Cutting Off His Nose

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Cutting Off His Nose

Kenyan Christians, part 2.

The Anglican Bishop of Chelmsford is visiting Nairobi. The Bishop, whose name is John Gladwin, "is the chair of the UK-based development agency, Christian Aid, which has provided financial aid to many partner organisations in Kenya over the past 40 years." Bishop Gladwin's visit is intended, in part, to support educational projects in Kenya.

However, his visit has hit a snag. He was supposed to deliver a sermon at Nairobi's cathedral on Sunday, but he was denied the opportunity by the Anglican Archbishop of Kenya, Benjamin Nzimbi. In fact, the entire trip has been "abandoned." The Kenyan Church announced that it was "unable to continue with advancing the lined-up activities with the diocese of Chelmsford." I doubt that the Archbishop has a problem with the educational projects that Bishop Gladwin was there to promote, or that he thinks Kenyan organizations should turn down money from Christian Aid. So why did he veto Bishop Gladwin's appearance, and why has he scuttled the entire visit, causing the Archbishop of Canterbury to send a special envoy to try to calm the waters?

You probably think I'm about to say that Bishop Gladwin is gay. But he isn't. In fact, his wife accompanied him on the trip. Bishop Gladwin's sin is that he has supported the "full inclusion" movement within the Church of England, which aims to foster a more inclusive approach toward gay and lesbian Christians.

If Bishop Gladwin had intended to use his sermon to speak in favor of gay rights, I could see the Kenyan Archbishop saying he didn't want the pulpit in his cathedral to be used for that purpose. But, so far as I can tell, Bishop Gladwin's visit was all about development and charity, and the subject of homosexuality wasn't intended to come up at all.

It seems that Archbishop Nzimbi considers support for gay rights to override everything else a fellow clergyman has done. The victims, one fears, will be the potential beneficiaries of the charitable projects that Bishop Gladwin intended to promote on his visit.

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