Newswire : Church of England bars Tutu’s Daughter from funeral

Archbishop Tutu and his daughter, the Rev. Mpho Tutu van Furth

 

 
(TriceEdneyWire.com/GIN) – The daughter of the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu said she was “stunned” by the Church of England when they denied her the right to officiate at her godfather’s funeral because she is married to a woman.
 
According to the Rev. Mpho Tutu van Furth, an Anglican priest in the Diocese of Washington, DC, the Church barred her from officiating despite her late godfather’s personal wish that she lead the ceremony at his funeral. Her godfather, Martin Kenyon, died in England last week. He was 92.
 
“You can’t speak a message of welcome and love and live a message of exclusion,” the Rev. Tutu van Furth said. “It’s incredibly sad,” she told BBC News. “It feels like a bureaucratic response with maybe a lack of compassion.”
 
Martin Kenyon and Desmond Tutu became friends when they were both students at Kings College. Tutu would become a voice for LGBT equality, speaking in a video released by the Free & Equal campaign.
 
“I cannot keep quiet when people are penalized for something about which they can do nothing,” Tutu declared. “First, when women are excluded just simply and solely because they are women. But more pernicious, more ghastly is the fact that people are penalized, killed, all sorts of ghastly things happen to them simply because of their sexual orientation. “I oppose such injustice with the same passion that I opposed apartheid.”
 
Mr. Kenyon, a powerful force in the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, was also an early, outspoken critic of the Anglican Communion’s stance on gay rights.
 
However, its sister Anglican church in the US, The Episcopal Church, does allow clergy to enter into gay marriages.
 
Marceline Tutu van Furth, a Dutch academic who is married to the Archbishop Tutu’s daughter, said the church told them it accepts priests in same-sex relationships but not if they are married.

 
The Church of England and the Episcopal Church are tied together in the global Anglican Communion, which represents about 85 million worshipers around the world. The Episcopal Church has taken a stance in favor of acceptance of gay clergy and members, starting with the consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson, an openly gay priest, in New Hampshire in 2003.
 
The Church of England, however, has said that under its religious laws, while it permits same-sex civil partnerships, it does not support same-sex marriage because it would go against its teachings. Gay clergy are expected to remain celibate, and those in same-sex marriages are not permitted to be ordained.
 
Tutu remarked in 2013: “I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven. No, I would say sorry, I mean I would much rather go to the other place. I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this.”
 
He added: “I am as passionate about this campaign as I ever was about apartheid. For me, it is at the same level.”
 
In the end, Tutu was able to fulfill her godfather’s wish as the service was moved from a church and was instead held in her godfather’s garden in Shropshire.
 
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Newswire : US denies visa to Gambian school robotics team

Robot built by high school students in The Gambia will be shipped to Washington, DC, for event without its inventors.

By: Azad Essa and Colin Baker, Aljazeera News
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The team built the robot during rigorous seven-hour shifts throughout Ramadan [Moctar Darboe/Al Jazeera]

Five teenage pupils from The Gambia, a small nation in Africa. who built a robot for a prestigious international competition in the United States will not be able to accompany their invention to the event after being denied a visa.
The Gambian pupils become the second team of students refused entry to the US to attend the FIRST Global robotics event in Washington, DC, on July 16-18. On Saturday, it was reported that an all-girls team from Afghanistan were also denied a visa to travel to the US to showcase their creation at the same competition.
Moktar Darboe, director of The Gambia’s ministry of higher education, research, science and technology, told Al Jazeera that the team, made up of high school pupils aged 17-18, were “very disappointed”.
“They put in so much effort into building this, and now, after all the sacrifice and energy they put in, they have been left disheartened,” Darboe, who is also the team’s mentor, said on Monday.
The robot, a ball sorting machine, will be shipped off in the next day or two, he added.
The Gambian American Association will represent the team at the event and the students in The Gambia’s capital, Banjul, will watch it over Skype.
The FIRST Global Challenge is open to students aged 15 to 18 from across the globe. According to FIRST, around 158 countries will be represented, including 40 African countries. Only the teams from Afghanistan and The Gambia have had their visas rejected so far.
Darboe said that the visa was denied shortly after their interview at the US embassy in Banjul in April. They were not given any explanation. “We were only told that we did not qualify and that we could try again.”
According to Darboe, the students had to pay $170 each for the visa application. “Their parents had to sacrifice a lot to pay this fee.” The students continued building the robot despite being denied the visa, hoping the decision would ultimately change.
They were further buoyed by a visit of US Ambassador C Patricia Alsup to their project site last month. “She gave us hope not to give up, and she said they would give us all their support to help us go further,” 17-year-old Khadijatou Gassam, a science student and spokesperson for the team, said.
The US embassy in Banjul told Al Jazeera that it did not comment on consular affairs. Kevin Brosnahan, a spokesperson for the state department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, said he was unable to discuss individual visa cases.
Last week, the US Supreme Court allowed the partial enforcement of President Donald Trump’s travel ban on residents, citizens and refugees from six Muslim-majority countries – but both The Gambia and Afghanistan are not on the list.
In March, at least 60 African citizens were denied visas for African Global Economic and Development Summit in the US state of California. Organizers said at the time they were not sure if the rejection was linked to Trump’s anti-immigrant policies or if talk of the travel ban was being used to “to blatantly reject everyone”.
Darboe said building the robot was difficult. When parts arrived, customs officials took their time in releasing them. “They asked us if were building RoboCop,” he said.
Fatoumata Ceesay, the team’s programmer, told Al Jazeera that she had come to terms with the fact their creation will be run by other students in the US. The 17-year-old said they had worked under trying conditions, day and night, and with little guidance over the entire Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan. “And we started building it after the [visa] rejection. We built it despite knowing we weren’t going,” she said.
Gassam says that she was disappointed that she wouldn’t be able to represent The Gambia and “show the world [that] ‘yes, we can do it'”. “But we’re not giving up, despite the challenges we face, we still continue to work hard,” she said. “Next year it will be somewhere else, so I think next year we have hope to get there.”