Unfortunate news from Kenya where there is a backlash against some calls to decriminalize homosexuality and increase tolerance for gay men. The East African nation's leading pro-gay minister faces dismissal by the United Methodist Church due to his inclusive pro-gay ministry.
Reverend John Makokha is the minister of Riruta United Methodist Church in Nairobi. Makokha tells Behind the Mask, the African LGBT website, he is "likely" to be released from his duties during the next annual conference in April 2009. The controversy began last year when Makokha publicly allied himself with Other Sheep Kenya, an ecumenical Christian organization that welcomes members of Nairobi's growing LGBT community. Sadly and predictably the church accuses Makokha of "promoting homosexuality."
Makokha made it clear that he does not "find religious arguments against homosexuality persuasive because I have come to learn that historically religion has been manipulated and misinterpreted to oppose the rights of various minority groups such as women, slaves etc"
Reverend Neal Christie, Assistant General Secretary Ministry of Education and Leadership Formation General Board of Church and Society (GBCS) said Makokha has split the church into two. "He has made big decisions without informing his supervisors. He has hid behind this one issue [of homosexuality] he is so passionate about. John’s colleagues, even when they agree with his convictions, do not believe he has done his job as a communicator well."
Makokha also says other pastors and church officials have begun a whispering campaign and regularly call him the "gay pastor." Makokha is not gay, he is heterosexual and married with children. Such a shame that in this part of the world they cannot believe or understand why a straight man or woman would support the rights of gays and lesbians.
"Despite all these persecutions and suffering due to my stand on LGBTI ministry in Kenya and within UMC leaders in Kenya," Makokha says. "I will not throw the towel since my calling is from God and not man”, Makokha concluded."
Some Background ...
Kenya: "Things are Changing in Favor of Gays" [R20]
Homosexuality is Un-African? [R20]
News: Kenya, Qantas [R20]
Kenyan Update [R20]
Who is Archbishop Peter Akinola? [R20]
Harsh New Nigerian Laws [R20]
Nigeria's Anglican Archbishop [R20]