1/28/2011

The miserly neighbors and the Samaritan friends of David Kato

David Kato was buried today in Uganda. There are numerous commentaries on his brutal murder and his active ministry and life and witness.  There have been statements from a variety of Anglican leaders, including the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church. 

But Integrity today reported on the sad disruption of David Kato's funeral. Read that report HERE.

The disruption by an Anglican priest was bad enough, but we should not be surprised. There are angry mad people ready to make a play to the media almost everywhere these days. But what followed was genuinely sad, both as a commentary on the state of affairs in "local" Uganda and of the enduring possibilities of applying Jesus' parables to contemporary context.

The report reads, "After the scuffle was calmed, villagers refused to bury Kato’s coffin, so it was left to Kato’s friends, most of them gay, to carry him to his grave and bury him themselves."

David Kato came home, and they did not receive him. It was left to outcasts and strangers to attend to his burial. 

He will rest in peace, which is more than can be said for the villagers who refused his last need for help. Generally speaking we cannot leap into the grave ourselves, we must be cared for.  Perhaps we thought that was what villages were for, but alas it is not so. Villagers might just as easily take you to the edge of town and throw you off a cliff, or scorn your dead body and leave it unattended.

The Presiding Bishop, writing from far Dublin, said this:

"At this morning’s Eucharist at the Primates Meeting, I offered prayers for the repose of the soul of David Kato. His murder deprives his people of a significant and effective voice, and we pray that the world may learn from his gentle and quiet witness, and begin to receive a heart of flesh in place of a heart of stone. May he rest in peace, and may his work continue to bring justice and dignity for all God’s children."

The villagers brought stones, his friends brought living caring hearts.

A rather chilling note from Anglicans United does nothing to help. The lead in to a Christian Science Monitor article posted on AU's site states: 

"[Ed. Note: Western gay activists financially support and encourage gay activism in many parts of Africa, without recognition of the strong Islamic belief against homosexuality and lesbianism. While Anglicans United condemns violence or discrimination against homosexuals this outcome is not unexpected. It is a different world over there, and lack of appreciation or understanding, while demanding that they conform to our norms, is unrealistic. Of note, the Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures project, an effort funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and the John Templeton Foundation predicted yesterday that the Muslim population will grow worldwide by 35% in the next 20 years. They predicted the increase partially by birth rates, but primarily by conversion, especially from Christianity, which is seen as 'not standing for anything in particular'. Right now, it is the fastest growing religion on this planet. Even moderate and cultural Muslims find homosexuality to be in opposition to the Koran, and not defensible. Cheryl M. Wetzel]"

I have no doubt that Cheryl Wetzel and AU "condemns violence or discrimination against homosexuals,"  but apparently they believe David Kato et al have brought all this on themselves.  While it is not completely clear just why David Kato was killed, AU jumps to suggest that, if it was, it was brought on by outside agitators who put Ugandan LGBT persons in danger. The rest of the editorial comment is illogical in its implications.

AU should be ashamed of this editorial comment. It is as miserly as the reaction of the villagers. It was from a heart of stone.   

30 comments:

  1. Ashamed? These people have no shame.

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  2. Pay attention, ACI, ACNA, "orthodox" - you are known by the company you keep!

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  3. I see the "he had it coming" excuse is just starting to make the right wing rounds.

    Splendid commentary, Fr. Mark.

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  4. Should it turn out that this tragic murder had nothing to do with anti-LGBT violence, will apologies be made? Turning a tragic death into a cause celebre? Just wondering. Joe

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  5. "Ugandan police say preliminary investigations point to Kato being killed during a robbery" (Reuters)

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  6. A prominent activist for GLBT rights in Uganda is outed in 2010 by having his photo, name and address published in a Ugandan national publication under the banner headline that the outed individuals should be hung. As a result he experiences highly increased harassment and threats on his life. He wins a major Supreme Court law suit against the offending newspaper with a further exacerbated increase of threats on his life.

    On 26 JAN 2011 his neighbors report that a car pulled up in front of his home, from which a man emerges with a hammer, enters his home, thrashes him with the hammer, returns to the car and escapes.

    Anons, we will probably never know the absolute truth in this situation, but having been gay bashed twice in my life while in the US, once at knifepoint and the other at gunpoint, me, a nobody walking home, my money is on the fact that this was a gay bashing for his prominence, a hate crime.

    Also in my experience, it is in the best interest of all Uganda to spin this as not being what it was. Too bad that they cannot paint it as the gay on gay violence of a promiscuous affair with an overnight trick!

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  7. Should it turn out that this tragic murder had nothing to do with anti-LGBT violence, will apologies be made? Turning a tragic death into a cause celebre? Just wondering. Joe

    Does the phrase Climate of Violence ("Hang Them!") mean nothing to you, Joe? Just wondering. JCF

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  8. “The Inspector General of Police, Maj. Gen. Kale Kayihura said in a statement yesterday that assailants hit the deceased with a hammer on the head. Gen. Kayihura said the victim’s neighbours claim they saw someone in a jacket and shoes that belonged to the deceased moving out of the house in a hurry. “After sometime, the inquisitive residents entered the home of Kato. They found the door locked but on peeping through the key hole, they saw him lying down on the floor,” he said.

    Mr Ssekate said police were interrogating the deceased’s driver, Mr Arnold Ssenoga, and hunting for his houseboy who was still at large by press time.” Daily Monitor (Uganda)

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  9. Now the question remains, should we believe the local police ... writes Doug Blanchard from New York City whose police force pioneered the "pistol drop."
    He probably died in a robbery the same way Steven Biko died in an "accident."

    And the bigger question raised by JCF, would it matter if the police report was true.
    Do people really imagine that after publishing his photo on the cover of a local tabloid with the headline "Hang Them!" that there would be no consequences?

    And how about that disgraceful performance at his funeral? Is that something to be proud of?

    Again, I ask, who is the moral relativist here?

    No apologies from me.

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  10. disgraceful performances at the funeral seem to include all -- t-shirt activists, a Lay Reader (and why did the Kato family apparently take him in?), microphone seizing, on it goes.
    One recalls an alleged 'Gay murder' not long back in Uganda that turned out to be some strange ritualism/witch doctoring.
    But of course people on blogs on a Sat afternoon in the West know far more than the local police. 'These people have no shame' -- which people?

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  12. Just who exactly are you anonymous?

    Speaking of shame, are you ashamed to publicly stand by your comments?
    If so, I will take all of your remarks with several grains of salt.

    --Doug Blanchard, Brooklyn, New York.

    Perhaps that "witch-doctoring" might have been another "pistol-drop."

    Where's the shame in trying to forcibly remove someone disrupting a service to loudly slander the dead at their own funeral? But then, Fred Phelps does have his rights.

    Besides, when did you right-wingers who cheerlead so much American military adventurism get all concerned about Africans? I didn't see any of you protesting apartheid. If anything, I saw all of you on the other side rallying for the Afrikaaners.

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  13. "A police spokesman, Vincent Sekatte, said Kato was killed by robbers who have so far killed more than 10 people in that area in the past two months. He said there was no indication the death was connected to any anti-homosexual sentiment. Kato was hit by a hammer that has been recovered by police, Sekatte said.

    Police arrested one suspect, a driver for Kato, Sekatte said. A second suspect is being hunted. That suspect had been hired as a house helper and had recently been released from prison, Sekatte said."

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  14. The language of shame was that of the first commentator, seeking to condemn 'these people.'

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  15. The problem with the Integrity account of the funeral is that it omits some details from the Reuters story to which it refers. From reading the Reuters story, it is clear that nobody was covered in glory by his or her behavior.

    First, that the priest officiating at the funeral thought it was the appropriate time and place to address the issue of homosexuality is astonishing.

    But as inappropriate as his remarks were (and they were inappropriate), was that justification for the "gay activists" (as they were described in the Reuters article) to storm the pulpit and take the microphone from the officiant, who ended up being taken to Kato's father's house to calm the situation?

    And as upset as the villagers were at what they no doubt saw as an attack on "their" pastor, refusing to bury Kato (who, after all, was blameless for the actions of anyone else at the funeral) showed a deplorable lack of Christian charity.

    As for whether the motive for Kato's murder was robbery or gay bashing, it could have been both. They're not mutually exclusive. Regardless of the motive, it was a despicable act.

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  16. I'm afraid that I can't split the difference quite so nicely as far as doling out blame. I don't blame the mourners for acting the way they did. If any officiant at the funeral of anyone I loved did something similar to what happened at Kato's funeral, I'd punch their lights out, be they lay-reader or pope. That's certainly not a perfect Christian response, but it is a true one out of love and loyalty to those I've lost. Robbery and hate crimes are hardly mutually exclusive, and authorities everywhere usually have a vested interest in refusing to identify hate crimes as such. Of course drawing a straight line between the press and various religious leaders demonizing David Kato and sexual minorities and his murderers would not stand up in a court of law. But, we should not act so shocked when some people take such demonization quite literally and act upon it. Those who do the demonizing must bear a measure of responsibility for creating the possibility and sense of permission for such violent acts. I forget who said it, but it is always only a short step from burning books to burning people.

    I think what really matters here is that David Kato, against his will, walked the Way of the Cross all the way to the bloody end, while so many of his fellow Christians eagerly signed up to play the role of Caiaphas.

    --Doug Blanchard

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  17. "...while so many of his fellow Christians eagerly signed up to play the role of Caiaphas." This is a bit romantic/dramatic. a) this could be a robbery plain and simply, b) are we to conclude that anyone defending the church's teaching on one-man-one-woman Christian marriage must be enlisted with the forces of darkness tout court?
    Romans 1-2 has Paul exposing self-righteousness and 'moral superiority' though the reactions to homosexual practice (condemned by the Senecas of his day). But he nowhere confused this Gospel with an idea of sexual laissez faire, including something like Gay advocacy! Is it now impossible to see homosexual practice as against God's will, and not be enrolled with the forces of darkness? To speak of punching out the opposition sounds like a strange Gospel....whether from Right or Left. Joe

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  18. Reuters: "Police told a news conference in the capital Kampala that one man, Arnold Senoga, had been arrested in connection with the killing and that they were looking for another man, Nsubuga Enock, who had been staying with Kato after the activist bailed him out of prison on Monday.

    "His homosexuality has not come up as an issue in the preliminary investigation," police spokeswoman, Judith Nabakooba, told Reuters.

    "At the moment, we think theft is the most likely motive. Nsubuga Enock, who had been staying with Kato, was well-known for committing robberies and had almost been lynched in the area before."

    Nabakooba said items were missing from Kato's home, including a briefcase, and that neighbours had seen Enock leave the house dressed in the activist's clothes.

    "We are now trying to establish what relationship Kato had with Enock, whether or not they were relatives and why Kato posted his bail," Nabakooba said."

    Gay hate crime? Joe

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  19. "Nsubuga Enock, who had been staying with Kato, was well-known for committing robberies and had almost been lynched in the area before."

    but not well-known enough to be convicted for such a crime.

    The statements of the police might be quite self-serving. And yes, Joe, it could well be both a theft and gay hate crime, or just a hate crime. This is a long way from being solved, though it appears to be in your mind.

    Roger

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  20. Joe, who are you trying to convince, me or yourself?

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  21. #21--isn't that odd? I'd have thought knowing what happened was important for its own sake, and for the sake of David Kato, the murder victim. But then, I am not concerned with turning his tragic death into a 'for instance' in a larger cause. Joe

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  22. Guys, it is time to stop letting Joe Anonymous bait you. We who are your brothers and sisters have heard you, loudly and clearly.

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  23. Why pray for the dead? What do you think prayer does for them? Do you believe in Purgatory? Isn't this un-protestant?

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  24. Heard what? Tell us David what you have heard. That it is not Christian Ethics 101 to turn the tragic death of a man in Uganda into a cause? That it is not ethical to say that a man as killed because of Gay hate, when one does not know this for sure? That it is not correct to say that Christians who appeal to marriage as the teaching of Christ are on a slippery slope to violence against practicing homosexuals? but in fact love them and defend their civil rights even as they believe Christ calls them to a different life in Him? What we have observed instead is a kind of inversion of 'Pharisee self-righteous' condemning. Joe

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  25. There seem to be two Anonymous commenters. One who signs off Joe.

    Joe...you've about used up your time.

    Anonymous who asks the question,"why pray for the dead." Well, because they like all of us could use a little mercy now, or because one getting up morning they and we will all stand in judgment and praying for them covers two matters at once - their need for forgiveness and peace and our own. Anonymous on prayer.. give yourself a name so we can tell if its Joe or someone else. Thanks.

    Oh, and Joe. Time to move on.

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  26. Mark Harris--Joe Anonymous had nothing to do with another 'Anon' who speaks confusingly of prayers for the dead. But to use this as an excuse to muzzle input sounds like Mubarak logic. What is incorrect about what has been said? Should apologies not be given for condemning in the name of the murderer of Kato 'Gay hate'people? Surely that was a misstep. Of course this exasperates you, but are blogs like yours interested in genuine truth or in Mubarak type power? Joe

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  28. My original question seems even more relevant now. Sounds like David Kato was murdered but it had nothing to do with a 'Gay hate crime.' Joe

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  29. Ugandan police said on Wednesday that a man had confessed to murdering a gay rights activist after a "personal disagreement" in an attack last week ....

    "The prime suspect, Nsubuga Enock, was arrested today at around 4pm when he went to visit his girlfriend," police spokesman Vincent Ssetake told Reuters. "He has confessed to the murder. It wasn't a robbery and it wasn't because Kato was an activist. ...

    Police said last week that Enock, whom they described as a "well-known thief," had been staying with Kato after the activist bailed him out of prison on January 24.

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