Open Letter to Grace Bible Church on homophobia

2017-01-28 22:59

To: Bishop Mosa Sono and the leadership at Grace Bible Church

We greet the Bishop and the church at the large in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. On the occasion of 22 January 2017 during a sermon which was presented by Bishop Dag Heward-Mills which we believe was hateful and prejudice against the LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex) People of Faith. He said during the church service: "That's nature, dogs, cats, and leopards. Which animal has one partner? It's just like homosexuality; you don't have male and male. You don't find two male dogs, two male lions, two male impala's, two male lizards. You don't find that in nature. That is unnatural. There is nothing like that in nature."

We as LGBTI people of the Christian faith take great exception and were deeply offended by the message that was preached. It insinuates that our behaviour and lifestyle is intrinsically unnatural and morally inferior. We have also noted that the church has distanced itself from statement uttered by Bishop Dag Heward-Mills but we feel that church has not done enough to deal with homophobic bigotry spewed from a pulpit with a microphone.

To quote the church’s Statement of Faith; “With regards to sexual behaviour, we believe in heterosexual relationships between a natural man and a natural woman within the confines of lawful matrimony. Adherence to this stated principle of sexual behaviour is an inherent requirement of membership of Grace Bible Church.” From this statement we as LGBTI People of the Christian Faith feel that we are excluded from enriching our lives in our spiritual walk with God. We are in a hopeless position; in a life of sexual isolation and spiritual condemnation due to our sexual orientation. As Christians, we are spiritually and socially wounded by the church’s stance on the matter. We cannot fully participate in the activities of the church and be full members due to our sexual orientation. We being isolated and discriminated against by the church on the basis of our sexual orientation. Furthermore, our lifestyle and sexual orientation cannot be compared with that of other sinners like murderers, thieves, adulterers; liars et cetera because they simply don’t face condemnation that we get from our communities of “corrective rapes”, hate crimes and being attacked based on our sexual orientation. These “corrective rapes” and hate crimes are not only an inhuman violation of the rights to be safe and to be treated with dignity, but it also violates our right not to be discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation.

The church plays a significant role in the production of homophobia and other forms of oppression. Religion has been used as the background influence of racism and in the genesis of homophobia in our communities. The Apartheid government in South Africa used the Bible and scripture to discriminate on us as black people on the basis of race. Trying to fight racism and ignoring sexism, patriarchy and homophobia is narrow-minded which will not get us anywhere. The theologically-driven racism, sexism and homophobia needs to be tackled head-on and rooted out. Hence we would like to have dialogues and discussions with the church about what it means to be a homosexual and Christian in the 21st Century given that our rights are enshrined in the Constitution. The South African Constitution, under Section 9 (3), draws a clear principle that discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation is unconstitutional. It provides that;

“Everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law.

The state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth.”

In September 2016, the Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba banned American gay hate Pastor Steven Anderson, and his followers from entering South Africa. Pastor Anderson was advised that he is a prohibited person in South Africa. Minister Gigaba cited the protection of us the LGBTI people from discrimination in the Constitution and the Equality Act. He added that “We have a duty to prevent harm and hatred in all forms against LGBTI persons, as any other person in a democratic state and prohibit foreigners who are likely to promote hate speech.”

In light of that, we are spiritually wounded by the homophobic sentiments that promote hate speech that were expressed by your visiting Ghanaian Bishop. We would like the leadership of Grace Bible Church to kindly make time with as LGBTI People of the Christian Faith and have a dialogue to engage with us in order to understand our plight as people of God. Ephesians 6:5: “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.” In the same way that Slavery was advocated in the Bible but has been declared a crime against humanity, hate speech and isolation on the basis of sexual orientation should be aborted within a religious environment. We are requesting that our social justice be taken into account and not denied economic opportunities; not be victimised; not be denied access to healthcare; and not be oppressed; and it all starts by being welcomed and accepted in the mainstream church as full members like other heterosexuals.

We hope that the church receives our message well as it comes from a good heart and respect of our Christian Faith.

God bless all Saints.

Handed over by: ______________________on__________________ at ______________

Signature: _________________________

Received by: ________________________

Signature: ___________________________

Signed by LGBTI people of the Christian Faith

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