this (which requires some background knowledge of scripture, painfully lacking among those who endlessly bring up this issue) is that Gentile christians never did any picking or choosing at all. It was Jewish christians, themselves Torah observant, who decided what gentile converts needed to follow. And what they came up with essentially mirrors the Noahide laws, which were a far more ancient standard than the Torah and were always required of “righteous gentiles” who lived among the Jews. The Noahide laws amount to everything covered by the law of love of neighbor, plus sexual purity and humane animal-butchering practices (which go toward the law of love of God and His creative purposes).

  • Shawnie5

    I’m sorry but I simply can not help but laugh at the claim that Max has “demolished” anything. What he has done (as is common among modern atheist apologists) is attempt, unsuccessfully, to distance atheism from the atrocities committed by atheists. IOW, when the religious commit atrocities, it is of course because they are being religious…and when atheists commit atrocities, it is because they too are being religious. Conversely (and even more ludicrously) when believers in God (such as Paine and Franklin–neither were atheists) do commendable things, well, that of course is atheism. It is an argument that is absurd upon its face because it purports to redefine both religion and atheism far beyond their common-sense and universally understood meanings and solely for the purpose of the proffered argument–which has ONLY been offered because modern atheists do not have the moral or intellectual integrity to own their own failures. I say “modern” because not all atheist thinkers have been so cowardly. Nietzsche, in particular, (beloved of the atheist dictators which the weak-kneed atheists of today want to disclaim) DID have the intellectual honestly to throw out the ethical standards of western religion along with the religion itself.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    Max makes so many phony excuses for every atheist and their crimes that it becomes tragically laughable. But no matter how much magical abra-cadabra he waves around –The 20th Century was the century of atheist led blood-baths.

  • Atheist Max


    You said, “The Noahide laws amount to everything covered by the law of love of neighbor, plus sexual purity and humane animal-butchering practices”

    Ridiculous. What is humane about a creator who ‘loves the aroma of burning goat flesh’? (Exodus 29:18)

    What primitive nonsense!

    And sexual purity? Sure, only take the virgins – that’s the *purity*:

    God COMMANDS YOU ….Kill the women. Rape the little girls:
    “Moses was furious with all the military commanders who had returned from the battle. ‘Why have you let all the women live?’ he demanded. …They are the ones who caused the plague to strike the LORD’s people. Now kill all the boys and all the women who have slept with a man. *Only the young girls who are virgins may live; you may keep them for yourselves.*” (Num:31:18)

  • Atheist Max


    You said, “homosexuals are just an easier target.”

    That’s it exactly.
    I would go further….the point of religion is to argue for the fascist.
    Beware the religious mob who claim ‘god on their side’. There is no limit to their horrors.

  • Atheist Max


    You said,
    “[Thomas] Paine and [Benjamin] Franklin…neither were atheists”

    Oh YES They MOST CERTAINLY were.
    And you should be thankful for it. You owe your religious freedom to men like them.

  • Shawnie5

    Neither were Christians but both believed in a God. Quit swallowing everything you read on propaganda sites.

  • Dave Farmer

    Larry, you are so right. People need to watch the documentary God Loves Uganda to understand what evangelicals are doing abroad.

  • Larry

    It is ironic you chose to invoke a Godwin’s law argument. In the face of obvious human rights abuses being enacted in Africa, you are choosing to either turn a blind eye or tacitly support them.

    Just to continue with the Godwinning you began, to say what is going on in Uganda, Nigeria and other nations isn’t LIKE what Hitler was doing. It is EXACTLY what he did. The Nazis actively imprisoned and executed gays with approving nods from the churches.

    Go invoke Mao and Stalin all you want. It is not the atheists who are supporting the human rights abuses today. It is people like yourself. =)

  • Larry

    “Perhaps homosexuals are just an easier target.”

    Exactly. Its a matter of finding a scapegoat to vilify. Gays are a small population, easily demonized by religious groups and in most countries they are politically powerless.

    Essentially since they can no longer go after people of other Christian sects and other minority faiths so easily, they need to find a new group to hate.

  • Larry

    No, that is just conjecture on your part and that of Wallbuilders propaganda when they get called out on their misquotes and misrepresentations. =)

  • Atheist Max


    Thomas Paine HATED your religion and didn’t believe in YOUR god. Isn’t that Atheism?

    If that isn’t atheism I guess you need to go back to high school and learn how to read your assignment “The Age of Reason” by Thomas Paine

    Gods are nonsense!
    “I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church. All national institutions of churches … appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.”
    – Thomas Paine.

    “All churches… are built to enslave and terrify mankind and monopolize power” – Thomas Paine

    “Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness, with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we called it the word of a demon than the Word of God. It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind; and for my own part, I sincerely detest it, as I detest everything that is cruel.”
    – Thomas Paine

    “It is an easy thing to tell a lie, but it is difficult to support the lie after it is told.”
    – Thomas Paine

    “The writer of the book of Matthew should have told us who the saints were that came to life again, and went into the city, and what became of them afterward, and who it was that saw them – for he is not hardy enough to say he saw them himself; whether they came out naked, and all in natural buff, hesaints and shesaints; or whether they came full dressed, and where they got their dresses; whether they went to their former habitations, and reclaimed their wives, their husbands, and their property, and how they were received; whether they entered ejectments for the recovery of their possessions, or brought actions of crim. con against the rival interlopers; whether they remained on earth, and followed their former occupation of preaching or working; or whether they died again, or went back to their graves alive, and buried themselves.

    “Strange, indeed, that an army of saints should return to life, and nobody know who they were, nor who it was that saw them, and that not a word more should be said upon the subject, nor these saints have anything to tell us! Had it been the prophets who (as we are told) had formerly prophesied of these things, they must have had a great deal to say. They could have told us everything and we should have had posthumous prophesies, with notes and commentaries upon the first, a little better at least than we have now. Had it been Moses and Aaron and Joshua and Samuel and David, not an unconverted Jew had remained in all Jerusalem.

    “Had it been John the Baptist, and the saints of the time then present, anybody would have known them, and outfamed all the other apostles. But, instead of this, these saints were made to pop up, like Jonah’s gourd in the night, for no purpose at all but to wither in the morning. Thus much for this part of the story.”

    Thomas Paine then draws the all-too-obvious conclusion from this ridiculous passage:

    “The tale of the resurrection follows that of the crucifixion, and in this as well as in that, the writers, whoever they were, disagree so much as to make it evident that none of them were there.” – THOMAS PAINE

    Unabashed ATHEIST AND FOUNDER OF THE United States of America

  • Atheist Max


    Benjamin Franklin was an Atheist by every definition we can find.

    He believed in NO Christian, Judaic, Islamic, Pagan, Hindu or OTHER GOD, religion or philosophy.

    He was a ‘clockmaker’ deist as he wrote in his autobiography – he described very clearly that given his lack of certainty he could accept the possibility that a god MAY have set the universe in motion – but that such a god had abandoned it all to run on its own.
    This is what we would call Atheism today.

    Atheism is – NOT KNOWING, NOT BELIEVING and ultimately BEING INDIFFERENT to the entire question of God.

    That was Benjamin Franklin.

    “The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason.” – Benjamin Franklin

    “Lighthouses are more helpful than churches.”
    – Benjamin Franklin

    “Many a long dispute among divines may be thus abridged: It is so; It is not so. It is so; it is not so.” – BENJAMIN FRANKLIN

    “I have found Christian dogma unintelligible. Early in life, I absenteed myself from Christian assemblies.”- Benjamin Franklin

  • Shawnie5

    And all of three lines before his statement about creeds, Paine said this:

    “As several of my colleagues and others of my fellow-citizens of France have given me the example of making their voluntary and individual profession of faith, I also will make mine; and I do this with all that sincerity and frankness with which the mind of man communicates with itself. I believe in one God, and no more; and I hope for happiness beyond this life.”

    As for Franklin, he wrote this summation of his religious beliefs shortly before he died: “Here is my Creed. I believe in one God, Creator of the Universe. That He governs it by His Providence. That he ought to be worshipped. That the most acceptable Service we render to him, is doing Good to his other Children. That the Soul of Man is immortal, and will be treated with Justice in another Life respecting its Conduct in this … As for Jesus of Nazareth … I think the system of Morals and Religion as he left them to us, the best the World ever saw … but I have … some Doubts to his Divinity; though’ it is a Question I do not dogmatism upon, having never studied it, and think it is needless to busy myself with it now, where I expect soon an Opportunity of knowing the Truth with less Trouble.”

    Neither was Christian, of course, but both were indisputably deists. Deists believe in a God, atheists do not. Why are you so invested in equating the former with the latter?

    And who exactly are “Wallbuilders?”

  • Atheist Max


    You are working overtime trying to convince yourself that Thomas Paine and Benjamin Franklin gave two bits for a God they didn’t believe in?

    Your Creationist websites and spin doctors will fail miserably.

    Goodbye to religion. May it continue to fade away faster each day.
    Nonsense and trash.

  • Shawnie5

    LOL! This is shooting fish in a barrel, not “work.”

    And I hate to break it to you, but “nuh-uh” is not a particularly convincing rebuttal. You need to find another one.

  • Atheist Max


    “My country is the world, and my religion is to do good.” – Thomas Paine

    Spoken like a true atheist.

    It is remarkable that you are insisting on your Creationist website nonsense about Thomas Paine. I remind you that he died in 1809 and was hated for a book called “The Age of Reason” which is as far away from religion as you can get.

    I’m not going to let you off the hook.

    Thomas Paine was an Atheist.

    Eventually you will have to wander off your Dictatorial Creationist Website and wander into the muck of real history – but you shall agree ultimately that – Thomas Paine was an Atheist.

    And if you ever read “The Age of Reason” you won’t doubt it for one moment.

  • Atheist Max

    “No falsehood is so fatal as that which is made an article of faith.” – Thomas Paine (Atheist)

  • Atheist Max

    “The Christian system of religion is an outrage on common sense.” – – Thomas Paine
    Atheist found of the United States of America

  • Atheist Max

    “All the tales of miracles, with which the Old and New Testament are filled, are fit only for imposters to preach and fools to believe.” — Thomas Paine
    Atheist Founding Father of America

  • Atheist Max

    “Any system of religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child, cannot be true.” — Thomas Paine, Atheist

  • Atheist Max

    “The study of theology….is the study of nothing; it is founded on nothing; it rests on no principles; it proceeds by no authority; it has no data; it can demonstrate nothing; and it admits of no conclusion.” — Thomas Paine, Atheist Founding Father of the United States.

  • Shawnie5

    “A” = “no” + “theos” = “god.” Put them together and you have “atheist” (no god). Did I make that simple enough for you or do we need to rinse and repeat?

    You can create sophistries until you pop a hernia, but you will never turn a person who claims belief in a God into a “true atheist,” anymore than you will turn atheist atrocities into “religious” ones. What I wonder about is why you have this unfortunate need to try.

  • Atheist Max


    Have it your way.
    Thomas Paine and Benjamin Franklin loved and worshipped God. They wrote that godless constitution while on their knees in deep worship of God.

    Meanwhile us Atheists are destroying the world. That’s what we do: Gene Roddenberry, Jacques Yves Cousteau, Roger Ebert, Thomas Edison – with our miserable cures, discoveries, creativity and Star Trek posters everywhere. Just terrible.

    I stand corrected.

  • Larry

    “And who exactly are “Wallbuilders?””

    You have google, you can look them up.

    So in other words, the revisionist historical fiction is so ingrained to Christian fundamentalists that they don’t even know where they get it from anymore. Everything you have been saying is old turf for David Barton and his little bunch of bovine scatalogical artists.

    Feigning ignorance doesn’t help you here because you are cribbing the arguments wholesale. Either you are taking it from Wallbuilders or someone who has.

    If you are so certain that your quotes are honest and in context, throw a link to a source the next time you use one. The problem is fundamentalists lie too often about history and science to be taken at face value. Quote mining is so ingrained into their mode of discussion that it is assumed to be fake unless shown otherwise.

  • Larry

    So do you have an opinion about countries imprisoning and executing people for being gay?

    Is this something you support?

    Something you decry?

    Something you just want to ignore and sweep under the rug as an embarrassing part of your faith?

  • Shawnie5

    I have no desire to see anyone imprisoned or executed for being gay. I do not support government restricting our behavioral choices any more than is strictly necessary to maintain law and order.

    As for sources, my quote from Thomas Paine is from exactly the same source that Max cited, The Age of Reason. Benjamin Franklin’s comes from his 1790 letter to Yale University president Ezra Stiles, which may be found in its entirety in The Writings of Benjamin Franklin Vol. X, by Albert Henry Smyth (available online if you’re interested).

    Is this sufficient to answer your questions and objections, or must we endure more foot-stamping?

  • Larry

    In an article about a church trying to keep prevent gays from being imprisoned or killed, your first reaction was to uphold the Biblical provisions which support such things and a ridiculous Tu Quoque argument. I don’t get the impression you care about what is going on in Africa in that respect. Or at least had to be prompted to get an opinion out of you on it.

    I sincerely doubt you were quoting the original sources. Its a common dodge for people engaging in quote mining. Too many people with your position have lied often enough not to take your quotes at face value. The Trufers, Conspiracy theorists, UFO worshipers and Holocaust deniers ruined it for everyone by soiling online discussions with such tactics.

    If you are not going to post links to where you cut and pasted, I am not going to bother to take them as genuine. Feel free to give me whatever indignant response you want to that request.

  • Shawnie5

    More foot-stamping, then? Not surprised.

    Did you even read my “first reaction?” My first reaction was an honestly amused comment about poor Max’s hapless attempts to recharacterize historic atheist atrocities as “religious,” not to uphold any particular biblical provision.

    If you “seriously doubt” my quote from Paine, then you have just advertised the unsurprising fact that you have never read The Age of Reason (which Max obviously has not either). Thank you.

    As for Franklin, I suppose someone who can’t handle the brief and uncomplicated Age of Reason can not realistically be expected to demonstrate any acquaintance with Franklin’s voluminous writings. But I commend you for your interest in learning more (assuming it is genuine).

    BTW, have you ever expressed your concerns about “quote-mining” to your friend Max, who consumes much bandwidth cutting and pasting from the propaganda site 😀

  • Shaman

    Note to shawn5 ,i don’t think there is any doubt about the atheism of Thomas Paine. I do think Benjamin franklin may have been a deist but according to everything i have read his deism was a matter of accepting the unknowns as God. Shorthand for ‘i don’t know’ which was common for many agnostics in the years before Darwin.

  • Shawnie5

    How exactly does an “unknown” govern by his providence, judge our lives and render justice in the next life, and receive worship?

    As for Paine…also from The Age of Reason: “The true deist has but one Deity; and his religion consists in contemplating the power, wisdom, and benignity of the Deity in his works, and in endeavoring to imitate him in every thing moral, scientifical, and mechanical.”

    How can an “unknown” be “wise” or “benignant?” How can an “unknown” be imitated?

    Modern evangelical atheists, as I like to call them, are simply reading into the words of others what they want to hear. Their hatred of Christianity apparently led them to atheism so they make the vast assumption that it must lead to the same for everyone. It does not, as they would know if they would broaden their horizons beyond mere atheist propaganda sites.

  • Shaman

    Shaunie5 – I don’t think B.Franklin looked for wisdom in the unknowns. seems deists fill the gaps which are unknown with ‘a god’ and they move on.

  • Shawnie5


    Well, according to James Madison’s account of the debates in the Constitutional Convention, looking to the so-called “unknown” for wisdom is exactly what Franklin thought they all should do;

    “In this situation of this Assembly groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings? In the beginning of the contest with G. Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the Divine Protection. — Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a Superintending providence in our favor. To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? or do we imagine that we no longer need His assistance.”

    It’s one thing to make assumptions about what people did or didn’t believe when they left no commentary on the subject, but to simply ignore that existing commentary or attempt to explain it away (“what they REALLY meant was…”) in order to continue imagining that they were of your camp, so to speak, is just self-delusion that betrays an interesting note of insecurity. If you’re confident in your own beliefs, it should not matter to you whether the Founders concurred with you or not. It certainly doesn’t matter to me.

  • Atheist Max

    Shaman, forget it. Shawnie5 is right.

    Benjamin Franklin was a goat smoker, he wouldn’t go even one day without worshipping the holy father in heaven and the holy sacred blood of the risen Savior. Can’t tell you how much he looked toward those heavens for guidance on every SINGLE issue. Lord Jesus preserve the soul of Ben Franklin, honorable pew kneeler and psalm singer and incantation specialist which he was. Lived in church to worship the almighty every day. The USA was an afterthought. In God we trust and only in GOD do we trust – screw the people!.
    Right, Shaunie5?

  • larry

    I have watched the Episcopal church in the West change consistently and dramatically over the past 30 years. I had considered joining but eventually too much had change to alienate me.

    Male priests are pretty much a thing of the past which distresses me. They have been replaced my feminist and lesbian priests who do not relate to me. Entire churches are focused on homosexuality and the environment with teachings on faith pretty much ignored.

    It’s a shame that these minority groups now want to export their philosophies to Africa. Glad that Northern Virginia parishes cut loose from the US and aligned themselves with African bishops. They now can avoid the mess of the American Episcopal church.