A brief history of recent actions by former Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi of the Church of Uganda, who has been described as “the architect of homophobic hate in Africa.”
BY THE REV. CANON ALBERT OGLE
Who is this man?
Most Americans, including potential donors, have no idea what Luke Orombi’s theology and political ambition has done to undermine American foreign policy and cause a rise in misinformation and persecution of the LGBT community, not only in Uganda, but throughout Africa.
His work has also caused significant rifts between faith communities in the USA and cost millions of dollars in legal and litigation costs that could have been applied to more needy issues here and in his own country. Allow me to list some of his activities during his tenure as Archbishop from 2004 to 2011.
2004: Orombi refuses to lift the inhibition imposed upon Bishop Christopher Senyonjo (who served the Diocese of West Buganda for 24 years) causing him and his family increasing financial hardship and social stigma. The bishop was not allowed to baptize or marry any of his grandchildren and was threatened with burial in unconsecrated ground if he did not recant his statements in favor of LGBT inclusion in the church. His sanctions against Senyonjo would become worse.
2007: Orombi leads the assault on the Episcopalian church property war where many disaffected congregations invite him to give Episcopal oversight to their congregations and try to seize their church properties. This legal battle has cost millions of dollars of American funds and in almost every case, the Episcopal diocese has won the case. The disaffected congregations who tried to claim these properties were acting illegally and American courts ruled against them including the California Supreme Court. Orombi gave them spiritual sanction to begin this campaign and until 2009 he oversaw these fractured congregations from Newport Beach, Calif., to Truro church in Virginia.
This was not merely an inter-church rift. The political ramifications were clear from the beginning when Orombi consecrated an American priest to become a bishop in North America to oversee this schism. The fact that this ceremony was attended by the Ugandan Prime Minister, who gave a personal message from President Museveni supporting the consecration and a gift of $1,000 to the new bishop’s fund (documented in the following news clip from 2007), illustrates Orombi’s political agenda:
“The Anglican Church of Uganda has consecrated an American priest as bishop to oversee Christian congregations that have split from the main Episcopal Church in the US over the issue of homosexuality.
John Guernsey was consecrated at St. James Cathedral in Mbarara town yesterday in a ceremony, presided over by the Church of Uganda Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi. He was assisted by bishops from Canada, Argentina, Kenya, Rwanda and Nigeria, and priests from the US.
2007: Orombi deposes Bishop Christopher Senyonjo for creating an LGBT supportive ministry in Uganda (Integrity) and accuses him of starting his own church. The bishop is compared to someone with gangrene and was never given due process or church procedures were never followed as outlined in the Church of Uganda’s constitutions and canons:
“The archbishop blasted the Integrity organization saying it had no place in Africa. “Integrity has a beach head in Uganda but we have cut off Bishop Christopher Senyonjo for organizing the group here. He has been banned from preaching and “we will not let him function with us. What he is doing is totally unacceptable. Would you tell a man who has a leg with gangrene that you approve? No you would say it is unacceptable. You would cut it off to spare his life.”
Please click HERE for more information about Orombi’s campaign against Bishop Senyonjo.
2008: Allegations of death threats are made in public while he is travelling in America is used by Orombi to further demonize the Ugandan LGBT community.
“I don’t wear my collar when I am in countries which have supporters of homosexuals” he said while addressing Christians at Kitunga archdeaconry, West Ankole diocese in Ntungamo district. “I am forced to dress like a civilian because those people are dangerous. They can harm anybody who is against them. Some of them are killers. They want to close the mouth of anybody who is against them.”
Please click HERE for more information about Orombi’s claim, from the article “Gays want to kill me, says Orombi.”
Were these threats ever reported to the State Department or United Kingdom government? If so, what security costs continue to be supported by the taxpayer every time Orombi embarks on a fundraising mission to the west?
2010: Allegations of bribery by President Museveni to Ugandan Church officials and bishop are ignored during Orombi’s term in office. Here is an excerpt from the Integrity blog about the bribes:
Yesterday’s paper had a photo of President Museveni [above] giving a $40,000 Pajero vehicle to a newly consecrated Church of Ugandan bishop (the equivalent of receiving four times ones annual salary) – a public bribe that would be inconceivable in any other democracy except here. The President, who is seeking reelection for his fourth term in early 2011, gives a new vehicle to every newly consecrated bishop in the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches (estimated to be over $2m worth of gifts to the church leadership in recent years).
February 2010” Orombi leads the Church of Uganda’s support of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in a statement supporting its spirit and intentions but suggests amendments to existing penal codes. For more information, please click HERE.
David Bahati, the bill’s author, is an Anglican and his stepfather is the retired Anglican bishop of Kigezi.
August 2010: Orombi hosts the meeting of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (representing 60 million Anglicans) in a lavish hotel in Entebbe as guests of the Ugandan President. He tries to convince the 400 African bishops that the American Episcopal Church should be ousted from the Anglican Communion and replaced by the disaffected Episcopalian breakaways known as the Anglican Churches of North America with deposed Bishop Duncan as its newly proclaimed Archbishop. The move was defeated by the majority of bishops. The overt political nature of Orombi’s work continues to be disguised under religious teaching and polity.
For more information, please click HERE.
October 2010: Orombi is one of the main leaders in an historic gathering of 4,000 evangelical leaders in Capetown, South Africa, where Exodus International [notorious for its claims that it can “pray the gay away”] is invited to present its theology and psychological framework about homosexuality in Africa. The information presented about homosexuals to Christian leaders at this conference was deeply flawed and can be compared to the “weapons of mass destruction” misinformation campaign used by the Bush administration to invade Iraq.
(This conference was described as the equivalent of the evangelical movement’s Second Vatican Council and had a huge impact on the modern church in Africa).
Although Exodus International and Alan Chambers are reshaping their North American profile to look more benign, Exodus International continues to preach misinformation to the Global South market. For more information, please click HERE.
Orombi was invited to be the honored preacher at the closing ceremonies of this historic event. afterwards, religious leaders went home to places like Nigeria, Zimbabwe , Malawi and Zambia to begin a concerted campaign of anti-LGBT legislation and persecution, exclusion from services, and denial of LGBT people having a voice in the public square.
June 2011: Orombi leads the Ugandan Joint Christian Council (a PEPFAR-funded organization) to call for the reading of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill as his last official act as Archbishop. For more information, please click HERE.
It is clear from this brief history of Orombi’s association with the anti-LGBT movement in Africa and ties to American and British fundamentalist organizations using tax-exempt funding (and often supported by the Museveni government ) that his negative impact continues to be with us.
LGBT Ugandans [were] excluded from receiving PEPFAR and USAID funding at any significant level to meet their needs. Meanwhile, freed from the administrative and pastoral responsibilities of an Archbishop, Orombi [used] his new Foundation as a new beachhead for American-based donors to continue his war against the LGBT movement and current American foreign policy. What is the State Department’s position on this strange dichotomy and how much are we actually giving him and his networks?
It is important for the American taxpayer and American Christians to know to what extent the U S Government has supported or is supporting the various organizations mentioned in this document. It is also important the American people are forewarned of Orombi’s imminent arrival in this country to further his rather successful campaigns subsidized by our taxes.
This timeline was originally published as part of a column by the Rev. Canon Albert Ogle in the San Diego Gay and Lesbian News.