Dr. Myles Munroe’s uncharitable arrogance and bigotry
Nassau, The Bahamas
In response to comments made by Pope Francis last August concerning judgmentalism towards gays and lesbians, and recent remarks by Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell in Trinidad and Tobago on LGBT rights, Bahamas Faith Ministries (BFM) Pastor Dr. Myles Munroe has appeared bigoted, ignorant and prejudiced. And, arrogant.
In contrast to Pope Francis, Anglican Bishop Laish Boyd and other Christian leaders, Munroe appears uncharitable, not disposed to mercy, unwilling to support efforts to stem discrimination and violence against gays and lesbians.
While many church leaders do not support state-recognized same-sex marriages, they are challenging the dehumanization and demonization of gays and lesbians. Munroe’s remarks may give comfort to the demonizers.
For the sake of Christian love and charity Munroe must state whether he sides with those who would do violence towards his gay brothers and sisters in the name of God or whether he stands with the likes of former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, U.S. President Barack Obama, Pope Francis, Mitchell and countless others who are seeking to confront violence against those of God’s children who happen to be gay.
In his various remarks, Munroe has also displayed a curious ignorance, in two senses: He seems uninformed of certain facts and information, and lacking in a basic understanding of whatever information he may have reviewed.
Either he is intellectually unable to grasp certain matters or he is being purposefully misleading, or some combination of these, none of which suggests acuity and credibility on these issues.
In criticizing Pope Francis, Munroe demonstrated stunning ignorance of and a poor ability to grasp basic elements of theology and ecclesiology in the Roman Catholic tradition.
He was factually wrong in the assertion that the pope was expressing his own opinion. He was also factually wrong in his assertion that the pope was contradicting his predecessor and the position of the Catholic Church.
Roman Catholic Archbishop Patrick Pinder, who has an earned doctorate in theology from the prestigious Catholic University of America, but who chooses not to be referred to as Dr. Pinder, noted in a Guardian story that those who asserted that Pope Francis was breaking with Roman Catholic teachings in his remarks about gays and lesbians were incorrect in their assertion.
Munroe’s criticism of Mitchell’s Trinidad and Tobago remarks was curious and baffling, as the minister’s remarks in question were limited and generally measured. Mitchell broke no new substantive ground in terms of the policies of successive Bahamian governments.
Essentially, the foreign minister was calling for protection of gays and lesbians from discrimination. Sadly, in the minds of some, efforts to stem discrimination and violence against gays and lesbians, providing them with the security of basic human rights, are unacceptable and egregious. The name for this is bigotry.
Munroe stands in a succession of religious leaders who, over the millennia, seem more seized by the strictures of the Hebrew Scriptures than they are by the example, ministry and teachings of Jesus Christ as exemplified in the Gospels.
There are no warrants for racism, sexism or homophobia in the New Testament. But bigots have for centuries engaged in all manner of proof-texting of the Hebrew Scriptures to bolster and promote their ancient prejudices and hatreds.
White racist pastors used the Hebrew texts for centuries as a basis for slavery, colonialism and the degradation of black people. Gracefully, abolitionists religious leaders found in the ministry of Jesus the moral power to confront slavery and the slave trade.
For millennia and still, many found in the Hebrew Scriptures a warrant for their misogyny and bigotry towards women. The respect for the dignity of women by Jesus in the Gospels was in various ways a radical break from the culture into which he was born. His was a liberating message of equality.
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus speaks of mercy, of not judging others, of eschewing revenge, of giving to the needy. He also speaks of adultery. Sadly, for contemporary bigots, there is no mention of homosexuality.
According to a recent Nassau Guardian story Munroe noted: “‘He [Mitchell] seems to have an agenda that may disqualify him from serving in the position as minister of foreign affairs, because there is a great possibility that he may be more inclined to present his own views than those of the people of The Bahamas.
“‘Therefore, I am recommending that the prime minister reconsider him from being minister of foreign affairs because his personal opinions may interfere with his objectivity in the carrying out of his duties.’”
There is an agenda and a lack of objectivity. But it is by Munroe.
Mitchell’s remarks on non-discrimination against gays and lesbians were in keeping with the views of successive governments, including the Ingraham administration which supported “a U.N. Human Rights Council resolution promoting equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation”.
Is Munroe wilfully ignorant or being purposefully misleading? Prejudice and bigotry tend to induce jaundiced thinking.
The Guardian story quoted Munroe as saying: “‘I have nothing personal against Minister Mitchell.
“‘I think he is an excellent politician and man, like I am. It is nothing personal. It is more of a deep concern of his representation of our country in his position as minister...’”
The story continued: “Let me state for the record publically, [sic] Mr. Foreign Minister, I have no interest in your private life,” said Munroe in the sermon.
“Personally, I really don’t care about your private life. But when you step in our house that we are paying you to represent us in, you keep your private life in your closet and you deal with our public business in our interest.”
There is a well-known rhetorical device and political trick of suggesting no interest in a certain matter. But by raising the matter whether obliquely or not one is clearly seeking to make a point.
By employing the language he did, Munroe used his position to hurl an innuendo against another. It was unbecoming of him as a Christian and as a fellow-citizen. It was mean-spirited and uncharitable. It is a low moment in his ministry. If he has policy disagreements with the minister, fine. But to reference another’s personal life is contemptuous.
Munroe’s views on gambling are well-known. Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe has spoken at home and abroad of making The Bahamas a gambling mecca. Wilchcombe continues to press the idea of regulating the numbers houses, something Munroe opposes.
But in opposing Wilchcombe’s policy views Munroe would not stoop so low as to raise his private life. Indeed, he would not likely to do so of any minister. What Munroe said in reference to Mitchell is unacceptable and unworthy of anyone who purports to have moral authority.
Recall that Munroe labelled Pope Francis as “reckless” pertaining to his comments on being judgmental toward gays and lesbians. Francis was reckless with love. Munroe was reckless in the manner in which he contemptuously referenced Mitchell, while feigning respect.
Munroe also impugned Pope Francis’ motives as a bid to revive Roman Catholicism. The suggestion was that the pope was engaging in marketing and public relations, rather than motivated by love. One imagines that Munroe knows quite a bit about marketing and public relations.
The Guardian story noted Munroe as stating that, “He [Fred Mitchell] began to intellectually try to [discombobulate us]’ ...” As suggested previously, Munroe seems easily intellectually discombobulated, as Mitchell’s comments were clear and easily understandable.
The story further noted that, “Munroe said he has travelled to 138 countries, something he said Mitchell has not done.
“‘So I’ve been to more countries representing this country than anyone else in this government,’ he said.”
What was his point in making such as statement, which came across to many as arrogant and self-aggrandizing?
No matter how many countries Munroe has travelled to he is not the moral ambassador of The Bahamas. Indeed in his bigotry toward gays and lesbians he does not represent many Bahamians or the future, nor does he seem to be able to represent clearly our laws regarding non-discrimination.
We have a foreign minister. Though he will rightly be criticized for various policies, he has represented clearly, articulately and intelligently, the policies of successive administrations in terms of non-discrimination toward gays and lesbians. It is more than can be said for Munroe.
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March 06, 2014thenassauguardian