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Friday, 28 August 2009

House Of Rainbow MCC Nigeria To Mark Three Years of Inclusive Mission.




House Of Rainbow MCC Nigeria To Mark Three Years of Inclusive Mission.

August/September 2009

An Exclusive Interview with Openly Gay Nigerian Reverend Rowland Jide Macaulay.

Introduction
House of Rainbow Metropolitan Community Church Lagos Nigeria is a church that welcomes Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgender people, an inclusive ministry that welcomes all people. This church opened its door to all persons on the 2nd September 2006 and has reached thousands of queer people both in Nigeria, in other African nations and also giving hope to people in other developing nations across the globe. This church is no stranger to controversy and never the less they are growing from strength to strength and with the age of Internet and new media Reverend Macaulay shows no sign of slowing down.

Rev Rowland Jide Macaulay the founding pastor speaks of his convictions as the servant of God in due season bringing hope to the queer people in Nigeria and elsewhere.

What do you plan to do this year in Nigeria?
We are continually obedient to the voice of God and the Holy Spirit. We plan to reach people where they are, as we know that the nation and many of the people seem to be ignorant of the existence of queer people.

This year we are asking people to pray with us, and if you are online and have access to the internet you can join Rev Jide in a circle of prayers from the 1st to 6th September 2009, many communities all over the world will be holding prayer service for the anniversary of House Of Rainbow that is being rolled out to ask God for favour and protection for queer people in Nigeria and other places where there is hostility towards them.

How about the physical presence of the people?
LGBT people in Nigeria and especially our members will be celebrating in the country, however this year we have decided to be completely tight lipped about any information that the people or the media can use against us to harm us. We learned from last year. But we believe that as we develop away from the media intrusion we are preparing a massive launch of our mission in the future. This is a time we identify as “exilic times”, we are travailing in the presence of God with our petitions and supplications, and when we get to the post exilic times we would celebrate.

What are we to expect for the 2009 celebration?
As we mark House Of Rainbow MCC, 3rd Anniversary in 2009, unlike last year, when we rolled out the red carpet and had a huge celebration under the scrutiny of the Nigeria media, this year House Of Rainbow has decided on a much more discreet celebration across the nation and the rest of the world. Our events will begin on the 1st to 6th September 2009 and we are tight lipped about the details of the event.

What are your thoughts on the intrusive events last year?
As the founding Pastor of the movement in Nigeria, we are delighted and continue to thank God almighty for the extra ordinary events last year, which no doubt placed our church in the centre of the struggle for equality for gays and lesbians and other marginalised groups of people in Nigeria and indeed any other place where legal hostilities are conducted against these communities.

It is sad that in the 21st century we are unable to celebrate openly a worship and praise to God for the marvellous creations of gays and lesbians, our families, relatives and allies.

People have said that you are law breakers.
We are law abiding and contributors to the world economy, have you not heard of the “Pink Currency” we are creative in our thinking and doing, we are a blessing according to events in the recorded ancient biblical writings. Our historical presence links us with Kings, Queens and their Kingdoms, we enjoy the favour of God in the service of royalty. However today we have to fight tooth and nail to even get a place to express our humanity let alone freely worship God.

What gives you so much strength and how do you cope with the criticism?
We as a community and personally as the leader of this great community of people, believe that God is in control and it is not over until God have spoken, we believe just like the community of the Jewish people under the leadership of Nehemiah, who God called to rebuild Jerusalem in the midst of hostility, he received exemplary criticism for his vision of the new Jerusalem. The Prophet becomes a model of servant leadership for the queer Christian community and for the queer community. Nehemiah rebuilt a community wounded from exile. That is what I believe my call is for the new age queer Christian community in Nigeria and the rest of the world, to be healed from their wounds. Let me explain this with a simple analogy, House Of Rainbow MCC Lagos Nigeria embodies a vision of hope, healing and reconciliation for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and transgender community, what we do as a ministry is work in the spirit realm collecting discarded vessels from the rubbish bins of other religious communities and bringing them home, to a safe place where they can be ministered to and nourished to good health, if you can imagine mending a broken vessel, it will also appear broken on the outside, however the ministry of House Of Rainbow is to rebuild the vessels so that they are reusable, though they appear broken we believe that the inclusive love of Jesus and the grace of God will sustain us.

Many Churches will not accept homosexual behaviour, why are you different?
Many queer Christians have been excluded from their churches or have been forced into exile from their denominations because of their sexual orientation and primarily due to “Bad Theology”. House of Rainbow is a welcoming church to the unchurched and exiled queer Christians. As a modern day Nehemiah, I believe that my ministry is to embark on the inclusive work of the mission for the reconciliation of Sexuality, Spirituality and faith.

With this in mind we celebrate our third year anniversary, giving glory to God and we can count our blessings and achievements in the past 12 months.

Why did you close the church in Nigeria?
Last year we closed the physical presence of our church and developed a small group of people across the nations, our friends all over the world in different religious communities continue to hold us in prayers and communion. We did because the violence was extreme and our properties were attacked, vandalised, looted and a few of our security guards were wounded.

What is the latest development for the church?
Whilst my ministry takes me to many places all over the world, my core focus was centred on the development of the people in Nigeria and we have grown in numbers in our local meetings, local leaderships and also on our virtual mission in order to reach more people, we posted nearly 50 videos of inclusive messages, and activities, with nearly 30,000 hits, to encourage LGBT people in Nigeria and other developing nations. We have an online forum subscribed by nearly 500 members. So we ask people to pray with us, sign on to the internet and join our inclusive mission online.

Why do you think House Of Rainbow was being attacked?
In the story of Nehemiah and the Jewish people, and their desperation in Jerusalem, it was clear that they are in a very delicate situation as their city has no fortified walls to protect them and without walls around the city it was vulnerable to all types of marauders. It was constantly being attacked, impoverished and diminished. Like LGBT people in Nigeria and other hostile nations, people lived in fear daily and the city of Jerusalem was in disrepair and the people were disheartened, discouraged and afraid. The constant attacks of the Jews can be likened to the irrational attacks on House Of Rainbow people and LGBT people in general, these attacks poisoned and tore us from the inside.

Unfortunately the condition of Jerusalem and its people serves as an all too accurate analogy of what has happened spiritually to the lesbian and gay community. Too often we have had our place taken from us and we have been left vulnerable to the repeated attacks of radical fundamentalists.

How do you see the relevance of your call for the queer community?
We strongly claim God’s grace includes gays and lesbians, however the assaults from religious communities, Politicians and Civil society have a toxic effect on our souls. It is these terrible conditions of injustice that informs my call to ministry in the queer community, I sense the call of God to do something about it and in the third year of the mission I am clear that the call of God is profound and beyond a shadow of doubt a liberating mission to save lives and win souls. Like Nehemiah, I am not a Politician or Soldier, but I believe in the spiritual leadership of the queer people amongst us.

Who are those who inspire and encourage you?
Despite what may have been published in the media, My father, Professor Augustus Kunle Macaulay is not just my father, he is my friend, confidant, a mentor and more, his inspiration and love cannot be matched. Dorothy AkenOva of INCRESE is a champion and leader amongst leader, a sister and a friend. There are many people of God that inspire me, we have been blessed with prayers and support from the founder of MCC Rev Elder Troy D. Perry and the leaderships, we also have been blessed by the openly gay Bishop of New Hampshire, Archbishop Gene Robinson in the USA, Rev Pressley Sutherland, a great friend and brother the Senior Pastor of GoodHope MCC Cape Town South Africa. Friends and members of House Of Rainbow, including people we have reached out to inspire me, William Rashidi, of Queer Alliance, Joseph Akoro, of The Independent Project for Equal Rights, Stephen Chukwumah, of Youth Together Network just to mention a few, there many more people that gives me strength and encouragement.

Web links
YahooID: revjide@yahoo.com
http://revrowlandjidemacaulay.blogspot.com/
http://spiritualityandsexuality.ning.com/
http://www.houseofrainbowmcc.blogspot.com/
http://www.youtube.com/HouseOfRainbow
http://www.mccchurch.org/

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Radically Inclusive Mission (RIM) with Rev Jide Macaulay


Radically Inclusive Mission (RIM) with Rev Jide Macaulay.


Invite and Join our online forum here, with nearly 350 members, let you curiosity and quest for knowledge lead you to a place where you can reconcile spirituality and sexuality. http://spiritualityandsexuality.ning.com/


Rev Jide Macaulay shares inclusive messages and gospel of Jesus, view and comment, there are nearly 12,000 hits http://www.youtube.com/houseofrainbow ,
pls pass on.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

A day In Hand Message - IDAHO 2009


IDAHO UK 17th May 2009
A Day In Hand Message by
Rev Rowland Jide Macaulay

Two women, One to another pledge their love, I believe holding hands. “Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you! Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God.17Where you die, I will die, there will I be buried. May the Lord do thus and so to me, and more as well, if even death parts me from you!” Ruth 1:16-17.

I am here to add my voice as a Christian to the growing voice that holding hands by persons of the same sex sharing friendship and deep affection is what is required of us, there is a need to share a deep private and public affection without fear, discrimination and prejudice.

These two women, Ruth and Naomi in the bible story did what many people considered at the time as the greatest crime.

I encourage us to hold hands with our lover, with our friends. “A day in hand, is a wonderful idea drawing attention to the fact that many cultures and peoples hold hands for different reasons and they are all good reasons, the close touch and embrace is a sign of comfort, peace and love. In my experience doing this is not just a sexual significance but an empowering and liberating move, I believe people should hold hands more”.

As citizens of the world we are here to add our voices against homophobia and transphobia and to remind our government to buckle up, religious bodies, media, people and society that they may run us out of their churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, homes, jobs and neighbourhood, but they cannot run us out of this world nor reduce the love of God that includes us.

Colossians 3:11, “there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!” This is a progressive and inclusive voice of scripture rejecting discrimination of any kind.

I want to encourage you all to be the voice of the voiceless the face of the faceless, near and in far away land.

State Sponsored Homophobia
80 countries around the world consider homosexuality illegal. Five still punish with execution of our queer brothers and sisters.

Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Principle 21, The Right to Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion Says; Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. These rights may not be invoked by the State to justify laws, policies or practices which deny equal protection of the law, or discriminate, on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

We will continue to fight for equality and for freedom of thought, expression, and religion; by presenting this statement we seek to confront human rights challenges with strategic responses that do not compromise our integrity.
Religious Homophobia
John 9:39-40 Jesus said, ‘I came into this world for judgement so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.’ 40Some of the Pharisees near Jesus heard this and said to Jesus, ‘Surely we are not blind, are we?
Religious Homophobia is on the rampage, religious people who are suppose to be God fearing and law abiding have turn their hands to extreme “Hate” Campaign against God’s LGBT children. What then happened to the message of Christ that said “Love your neighbour as yourself?”

House Of Rainbow
We are committed to building a national movement of people who share the principles of equality and freedom for all. We are committed to raise a people of praise and spiritual activists.We value learning, mutual respect, collaboration, and a diversity of viewpoints. We are a Justice Ministry and will continue to highlight the injustices against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people regardless of faith background.

We believe we are made and created in the image of God, we believe in the inclusive gospel and expressive love of God for all people.

God bless you all

Sunday, 17 May 2009

NGOs seek recognition for homosexuals, lesbians and gays in NIGERIA


UPDATE; NGOs seek recognition for homosexuals, lesbians and gays in NIGERIA http://www.234next.com/csp/cms/sites/Next/Home/5416573-146/story.csp


Two non-governmental organisations in Lagos urged the three tiers of government to stop discriminating against homosexuals, lesbians and gay people.Officials of The Independent Project for Equal Rights (TIPER) and The International Centre for Sexual Reproductive Rights (INCRESE) made the appeal at a news briefing.They explained that the briefing was part of their preparation for Sunday's celebration of the annual International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO).They regretted that discrimination on the basis of age, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity had become a major concern for human rights organisations in Nigeria.


Mrs Dorothy Aken Ova, Executive Director of INCRESE urged the protection of the fundamental rights of homosexuals and lesbians.She also urged the enlightenment of Nigerians to enable them to realise that gays had a right to life.``Research findings have shown that four per cent of the world population is gay and should be recognised by government through adequate representation, good education and acceess to the basic necessities of life.`


`These people, though in the minority, did not create themselves. They should, therefore, enjoy the right to live their lives.``The public must learn to respect them for who they are because if we begin to feel bad for one another, we will be calling for the destruction of some people, thus inviting genocide,'' she said.Ova noted that homosexuals, lesbians and the gay formed part of the electorate that voted for the various governments, charging them to take care of them.


She urged the Federal Government to domesticate the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)Mr Joseph Akoro, an Executive Director of TIPER, also urged the Federal Government to consider its commitment to the protection of all Nigerians from all forms of discrimination.He said the NGOs were collaborating to create awareness about the existence of gays in the country.Mr Victor Ogbodo, a member of the NGO, said the society would benefit more from accepting them.


``If they are accepted by the public for what they are, there will be less marital problems because members of the opposite sex will have known before getting married to them.``But if the society fails to accept them now and the issue begins to rear its head after marriage, we may only just be postponing the evil day,'' he said.Ogbodo charged the government to protect the rights of all its citizens since the fundamental human rights of all Nigerians were enshrined in Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution.


He said that the groups were not considering sponsoring any bill at the National Assembly on the issue for now, ``but we will begin to kick against any further restriction on our rights.``In future, should the need arise for us to sponsor a bill on their behalf, we will surely do so,'' he added.

NIGERIA: IDAHO Press Statement by House Of Rainbow Metropolitan Community Church‏


16th May 2009


Press Statement


Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press


NIGERIA

International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia 2009.
A Statement by House Of Rainbow Metropolitan Community Church

On behalf of Rev Rowland Jide Macaulay, the founder and Pastor of House Of Rainbow Metropolitan Community Church Nigeria, the leaders, friends and entire members.

We are here today as citizens of Nigeria to add our voice against homophobia and transphobia and to remind our government, religious bodies, media, people and society that they may run us out of their churches, mosques, homes, jobs and neighbourhood, but they cannot run us out of this nation nor reduce the love of God that includes us.

Colossians 3:11, there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!

This is a progressive and inclusive voice of scripture rejecting discrimination of any kind.

State Sponsored Homophobia
80 countries around the world consider homosexuality illegal, amongst these five of them punish homosexual acts with death which includes Nigeria.

Romans 13:1-3 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; (We LGBT citizens have been a subject to the rules of the land) verse three says 3For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. (We ask that our government not rule over us in terror for who we are and who we love but judge us on who we hate)

It was not until 1990 that the World Health Organisation removed homosexuality from their list of mental illnesses and, to date Nigerian government still attempt to use the old penal code from British colonialism to punish us, also in 2006 introduced the Same Sex Prohibition bill and 2008 followed up with the Same Gender Prohibition bill, these attempts to punish same sex relationship and union are state sponsored threats against our humanity and we demand an end to this.

Our government also denied we exist on the 9th February 2009 at the United Nations in Geneva and in March 2009 we have to debate that we exist at the parliament.

Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Principle 21, The Right to Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion Says; Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. These rights may not be invoked by the State to justify laws, policies or practices which deny equal protection of the law, or discriminate, on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

At House Of Rainbow we believe that building respect for human rights and the rule of law will help ensure the dignity to which every individual is entitled and will halt tyranny, extremism, intolerance, and violence.

We are asking the government to protect people at risk, especially LGBT people, who are increasingly victims of crimes or other mass human rights violations, victims of discrimination, whose rights are eroded in the name of national security and human rights advocates who are targeted for defending the rights of others.

We will continue to fight for equality and for freedom of thought, expression, and religion; by presenting this statement we seek to confront human rights challenges with strategic responses that do not compromise our integrity.
Religious Homophobia
John 9:39-40 Jesus said, ‘I came into this world for judgement so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.’ 40Some of the Pharisees near Jesus heard this and said to Jesus, ‘Surely we are not blind, are we?

There is no doubt that many religious communities and leaders chose to alienate us from their mosques and churches, we believe that Jesus spoke of these leaders when he spoke about spiritual blindness.

Religious Homophobia is on the rampage, religious people who are suppose to be God fearing and law abiding have turn their hands to extreme “Hate” Campaign against God’s LGBT children. What then happened to the message of Christ that said “Love your neighbour as yourself?”

We no longer accept discrimination on the grounds that we are an “unacceptable brand of religion in Nigeria”. We seek to exercise our freedom to praise and worship God without fear and discrimination.

Micah 6:8, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Homophobia in the Media.
Especially since May 2008, the Nigerian media with its circulation has herald the headship of homophobic stories, headlines range from “Homosexuals Must die” “Evil Church” to “We won’t succumb to Homosexuality”, these medium continue to enhance and incite hatred towards LGBT people, and criminality against our community has increased.
We expect that the media will assist to spread human rights awareness, inform people about human rights, empower marginalized communities to stand up, speak out and protect themselves. The media in any form is one of the most powerful methods to share, educate and inform the people. We are calling on the Nigerian media to help to end hate against LGBT people in this country.

Journalist should strive for Human Right goals and make everyone in the world fully aware of their rights. Creating rights awareness should be the first and most necessary step to ending rights abuses. Shamefully today the Nigerian media is the contrary and have endangered LGBT people’s lives in this nation.

Because of the media, today people "Live In Fear Everyday" it is our aim to put an end to this, LGBT people abroad are not only afraid to return to Nigeria, they do not trust the system and equally those at home are being vilified daily by the media and the society.

House Of Rainbow
We are committed to building a national movement of people who share these principles of equality and freedom for all. We are committed to raise a people of praise, build a people of power and spiritual activists.Within our organization we value learning, mutual respect, collaboration, and a diversity of viewpoints. We are a Justice Ministry and will continue to highlight the injustices against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people in Nigeria regardless of faith background.

We believe we are made and created in the image of God, we believe in the inclusive gospel and expressive love of God for all people.

The United Nations declaration on sexual orientation and gender identity condemns violence, harassment, discrimination, exclusion, stigmatization, and prejudice based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It also condemns killings and executions, torture, arbitrary arrest, and deprivation of economic, social, and cultural rights on those grounds.

We are asking our government to formally endorse the United Nation’s declaration calling for the decriminalization of homosexuality.

God bless you all



Rev Rowland Jide Macaulay - LLB, MTh, FACTS.
On Behalf of the Leaders, Friends, and Members of
House Of Rainbow Metropolitan Community Church Nigeria

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Pocket Devotional for LGBT Christians


" This devotional contains a companionable witness for daily 'mountain moving.' Reverend Rowland Jide Macaulay is a dear friend and colleague with a burning love for God's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people. He often inspires me. He does not shy away from sharing his truth with us, as this is the only way to be completely free, according to Jesus" Reverend Pressley Sutherland.



Click here;



I am very moved by your devotional. I am especially moved by the directness of the appeal to readership that may identify with as a native son of Africa. I hope the book will contribute significantly to the outreach planned in Nigeria,... Rev Pat Bumgardener New York USA.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Letter of Invitation to Press Conference 16th May 2009

Letter of Invitation to Press Conference 16th May 2009

Dear Sir/Ma,
The Independent Project for Equal Rights (TIP) in collaboration with the International Center for Sexual Reproductive Rights (INCRESE) is please to cordially invite you to a press conference to mark the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO). This is in an effort to articulate our advocacy against discrimination meted on sexual minorities and people living with disabilities in Nigeria.

Please below are the full details of the event;
Date: Saturday 16th May, 2009
Time: 10am
Venue: AHI Conference Hall- 17 Lawal Street off Oweh street. Jibowu. Yaba. Lagos.
Please kindly confirm your participation as soon as you receive this invitation.

Deadline for confirmation is Wednesday 13th May

Come let's join our hand to fight all forms of discrimination.

For further information, please contact Ohwerhi Efe Brown through 08082685594.
Thank you and we look forward to seeing you.

PS: Note that travel reimbursement will be made.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Is Homosexuality a Sin?


Is Homosexuality a Sin?by Rev. Dr. Kathlyn James


Rev. Dr. Kathlyn James, First United Methodist Church, SeattleThis sermon was delivered by Rev. James to Lake Washington United Methodist Church in 1997, and is reprinted here with permission.


Last August, we had a special Sunday in church called "Burning Questions," in which I responded, on an impromptu basis, to written questions from the congregation. At that time, I also promised to preach a series of sermons later in the year that would specifically address the top three, or most-asked questions submitted on that day. I have to admit, I could not have predicted the 'top three' questions that would come my way! They were: (1) Is homosexuality a sin? (2) Is there a hell? And (3) How can we forgive? This morning we begin by looking at the first of these: Is homosexuality a sin?

In preparation for today, I gathered together all the materials I could find on this subject. I gathered official denominational studies on homosexuality and the church -- not only the United Methodist study guide, but also documents from the Lutherans, Presbyterians, the United Church of Christ. I also made a stack of books with titles like Living in Sin? by an Episcopal bishop, and Is the Homosexual My Neighbor? by two evangelicals. I eventually had a stack of books and papers a foot deep on my desk. I spent the next several days reading, making notes, and preparing a line of argument for this morning's sermon.

But long about Tuesday of this week, I stopped and asked myself a question. What was my goal -- what is my goal, in addressing this topic from the pulpit this morning?

As your pastor, I know very well that homosexuality is a tender subject among us. It is an issues on which, as Christian people, we have diverse opinions and often very complex feelings. But I also know that this is a real question among us; it is not just a theoretical one. That's why you raised it. There are parents sitting here this morning who are wondering why their child is gay, if it means they've done something wrong, if anyone else has ever struggled with this. There are gay and lesbian Christians who are active members of the church, but who live in the closet because they don't want to lose their jobs, their homes, or your friendship and respect.
There are teenagers here who have contemplated suicide because they suspect they might be gay. Each of us here has our own background, confusion, and experience with this issue. It is time we talked about it.

My goal, this morning is to open the conversation. And this is the thought that occurred to me on Tuesday: what is the best way to begin the conversation? It's not by presenting a logical line of argument. That's how you begin a debate, not a conversation! The best way to begin a conversation, in which you want others to feel free to speak their mind, and no perspective to be silenced, is simply speak from your heart, out of your own experiences.

So let me set aside my pile of books and papers, this morning, and share with you at least part of my own journey around this issue. In the months ahead, beginning with the "dialogue" time immediately following church today, I invite you to do the same.

I grew up in an atmosphere of traditional values. My family belonged to a Congregational church in which, week after week, I absorbed a basically mainline Christian theology that emphasized the love of God for all people I was taught that the most important thing in life is to love God, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. In that environment, oddly enough, I don't remember one word ever being spoken about homosexuality. I don't even know when I first heard the term -- probably not before high school. When I did, it was not with any heavy overlay of negativity -- and in this, I have come to realize, my experience is very different from many people's. I did not grow up being told homosexuality was shameful or sordid; I never had a bad experience such as being molested by a person of my own gender. Only as an adult do I realize what a tremendous impact such early experiences have in shaping people's attitudes toward homosexuality.
In fact, I had never met a homosexual person, as far as I knew, even into my twenties. This combination of influences meant that my attitude was pretty much "live-and-let-live." I didn't see how it hurt anyone, or how it threatened me, if two people of the same sex wanted to love each other and live together. What was the big deal?

It really wasn't until seminary, when I was thirty years old, that the issue acquired a human face for me. Her name was Sally. I was a commuting student at Vancouver School of Theology, with a job and a husband and three children in Seattle. I drove up to Vancouver on Mondays and came home on Wednesdays, so I needed a place to stay two nights a week. Sally had a studio apartment on campus that she was willing to share in return for prorated rent. Over the next three years, Sally and I became fast friends.

I had never met anyone like Sally. For one thing, she was much more disciplined in her spiritual life than I was. She got up at 5:00 every morning, which I thought of as an ungodly hour, and left the apartment for a walk or a bike ride, during which she would pray. She bought all her clothes at Goodwill and had only five changes of clothing and two pairs of shoes in the closet. She spent several days a week volunteering in a soup kitchen downtown. She kept a prayer journal. Basically, she put me to shame. But the most appealing thing about Sally was that she loved God. She laughed easily, loved life, loved people, was funny and fun. One night, as we were going to bed--each of us in a single bed lined against the wall, our heads in the corners and our feet toward each other --she asked if I wanted to pray. I had never prayed with another person before--at least, not like that, opening our inner lives before God, in each other's presence--and at first I was halting and shy. But over time we made a habit of praying together, and it was in the course of those years of praying, of being honest with ourselves as possible in the presence of God, that Sally came out to herself as gay.

It was no problem for me that Sally was discovering this--and I have to add here, that like most people, Sally discovered her sexual orientation; it wasn't something she decided. Isn't that true for you, that your sexual orientation is something that just seems "given"? It wasn't as if Sally woke up one morning and thought, "All things being equal, I think I'd like to be a member of a despised minority." It was more a process of discovering and owning the truth about her make-up as a human being.

But I soon learned what a traumatic discovery that would be. Sally came out first to herself before God, then to her family, then to the seminary, then to the church. I accompanied her in that process. When the Presbyterian Church kicked her out of the ordination process, I was stricken; how could they say that Sally was not qualified to be a pastor? She was the best student in her class, and a better Christian than I ever expect to be. I knew that she had been gifted and called to the ministry. Then Sally was fired from her job as the Youth Director at the church, because someone sent the pastor a letter saying that she was gay. All I could think at the time was; this is absurd, this is evil. Sally is great with those kids; why would people assume she is not safe to work with them? Why did they think a heterosexual man or woman would be safer?

Things came to a head for me, one morning, when I was standing in the kitchen, pouring a glass of orange juice, and listening to Sally cry her eyes out on the bed. She often did, in those days. Finally I went over to her, sat on the edge of the bed, and began to stroke her hair. I was filled with helpless rage at the world, and fierce tenderness for my friend. I heard myself saying, "Sally, I don't know what being gay is. But if it's part of who you are, and if God made you this way, I say I'm glad you are who you are, and I love who you are, and I wouldn't want you to be any different."

As soon as those words were out of my mouth, I realized something. I had taken a stand. I knew where I stood on this issue. Sally did not deserve to be despised and rejected; it was the church who was wrong. After seminary I was appointed to serve Wallingford United Methodist Church in Seattle, which had decided some years earlier to become a reconciling congregation -- that is, a congregation that publicly states it is open and affirming toward all people, regardless of sexual orientation. From that point on, my learning curve was steep! One of my first pastoral calls was to a young man who had just slit his wrists with a razor blade. He explained that he was a Christian and couldn't deny it, that he was also gay and couldn't deny that either, even tough he had tried. He had been told he couldn't be both. His father had called him "human garbage." He was not fit to live. All I could do, in response, was to get down on my knees and ask for forgiveness for the church, for communicating to this young man that he was beyond the reach of God's love.

In the five years that followed, I had many such experiences. I had young men with AIDS look up at me with hollow eyes and ask, "Do you think I am an abomination?" I sat with young men calling for their parents as they died, parents who never came. These experiences had a profound impact on me. I kept going back in my mind, again, and again, to my earliest Christian training; the message that God loves everyone, and that Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself. He didn't say, "love your neighbor, unless he or she happens to be homosexual." He never said one word about homosexuality at all.

Jesus spent his whole life going to the poor, the marginalized, the persons who were called unclean by their society, and demonstrating that God's love included them. He treated them with compassion. His own harshest words were for the Pharisees who believed that they were righteous in God's eyes, that others were not, and that God's judgments and opinions were identical to their own.

Which brings me to the question of what the Bible has to say about homosexuality. There is not time, this morning, to take up that question in depth -- we will have plenty of time for that later, in ongoing Bible studies and discussion. But let me say a few things here. The world "homosexual" does not appear anywhere in the Bible -- that words was not invented in any language, until the 1890s, when for the first time the awareness developed that there are people with a constitutional orientation toward their own sex.

In the whole Bible, there are only seven brief passages that deal with homosexual behavior. The first is the story of Sodom and Gomorra, which I preached on last fall, which is actually irrelevant to the issue. The attempted gang rape in Sodom has nothing to say about whether or not genuine love expressed between consenting adults of the same gender is legitimate.
Neither does the passage in Deuteronomy 23, which refers to Canaanite fertility rites that have infiltrated Jewish worship. Passages in I Corinthians and I Timothy refer to male prostitution. Two often-quoted passages prohibiting male homosexual behavior are found in the book of Leviticus. Leviticus also stipulates that any man who touches a woman during her menstrual period is to be stoned to death, that adulterers are to be executed, that interracial marriage is sinful, that two types of cloth are not to be worn together, and certain foods must never be eaten.

I know of no Christians, no matter how fundamentalist, who believe that Christians are bound to obey all of the Levitical laws. Instead we are driven to ask deeper questions about how to rightly interpret Scripture, how to separate the Word of God from cultural norms and prejudices -- that is, how to separate the Message from the envelope in which it comes.

The final Biblical text that deals with homosexual behavior is found in Paul's letter to the Romans, in which he unequivocally condemns homosexual behavior. The background for his understanding was the common Roman practice of older males 'keeping' young boys for sexual exploitation, which he was right to condemn.

But even if this were not the case, even if Paul knew about and condemned all forms of homosexual behavior, even the most loving, what then? Paul also told women not to teach, not to cut their hair, not to speak in church. Do we follow his teaching? He told slaves to obey their masters not once, but five times -- are we prepared to say today, as Southern slave owners argued 150 years ago, that slavery is God's will?

The fact is, I am not a disciple of Paul. I am an admirer of Paul, but a disciple of Jesus Christ. Paul himself says that we should not follow him, but Christ alone. So I come back, again to the life and teaching of Jesus as the center of my faith. In that light all other biblical teaching must be critiqued. There are seven passages about homosexual behavior in the Bible, all of which are debatable as to their meaning for us today. There are thousands of references in the Bible that call us, as Jesus commands, to love our neighbor, to work for peace and reconciliation among all people, and to leave judgment to God.

When I was pastor at Wallingford, I put biblical and intellectual foundations under my "heart" experience of knowing Sally. In those years I also came to appreciate a community in which both gay and straight Christians could worship together, serve on the Trustees, sing in the choir -- simply be human together, trying to grow in the capacity to love God and neighbor without fear.
As a result, when you ask me, "Is homosexuality a sin?" My answer today is: "No." I may be wrong, and I ask God's forgiveness if I am. But I don't believe that sexual orientation has anything to do with morality, any more than being blond or tall or left-handed does. Homosexuals as well as heterosexuals can be involved in sexual sin, including promiscuity, infidelity, and abuse. And homosexuals as well as heterosexuals can love one another with faithfulness, tenderness, and integrity. The same standards of moral behavior should apply to Christians, straight and gay. That is what my life experience as a pastor has led me to believe.
When a homosexual couple comes to meet with me in my office, then, and asks, "Will we be accepted in this church?" I can answer, "I will accept you." But I can only speak for myself. What shall I say on behalf of our whole congregation?

Shall I say, "Yes, you will be accepted here, as long as you aren't open about who you are and who you love?" Shall I say, "Yes, you will be accepted here, but you may not serve in any leadership positions." Shall I say, "Yes, you will be accepted here, but whatever you do, don't hold hands in church. Only heterosexual couples are allowed to do that." Shall I just say, "No." Or, perhaps, simply, "Yes."

The only way we will arrive at a consensus on how this question should be answered is by taking time, over the coming year, to examine ourselves, study the Bible, think, read, pray, listen, and share our diverse life experiences with each other, asking together what God is calling this congregation to do and be.

Let the conversation begin.
Amen.

Rev. Dr. Kathlyn James is the Senior Pastor of First United Methodist Church, Seattle, Washington.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Bishop Yvette Flunder To Receive Clergy Credentials


N E W S R E L E A S E

For Immediate Release


Bishop Yvette Flunder To Receive Clergy Credentialsin Denomination of Metropolitan Community Churches


May 3rd Event In Washington DC Another Step In DeepeningThe Relationship Between MCC, The Fellowship, Says MCC ModeratorWASHINGTON, DC-Bishop Yvette Flunder, presiding bishop of The Fellowship, a movement of churches and faith leaders built on God's radically inclusive love, will receive clergy credentials in Metropolitan Community Churches during events in Washington, DC on Sunday, May 3, 2009. Metropolitan Community Churches is the world's largest and oldest Christian denomination with a primary affirming ministry to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender persons, along with their families, friends, and allies.
Bishop Flunder, an internationally-known preacher, educator, conference speaker and singer, holds clergy credentials in the United Church of Christ and founded City of Refuge United Church of Christ in San Francisco in 1991. In 2003, she was consecrated Presiding Bishop of The Fellowship, a multi-denominational movement of more than 50 churches and faith organizations in the U.S. and Africa.
Rev. Flunder has served as a consultant to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Congressional Black Caucus Health Brain Trust and the Department of Health and Human Services. She is the past board president of Justice and Witness Ministries for the United Church of Christ. Bishop Flunder currently serves as a board member of the National Sexuality Resource Center and is a trustee of Pacific School of Religion. Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson, moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches, said, "We share a deep connection with Bishop Flunder and The Fellowship; we share a common calling and a common ministry of inclusive Christianity. In a very real sense, she has been part of our movement for a long time." Both The Fellowship and Metropolitan Community Churches offer positive, welcoming ministry to the LGBT communities and preach an inclusive gospel message. For additional information on the intentional relationship-building between the two faith organizations, read "From Cooperation to Collaboration: Growing Relationship Between MCC and the Fellowship "
"In ordaining Bishop Flunder as clergy within Metropolitan Community Churches, we affirm our trust in her ministry in the Fellowship," added Rev. Wilson. "We know that the same Spirit that animates MCC animates the Fellowship; we are one in Christ. We value Bishop Flunder's ministry, celebrate her calling, and honor her contributions to us."In remarks this week, Bishop Flunder noted, "For years I have deeply appreciated the contribution of Metropolitan Community Churches to the 'Jesus' work of ending injustice everywhere. The justice work of MCC has not been limited to extending God's Extravagant Grace to sexual minority communities; it has also made a significant impact in bringing an end to racism, sexism, patriarchy and war. This is a Church that had its beginnings in the fire of Pentecostalism and political awareness...Spirit and Truth. I am thrilled to embody a connection between the United Church of Christ, The Fellowship and Metropolitan Community Churches...great justice movements of our time."
Rev. Wilson indicated that she will also seek clergy credentialing with The Fellowship "as part of our ongoing commitment to strengthen and deepen the relationship between our two movements." Bishop Flunder is a graduate of the Ministry Studies and Master of Arts programs at the Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley, California, and holds the Doctor of Ministry degree from San Francisco Theological Seminary, San Anselmo, California. She is the author of Where The Edge Gathers: Building A Community of Radical Inclusion. MCC clergy credentials will be conferred upon Bishop Flunder during the 11 am worship service of Metropolitan Community Church of Washington, DC, 474 Ridge Street NW, Washington, DC 20001 where Rev. Dr. Charlie Arehart is interim pastor. The occasion will mark the first time since 2005 that MCC has extended extraordinary credentials, and the first during the tenure of Rev. Nancy L. Wilson as MCC Moderator. ( E N D )
To Arrange Media Interviews
With Bishop Yvette Flunder,
Contact:Franzetta Houston
Assistant to the Bishop
Tel. (415) 350-3350E-mail: TheFellowship@pacbell.net
To Arrange Media Interviews
With Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson,
Contact:Jim BirkittCommunications Director
Metropolitan Community Churches
Tel. (310) 625-4177E-mail: info@MCCchurch.net

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

UGANDA: When Christians condemn God’s children during the Easter season

When Christians condemn God’s children during the Easter season

http://www.monitor.co.ug/artman/publish/Tabaire/When_Christians_condemn_God_s_children_during_the_Easter_season_82994.shtml

It is Holy Saturday, today, the final day of Holy Week and of Lent – “a period of spiritual preparation for Easter which typically involves fasting, penance and prayer”.
Besides fasting, penance and prayer, the Lent period in Uganda this year has been characterised by something else: virulent gay-bashing.

This is a project that has been, and is still being, championed by “serious” Christians such as Mr Stephen “Heterosexual” Langa of the Family Life Network and Pastor Martin “Heterosexual” Ssempa of Makerere Community Church. And yet we are all, in our ‘sinning’ difference, God’s children! What happened to tolerance and understanding as cherished values in Christ’s church and civilised society in general?

Well, homosexuality is illegal in Uganda. That much, even if nonsensical, is clear. What is not clear is Mr Langa’s bigoted behaviour and how he goes about displaying it. He seems to have unilaterally declared 2009 the Year of Homophobia in Uganda. He spent much of March parading several men (and why no women?) who claimed they are reformed homosexuals. Good for them.

But here are some questions. Where did Mr Langa find these eight-plus men, led by George “Georgina” Oundo? What attracted these men to Mr Langa and not Archbishop Luke Orombi, for example? Had he all along known them to be gay? Or had he planted them in the local gay community in the first place as part of a plan to undermine gays and lesbians in Uganda? Do the police have any reason to not look closely into the activities of the Family Life Network?
More disturbing are the allegations that the men, especially Georgina Oundo and Emma Matovu, are making. They say they were engaged in “recruiting” school children into homosexuality using money from the immoral Western world. Fine.

But enticing minors into sexual activity, any sexual activity, is illegal as well. So why are the Georginas not reporting this matter to the police? Why do they report to Mr Langa’s little outfit? If they do not know about the rights of children, surely, Mr Langa knows. Why does he then not encourage them to report these things to the police?

In fact, the police should swing into action and arrest anyone, straight or gay, who has lured children to sexual activity. Otherwise they will stand accused of going along with Mr Langa’s posturing as the guarantor of morality in Uganda.

Indeed, the main point that has come out of Mr Langa’s shrill anti-gay crusade is that adults are messing with our children. This, though, begs the question: what has recruitment of children into homosexuality got to do with two consenting adults having a sexual relationship? In his zeal, Mr Langa appears over his head here. He needs to straighten his priorities not gays and lesbians.
Another significant aspect out of the confessions is that money is pouring in from the West to promote homosexuality. The real message is that if there was no money from outside, no Ugandan would be lesbian or gay or bisexual or transgender.

How fanciful! Let us grant for a moment, however, that the argument is correct. How then to explain “former homosexual” Charles Asiimwe’s statement that “many business moguls are involved” in homosexuality? If being gay is about making money, why would business moguls be gay? How much more money can a mogul possibly make from Western handouts by being gay? Or did these moguls become wealthy because they are gay?

“We shall expose those who refuse to abandon the practice and we shall not be intimidated because we are protected by Jesus,” Georgina thundered at one of many recent Langa-organised public spectacles.

There is something potentially dangerous in what Mr Langa is doing in inveighing against fellow Ugandans just because they are not heterosexual. It will come as no surprise if individuals falsely name others as gay or lesbian to settle personal scores.

A Catholic priest, Fr Anthony Musaala, has already been named. He has strongly denied that he is gay saying he ministers to all irrespective of sexual preference – as it should be – and his parish of St. Matia Mulumba in Old Kampala has defended him. Kampala Archbishop Cyprian Lwanga, however, appears unimpressed and is going ahead with an investigation.
Worse could happen. On Tuesday, The New York Times published a story out of Iraq. The first two paragraphs read thus: “The relative freedom of a newly democratic Iraq and the recent improvement in security have allowed a gay subculture to flourish ... The response has been swift and deadly.

“In the past two months, the bodies of as many as 25 boys and men suspected of being gay have turned up in the huge Shiite enclave of Sadr City, the police and friends of the dead say. Most have been shot, some multiple times. Several have been found with the word “pervert” in Arabic on notes attached to their bodies, the police said.”

I hope fasting, penance and prayer truly mean something to Mr Langa, Pastor Ssempa and Ethics Minister Nsaba Buturo. Happy Easter to you all. Irrespective of sexual orientation.
bentab@hotmail.com

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Anti-Gay Bullying Claims Another Young Life


Anti-Gay Bullying Claims Another Young Life.
See the story below, I could not help my self this morning, hopelessly I shed tears in my pain and anguish, this could have been my child, this young boy was defenceless against the torrent of abuses and the only way out for him was to take his life.
Our community from Nigeria to the USA, mourn yet another loss and we continue to hold Carl's family, friends, allies and the entire Global LGBT communities in our prayers, we send prayers of hope throughout the world to all people trapped in painful and dangerous situation. As a gay man from Nigeria and also a Christian leader, our work is to continue the effort to educate all people everywhere.

Another tormented grade schooler, another little kid who thinks there's only one way out. "An 11-year-old Massachusetts boy, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, hung himself Monday after enduring bullying at school, including daily taunts of being gay, despite his mother’s weekly pleas to the school to address the problem. This is at least the fourth suicide of a middle-school aged child linked to bullying this year. Carl, a junior at New Leadership Charter School in Springfield who did not identify as gay, would have turned 12 on April 17, the same day hundreds of thousands of students will participate in the 13th annual National Day of Silence by taking some form of a vow of silence to bring attention to anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) bullying and harassment at school. The other three known cases of suicide among middle-school students took place in Chatham, Evanston and Chicago, Ill., in the month of February." [GLSEN]
Other links with this story;

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Homosexuality And Human Rights in Nigeria

Homosexuality And Human RightsBy Leo Igwe

I READ with great interest the piece "Limits to Freedom and Human Rights" by Luke Onyekakeyah (March 17, 2009) and The Guardian Editorial "Homosexuality and the Lawmakers" (March 23, 2009). I have followed closely and attentively the debates, arguments and lobbying for and against the same sex marriage prohibition bill. I have read and documented many reports, opinions and editorials on the matter. I attended the three public hearings on this bill.

And I must say that I am deeply shocked by the spurious arguments, reckless statements, fanatical outbursts, inane propositions, false, biased and misleading reports that have marked the debate over same gender marriage in Nigeria. We must not forget that it is critical issues like this that put to test, show and demonstrate the quality of a people's character, thinking, intelligence and reasoning. And I am sorry to say that we have performed poorly by allowing hatred, prejudice and religious fanaticism to becloud our sense of ethical thinking, moral reasoning and social justice. We have failed to handle the issue of homosexuality with the maturity, civility and level-headedness it deserves.

Before stating my objections to the points raised in the above mentioned articles, permit me to make some clarifications.

First of all, there are no gay couples in Nigeria asking for marriage or for the solemnization of their union. Second, the bill before the National Assembly is not for the legalization of gay marriage but for its prohibition. Third, there is a provision in the Nigerian criminal and penal codes that prohibits homosexuality or sodomy. And this provision has not been repealed. Fourth, there is no bill at the National Assembly to decriminalise sodomy- a necessary step before same sex marriage can be legalised.

So, one mistake those supporting the bill are making is that they think that a defeat of the bill would mean a decriminalisation of homosexuality and a legalisation of gay marriage.
This is not the case. Like I have told some supporters of the bill, opposition is not necessarily a proposition. Those asking that this bill be dropped are not necessarily proposing that Nigeria should legalise same sex marriage.

Having said that, I want to state that I agree with The Guardian Editorial that our lawmakers should rather make a better use of their legislative time and resources by focusing on basic problems facing Nigeria, like hunger, poverty ignorance, unemployment, lack of access to water and electricity, and diseases. That our legislators should stop preoccupying themselves with 'a redundant bill that stigmatises the sexual minority.'

But Luke Onyekakeyah thinks otherwise. He identified homosexuality as a great evil and a form of moral depravity beyond the limits of human freedom and human rights. But he failed to tell us how a homosexual relationship constitutes an act of moral perversion and excessiveness. Homosexual acts are human acts. Aren't they? He did not let us know how he arrived at what he called the limits of freedom and human rights, and what puts same sex relationships beyond those limits. More importantly Onyekakeyah did not explain what makes a same gender marriage prohibition bill necessary in a country where homosexuality is already a crime. He did not say what this bill seeks to achieve that has not essentially been taken care of by the provisions in the criminal and penal codes that prohibit sodomy.

Instead of addressing these points Onyekakeyah went further to attack and malign Transparency International, Human Rights Watch, Global Rights and other foreign-based organisations which he said knew nothing about 'Nigerian tradition and values'. I think we have gotten to a stage where we should stop discrediting an organization or a position just because it is foreign. The language we are using to discuss this issue is foreign. Isn't it?

For Onyekakeyah, whatever he calls 'Nigerian traditions and values' should take precedent over human rights. And on this I say, count me out. Yes, count me out of this line of thought because I know one of the things human rights principles have achieved for human beings is to liberate us from the tyranny of religions, customs and traditions. The same fallacious argument was made by The Guardian Editorial. It stated "we must come to look at the issue of same sex relationships from the prism of our culture and religion" And my question is this, which one is our culture? Which one is our religion? Nigeria, nay Africa is a pot pourri of cultures, religions and traditions.

The Editorial went further to say that "The various religions of the world do not condone homosexuality, Christianity and Islam, Nigeria's largest religions in particular condemn homosexuality". Religions are codifications of moral outlooks that prevailed at the infancy of the human race. That an act is condoned or condemned by religions does not make it moral or immoral. Nigeria's dominant religions sanction and sanctify so many immoral acts like slavery, genocide, subordination of women, killing and persecution of witches and unbelievers, capital and corporal punishments, etc.

There are many cultural practices that are inhuman, harmful and abhorrent like the killing of twins, the burning of witches, human sacrifice etc. So, that a practice is endorsed by "our culture or religion" does not make it morally justifiable. Again, when we stay "our culture" or "our religion", what do we really mean? Is Christianity our religion? No. Christianity was brought by foreign missionaries from Europe. Is Islam our religion? No. Islam was introduced by Arab jihadists from North Africa and the Middle East.

Unfortunately, we have embraced these alien religions as our own. We have allowed these primitive faiths and norms to color and corrupt our ethical thinking and moral reasoning. We have allowed religion to dictate and determine our public policy and legislation.
Another point we must note is that cultures are dynamic. Every culture changes. Cultures grow and evolve. Any culture that remains static stagnates and dies. Every culture influences and is influenced by other cultures. And today, one of the major factors that are shaping cultures across the world is human rights.

In fact, human rights have become the mainstay of global culture and civilization.
Obviously Onyekakeyah and The Guardian Editorial Board would want human rights sacrificed on the altar of culture and religion. And on this again I say "Count me out". Count me out of the absurd idea that the only choice open to gay persons in Nigeria is to "marry members of the opposite sex or remain single". It is not the duty of editors or legislators to tell adults whom to marry. In fact the state cannot legislate when it comes to matters concerning consensual sexual relationships among adults.

Before I conclude I would like to correct some misinformation in one of the articles. Onyekakeyah said that "hundreds of homosexuals on Wednesday, March 11 2009 stormed Nigeria's National Assembly in Abuja". I was among those who attended the public hearing in Abuja. There weren't up to a hundred homosexuals at the event. I am not sure there were up to 50 of them. So where did Luke get his information from. If there was any delegation that stormed the National Assembly it was the clerics from the Anglican Communion and members of the Daughters of Sarah Ministry. The Daughters of Sarah Ministry came to the Hearing with buses packed with school children and youths wearing T-shirts and carrying banners with anti-same gender marriage inscriptions. Didn't the journalists see them? Also during the hearing two legislators made very important remarks. They said the House would need more information about homosexuality. That they would like to know if homosexuality was a disease or a biological condition. And that this would help them in shaping the bill. But no newspaper reported all these.
In conclusion, I want to say that if we are not ready to handle the issue of homosexuality in an enlightened, civilized and balanced manner then we should leave the matter to rest. Otherwise no matter the argument some of us may put forward in the name of culture, religion or tradition, to support this draconian bill and whip up hatred, intolerance, persecution and discrimination against persons on the basis of gender or sexual orientation, at the end of the day, human rights must prevail. Human rights will prevail.
*Igwe is the Founder/Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Humanist Movement.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Who Is Manipulating the Truth?

Who is Manipulating the Truth?

A message received on our Youtube blog http://www.youtube.com/HouseOfRainbow

Title: Dont Manipulate the Truth
AqaMan84: (YouTube) 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.I did not leave this verse out, the implication is for those who have confessed their sin and have asked for forgiveness. You still haven't acknowledged your sin before God. So how can you be washed. Furthermore if fornication, idolatry, homosexuality, etc. are not sins than you need not to be washed or justified. But Paul in the beginning of the verse calls these behaviors unrighteous. Paul is stating that though we were these things, through Christ Jesus we are now new creatures. Once we become justified are we to still live as drunkards, adulterers, liars, effeminate (homosexuals). No true repentance is how we get the remission of sin. We must flee from sexual immorality and all things that are impure. For our bodies are the temple of the Lord. Please repent. I do not condemn. What gain is there in seeing someone perish.

Rev Jide Response
Rev Jide: We are not manipulating the truth, I do not condone sexual immorality either, the fact is that we least understand the mysteries of God, the manipulation of the truth is the failure to see the love of God in all things that we do. You say you are not condemning. Read Roman 8:1-2 (there is no condemnation). then verses33-39, (who will bring a charge against God's elect) Read Romans 9:19-25, (those who are not loved I will call beloved, and the very place where they are not loved they shall be called Children of the living God) then read John 9:35-41, (Jesus spoke about the ignorance which he referred to as spiritual blindness), Ephesian 4:14, (says we are no longer children).

Col 3:11, In that renewal* there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!

It is understandable that people will feel that same sex relationship is a sin if they are not Gay, the truth for me and many people is that we have been abused under the system of ignorance, religious homophobia, what will you say to a transgender person?

The bible was used to justify slavery, misogyny, oppression of women, alienate interracial marriage, at one point Christians promoted discrimination and shamefully still does, Black people could not seat in the same church as white, it seems that people have soon forgotten the history of African Americans to concede hatred.

In my adult live I have not seen any more campaign of hate with so much venom but from other Religious people and it makes me wonder. I know who I am and I know whose I am, that is the truth.

What I am about and we do is preach the love of God to all people, bring the inclusive love of Jesus to all people. And that is the truth, which has set us free.

Read the Gospel of Inclusion by Bishop Carlton Pearson.
Read Other Voices Other World by Bishop Terry Brown.

Find out more about homosexuality before launching an attack, the truth is not easy to come by, what you are asking gays and lesbians to do is deny who they are, deny their humanity and thus deny the creativity of God, and this is more based on people's sheer ignorance of our humanity.

Ask any openly gay person what does it feel like living in the closet and being free, we are persecuted daily, how many times have you posted lengthy messages to condemn drunkenness or adultery, how many times have people been fired from their jobs or evicted from their homes because of adultery. You need to read more updated and modern versions of the bible, it does not change the truth, it simply corrects a few notions and misguided interpretation. For example, the word homosexual and Effeminate from the KJV is not used in the Today New International Version, it was referred to as Homosexual Offenders, for me and many people that is more appropriate.

Do a comparative study by visiting the following websites. Speak to gay people and listen to their stories from their heart.

http://wouldjesusdiscriminate.org/
http://www.soulforce.org/
http://www.religioustolerance.org/

Thanks for your message, God be with you and bless you always

Rev Macaulay

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Update On Our Online Inclusive Mission

With nearly 4000 hits on our videos since October 2008, the messages with Rev Jide Macaulay are inspirational, provocative, inclusive and there is more to come, visit us at http://www.youtube.com/HouseOfRainbow Also join our online membership discussion forum with more than 300 participants, 40 countries, photo gallery, over 100 topics, 60 video clips, create your own page, invite your friends etc http://spiritualityandsexuality.ning.com/, Be blessed.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Food For Thought

Food for Thought: get sick of listening to straight people complain about, "Well, hey, we don't have a heterosexual-pride day, why do you need a gay-pride day?" I remember when I was a kid I'd always ask my mom: "Why don't we have a Kid's Day? We have a Mother's Day and a Father's Day, but why don't we have a Kid's Day?" My mom would always say, "Every day is Kid's Day." To all those heterosexuals that bitch about gay pride, I say the same thing: Every day is heterosexual-pride day! Can't you people enjoy your banquet and not piss on those of us enjoying our crumbs over here in the corner

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Palm Sunday Service With Rev Jide Macaulay @ MCC East London UK


Palm Sunday Service With Rev Jide Macaulay @ MCC East London UK


Host: Metropolitan Community Church East LondonType: Meetings - ConventionNetwork: GlobalDate: Sunday, April 5, 2009Time: 5:00pm - 7:00pmLocation: Metropolitan Community Church East London @ St Bartholomew's Church, Barking Road East HamStreet: 292B Barking Road East Ham E6 3BACity/Town: London, United Kingdom

On Palm Sunday Christians celebrate the Triumphal Entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem, the week before the death and resurrection of Jesus. The Bible reveals that when Jesus entered Jerusalem, the crowds greeted him with waving palm branches, and by covering his path with palm branches. Immediately following this great time of celebration in the ministry of Jesus, he begins his journey to the cross. We invite you to MCC East London UK for this historical celebration. Please pass on to your friends and network.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Homosexuality and the Nigerian lawmakers

Below is an editorial in the Nigerian Guardians Newspaper this morning following a response to a bias article published last week. http://www.ngrguardiannews.com/editorial_opinion/article01/indexn2_html?pdate=230309&ptitle=Homosexuality%20and%20the%20lawmakers

Homosexuality and the lawmakers

THE question of homosexuality long regarded as taboo in the highly religious society of Nigeria, has of recent been raising its head and profile in the field of public debate. No longer content to remain in the closet, proponents of homosexuality and lesbianism are actively seeking to be heard. They are up against an uphill task as they are pitched not only against culture and religion but against public perception of morality.

The various religions of the world do not condone homosexuality; Christianity and Islam, Nigeria's largest religions, in particular condemn homosexuality. The mere mention of homosexuality is guaranteed to drive many Nigerian Christians and Moslems up the wall in revulsion. But there are others, somewhat tolerant who are inclined to look at the phenomenon as a form of benign affliction from which the victims can be rescued. For this group homosexuals and lesbians should be managed until they return to the path of rectitude. For others however, homosexuality is not a stigma but a biological condition, which is as perfectly normal as heterosexual orientation.

These issues came to the fore recently when a bill to ban same sex marriages in Nigeria was tabled before the National Assembly. An attempt to obtain public reaction to the bill turned into an occasion of high drama. A group of young people under the lugubrious name of Queer Alliance stormed the House of Representatives in Abuja to protest what they say is discrimination against their fundamental human rights if a bill banning same sex marriages in Nigeria were passed. They have been joined by Amnesty International, Global Rights, Human Rights Watch and some Lesbian organisations which argue that if the bill were passed, Nigeria's obligations under the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights would be undermined.

Pitched against the homosexuals are religious bodies comprising the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion and Daughters of Sarah Ministry. They warn that same sex marriages would destroy the will of God for mankind as He created us male and female. They totally reject same sex marriages as ungodly, unprofitable, unhealthy and un-African. The position of the Anglican Communion in Nigeria on homosexuality as articulated by the Very Reverend Peter Akinola is well known. In 2004, more than 300 bishops congregated in Lagos and resolved among other things not to have anything to do with homosexuality. The great Lambeth Hall, home of Anglicanism is wobbling over the issue of homosexuality and a schism is yet to be averted.

The problem with Nigerians is that we are all too eager to copy the latest fads from the western world. Not every product from the West is good and the well-heeled homosexual lobby is one such example. We must come to look at the issue of same sex relationships from the prism of our culture and religion. For the African, the idea that a man can be married to a man or a woman to a woman is anathema. The culture of marriage is predicated on the union between a man and a woman and all our traditional practices and normative values regarding marriage are based on the assumption that the other member is of the opposite sex. African parents prepare their children from birth through adolescence for marriage to the opposite sex.

Too many things will be upset were it possible to upturn age-old customs and practices. Those who argue that opposition to homosexuality amounts to a violation of universal human rights, may well need to realise that the dislike of homosexuality is not inconsistent with the observance of human rights. Nigerian homosexuals are not pilloried for being gay. They have a choice: they can marry members of the opposite sex or stay single. They only draw unfavourable attention to themselves when they threaten the safety and security of the majority.

Africans have a right to say 'no' to a movement whose ultimate outcome will be the destruction of the family. Homosexuals are claiming that men can marry themselves. If everyone followed their example, would they have even been born? Looking at the debate, we conclude that in the short run both parties cannot be reconciled without grave injuries being done to either of them. Since sodomy is already criminalised in Nigeria, we wonder whether the National Assembly is utilising its time optimally by focusing on homosexuality when the majority of our people are suffering from hunger, lack of access to water and disease.

Moreover, as pointed out by the gay lobbyists, same sex marriage is not a common social practice in Nigeria therefore legislating against it is redundant and can only further stigmatise the sexual minority. Perhaps the National Assembly should be spending its time on real issues that impact on the lives of long-suffering Nigerians.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Over One Thousands hits on One of our YouTube Video Blog

Over One Thousands hits on One of our YouTube Video Blog

http://www.youtube.com/HouseOfRainbow

I am excited and I rush this news to you that we have received over a thousand hits on one of the videos posted.All glory to God. Thanks to the unconditional and undeniable love of God and the undisputable sacrifice of JesusTo date we have twenty videos posted, with the expectation of more key messages to be posted. We have received nearly 70 posted messages, from the good to the ugly, in all the messages we receive strength and wisdom

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

House Of Rainbow Metropolitan Community Church Statement at the Public Hearing at the Nigeria Parliament 11th March 2009‏

To: The Clerk, House Committee on Human Rights, Nigeria.
11th March 2009.
Statement of House Of Rainbow Metropolitan Community Church Nigeria

Dear Honourables, Chairperson, House of Representative, Committee on Human Rights, Interested Members of the public, All stakeholders, Ladies and Gentlemen of the media.

The statement of concern from the entire members of House Of Rainbow Metropolitan Community Church Nigeria, the Pastor, leaders and board of trustees, with regards to a Bill for an Act to prohibit marriage between persons of the same gender, solemnisation of same and other matters related therewith 2008.We express our deep concern and trepidation on the matters before you today as a matter of conscience and denial of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and Transgender (LGBT) people in our nation.

The Same Gender Marriage (Prohibition) Bill 2008, which was introduced by the Nigerian National Assembly on 15th of January, 2009, will have an extreme impact on the work and services we provide to include sexual minorities in our communities.We are aware of the Nigeria constitution “Penal Code” which makes Homosexuality illegal under federal law, however, because of widespread taboos against homosexuality, very few persons were openly homosexual and have often been ostracised, rejected and victimised by religious communities, workplace discrimination on these grounds and the society at large.

Violence against LGBT people is frequent in Nigeria. Since May 2008, several national newspapers published articles criticizing our organization, many of the articles included names, addresses, and photographs of members of the congregation and the pastor. Police harassment and threats forced the church to shut down and the pastor to retreat for safety. Some members of the congregation lost their jobs and were evicted from their homes and had to go into hiding, and several of them continue to be under threat of physical harm and harassment on the ground of their sexual orientation.This legislation would allow the state to invade people’s homes and bedrooms and investigate their private lives, and it would criminalize the work of human rights defenders, and other service providers.

“On September 12, local newspapers Nation, Vanguard, PM News and the Sunday Sun published photos, names, and addresses of members of the House of Rainbow Metropolitan Community Church, a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered-friendly church in Lagos. Following publication, persons started harassing the 12 members. One woman was attacked by 11 men, while others were threatened, stoned, and beaten. No investigation was initiated by year's end. This was emphasized by the US Secretary of State Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in the 2008 Human Rights Report”.

We believe that the Same Gender Marriage (Prohibition) Bill will disastrously endorse a climate of homophobia and escalating hate crime against gay and lesbian Nigerian citizens, making them among the most vulnerable in the world to human rights violations, rape, blackmail, injustice, severe abuse and extortion with no recourse to justice.Equal human rights and freedom from persecution are not only humanist and democratic values, they are necessary conditions for the human spirit to thrive. When either is absent, a society foments the conditions for untold suffering among its own people, many Nigerians now questions the nation’s commitment to a democratic state for all constituents, including those considered sexual minority.

The proposed bill, if approved, would seriously restrict essential freedoms as well as the activities of human rights defenders, members of civil society and our inclusive religious community. The United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders holds, in its article 5, that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels: a) to meet or assemble peacefully; b) to form, join and participate in non-governmental organizations, associations or groups.” Article7 of the declaration affirms that “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to develop and discuss new human rights ideas and principles and to advocate their acceptance.”

House Of Rainbow Nigeria is a non government organisation of the Universal Fellowship of the Metropolitan Community Church, with a ministry for Global Justice , we believe that all people are created equal and attest to the diverse unimaginable creation of the almighty God, regardless of race, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and so on.

We promote a God given sexuality against the background of societal hatred and self destructive behaviours.Our work begins where other religious communities end to bring sexual minorities to a safe place of worship, these has been and will continue to be compromised by this bill, which seeks to criminalise any association and or assembly of same gender loving people.We respectfully call on:• The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria• The National House of Assembly (especially the Committees on Human Rights, and the Committee on Judiciary)• The Ministry of Justice• The Joint Committee on Human Rights, Justice and Women Affairs.• And The National Human Rights CommissionTo reverse this harmful legislation and begin reparation by de-criminalising same gender relationships, offering equal protections to Nigerian lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens.

We also call on:• The President of Nigeria to ensure that the human rights of LGBT individuals and human rights defenders in Nigeria are not violated, and to openly denounce and condemn the continuous hounding of the LGBT community, its friends and families, and human rights defenders.• The Nigerian Police and Central Intelligence Department (CID) to protect LGBT individuals from all forms of violence and abuse.• The media to uphold the ethics and tenets of responsible media practice.We have faith in the democratic legislative process and it is with this hope that we believe that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Nigerians will begin to be valued within civil society and be allowed to positively contribute to the future of this democracy.

We offer our statement in solidarity with all who have been marginalized, praying for a genuine change of heart in this matter to alleviate the suffering caused by grievance, inequality, prejudice, unfairness, injustice, societal and religious homophobia and the possible enactment of this legislation.

Signed House Of Rainbow Metropolitan Community Church Nigeria.

Nigeria Gay Activists Speaks Out














Nigeria gay activists speak out

Gay rights activist Rashidi Williams addresses Nigeria's National Assembly. Nigerian gay rights activists have told the country's lawmakers that a new bill to outlaw same sex marriage would lead to widespread human rights abuses. The new law would mean prison sentences for gay people who live together, and anyone who "aids and abets" them.


The plea by activists was made to a public committee of the National Assembly which is discussing the bill. It is already illegal to have gay sex in Nigeria but the new law would extend police powers to arrest suspects. "This bill is not necessary, we see no reason why people should be criminalised," Rashidi Williams, 23, of the Queer Alliance of Nigeria told the committee.
"I did not choose to be gay. It is trial enough to live in this country, we should not create more laws to make us suffer," he said.


'Fabric of society'
Under the new law anyone who has "entered into a same gender marriage contract" would be liable to be jailed for three years. The bill defines a same sex marriage as gay people living together.

If you are not careful and allow the institution of the family to break down, the consequences will be on all of us Mayor Eze Nigerian National Assembly member Anyone who "witnesses, abet and aids the solemnization" of a same gender marriage would face five years in prison, or a fine.
Activists say the law does not make sense because anyone who aides and abets people to live together would face a tougher sentence than the couple concerned.


The law would make it easier for the police to arrest suspects, and criminalise anyone working in a human rights organisation that dealt with gay rights, they say.


Church groups spoke in favour of the bill, saying that gay marriage risked "tearing the fabric of society".


"In the Bible it says homosexuals are criminals," Pius Akubo of the Daughters of Sarah church told lawmakers.


Rev Patrick Alumake told the National Assembly the top leadership of the Catholic church in Nigeria supported the bill wholeheartedly.


"There are wild, weird, ways of life that are affecting our own culture very negatively, we have people who either by way of the media or travelling around the world have allowed new ideas which are harmful to our nation and our belief," he said.


The bill's sponsor, House of Representatives member Mayor Eze, said the bill was necessary to protect the family. "If you are not careful and allow the family institution to break down, and the consequences will be on all of us," he said.


'Abomination'
Children wearing T-shirts that said "Same sex marriage is un-natural and un-African", and "same sex marriage is an abomination" stood in the aisles of the committee room.
Ekaette Ettang, of the Daughters of Sarah church who provided the T-shirts, denied they were inciting hatred against homosexuals.


"We don't hate gay people, but this is the public's opinion and we have the right to speak," she said.


Activists say gay people in Nigeria face violence from their families and neighbours every day.
Two years ago, a woman went into hiding in the northern Kano State after reports that she had organised a wedding for four women - which she strongly denied.


Also that year 18 men were arrested in the northern city of Bauchi and accused of participating in a "gay wedding".


A Sharia court dismissed the charges and they were charged with the lesser offence of vagrancy.

11th March 2009, Historical Event Shaping Nigeria

9AM

Today, 11th March 2009, the Same Gender Prohibition bill 2008, will be debated by the Public, in what is tagged as the most crucial, cintroversial and popular subject in the country, in the past few weeks both national and foreign media has showed great interest in the matter and there are many reasons for that. For many years Nigerian government and leading religious community leaders have denied the existence of LGBTI people in the nation, it was more serious on the 9th February 2009 after many months of media intrution, speculations and assaults on LGBT people and organisations that the Minister of Justice, Honorable Ojo Maduekwe stood up before the UN review committee and denied any existence of LGBT people in the nation, Now LGBT people, leaders and allies have arrived at the parliament in Abuja Nigeria and at the time of posting this note are seated in the Senate committee room 028 to defend the rights of the LGBT citizens, House Of Rainbow Metropolitan Community Church also have two representatives in the Senate, following the entire process. I will keep you posted.

4PM

The debate is now over and the overstretched LGBT delegates and allies are preparing for a press conference with the Media. Many LGBT leaders, Youth and allies stood up in the Parliament to make a case for the rejection of the Same Gender Prohibition Bill 2008, I was informed by our delegates that there were No Muslim or Northerners at the Hearing which is very odd, however there were loads of Anglican Clerics, all dressed for the occasion, this is indicative and evidential of the master minds behind this bill. 80% or more of the presentation were from defenders of LGBT rights, it is believed that more papers were lodged with the Clerk of the House that were not presented today. There are rumours that the bill will pass regardless, however, there has been a dramatic shift in the outlook of the Honorables of the House in their views of the matters of Human Rights especially the Women's Affairs Ministry, who now align their consideration with the Human Right Commission.


I commend the bravery of all who attended, and ask us not to lose sight of our goals, the battle is not over yet. What happens next?, the bill will now go through due process taking into consideration all the views presented today at the hearing, it will take some time before a response is made public. Leading Activists such as Leo Igwe, Director of the Nigerian Humanist Movement and Joseph Akoro, Director of TIP, were joined by new comers to activism such as William Rashidi of Queer Alliance Nigeria, House of Rainbow Metropolitan Community Church had two representatives in attendance and the MCC statement was presented eloquently by Barrister Lazarus Aule a defense counsel from Lawyers Alert. Changing Attitude was represented by three or more delegates and their statement was presented by Mr Patrick. The Nigerian and foreign media were present throughout the hearing. Full statements in the Public hearing to the House will be posted soon, watch this space.

Rev Rowland Jide Macaulay