(Please see the followup post here.)
Monday, June 23 would have been the 96th birthday of Alan Turing, the father of computer science. Turing laid the theoretical foundations of what is possible for computers and what is impossible. He was exploring the boundaries of computation in the 1930s and 1940s, before the computers themselves had even been built.
During World War II, Alan Turing developed new methods of cryptanalysis that were the foundation for the “bombe,” a code-breaking machine. These machines could decode German communications, giving the Allies great advantage.
Although his mathematical work won World War II and established the computer science agenda of the next century, no good deed went unpunished for Alan Turing. Unfortunately, Turing was homosexual in the UK at a time when being homosexual was a crime.
Found guily in court in 1952, his sentence was court-ordered hormone injections, designed to reduce libido. In 1954, he was found dead in his home, having committed suicide. The method: eating a poisoned apple, after the fashion of Snow White, one of his favorite childhood stories. (A more detailed biography at Wikipedia.)
Fifty-four years later, the Anglican Communion is still embroiled in the debate over homosexuality. Gathered in Jerusalem, a group called GAFCON cannot agree whether or not homosexuality should be criminalized. This article of Riazat Butt gives some insight to the conversation:
It was clear [Archbishops Akinola and Orombi] failed to grasp how homophobic rhetoric from the pulpit led to violence and intimidation, as described by Colin Coward from Changing Attitudes. Still no condemnation was forthcoming. As a follow-up I asked whether the lack of condemnation meant they condoned torture of homosexuals. It took the Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, to articulate opposition to all acts of violence towards all people. The Africans didn’t even nod in agreement.
Their muteness – either because they did not understand the question or did not understand why they had to issue a condemnation – is a harrowing glimpse of a dogmatic and draconian narrative that has not been explored thoroughly; least of all, it seems, by those who have allied themselves with the populous Anglican churches in Africa.
Failure to condemn acts of torture is inhumane, incredible and unchristian. Three characteristics that no Anglican movement should be proud of.
A thanks to Archbishop Peter Jensen this week, for calling African bishops to press their governments for decriminalizing homosexuality and to condemn all such violence. Prayers for GAFCON and Lambeth, that such criminalization is bad, as Butt suggests, bad for humanity, bad for faith and bad for Christian witness, regardless of theological stances on sexuality.
How different the West might have been had it had Alan Turing for the past fifty four years! Driven to suicide by his own homeland, that homeland’s established church has a lot to answer for in its theology. I could only guess what he would have dreamed had he actually benefited from the technology he invented and from the freedom he ensured. May we as a church, for his sake, be willing to repent.