Jabulani Dube (BTM Fellow)
KENYA September 2, 2008: “I do not find religious arguments against homosexuality persuasive because I have come to learn that historically religion has been manipulated and misinterpreted to oppose the rights of various minority groups such as women, slaves, etc.”
So said Reverend John Makokha of the United Methodist Church of Kenya in his August 16 open-letter to Bishop Daniel Wandabula who is allegedly silent, after numerous complaints by Makokha that he is getting hateful messages from the church, based on his positive views on homosexuality.
Makokha is accused of advocating for homosexuality by “some people in the church” who also claim that he intends to visit some churches in East-Africa to promote homosexuality.
This after Makokha has been outspoken against the discrimination of gay people by the church.
“Some confusing statements were put out concerning Other Sheep and me. Some people went further to impersonate me through e-mails and other forms of communication using disparaging remarks. It grieves me deeply that a number of my good friends have turned angrily against me and my family. On my part, I love them still and wish them no ill. Let us continue to be on speaking terms for the sake of Christ”, Makokha said in the letter.
He added that during his ministry LGBTI people, he discovered that many of them live under fear. “They are stigmatized; they daily experience rejection and all kinds of discrimination both from the society and the church. These brothers and sisters need a lot of love, respect, understanding and care. They need a minister who can listen to them and give them an assurance of God’s love. This is a frightened group that needs Christ”, he said.
Makokha believes that LGBTI people should be included in churches as he believes that they existed in the African history. “We need a gospel for LGBTI inclusion in Africa. Despite much denial of homosexuality in Africa, it has emerged from research that homosexuals have always been part of African society but, like other areas of human sexuality, it is treated as a taboo”, Makokha advised.
He also revealed that people who speak openly about homosexuality are “bound to learn a hard lesson” at the hands of the church.
“The United Methodist Church in Kenya refused to pay me a salary two years ago because of being pro LGBTI minister.”
To add salt to injury, Makokha’s family has also bore the brunt of his views on homosexuality. His wife was allegedly stopped from teaching at Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology (NEGST) because of his association with the Other Sheep.
“This has caused great suffering to my family”, he lamented.
He also declared that “I greatly respect the family unit and the heterosexual individuals, as I am also heterosexual''.
The controversy continues to steers on in the United Methodist Church of Kenya over homosexuality and the divisive line still stands between pro and anti gay people.
Meanwhile Makokha appealed to the church to stop intimidating and harassing him and his family.
While Makokha has not received any response from Wandabula, efforts to get comment from him by Behind the Mask were unsuccessful.
Makokha, works closely with Other Sheep - an ecumenical Christian organisation that includes lesbians, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LBGTI) people.