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The dictatorship of 'feelings'

Published:Friday | December 14, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Peter Espeut, Contributor

Danieri Basammula-Ekkere Mwanga II Mukasa was king of Buganda (now part of Uganda) from 1884-1897. King Mwanga II was a violent ruler - a homosexual and paedophile who forced himself on the young boys and men who served him as pages and attendants. The Christians (Anglicans and Roman Catholics) at court tried to protect the pages from King Mwanga, who launched a campaign against them.

Mwanga massacred Anglican bishop James Hannington and his colleagues on October 29, 1885. Joseph Mukasa, major-domo of the royal household and a Roman Catholic catechist, reproached the king for the massacre, and on November 15, 1885, Mwanga had Joseph beheaded. Mukasa was succeeded as major-domo by another Roman Catholic catechist, Charles Lwanga.

On May 25, 1886, Mwanga condemned to death two of the pages under Lwanga's charge. Fearing the worst, Lwanga secretly baptised those who were under instruction. Later the next day, the king interrogated all his pages to see if any would renounce Christianity.

Led by Lwanga, they declared their fidelity to their faith, upon which the king condemned them to be burnt to death at Namugongo. As he was being burnt, Lwanga said to the executioners, "It is as if you are pouring water on me. Please repent and become a Christian like me."

From 1885-1887, forty-five Christians (23 Anglicans and 22 Roman Catholics) were executed by King Mwanga II of Buganda. The 22 African Roman Catholic martyrs are saints today, canonised by Pope Paul VI on October 18, 1964. Today, Namugongo in Uganda is a place of pilgrimage; millions go there to honour these brave young men and the God they serve.

There are four Roman Catholic communities in Jamaica dedicated to these young African role models: at Bull Bay in St Andrew (where I currently have the honour to serve), Knockpatrick in Manchester, Clark's Town in Trelawny, and Moreland Hill in Westmoreland.

How are we, as intelligent people, to respond to these relatively recent historical events in Buganda? Do we conclude that homosexuals are paedophiles and rapists who hate Christians and seek their downfall? I wonder if gay activist Maurice Tomlinson would agree with this?

In an attack on Shirley Richards of the Lawyers' Christian Fellowship published in this newspaper on Tuesday last ('A tragic case of ignorance'), Tomlinson dismisses Christianity and Christian theology because "the theology your group exists to promote once supported such heinous practices as slavery, requiring a woman to marry her rapist, and the stoning to death of individuals found engaging in adultery".

It is true that there are Bible passages which advocate these practices, and that there are Christian fundamentalists who believe every word of the Old and New Testaments is literally true; but Tomlinson is ignorant of the fact that the majority of Christians in the world are not fundamentalist, and do not believe that it is valid to pick and choose Bible passages out of context and the worst episodes in history to characterise contemporary Christianity and Christian theology. Are all gay people like King Mwanga II?

The gay lobby abuses all those who disagree with their lifestyle by branding them as mentally ill, as 'homophobic' - a word which they have concocted. I suppose they feel justified to retaliate, as most of their critics believe that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons are emotional cripples - not born that way, but made so as the result of a flawed 'broughtupsy'.


LGBT people believe they are born that way because of how they feel - an apparently 'natural' attraction for persons of their same sex (or both sexes, or young children, or animals, or whatever); and since they 'feel' that way, it must be 'natural', and 'normal'. This is a tragically ignorant view.

At one level, what we 'feel' to be 'normal' is the result of socialisation; in France, it feels normal to eat frogs, and in Korea to eat dogs. And elsewhere, cannibalism was quite normal. In Jamaica, it does not feel normal to eat dogs, frogs or human beings, and there is no imperative to.

At another level, feelings (part of the subjective consciousness) are the result of the operation of natural chemical neurotransmitters such as endorphins, and may be artificially induced through psychoactive drugs. Sexual attraction - which feels 'normal' and 'natural' - has a chemical origin, and is not as 'natural' as some think.

Sorry Mr Tomlinson: human rights do not emerge from feelings and urges.

Christianity is entering a new period of persecution. The examples of Christian heroes such as St Charles Lwanga and St Joseph Mukasa will help us to find our way in this crazy world.

Peter Espeut is a sociologist and Roman Catholic deacon. Email feedback to