Originally published in Christian Examiner
Five Anglican ministers in Kenya have been removed from their churches for engaging in homosexual behaviour, Kenya’s Daily Standard has reported.
The suspension of the ministers had already taken place when the bishop of the Mt. Kenya diocese, Joseph Kagunda, announced the church’s decision to remove them from the roll of ministers.
Each of the ministers was found guilty after a church tribunal investigated the allegations of improper conduct on the part of the ministers. According to the bishop, “a young man came seeking prayers for deliverance from guilt conscious after he was lured to participating in homosexuality activities by one of our senior clergy.”
Kagunda did not elaborate on how all of the ministers were involved in the scandal, but added they would not be allowed to serve any Anglican Church in the country. News sources from the region reported that four of the male bishops are married, and one is single and has reportedly been in a relationship with another man for 20 years.
“The sentences upon these clergy have ranged from formal admonition, suspension, and deprivation. The judgement has been communicated to the concerned clergy,” Kagunda said, adding that they have the right to appeal the decision.
The worldwide Anglican Communion has faced increasing pressure to welcome gays and lesbians openly into the priesthood, but the church has not authorized same-sex marriage. Anglicans in Africa are rejecting such calls and resisting international pressure to cave on issues related to human sexuality.
In April 2015, the worldwide Anglican Communion elected Nigerian Archbishop Josiah Atkins Idowu-Fearon as general secretary of the world body. That appointment sent shockwaves throughout left-leaning bishoprics because Idowu-Fearon stridently rejects the idea that homosexuality and Christianity are compatible.
It is not, however, only Anglican churches facing the issue of homosexuality in churches. The week before the Anglican priests were suspended by Kagunda, the Daily Standard reported three evangelical church leaders in the country warned the government that forcing homosexuality on the churches would destroy their witness.
According to the paper, Mika Kenga of Light of God Evangelism Ministries, Ezekiel Kalu of Pentecostal Evangelism Ministries Alliance and Kashero Lewa of World Christian Professional Ministries told government officials African traditions do not allow for same sex marriages. They also said Africans should be allowed to express their opposition to the Western-led crusade in support of homosexuality the same way Western societies oppose certain third world cultures.
In particular, the evangelical church leaders said U.S. President Barack Obama should avoid mingling in the affairs of African churches that believe human dignity is restored in Christ, not through the open practice of homosexuality.
Obama visited Kenya in July and said during the visit that Kenyan’s opposition to homosexuality in public life was like the Jim Crow laws that kept blacks from living among whites and voting prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said the recent liberalization of marriage laws in the West was incomprehensible to most Africans and his fellow countrymen. Homosexuality in Kenya is punishable by up to 14 years in prison.
“America has had more than 40 presidents meaning that country is developed and advanced in many things,” Kalu said. “There is no way we can allow what is being practiced there, like homosexuality, to be replicated here.
One of the dismissed ministers, John Njogu Gachau, accused of luring young boys into sex at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church in Othaya, maintained his innocence.
“I don’t get why a man can level such abhorrent claims against a servant of God. I have never had sex with a fellow man, this is just distasteful,” Gachau, married and father of three, told The Nairobian.