Tuesday, February 2, 2010
RELIGIOUS LEADERS ANNOUNCE THE AMERICAN PRAYER HOUR - Statement of The Rev. Elder Darlene Garner
RELIGIOUS LEADERS ANNOUNCE THE AMERICAN PRAYER HOUR
Statement of The Rev. Elder Darlene Garner
from Metropolitan Community Churches
2 February 2010
My name is Darlene Garner. I am among the spiritual leaders of Metropolitan Community Churches and provide ecclesial care and oversight for our ministries in the Southwest and Mid-Atlantic areas of the United States, Mexico, Central America, South America, and portions of the Caribbean. Metropolitan Community Churches is an international Christian denomination with churches in 28 nations. We are also a global human rights movement with a particular concern for sexual minorities, women, children, and people living with HIV and AIDS around the world.
The sexual minority community in Uganda recently emerged with dignity and hope to claim their human rights. Unfortunately, among the very first-responders to their pleas for legal protection from violence were right-wing religious fundamentalists from the United States. They went into Uganda preaching a blatant lie that God had somehow cursed sexual minorities and condemned people living with HIV. By exporting their own brand of hatred to Uganda, those religious extremists from the U.S. intentionally manipulated the Ugandan leaders, fanned the cultural flames of homophobia among the people, and set the stage for yet another round of civil unrest and genocide in Africa. Aided and abetted by American religious fundamentalists, many Ugandans are now prepared to destroy their own families – to kill their own sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, neighbors and friends – for the sake of an agenda that is not even their own.
What is happening today in Uganda is and has been going on within the United States, in Africa, in parts of Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Indeed, the issue of human rights abuses transcends national boundaries.
In 2006, in response to well-documented patterns of abuse, a distinguished group of international human rights experts met in Yogyakarta, Indonesia to outline a set of international principles relating to sexual orientation and gender identity. The result was the Yogyakarta Principles: a universal guide to human rights which affirm binding international legal standards with which all States must comply. The Principles have been adopted by judges, academics, a former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, UN Special Procedures, members of treaty bodies, non-governmental organizations and others. They promise a different future where all people born free and equal in dignity and rights can fulfill that precious birthright.
Indeed, the laws of a nation should protect our lives, not seek to take them. Yet, in spite of the Yogyakarta Principles, the real life experience of millions of sexual minorities around the world is that wherever religious fundamentalism prevails, the lives of sexual minorities are at great risk.
• Lives are still at risk in Moldova where fundamentalist religion causes the police to stand silently on the sidelines doing nothing as an angry mob surrounds a bus filled with a dozen or so young spiritual sexual minority activists, pelts the bus with rocks, and tries to overturn it .
• Lives are still at risk in Jamaica where fundamentalist religious belief is that sexual minorities peacefully gathering for worship deserve to have their worship space surrounded by police bearing guns and neighbors with machetes, police and neighbors alike all threatening the worshipers with eternal damnation and immediate death0.
• Lives are still at risk in the Middle East where fundamentalist religion teaches that sexual minorities should be killed for supposedly bringing shame on their family just by virtue of their mere existence.
• Lives are still at risk in South Africa where as many as one in four lesbians in townships has been brutally raped because fundamentalist religion teaches that rape is a cure for their homosexuality.
• Lives are still at risk in the United States where fundamentalist religion makes it possible for sexual minorities to be forced to participate in so-called reparative therapy that kills their natural spirit or where sexual minorities can be strung up on a fence and left to die.
For over 40 years now, Metropolitan Community Churches has witnessed to and spoken out against neo-colonialist right-wing religious fundamentalism as it wreaks havoc with human rights around the globe. It is time for the abuse to stop.
The world cannot remain silent as Uganda’s Parliament once again prepares to legalize murder. The United States cannot be silent as hate-mongers from this nation continue to export violence and abuse. People of faith cannot be silent as right-wing religious extremists distort the sacred texts and holy scripture for their own twisted and hateful purposes.
Now is the time to speak and to pray! U.S. religious extremism must be expelled from Uganda. Indeed, U.S. right-wing fundamentalism must release its hold on all nations, including the United States. Now is the time for all of us to tear down the walls that divide and oppress us and to build up hope for the day when all people can enjoy full human rights and equality under the laws of our nations.
Video from event