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Anglican Church of Uganda May Break Away Over Anti-Gay Law Controversy

The Anglican Church of Uganda warned that it may consider leaving the Anglican Communion if it faces pressure from western bodies to resist the government's new anti-gay laws, which have been condemned around the world.

"The issue here is respect for our views on homosexuality, same-sex marriage as a country and church. If they are not willing to listen to us, we shall consider being on our own," top Uganda Anglican Archbishop Stanley Ntagali told AFP on Monday.

"Homosexual practice is incompatible with Scripture, and no one in the leadership of the church can say legitimize same-sex unions or homosexuality," he continued, and called on the "governing bodies of the Church of England to not take the path advocated by the West."

"If they do we shall have no choice but to be on our own," Ntagali warned.

The international community, including U.S. president Barack Obama, has largely condemned Uganda President Yoweri Museveni's decision last week to expand legal punishment for homosexuality in the East African nation, which would include life in prison for certain offenders.

"No study has shown you can be homosexual by nature … That man can choose to love a man ... is a matter of choice. After listening to the scientists, I got the facts," Museveni said last week.

"I have failed to understand that you can fail to be attracted to all these beautiful women and be attracted to a man."

The Uganda president also warned outsiders not to get involved in the country's laws.

"This is our country. I advise friends from the west not to make this an issue, because if they make it an issue the more they will lose," Museveni said.

Gay rights activists have accused some church leaders in America of supporting the anti-gay bill, including megachurch pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church. Warren denied those accusations on Sunday, however, stating that he has been opposed to the law since it was first proposed in 2009.

"Only fools believe everything they hear!" Warren wrote on Sunday, quoting Proverbs 14:15, as he re-released a video where he explains his opposition to the anti-gay law.

"While we can never deny or water down what God's Word clearly teaches about sexuality, at the same time the church must stand to protect the dignity of all individuals – as Jesus did and commanded all of us to do," the Saddleback pastor states in the video.

Uganda, a largely Christian country where, according to the CIA World Factbook, 35.9 percent of the population is Anglican, has had laws criminalizing homosexuality for years.

Ntagali insisted in his comments to AFP that the church's doors are open to those "facing sexual disorientation to be counselled, healed and prayed for."

"The church is a safe place for those who are confused about their sexuality or struggling with sexual brokenness, we shall provide help to them," the archbishop added.

The Church of Uganda supported a revision of the bill, which removed capital punishment for gay people, as well as a clause on reporting homosexual behavior.

In a January 2014 statement, the church reminded the Anglican Communion that it cut ties with the Episcopal Church in the USA and the Anglican Church of Canada for straying from the traditional Anglican position which states that "homosexual practice is incompatible with Scripture."

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