US leader stands accused of the same bullying he himself denounced on eve of African trip
President Barack Obama’s cajoling of Kenyan leaders to accept “LGBT rights” has met with a notable backlash from African bishops and other state and religious leaders, with one African bishop drawing attention to the hypocrisy of Obama’s LGBT agenda.
Obama arrived in Kenya for a two-day visit on Friday, his first visit to his father’s homeland as US president, before heading to Ethiopia on Sunday for a one-day visit. At a joint press conference held with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Saturday, Obama advocated for his administration’s pro-LGBT agenda, comparing Kenya’s policy toward gays to the treatment of blacks in the United States prior to the civil rights movement.
“As an African American in the United States, I am painfully aware of the history of what happens when people are treated differently under the law. There were all sorts of rationalizations that were provided by the power structure for decades in the United States for segregation and they were wrong,” he said.
“The State does not need to weigh in on religious doctrine; the State has to treat everybody equally under the law and then everybody else can have their opinions,” Obama clarified.
Yet President Kenyatta clearly was not convinced by the US leader’s words, dismissing the matter as a “non-issue” for Kenyans.
“The fact of the matter is Kenya and the US share so many values: common love for democracy, entrepreneurship, value for families — these are some things that we share,” Kenyatta said.
“But there are some things that we must admit we don’t share, our culture, our societies don’t accept. It is very difficult for us to be able to impose on people that which they themselves do not accept.. This is why I repeatedly say for Kenyans today the [gay rights issue] is generally a non-issue. We want to focus on other areas that are day to day living for our people. But as of now, the fact remains that this issue is not really an issue that is on the foremost mind of Kenyans, and that is a fact.”
Government and business leaders lauded President Kenyatta’s firm opposition to same-sex marriage, saying his sentiments resonated well with Kenyans.
“He never fumbled. His body language, posture and demeanor carried the sovereignty of our people. He made us proud as Kenyans. It demonstrated that we are a sovereign nation and we are not living as underdogs,” Senator Kipchumba Murkomen of Elgeyo-Marakwet said.
President Obama’s pro-gay agenda push came as no surprise. Prior to his departure, he told the BBC that he intended to deliver a “blunt” message on gay rights when he travelled to Africa.
“In my last trip to Africa, I was very blunt about my belief that everybody deserves fair treatment, equal treatment, in the eyes of the law and the state and that includes gays, lesbians, and transgender persons,” Obama said. “I am not a fan of discrimination and bullying of anybody, on the basis of race, on the basis of religion, on the basis of sexual orientation or gender.”
Some have noted the irony that President Obama warned against bullying when they see him doing exactly that by aggressively imposing the LGBT agenda.
Commenting on Obama’s BBC interview, Bishop Emmanuel Badejo of Nigeria, Director of Communications for the African bishops, offered his own blunt message:
“As a Nigerian and an African, I expect the leaders in Kenya to present again, as firmly as clearly as possible, the legitimate values and worldview of the Kenyan people, which admittedly could be a handful for President Obama to handle.
As a Nigerian, I worry little about President Obama’s mindset about the United States needing to have a presence ‘to promote the values that we care about,’ as he said in his interview with the BBC. My worry is whether Mr. President can actually figure out other rights aside from the LGBT ‘rights’ — the rights of other peoples to determine the values they care about — and whether he considers that some so-called American values are actually non-values for other peoples. Nobody should be killed for private wayward or immoral behaviors that do not compromise other people’s lives. But that does not mean all kinds of exotic sexual adventure must be foisted on other nationalities in the name of rights.
The Nigerian prelate was not the only religious leader to rebuff President Obama’s message.
Prior to President Obama’s visit, 700 Kenyan evangelical pastorswrote an open letter asking the president not to come to their country to push the gay agenda.
Mark Kariuki, the leader of an alliance representing 38,000 churches and 10 million Kenyan Christians, was the main drafter of the letter.
“We do not want him to come and talk on homosexuality in Kenya or push us to accepting that which is against our faith and culture,” Kariuki said.
Kariuki said he welcomed the president’s visit but suggested he leave “the gay talk” in America.
Backlash also came from African American Christians, who oppose Obama’s characterization of gay as the new black, noting that homosexuals have never been enslaved or oppressed.
“I marched with many people back in those days and I have reached out to some of my friends who marched with me, and all of them are shocked,” Rev. William Owens of the Coalition of African American Pastors (CAAP) told Breitbart News.
“They never thought they would see this day that gay rights would be equated with civil rights. Not one agreed with this comparison,” he said.
“President Obama is a disgrace to the black community,” Owens said. “He is rewriting history. We didn’t suffer and die for gay marriage. We marched for opportunity, equality, justice, freedom from oppression. We are the true heirs of the civil rights movement. We have a new movement to reclaim the ‘real’ civil rights movement.”
Cardinal John Onaiyekan, the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja Diocese in Nigeria, said on Sunday that the position of Catholics against homosexuality is irrevocable and that the Church will continue to stand firm against gay “marriage”.
While Onaiyekan acknowledged changing trends in public acceptance of homosexual practice, he stressed that public opinion is not the determiner of the natural or divine law.
“Unfortunately, we are living in a world where these things have now become quite acceptable, but the fact that they are acceptable doesn’t mean that they are right.
“The Catholic Church considers itself as carrying the banner of the truth in the world that has allowed itself to be so badly deceived,” he said.
“Even if people don’t like us for it, our Church has always said homosexuality is unnatural and marriage is between a man and a woman. There is no such thing as marriage between two men or marriage between two women. Whatever they do among themselves should not be called marriage,” he said.
“There is no question of the Catholic Church changing its positions on this matter,” he said.
Diane Montagna is Rome correspondent for Aleteia’s English edition.