Tutu defends Bishop Tengatenga on homosexuality stand

South Africa’s Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu is one of fourteen signatories to an article in Living Church magazine entitled ‘Defending Bishop Tengatenga’.

Tutu is describing the revocation of Tengatenga’s job as Dean of the Tucker Foundation, the spiritual hub on Dartmouth College’s campus, United States  in July this year as “gross injustice”.

Tengatenga’s job was withdrawn following complaints made by some students and staff at the college.

The complainants’ main issue was with Tengatenga’s statements against homosexuality.

Tutu: In defence of Tengatenga
Tutu: In defence of Tengatenga
Bishop Tengatenga: Homosexuality comments costly for his US job
Bishop Tengatenga: Homosexuality comments costly for his US job

They also ganged up against the Bishop following revelation that he also opposed the 2003 election of the Reverend Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, the Anglican Communion’s first openly gay bishop and asserted that Malawi’s Anglican provinces remained “totally against homosexuality.”

“The action represents a gross injustice to an individual who would have made an ideal person to provide moral and ethical leadership at the College.

“It casts serious doubts on what is being learned in American universities when members of those communities fail to distinguish between public positions of institutions and the views of individuals who participate in those institutions.

“It reflects badly on western human rights advocates who consciously or unconsciously engage in forms of cultural imperialism that undermine their own success and credibility by demanding proofs identical to their own kind and, in this instance, by also ignoring the voices of Africans and church leaders who have known and worked with Tengatenga in some cases for decades,” reads the article.

It further questions why opponents of Bishop Tengatenga’s appointment had relied on just two statements issued by the Bishop “in the complicated institutional and historical contexts of the Anglican Communion’s evolving position on homosexuality”. It also asked why they had failed to acknowledge any of his other work to promote equal rights for all.

The article continues, “Tengatenga has not only lost the opportunity to lead the Tucker Foundation, he now finds himself facing unemployment [after resigning as Bishop of Southern Malawi] and has become a convenient political target in a setting where open support for LGBTQ rights – which he has articulated – can be dangerous.

“Why do Africans continue to need to learn the language of North Americans, but North Americans don’t need to make any effort to understand Africans and how rights activists operate there? Some of us signatory to this letter have had our houses set on fire or been forced into exile because of what we believe in and try to fight for.

“Tengatenga himself received death threats for exposing government corruption. Are these lives that Dartmouth students, LGBTQ or otherwise, need to be protected from? Or are they examples that can indeed inspire individuals to ‘lives of purpose and ethical leadership, rooted in service, spirituality, and social justice’?”

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