Justin Welby, Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury (pictured), has warned Anglican churches in Africa that they could suffer “consequences” for their support of the outlawing of sodomy.
Uganda, Burundi, Nigeria and Rwanda all have anti-sodomy laws, and Anglican leaders in Uganda and Nigeria have openly expressed approval of their country’s legislation, in contradiction to the official stance of the world Anglican Primates, which disapproves of gay marriage but supports the decriminalization of sodomy.
“The prevailing ideology of gay activists not only undermines the Bible’s message, which is deliberate on their part, but it is also an attack on the foundations of our society,” stated the Church of Uganda in its support for the country’s Anti-Homosexuality Act.
Speaking at the General Synod of the Church of England meeting in Westminster, Archbishop Welby said that the 38 Anglican world leaders who form the Primates body could put pressure on churches who support laws that ban sodomy.
In January, the Anglican Primates released a declaration clarifying their position on homosexuality.
“The traditional doctrine of the church in view of the teaching of scripture, upholds marriage as between a man and a woman in faithful, lifelong union,” the statement read, but also asserts their “rejection of criminal sanctions against same-sex attracted people.”
Welby likened the “consequences” that could befall the African churches to those experienced by the U.S. Episcopal Church for its open support of same-sex marriage.
In January, Anglican leaders handed down a three-year suspension of the U.S. Episcopal Church from full participation in the Anglican Communion, after a number of conservative bishops — many from Africa — expressed their discontent with the American church’s public stance on same-sex marriage and gay clergy.
The African churches are part of the conservative Anglican group, Gafcon, which has been critical of the liberalization of the Anglican Communion.
In 2008, Gafcon held a rival assembly to the official Lambeth Conference and claimed the Anglican Church “promotes a variety of sexual preferences and immoral behaviour as a universal human right.” They also accused the greater Anglican Communion of embracing a “false gospel.”
Recent reports suggested that Welby may have included the line about “rejection of criminal sanctions against same-sex attracted people” in the January statement in order to push for the decriminalization of homosexual acts in different parts of the world, which LGBT supporters have called the “silver lining” to this story.
In January, Welby apologized for the “hurt and pain” the Anglican church has inflicted on lesbian, gay and transgender people after the decision to sanction the liberal U.S. church for allowing same-sex marriage.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome