Desmond Tutu Schools NAACP Over Africa and Gays
American human rights advocates have undercut the work of their African counterparts by insisting on Western-style advocacy of gay rights from African supporters of human rights for all, says a group of prominent religious leaders and human-rights activists, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa.
The issue arose this summer when Dartmouth College in New Hampshire chose, then rejected, an African bishop as the new leader of its Tucker Foundation, which “educates Dartmouth students for lives of purpose and ethical leadership, rooted in service, spirituality, and social justice.”
After he was announced as the new dean of the Tucker Foundation on July 14, the Rt. Rev. James Tengatenga resigned from his position as bishop of Southern Malawi.
In a message to the Dartmouth community on July 18, Tengatenga said, “I support marriage equality and equal rights for everyone.”
The NAACP said they were “deeply troubled” by Tengatenga’s appointment, despite his “newfound views on marriage equality and gay rights.” He was subjected to an idiotic and ignorant campaign in the College’s media, local media and this offensive stupidity in Huffington Post.
Dartmouth then cancelled Tengatenga’s appointment.
A group of supporters, led by the legendary Archbishop Desmond Tutu, have condemned Dartmouth and the NAACP. They say:
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.
Tengatenga had said:
I have risked my life by advocating good and just government. As I told the search committee when I visited Dartmouth this spring, I have expected to die for the past decade because I have dared to speak out against official corruption and in defense of those Jesus called “the least of these.” I joke to my friends that I don’t leave the house after seven o’clock at night because I want to see who kills me.
The well respected global gay supporter the Rev. Canon Albert Ogle, writes in SDGLN that:
The Dartmouth saga is the most recent example of American Christian liberalism paying more attention to the symbols of LGBT equality and inclusion rather than actually in the business of forming new moral paradigms for the 21st century.
Most liberal institutions in the USA including academia and the faith community have not taken the time or spent the resources needed to understand global homophobia. We are not paying attention to our own collusion in building up a new faith-based [and anti-gay] industry supported even by funding from the American taxpayer. Dartmouth’s response is only another example that we are really not listening and are prepared to throw good and resourceful people like James Tengatenga under the bus to protect some public persona that we are somehow more inclusive than we really are. Image trumps substance. The Rev. Kapya Kaoma, who was deeply shocked by this sad melodrama, expressed the delineation of battle zones simply as: “America is right. Africa is wrong.”