Monday, February 15, 2010

A Joint Crusade

Online readers of Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper spotted an apparent show of brotherhood, a photo of a Christian leader and a Muslim leader meeting together in the latter's mosque.

The two men were indeed united in a common spiritual bond: joint hatred. Not as uplifting as feeding the poor, but loads easier.

Bishop Lawrence Chai of Free Apostolic Churches of Kenya and Sheikh Ali Hussein were livid at the prospect of two gay men holding a wedding in Mtwapa, a fast-growing coastal town known for its nightlife. After conferring together, the religious leaders pledged to stop Kenya's first gay wedding "at all costs."

I'd like to believe they were furious just because they hadn't been invited. I can dream.

Homosexuality is illegal in Kenya, but arrests are unusual. Four months ago a gay Kenyan couple married in London, which got a lot of coverage in Kenya. Perhaps that made the preachers heaven-bent on stomping out gayness in their part of the country.

Bishop Chai, a representative of the National Council of Churches of Kenya, and Sheikh Hussein, with the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya, said they gave the government a week to shut down clubs they claim fuel homosexuality in Mtwapa. They ordered a person allegedly renting rooms to gays to evict them, also in a week.

I guess they're assuming if God could create the world in seven days, surely mortals can handle these smaller tasks in the same amount of time.

Chai and Hussein demanded that a clinic supposedly providing medical services to gays be investigated. Wondered Hussein, "How can a state institution be involved in providing counseling services to these criminals?"

Well, the first requirement is a heart . . . oh, never mind.

In a statement after their brotherly meeting, the spiritual leaders said, "Come night, come day, we shall not allow that marriage to be conducted in this town tomorrow. We shall stand firm to flush out gays who throng this town every weekend from all corners of this country."

The next day readers of the Daily Nation learned that these fellas kept their word, honorable holy men that they are. This time the newspaper photos were of police handling a man whose face was blurred out. The story said police rescued three men believed to be gay "from hundreds of angry youth baying for their blood."

A subsequent version of the story said Christian and Muslim youth stormed the apartment where the gay couple had been staying. The wedding, needless to say, was off. The town got cold feet.

Police arrested five suspected homosexuals, including the ones they'd saved from the mob. Remember, it's the gays who are the criminals.

The rampaging youth came together as part of Operation Gays Out. You're familiar with the dynamic duo that led the operation, the two leaders of different faiths, those models of tolerance.

Chai and Hussein declared the gay wedding successfully stopped. Chai said, "We thank God for saving this town from being turned to Sodom and Gomorrah of this era as we may have been on the verge of being doomed."

Seems to me a mob gathered to abuse men sounds a lot like the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. Thanks, gentlemen, for recreating a low point in both your faiths.

What did Daily Nation readers think about Chai and Hussein? One called them "snake oil salesmen." Another wrote, "Christian and Muslim leaders should preach love, not hatred." But others echoed one commenter, who thanked the clerics "for doing practical moral policing. Homosexuality is a sin . . . All gays and lesbians need to be hanged by the neck."

Altogether, gay Kenyans have reason to be as jumpy as an antelope stumbling on a lion family reunion.