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Tengatenga Affirms LGBT Rights

Tengatenga Palm Springs.jpgFormer Malawian Anglican Bishop James Tengatenga has landed happily in the United States, having resigned his ecclesiastical responsibilities in Africa. In an interview with the San Diego Gay and Lesbian News he affirmed his deep support for LGBT rights and he said that he is looking for a job in the comfortable bosom of the American academy.

Tengatenga also stated that he is still in litigation with the College over his withdrawn job offer.

He observed several times in the interview that when he was a serving Bishop he was not free to fully articulate his views on issues like gay rights; he said that his beliefs, like those of President Obama, have “evolved” over time:

After the Dartmouth controversy, Tengatenga says he had a lot of time for reflection and saw the most positive thing that has happened is that he suddenly has the freedom to speak his mind, not having to worry what the Church will think or forced to play the delicate political game of being a progressive Anglican leader on a continent where homophobia runs rampant.

“I don’t have an obligation to be guarded anymore,” Tengatenga said. “My obligation now is to me. For better or worse, freedom to be with my wife. Work has its own obligations, and that meant being away from home a lot.”

During his weekend in Palm Springs, Tengatenga seemed happy and contented. At dinner Saturday night at the boisterous and crowded Lulu restaurant, Tengatenga was the center of attention but still found time to show public affection for quiet-spoken wife Joselyn, or “Josie,” gently stroking her hair and whispering in her ear.

In the interview Tengatenga also repeatedly noted the influence of colonialism on African attitudes towards gay rights:

Tengatenga is dismayed by the harsh anti-gay laws passed by Nigeria and Uganda, and under consideration elsewhere across Africa. He blames post-colonial anger as part of the problem, where African independence triggers resentment over attempts by western powers to tell Africans how to think and what to believe. Then there is the matter of desperate despots trying to cling to power in nations struggling with rampant poverty and high unemployment, where politicians collude with religious leaders to find an easy bogeyman to distract from the real problems in society.

“Africa is the site of contest,” he said, noting the rising influence of Russia and China on the continent that had long been dominated by European colonists. “There are a number of things at work. There is new reason for that conflict. Part of it is post-colonial in nature.

So it’s all the fault of those European colonialists, is it? Despite Phil Hanlon’s decision not to bring the good Bishop to Hanover, there is little reason to think that Tengatenga won’t be able to find a home at an American university.


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