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Reverse Missionaries: Are African Churches Exporting Homophobia to the West?

Leo Igwe


Ethical Technology


http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/IEETBlog

October 06, 2015

In recent years, the issue of gay rights in Africa has generated intense debate and discussions. Some countries have tried to tighten the laws against homosexuality and prohibit same sex marriage. They claim homosexuality is an evil, corrupt and immoral lifestyle which western societies are trying to impose on African nations.

Concerned individuals, state and non-state actors have been campaigning and lobbying to beat back the tide of homophobia that is threatening to engulf the region. It is frustrating to know that as often the case when dealing with Africa related issues, many people have tried to infantilize African agency in the raging homophobia by looking for some western or colonial scapegoats and they have found one in the activities of the American evangelists who supported the Uganda “Kill the Gays” bill.

It is quite in order to condemn the activities of these evangelists of gay hate and persecution. But I think there has been much more focus on the role of American evangelists than on their African counterparts. In fact the situation has been presented as if Africans are not contributing to the problem of homophobia in Africa and beyond. The role of African migrant churches that are championing a reverse missionary project and spreading and exporting the gospel of gay hate and intolerance to western countries has been ignored.

Many African Initiated Churches are establishing branches in western countries where they propagate what they call ‘Africanized Christianity’ that is, Christianity with an African flavor in terms of ritual, worship and interpretation of the Bible. The notion is that American and European Christianities have drifted from preaching the true word of God by espousing teachings and practices that are incompatible with what many African church leaders define as “true Christianity”. However this is only a ploy to create a gospel niche which they could use to teach doctrines that are literally against the laws and human rights provisions in these countries such as the human rights of homosexuals.
 
One of such churches is the Redeemed Christian Church of God. Not too long ago, the General Overseer, Rev Enoch Adeboye came out strongly in support of Nigeria’s anti-same sex marriage bill which was later passed into law. The pastor said that the practice of homosexuality would lead to the extinction of humanity.

He said:

“Same-sex marriage is an anathema to the will of God for human beings to be fruitful, replenish and multiply on earth. Anything contrary to that is evil … How can a man who marries a fellow man produce a child and how can a woman who marries a fellow woman produce a child?”

According to Adeboye:

“If this evil is allowed to stay, there will not be newborns again in the world. As the older generation dies, will there be a new generations to succeed it? Even plants and animals have new generations to succeed them.”

He called on people practizing same-sex marriage to desist and flee from the wrath of God, warning that God frowns at same-sex marriage.

The Redeemed Christian Church of God has branches in western countries and across the world including those where same sex marriage is legal or at least not treated as a criminal offense. These churches look up to Rev Adeboye for spiritual guidance.
 
Another of Nigeria’s mega-Pentecostal churches - the Mountain of Fire and Miracle Ministries (MFM) - preaches against the practice of homosexuality as well. The church has ‘‘Deliverance Prayers Against Homosexuality and Sexual Perversion’‘. MFM regards homosexuals as sexual perverts in need of salvation and redemption. One of the prayer points of the Los Angeles branch of MFM urges those who are caught in the sexual bondage of homosexuality, lesbianism and other forms of sexual immorality to understand that their bondage can be broken ‘through the power of the blood of Jesus’. The branch of MFM in New Jersey, an affiliate in Houston has the same prayer programs which partly reads:
 

Romans 6:14

Sexual sins open the doors for all kinds of evil spirits to enter, This prayer program is for those:

● Who would like to be delivered from the spiritual contamination resulting from past sexual sins.
● Who would like to be delivered from their present sexual lusts, enticement, and other sexual sins.
● Who would like to expel sexual satanic deposits acquired by sleeping with demonised people.
● Who had been a commercial sex worker in the past.
● Who frequently dream of having sex.

Don’t despair if the enemy has subjected you to such a depth of immoral degradation. You would be lifted up to the height of purity, which God has purposed for you as you call upon him to help you.

● Rom. 1:22: “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.”
● Please, open your Bible and slowly, meditatively read Rom. 1:18- 32 and Leviticus 18:1-30

Are you surprised at the things you’ve just read? Indeed there is nothing new under the sun! (Ecclesiastes 1:9) Basically the laws of God concerning sexual perversion as stated in Leviticus 18 can be divided into 5 groups. They are laws against:

– -incest (I.e having sex with close relatives, brothers, in law’s uncles etc., there are 20 categories of close relatives stated between verses 6 & 19)
– adultery (vs 20)- idolatry I.e. Offering child sacrifices (vs21)
– – homosexuality, lesbianism, masturbation, prostitution etc (VS 22)
– – bestiality (having sex with animals (vs 23)

Are you caught in the bondage of any of these? Indeed the chains of habit (perversion) are two weak to be felt till they are too strong to be broken. All kinds of sexual bondage can be broken through the power of the blood of Jesus. There is hope for you, the Bible says, “Sin shall not have dominion over you” (Rom. 6:14) because, “ The law of Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death” (Rom 8:2)”

 
Another branch of the church in Houston in a typical Mugabean style compared homosexuals and lesbians to dogs. It says on its web site:

“ The Bible refers to homosexuals and lesbians as dogs. Anyone who has ever engaged in these kinds of things would need to receive deliverance from the spirit of the dog, which has entered into him or her. Generally, in the spirit world, dogs symbolize sexual perversion. So, if you see yourself being pursued in the spirit by a dog, check your sexual life. It means that something must be wrong somewhere, whether in your heart or your activities. Psalm 22:16 says, “For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have in closed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.”

Another transnational Nigerian church that openly propagates anti-gay gospel is the the Deeper Life Bible Church (DLBC). The General Superintendent of Deeper Life Bible Church (DLBC), Pastor Williams Kumuyi, recently stated the church’s opposition to gay marriage and homosexuality:

“We are in the forefront of those fighting what they call homosexuality, whether here in Nigeria or outside…The marriage between members of the same sex is anti-Bible, satanic and anti-God. DLBC can never support homosexuality. We are against it.”

 
While Pastor Faith Oyedepo, the wife of the General Overseer of the Winners Chapel, David Oyedepo, has urged church members against homosexual practices:

“The dictionary defines a homosexual as one who is sexually attracted only to people of the same sex as oneself. God defines it as an abomination. The Word of God says: “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination” (Leviticus 18:22 ).Yet the world is teeming with homosexuals; some churches even conduct marriages for homosexuals! They are fighting for the right to be regarded as a nuclear family. They are everywhere: in government, on the streets, in institutions of learning.”

Watching CBN’S 700 club one day, I saw a Christian woman who had been ensnared by the spirit of homosexuality (it’s a spirit you know) and who required help to break the habit. She had suffered in secret for many years and now needed deliverance.

In secondary schools, youngsters are drawn into homosexual practices by cruel seniors, and their own lust. But for whatever reason, homosexuality is of the devil. The Word of God says, “Because they do this, God has given them over to shameful passions, Even the women pervert the natural use of their sex by unnatural acts ( Romans 1:26-27).(Good News Bible) In the same way the men give up natural sexual relations with women and burn with passion for each other. Men do shameful things with each other, and as a result they bring upon themselves the punishment they deserve for their wrongdoing.

She urged members to be ‘born again’, to ‘receive new mind’ and pray in order to be freed from these “deadly diseases of homosexuality and sexual perversions.’’

The human rights community should call these African churches and their affiliates to order. Their homophobic prayers should not be seen as innocuous intercessions and supplications to God or an exercise in freedom of religion and worship. They are not. These prayer programs are actually teachings that shape the minds and attitudes of the people.

However, it is not all African churches and pastors that are exporting anti gay gospel to the West. Rev Jide Macaulay is a Nigerian pastor who promotes a counter gospel narrative. But his ministry has a marginal influence on African migrants when compared with those of the MFM, Redeemed, DLBC and the Winners Chapel.

Just as the world came out and roundly condemned American evangelists who sponsored or supported the Kill the Gay Bill in Uganda, we should also condemn expressly African pastors and churches that are propagating hatred and persecution of gay people here in African migrant churches. Individuals and organizations should try and petition these African churches praying against homosexuality. Non-Africans should not refrain from criticizing these churches because they could be accused of racism. Condemning homophobic churches is not an act of racism but a clear mark of respect for universal human rights, common humanity, racial equality and justice.
 
We cannot work and campaign for the respect and recognition of gay rights in Uganda, Nigeria and in other parts of Africa and at the same time stand by and allow African pentecostal churches to erode the gains we have made in Europe or America. We need to send a strong message to MFM, Deeper Life Bible Church, Redeemed Christian Church of God, and their affiliates in the Europe and the US that their reverse mission of spreading homophobic gospel is not welcomed in the western world.

 

 


Leo Igwe, as a member of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, has bravely worked for human rights in West Africa. He is presently enrolled in a three year research programme on “Witchcraft accusations in Africa” at the University of Bayreuth, in Germany.

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