The murder of Ugandan activist David Kato wasn’t just a chance for political leaders to speak out against legalized and institutional persecution, as Barack Obama did. It’s also an opportunity for another class of the globe’s figureheads to take a stand. Like the religious ones. And Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has done exactly that.
“You cannot go around sharing information about the identity of proposed lesbian and gay persons and urging people to ostracise them or worse ‘Hang Them’ as in the headlines of one of the Ugandan newspapers,” Williams told reporters in Dublin yesterday. “You cannot do that without taking responsibility for the consequences. Language which demonises gays and lesbians has consequences.”
That message isn’t just targeted at Rolling Stone editor Giles Muhame, who refuses to accept any responsibility for Kato’s slaying. It’s targeted at any person who calls himself an Anglican, or simply a follower of Christ, to realize Jesus’ message was never once about alienating and oppressing your fellow man.
The importance of Williams responding in such a public manner, and with such swift and concise messaging, cannot be understated. While the archbishop has faced much criticism for his handling (or mishandling) of gays inside the Anglican Church, he should be commended for directly addressing the problem of hate. His direction is clear: Mankind cannot brutalize its own people, gay or otherwise.
Call me when Pope Benedict XVI makes a statement — which will inevitably be torn to shreds, because men who preach discrimination, and who disguise bigotry as tolerance, cannot tell his millions of followers not to hate on gays when that’s the very message he regularly broadcasts.