May 5, 2004
EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH IN TANZANIA
THE BUKOBA STATEMENT
The Conference of Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT) met in Bukoba between 2nd and 9th February, 2004 for spiritual retreat and prayer. In the said conference we reflected also on numerous issues facing the church and society in Tanzania and beyond. We are aware of our duties and responsibilities to pray for, teach, discipline and forewarn the community of faith in our nation and the larger community worldwide. In the face of many other issues facing our society, we have decided to give a conscientious statement on a few critical challenges facing the church and society. Two critical challenges that we reflected upon are effects of globalization and current/contemporary trends in human sexuality. Subsequently, both challenges debilitate our efforts in fighting HIV and AIDS.
are not well versed with all facets of globalization, and even though
most of them feel that they didn't cause globalization, but rather have
been forced into it by those who wield power, yet globalization is inevitable.
We therefore, in the face of such inevitability, find it necessary to
stand for the defense of our national identity, culture and dignity.
On HIV and the AIDS pandemic, we bishops view globalization and changing views of human sexuality as among the factors that contribute to the intensification of its gravity.
The Church believes that education on HIV, AIDS and Primary Health Care (PHC) are to be done with greater care and clarity.
We do realize that churches have already given several statements on HIV and AIDS. As well, we are aware that the government and other organizations are battling with HIV and AIDS. Through this statement, we are calling upon the government and other stakeholders to continue fighting HIV and AIDS in solidarity and unshakable unity.
Globalization is a popular catchword spoken worldwide today. It touches and affects lives of every human person. There are those who are aware of how much they are being affected; but also many are not aware. However, those who are aware and those who are not aware - whether by their choice or not - are still equally affected. The term "globalization" has widely been defined but there is not yet a single agreed-upon definition that clarifies it in its concreteness.
The Globalization Phenomenon
2.1.2. Globalization has many good things also that society cannot discard. For instance, facilitation of communication, elimination of controls in economic activities, mobilization of democracy and good governance by expanding knowledge on human rights. With these good things and those not mentioned here, it is obvious that globalization is an ideological tool that affects local cultural ethical codes, economic systems, social relations and international relations. From one day to another, this ideology is rapidly changing. It started as a term used to depict the future of our world, but today it depicts the present reality in rural as well as urban areas. This drastic change from a concept and ideology to a concrete manifestation that touches and affects every human person needs to be discussed seriously.
Indeed globalization has reduced the globe into a small manageable village where people and goods in multiple forms are much closer. Besides those goods, even ethical issues, cultures, thought-forms, and various philosophies are brought together, sometimes conflicting and colliding.
2.1.3. We realize that our world through globalization has become a market place where every commodity is available. There are those who sell whereas, some are buyers. However, we are also aware that globalization is a man-made and usually quite deliberate phenomenon. Indeed we are increasingly aware that there are many people who are quite ignorant about globalization. Through such ignorance, they become victims of those who are led by ill intentions.
2.1.4. Globalization is heavily facilitated by powerful information technology, which is both a blessing and a curse at the same time. While the world has become much closer, social disintegration and a form of discrimination are also evidenced in Tanzania today.
Critical Issues on Globalization
2.2.2. In the
midst of these critical issues and questions, there is a fundamental question
that most Tanzanians pose silently or loudly.
2.2.3. Having posed these questions, we urgently advise the government to plan a multi-sector approach in educating the masses about globalization through NGO's, the private sector, and religious bodies. We have come to the bitter realization that due to the inadequate preparations on how best to deal with globalization, Tanzanian communities have become market places of all sorts of foreign commodities including bad and destructive cultural values.
2.2.4. We are also worried that knowledge of the philosophy of globalization is limited to elites and a few rich people in urban areas. Outside those groups, the language of globalization has become mere rhetoric in the speeches of political leaders and elite.
We are led to believe that many of the listeners to these brilliant speeches do not deeply understand.
2.2.5. It is evident that globalization has contributed to weakening the efforts of poor people to free themselves from poverty. This is because, while it is being said that globalization has facilitated free market and economic growth, it might be said also that globalization has alienated others (especially in the developing countries) from the alleged achievements. We recognize that globalization as a game has its rules. Every player of this game must be versed with the rules. Globalization rules are set and determined by the few who benefit from them and they do not incorporate others in setting those rules. As a result, the rules of globalization are seen to benefit the few players, protecting them against liabilities of globalization.
Prime example is the
privatization policy. This policy is the result of globalization and it
is part and parcel of the rules set by the architects of globalization.
For instance the World Bank (WB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF)
are key players that protect the rich while setting complex rules against
the poor countries. Under the same scenario, we are questioning:
We have seen that globalization facilitates economic polarization and thus, we recommend that the entire strategy be reviewed in order to expand and create larger participation.
2.2.6. Bishops see that globalization is affecting the economy the same way as it is affecting culture and Tanzanian ethos. Globalization has come with people, their culture and their ethical codes. Communication networks, televisions, literary works and other modes of mass communication are facilitating this. Hence, our society is rapidly changing at pace not manageable by any traditional tool. Since most Tanzanians are not well versed with the rules, they end up blindly imitating foreign cultures.
2.2.7. Living examples are when young people (mostly teenagers) spend their precious school time watching pornographic shows and surfing the Internet with evil intent. This is endangering their safety as well as national security. Community ethics are adversely transformed. In a situation where every thing is globalized, even sexual immorality in the form of adultery, sodomy, homosexual acts and promiscuity are seen to be normal. Hence, our national identity and pride are rapidly being eroded.
2.2.8. Although globalization is seen to be inevitable, we are proposing that the government and all institutions in the country should invest in building the capacity of our people to withstand global pressure and minimize the negative aspects of its impact on our people and society. Taking care of those who have been victimized by globalization can do this. It can effectively be implemented through schools curriculums from primary school through higher education. The church is ready to cooperate with the government in carrying out this exercise.
The ELCT Position (Conviction)
"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for the proof, rebuking error, correcting faults, and giving instruction for right living. So that the person who serves God may be fully qualified and equipped to do every kind of good deed". (2Tim 3:16 -17).
Through this foundation we acknowledge and believe that;
" no one can explain by himself a prophecy in the Scriptures. For no prophetic message ever came just from the will of man, but men were under the control of the Holy Spirit as they spoke the message that came from God". (2 Pet 1:20-21).
Thus, the Conference of Bishops of the ELCT firmly attests that the word of God as it is recorded in the Holy Scripture (Bible) is the solid foundation for the faith and life of every Christian.
Homosexuals and their Actions
3.2.2. We believe that people with homosexual inclinations/orientations and other related problems need teaching, counseling and pastoral care that leads to repentance and restoration. Furthermore, we also clearly see that homosexual acts such as sodomy are against natural order and thus against law of God's creation. These acts are not good and are rebellious.
3.2.3. We believe
that the creation of a human being is completed in and by the relationship
between a woman and a man. A woman and a man are created in order that
each one of them shall complete one another for the purpose of also continued
Legalization of Homosexuality, Its Acts, Sodomy and Same Sex Marriages
3.4.2. We are objecting to this legalization because it is also against human dignity and Tanzanian culture. We are convinced that this is not a natural constitution of a human person anywhere. We believe that the cultural decency that we are protecting and defending is not against God's will. ELCT is objecting to lifestyle because it deviates from fundamental biblical teaching.
believe and affirm that legalizing homosexual acts, sodomy and same sex
marriage rebels against God and misguides society.
The Church's Responsibility
3.5.2. Homosexual acts and sodomy are traditionally understood as an extreme sexual desire, and if a person under this possession is not helped, it can lead to bestiality. We affirm that sexual act must be confined to the marriage union of a man and a woman.
126.96.36.199. We deplore distorted explanations by several people who use the term "human rights" to justify homosexuality and sodomy. We find this as a deliberate misuse of a good term "human rights". It should be remembered that those forced to accept these deviated lifestyles also have their rights, which need to be protected.
188.8.131.52. Marriage is the only institution which God ordained through His Word to be the foundation of reproduction, growth and civilize society. We thus ask: is it not also a human rights issue that children be raised in community with father and mother?
Misusing Biblical Texts
Homosexuality and Priesthood (Ordination)
4.2. We clearly see that stakeholders' good intentions in fighting HIV and AIDS are being impeded by ignorance about globalization and hence by an oversimplification of dealing with human sexuality. As a result, the effects of HIV and AIDS will continue to afflict the Tanzanian community. New and urgent strategies are needed which will demonstrate how some aspects of globalization and certain human sexual behaviours are impeding the fight against new infections of HIV and AIDS. Without such demonstration, this fight is fruitless.
4.3. Globalization is like a ship with many good and bad commodities. Any attempt to discard globalization would be seen as throwing out the baby with the bathwater. The Conference of Bishops emphasizes the need to research, evaluate and mobilize people with regard to globalization and its effects on our people and nation. We believe there is a close relationship between globalization, moral decay and the high infection rate of HIV and AIDS. Deterioration of human ethical code leads to sexual immorality such as the homosexual acts and sodomy deplored by this statement.
4.4. About 3.1 million people died last year from HIV and AIDS worldwide of which 2.4 million were from Sub-Saharan Africa. In Tanzania alone 150,000 died. It is estimated that approximately half of all Tanzanian hospital bed occupancy is HIV and AIDS related. Think about and consider the toll of sadness inflicted on communities from these deaths; think of the high costs of caring for patients borne by families and government; and think of the funerals and the mourning. Indeed HIV and AIDS intensify poverty.
4.5. By 2010 Tanzania will have 2.0 million orphans from AIDS. This is according to United Nations statistics. However, other non-governmental organizations estimate the number of orphans under the same period to be around 10 million.
4.6. Dr. Peter Picot who leads initiatives against HIV and AIDS in the U.N (UNAIDS) has warned that, "Even if, let us say by a miracle, new infections are stopped today, the number of orphans would still increase from AIDS". Although this report is shocking, he adds, "the AIDS pandemic has just started".
Bishops of the ELCT
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