12.16.2013

Examining Breedlove's Defense of Rwandan Anglicans

They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them. Proverbs 28.4
I was going to continue looking at the "Peace in the Great Lakes" effort launched last month in a new post, but instead I will tie that effort to the recent posts of PEAR USA Anglican Bishop Steve Breedlove. While at the House of Bishops meeting in Rwanda, Bishop Breedlove started a blog called exegeomai, and two of his posts to date have been apologetics for the Rwandan Anglican Church. The posts are located here and here.
Bishop Steve Breedlove
First a bit of background: I met with Bishop Breedlove in the Fall of 2012 after having compiled a report for him and my local clergy that detailed:
  1. Post genocide massacres committed by the RPA and documented by the Gersony Report.
  2. Torture of Rwandan citizens as documented by Amnesty International.
  3. Assassinations carried out by the Kagame regime, such as the murder of Seth Sendashonga and the attempt on the life of Kayumba Nyamwasa.
  4. The totalitarian nature of Rwanda's ingando camps and the "divisionism" laws which are used to silence all political dissent.
  5. The false nature of the reconciliation narrative that AMiA and now PEAR USA have been spreading in America.
  6. The connections between the Anglican Church of Rwanda and the Kagame regime.
Prior to our meeting, Bishop Breedlove had apparently put questions to a bishop or bishops in Rwanda. Among other things, Bishop Breedlove told me:
  1. There are several political parties in Rwanda. The bishops are “not sure” if they are part of RPF or not. Breedlove believed they may support RPF in the same way we might support the GOP, i.e. as voters and not participants.
  2. The bishops are calling for everyone to lay down their arms in the Congo.
  3. Breedlove’s personal experience with the bishops led him to believe in their integrity, something he has just repeated in his blog posts.
  4. He said that the Rwandan bishops back the ingando camps, and the divisionism laws as salutary and the only effective alternative to "genocide ideology." He said that a Rwandan bishop compared the totalitarian ingando camps to 'going on a Church retreat.'
  5. He claimed that Hutus are scattered throughout all levels of the Rwandan society/power structure.
At that time I asked the Bishop if the Rwandans showed any degree of self critique or criticism for their government and he could not come up with an example or answer of self criticism.
As study after study and book after book can demonstrate, the answers he relayed to me from Rwanda are far-fetched poppycock. For example, Hutus are 'scattered throughout the power structures of Rwanda', where, as the US State Department knows, they are "twinned" with Tutsis who hold the real power, see this post. Another example, political parties in Rwanda are a sham and the RPF dominates life down to the household level, as Susan Thomson says, "Kagame abolished real opposition and manufactured a shadow opposition that serves only to sing the praises of the RPF. This “opposition” is active only during election season and is otherwise unknown to the general public. None of the three actual opposition parties – the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, FDU-Inkingi, and PS-Imberakuri – can take part in the elections because their respective leaders are either in prison or banned from registering their candidates on allegations of harbouring genocide ideology."
Bishop Breedlove's recent posts are of a piece with his meeting with me last year. He praises the openness of Rwandan Anglican bishops, which he believes is a legacy of the East African Revival, but he may not be aware that this was also a characteristic of the Church prior to the genocide:
Often the rhetoric of the Revival was introduced into the disputes. At high-profile meetings of reconciliation, church leaders confessed and sang Tukutenderza in the old spirit of the Balokole [Balokole means 'saved' - editor] fellowship, but these occasions did not seem to have the power to transform the faction-riven nature of the church. 
The House of Bishops meeting a few years ago
Bishop Breedlove describes the various economic initiatives that PEAR is concerned with, many of which may be praiseworthy, but which I suspect have a great deal to do with RPF pressure for "Vision 2020" goals from the all powerful State. Breedlove says "the government yields the platform of developing and transforming communities to the church" as if we are dealing with any old government and cooperation from the Church is just fine, but this is not the case! We are dealing with a government that tracked down and slaughtered Hutus in the DRC and inside Rwanda, that tortures dissenters, imprisons clergy for speaking up against it, and rules with an iron fist. Cooperation with such a government to advance its economic policies cannot be separated from the intrinsically evil acts it commits.
Bishop Breedlove then turns to the Peace in the Great Lakes initiative. The initiative was launched by the Roman Catholic Church in the Congo. As I pointed out in my previous post on the initiative, several bishops met with James Musoni from Rwanda about their work. The absurdity of Rwandans discussing peace in the Congo when their nation is the one that invades and supports terrorist groups on Congolese soil should not be lost on anyone. It would be like churches in the United States launching a peace effort for Iraq without addressing the glaringly obvious fact that our nation started the war. If Rwandan Anglicans want to end war and rape in the DRC, they should have adjourned their meeting and walked over to the Paul Kagame residence for a chat on why he continues starting wars with their neighbor. 
Bishop Breedlove tells us that Bishop Augustin Ahimana is one of the Anglican representatives for this initiative. Bishop Ahimana is the very man who defended Rwanda's two murderous wars in the DRC! He wrote in Christianity Today:
It is also our duty to inform American Christians that there has been a malicious campaign to demonize Rwanda's leaders, distorting the political situation. This distortion emanates from people often hiding behind so-called humanitarian organizations. Some have a hidden agenda of distracting the international community so that their own role in Rwanda's tragedy cannot be exposed.
Bishop Ahimana
When Rwandan troops decided to pursue the genocidal forces and their sponsors in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 1996 and 1998, they did so in the light of day. The peace we enjoy today in our country is mainly a consequence of that action. 
The hypocrisy of having Ahimana talk about peace when he defended the Kagame invasions of the DRC is unfortunately par for the course. Bishop Breedlove would have us believe that the Anglican Church is a force for peace and justice in the region when in fact two retired bishops were fundraising and recruiting for M23, the latest incarnation of evil in the DRC. In fact, while he was in Kigali he could have walked over to a nearby court (had he been allowed in) and seen Joel Mutabazi, recently kidnapped from Uganda, forcibly repatriated to Rwanda and tortured into a false confession. This kind of thing happens on a regular basis in Rwanda, and has the Church done anything to address it at all?
Joel Mutabazi, political prisoner.
Where have Anglicans been while Hutu Victoire Ingabire has languished in prison on trumped up "divisionism" charges? The day after Bishop Breedlove left Kigali, her sentence was *increased* by the Kagame Supreme Court. Can you imagine Mitt Romney in handcuffs and in jail for the 'crime' of daring to run against President Obama? That's what this equates to in the Rwandan dictatorship.
Ms. Victoire Ingabire, political prisoner
And yet Bishop Breedlove wants us to believe with Archbishop Rwaje that the Anglican Church is "the conscience of society" in Rwanda. I take 'conscience' to mean the sense of right and wrong for Rwandan society, and that should indeed be one of the roles of the Church, but it is a role that the Rwandan Church has utterly failed at when it comes to actions of the Kagame regime in many arenas. Any person or institution can have an erring conscience, which Aquinas would say is not formed correctly. Aquinas called acting on what your conscience tells you prudence. If your conscience is not correctly formed to understand good and evil as God delineates them, you have an erring conscience and the judgments you render are likely to be wrong.
Anglican bishops listening to the dictator
In the case of the Rwandan Anglican Church, its judgments are clearly wrong on many issues. It should speak up against ingando camps, against Hutu oppression, against RPF domination of society, against all forms of torture and murder, against Rwandan meddling with the Kivu Provinces of the DRC and against the misused divisionism laws.
We should ask when have we ever heard a Rwandan Anglican bishop have anything but praise for their nation and its leaders? When have they ever asked for prayer for the oppression in the nation? When have they ever spoken publicly about the repressive nature of the regime? When have they ever mentioned its human rights abuses? Instead, what we see in America is Rwandans heaping praise on the nation, in the case of Bishop Mbanda, calling its maniacal leadership "visionary" and so on. This is an example of "praising the wicked" which the Proverb refers to.
In perpetuating the idea that all is well in Rwanda and we need to "learn from them" PEAR USA makes itself an accomplice with a false narrative, afraid to stand up for truth, content to accept tall tales from friends inside the country without reviewing the vast amount of critical literature about the situation. And in turn, maintaining relationships with African Churches that are compromised with wicked states brings the Anglican Church in North America into disrepute and is Biblically unfaithful. Ethics applies to sex, yes, but it also applies to every relationship we find ourselves in: institutional, governmental, and ecclesiastical. I am all for Church - State cooperation, I believe in nations being regulated by Biblical law after all, but this does not mean that the Church meekly listens to a dictator, no! Instead, the Church follows the example of St. Ambrose who rebuked the Roman Emperor for a massacre of his people. Such faith is not currently seen within PEAR, PEAR USA or ACNA.
Bishop Breedlove may simply be suffering from a lack of information, he needs to talk to the Rwandans, and by this I don't mean clergy who are aligned with the State and can't speak publicly for fear of prison or death, but instead those who have escaped the country and can tell him about the reality outside of the bubble that Westerners are allowed to see. There are many of them whom I could connect him with, and who the Rwandan bishops should meet on their many trips to the United States. Do you think that will happen?


4 comments:

  1. One wonders whether men such as Bishop Breedlove are naive, ignorant or corrupt. In any case he is doing a great disservice to the cause of Christ.

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  2. As Bishop Breedlove has been made aware of the United Nations reports and those of other humanitarian NGOs detailing the crimes and corruption of the Rwandan government, and both the Anglican Church in Rwanda and PEAR have been silent, he cannot plead ignorance. At the very least, his statements are self-serving promotions, after all the Anglican church of Rwanda made him a bishop.

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    Replies
    1. No, he can't plead ignorance, that's for sure.

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