Contact: Jeff Walton, Institute on Religion and Democracy, 202-682-4131, 202-413-5639 cell, jwalton@TheIRD.org
WASHINGTON, Aug. 2, 2013 /Christian Newswire/ -- Retired South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu has provocatively declared that he would not worship a God who is homophobic, adding that "I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven... I mean, I would much rather go to the other place [hell]."
The Anglican archbishop was speaking at a United Nations' Gay Rights Campaign function in Cape Town, South Africa.
Tutu is not the first South African Anglican bishop to make statements that are not in accord with more traditional Christians. In a 2008 Christmas message, Archbishop of Southern Africa Thabo Makgoba infamously declared that "Jesus is like a 'bucketful of God'" -- a statement seemingly at odds with church teaching about Christ being the exact imprint of God's character in whom "the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily."
In a rare move, another Anglican archbishop -- Archbishop Yinkah Sarfo of Ghana -- strongly condemned Tutu over his comments.
"Archbishop Tutu is respected in the Anglican Church and around the world but this time he has misfired and all Anglican Bishops from Africa, Asia and South America condemn his statement in no uncertain terms," Sarfo told Ghana's Adom News.
Sarfo said Tutu's comments were not the stand of the entire Anglican Communion, which is increasingly led by traditionalist voices from the Global South that adhere to a more conservative theological perspective.
"We [other African bishops] suspect that retired Archbishop Tutu may have collected some moneys from some of the western governments or from gay rights activists to do their bidding but the Anglican Church condemns gay practice," Sarfo concluded.
IRD Anglican Program Director Jeff Walton commented:
"Tutu's declaration demands that God operate on his terms. Tutu's god is one that many will recognize -- an idealized version of ourselves times 2 or 3. God operates on a whole different standard of holiness beyond this self-constructed deity.
"Tutu never speaks for the majority of Anglicans in Africa. The center of Anglican leadership on the continent has moved to countries like Nigeria and Kenya.
"Apart from Tutu's dismissiveness, African Anglicans are very interested in spending eternity with God and want their neighbors to share in that, too.
"African Anglicans have quickly become the majority voice in the Anglican Communion. They focus on evangelism and discipleship, seeking to win souls for Christ rather than prioritize earthly political ambitions."