Is Zimbabwe’s Church Split Really About Gay Marriage?

In Zimbabwe there is a bitter and violent split within the Anglican Church in which lesbian and gay Zimbabweans are being used as a scapegoat.

Bishop Nolbert Kunonga was excommunicated in 2007 for inciting violence in sermons supporting President Robert Mugabe’s party, ZANU-PF. His speeches are dominated by accusations that those who oppose him are homosexuals or support them.

But many believe that the split is really about money and power: Kunonga has taken over the main cathedral in Harare, schools and the church’s bank accounts. Last month the nuns at an orphanage with 80 children were evicted. Police have been accused of siding with Kunonga in the fight for properties as they reportedly rush to arrest his rivals while leaving his people to cause terror.

At the orphanage, the Rev. Richard Mombeshora said pleas for police to intervene to stop the takeovers were ignored. Visitors to the orphanage have since reported that children appeared not to have received regular meals and it was not clear whether qualified replacement staff had arrived.

“These people confess openly they don’t fear the law. So you just put your faith in God,” Mombeshora said, adding, “We don’t marry homosexuals here. We don’t approve of it at all.”

Zimbabwe’s Supreme Court has allowed Kunonga to retain control of Anglican properties. Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku is an open supporter of ZANU-PF.

In an attempt to change the situation, The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, last week visited Zimbabwe. He told more than 15,000 mainstream Anglican worshippers gathered for mass at a Harare stadium that Anglican worshippers are constantly “tortured by uncertainty and risk of attack” and have endured “mindless and Godless assaults.”

He praised the worshippers for being “active and courageous.”

Kunonga and his supporters demonstrated outside Harare’s main cathedral against Williams’ visit because he said Williams’ visit was a “crusade for gays.” Inside, his supporters waved placards reading ‘homosexuals must die.’

“This is a demonstration against homosexuality. I told people to come and demonstrate if they wanted,” Kunonga said. “Rowan Williams erred by accepting homosexuality and that has broken up the church all over.”

Kunonga refused to meet Williams, telling Aljaeera English:

“I do not want to meet with someone who subscribes to homosexuality.”

Williams did meet President Robert Mugabe:

“We have asked, in the clearest possible terms, that the President use his powers as Head of State to put an end to all unacceptable and illegal behaviour,” said Williams.

“We deeply deplore the manner in which many of the historic assets of the church that include hospitals, schools have not only been seized by the breakaway group but are no longer being used for the purpose for which they were designed.”

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Screengrab of Bishop Nolbert Kunonga AlJazeeraEnglish

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27 comments

Ainsley Chalmers
Ainsley Chalmers4 years ago

Jesus said "Not evryone who says Lord Lord will enter the kingdom of Heaven only those doing the will of my Father" and "by their fruits you shall know them". God is the final judge and anyone who steps out of line will pay the ultimate price-eternal separation from God. And that will be a horrible place to be. So put you trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour of your life and live abundantly.

Sheleen Addison
Sheleen Addison4 years ago

Everything that happens in this country can be traced back to Politics. It may be using the front of the Church in this instance but if you dig you will uncover the political worms. If you have a job in a company in Zimbabwe you will get promoted if you belong to the same church as the Director and you will get salary increases and bonuses and vehicles and you become invincible, because then you can do something wrong or illegal, like embezzle, damage and threaten other employees but you just hold up your Party card and you are left alone. How did you get to this power? Because you belonged to the same church as the Director and followed everything that church decreed absolutely and devoutly. Who is pulling who's strings?

Jane Barton
Jane Barton4 years ago

"Many believe the split is really about money and power"? What? I have NEVER heard of a church that was about money and power!!! I don't BELIEVE it!! :) And homosexuals get blamed for yet another thing? Diana S. don't apologize, "God" is a fairy tale, so "God" isn't going to "take care of" anything. And there isn't any pie heaven either. When you die you are going six feet under just like everybody else and rot and turn to dust. Why don't you try practicing some of that love and kindness that Jesus was talking about? And go to church and get some of the meaness out of you? And while you're at it check out some of the commandments and see which ones you broke.

Christopher C.
Chris C.4 years ago

Diana S said: "There is No such Meaning of the word Gay .its a term uses ed by Sick Perverted Nut Jobs"...and you Diana sound like the most ignorant & retarded of all if you use a statement like this. You sound like a closet-case right off that bat!

Diana S said: "We will keep on Breaking God's Simple 10 Commandments . also the Bible States Man to Woman. Not Man to Man . What ya going to have in the Future? Have a Guy stick His Life Giver up a Guys, or Kids ass and create a baby."...no Diana, there will always be plenty of "breeders" to do that job. Aren't you aware in the majority of the world we have an over-population problem and that we can't support and feed the kids that are already here? Think of gays and lesbians as "crowd control"...that's why God put us here!

Diana S said: "tell ya what why font the Gov. draft all the Tinkerbell's and leave the straight ones home to populate the world . O' i Am sorry GOD will take care of this problem really soon. not too fond of this Group and i do have a good reason why."...huh?!? Diana, sounds like you need to head back to school to learn how to read, write and spell. This statement made no sense at all!! Did you dip into the sacrificial wine again?!?


Christopher C.
Chris C.4 years ago

In defense of Linda T Steve R, it's because the conservative Republicans send their bigoted pastors over to countries like that to fan and fuel the flames of an already bigoted situation. And it's the Republican/conservative dollars that are sending those jackass preachers over there!

Steve R.
Steve R.4 years ago

Linda T - how in God's name did you manage to involve the American Republican Party in this discussion?

I guess you're one of those people that take every opportunity to express their hatred for Republicans, even if it makes you look stupid!

Steve R.
Steve R.4 years ago

Well, as someone that lived in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) for 20 years, I can tell you it's about OIL! Maybe about gold, or diamonds, or technology, or uranium as well.

Zimbabwe has none of these things - and therefore it's worth nothing to the west, that tut tuts about it a lot - but never does anything about it - because there's no money in it!

If Zimbabwe was Iraq (oil) or Afghanistan (pipeline for the oil) - Mugabe and "Bishop" Kunonga would be worm fodder by now!

Amilkar Romero
Amilkar Romero4 years ago

People can be so stupid.

Valarie Snell
Valarie Snell4 years ago

how disturbing

Linda T.
Linda T.4 years ago

I think it's more about americans Republican Party and their money getting involved in other countries politics.