THINKING ANGLICANS

Nigeria update

Changing Attitude has issued this press release:
Changing Attitude Nigeria responds to Government proposals to outlaw same-sex marriage

A recent comment on the Nigerian government’s proposals can be found in Vanguard (Lagos) via allAfrica.com Holy Nigeria ! or a direct link here. Another comment column from the same source is Homosexuality And Its Enemies.

Mark Harris writing on his blog The Silence Continues includes a portion of the wording of the proposed legislation. The full text can be downloaded in PDF format here from okrasoup.

Andrew Carey writing in the Church of England Newspaper recently said:

The fact of the matter is that evangelical Anglicans elsewhere in the Communion are badly compromised by the Nigerian Church’s attitude to the human rights of homosexuals….

Evangelicals in the west who claim to ‘love the sinner’ while ‘hating the sin’, must work to persuade Anglican leaders elsewhere that a truly pastoral approach to homosexual people must be as concerned about their human rights as it is about their all-too-human wrongs.

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BerylDaveTobias S Haller BSGMerseymikeRob Hall Recent comment authors
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Dave
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Dave

I agree with Andrew Carey. Everyone should be free from the fear of persecution, and governments need to protect all citizens from hate or agression. But official recognition of [sinful] homosexual partnerships is not something I would ever support.

Merseymike
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Merseymike

Then you are calling for inequality to be enshrined in law – that is not affording human rights, Dave. Your solution labels us second class citizens – and I do not believe that your religion, which I do not follow, should impose its rules on me by discriminating against me. I certainly don’t think that the state – which doesn’t follow your religion either- should discriminate against me. After all, if you are prepared to say that you don’t think my relationship should be recognised, have I not the right to say that your harmful and hateful religion should also… Read more »

Tobias S Haller BSG
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Tobias S Haller BSG

The things that most bother me about the legislation is the denial of freedom of assembly and speech, and the restriction (as I read it) on religious bodies that might seek to “bless a same-sex partnership” (there are a few that officially do). Apparently the MCC could not function in Nigeria, at least not as it does in the US. If this is the case, this legislation, seems to me to come up against the UN Declaration of Human Rights, particulalry Articles 18-20. I can well understand a government’s right to oppose same-sex marriage (even though I disagree with that… Read more »

Andrew Carey
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Andrew Carey

The problem with the new Nigerian proposals, which are being cheered by some leaders of the Anglican Church, is primarily that they ban right of free assembly and protest. A state has every right to define its own marriage law, therefore the proposals to ban homosexual marriage are unnecessary. It looks like sheer persecution to me to levy five years imprisonment on someone who undertakes a ceremony which is not even recognised by Nigerian law.

RMF
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RMF

The Nigerian laws are being supported with applause by the Church there, giving the lie to that leadership’s claims to afford safe space for even its own members, many of whom it treats like they are subhuman. They actively exclude and even persecute.

An absolute disgrace to all of Christendom.

John Henry
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John Henry

The recent developments in Nigeria, with the Primate and Metropolitan of All Nigeria, applauding discriminatory laws against gays and lesbians, confirms my opinion that ++Peter Abuja is totally unfit for leadership in the Anglican Communion. ++Rowan Cantuar has not called him on it, nor has he had the backbone to stand by the Windsor Report which does not approve of border crossings by Global South episcopi vagantes. Both gentlemen ought to step down for the good of the Anglican Communion.

Prior Aelred
Guest

I remarked on this site when this legislation was first mentioned (BTW — again kudos to TA for being at the cutting edge) that it was appalling & I was distressed that no Anglican leaders were speaking out on this issue — time has passed — it is still appalling & the silence is now deafening!

RMF
Guest
RMF

The further along we get on this, the more the leadership in Nigeria show their true colors, and their easy willingness to bend the Word to the service of oppression and persecution. It is simply appalling to me that the relational nature of the Communion encourages me to be in some sort of relationship with those wicked men when it is the very last thing I would want, dream of, or in any way desire. Because their actions are certainly wicked and to my mind all the moreso because of their attempts to ground them in the transformative and liberating… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
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Cheryl Clough

My prayers are with all the Nigerians at the moment. The attack on homosexuals is a symptom of deeper underlying problems, for both the Nigerian society and for those non-Nigerian church leaders who support the suppression of homosexuals. The latter group should have learnt from the failure of the prohibition laws in the US last century to resolve problems with alcohol consumption.

Rob Hall
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Rob Hall

Andrew Carey and others very rightly call attention to a key problem with the proposed Nigerian legislation and the Church of Nigeria’s enthusistic support of it. Barring freedom of speech and association which does not suit the ruling powers and authorities is a very dangerous thing for any religious body to support, especially a church founded by one who was tortured to death after a rigged trial. All Christians – whatever their views on the homosexuality issue – ought to be able to join together to defend the right of all people to peacefully express their views. If we have… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Guest

Readers of TA might act on this matter of the new Bill and write/visit their local political reps to express their feelings. A letter to the Secretary General of the Commonwealth might help. In Uganda the criminalisation of those in same-sex marriage came as an unannounced change to the constitution. The purpose of this, and perhaps the Nigerian legislation, is to allow courts to deal harshly with those who have contracted partnerships elsewhere. Two Canadian surgeons I know who spend a few months every year working in Uganda pro bono were advised by local lawyers to leave because they were… Read more »

Dave
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Dave

Dear Rob, I’m sorry to have to pour cold water on so many liberals’ feelings, but I would like to point out in the clearest terms possible that Human Rights are just the “rights” that governments have currently agreed to give their citizens. There is *nothing* magic or sacred about them! As far as Christians are concerned, “Human Rights” do not have canonical authority; they are just human-made laws, or maybe the ruling principles of this world, by another [prettier] name… [stands back and waits for inevitable apoplexy (or however you spell it) from the liberal wing 😉 …]

Cheryl Clough
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Cheryl Clough

Martin. Thank you for providing the line to justify bringing in these two Nigerian articles from early January 2006. http://www.thetidenews.com/article.aspx?qrDate=01/07/2006&qrTitle=Some%20churches%20are%20compromising%20standards%20-%20Apostle%20Numbere&qrColumn=RELIGION and http://www.thetidenews.com/article.aspx?qrDate=01/08/2006&qrTitle=Spirituality,%20not%20popularity&qrColumn=RELIGION One of the articles commented that “…the Director of Greater Evangelism World Crusade and Father of Pentecostalism in Rivers State said, the alarming popularity of the church is a sign that all is not well. Quoting references of the Bible to support his assertion, “ye are not of the world, so the world hates you”, goes to show that the church is not mean to be loved and popular for the singular reason that it is not of… Read more »

Dave
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Dave

MerseyMike wrote: “have I not the right to say that your harmful and hateful religion should also not be recognised and its teachings outlawed?” Dear Merseymike, I don’t know what world you are living in, but in mine it is quite possible to love someone and not approve of what they do (or want to do). In fact, since in my world we are all sinners and only saved by God’s loving gracious forgiveness, if I hated everyone who wasn’t “good enough” I would hate everyone including myself… in fact particularly myeself since I know a lot more about how… Read more »

Merseymike
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Merseymike

As far as you are concerned, Dave.

Not ‘Christians’. Your stance is that held by right wing conservatives, not all Christians.

Merseymike
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Merseymike

Weasel words Dave. I recognise hate and prejudice when I see it. Know your enemies.

Prior Aelred
Guest

Dave —

Nigeria’s violation of Human Rights is, as explained above, a violation of the U.N. Charter of which it is a signatory — not the same as a canonical issue (as perhaps you already knew).

They will not, of course, be expelled from the U.N. (that is not the way the U.N. is supposed to work) but their open defiance of the principles they professed upon entry is now manifest.

Cheryl Clough
Guest
Cheryl Clough

Dave wrote “”Human Rights” do not have canonical authority; they are just human-made laws”. Yes, laws made by humans who were probably trying to embrace Jesus’ fundamental teachings of “love thy neighbour” and handing judgment over to God. Again, refer 1 John 2:9-11. On the question of rising STD etc. There have been recent articles from Australia and the UK that the sexual activity and marital stability is comparable between “Christians” and the general population. Further, data from the African continent, Asia and the US indicates that one demographic group that is having the highest rate of new HIV infections… Read more »

Brian
Guest

In the column from The Vanguard of 9 Feb 2006, Moreni ke Taire finds cynical political motives to be behind the Nigerian government’s action, far from any concern for the moral wellbeing of its people. The crazy thing is that the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) should be so naive as to be caught up in support for such actions — especially when the Church has been boldly critical of the government on other questions of probity and social justice. The church leadership, and Archbishop Akinola in particular, has deceived itself because of its visceral hatred of homosexuals. As other… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
Guest
Cheryl Clough

Dave Is the issue the “rejection of Christian values”, or is it that the bankruptcy of humanity without the grace of God continues across the millenium? Some of the issues you are citing against modern Britain would be the same charges laid against Sodom and Gomorrah; or by both Jesus and the apostle Pauls’ on communities in their time. Also, be careful, sometimes statistics reflect more an increase in the REPORTING of incidences (when the stigma of shame nor threat of death no longer intimidates victims into silence). As an aside, in Australia the question of marital breakdown is also… Read more »

Rob Hall
Guest
Rob Hall

Dave, Can I suggest that you stop and think very carefully before making claims? You claim that “Human Rights are just the ‘rights’ that governments have currently agreed to give their citizens.” Many dictatorships make this sort of claim. The examples of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union spring to mind – note here that I am NOT accusing you of sympathy with those or similar regimes. It was precisely bacause of the crimes against humanity committed by such regimes that many Christians and others became active in the steps that led to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)… Read more »

RMF
Guest
RMF

Dave,

We shall remember your words about the prerogatives of government to trample human rights, when the right trampled is freedom of religious expression and the law is passed forbidding Christians to gather together or to say out loud the name of our Lord, or to in any way aid or abet someone in doing this.

Rob Hall
Guest
Rob Hall

Sadly, many governments do indeed attack freedom of religion as part of their general assault on human rights. Eg. Uzbekistan does exactly what RMF indicates. One specialist religious freedom agency I’d strongly recommend is Forum 18 News Service at
http://www.forum18.org
Their work is used by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch – and looking at their site this week, clearly by persecuted religious belivers within countries such as RMF points us too.

Tobias S Haller BSG
Guest
Tobias S Haller BSG

Dave, I don’t know where you come from, but in my country (the US) we have a long tradition of recognizing certain human rights as divinely ordained, and that such rights are a matter of self-evident truth. These rights were held to be so self-evident and divinely ordered that our original Constitution did not even bother to enumerate them. (Wiser heads prevailed and the first amendments to said Constitution established the Bill of Rights.) More importantly, and universally, it seems impossible to understand the ethical ane moral underpinning of the Law of Moses or the Law of Christ (as he… Read more »

Peter Bergman
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Peter Bergman

Tobias: would you include the right to be born, the right to life as one of these rights – indeed, the most fundamental one? Ecusa, particularly the wing represented by Louie Crew, does not seem to think that unborn children are persons with rights.

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Peter
We are getting rather far off the topic of Nigeria. Could we please stick a little more closely to that.
Thanks
Simon

Dave
Guest
Dave

Dear Tobias, Rob, Cheryl, RMF et al As I said, there is *nothing* magic or sacred “human rights”. The truly sacred issues are Love, Truth *and* Justice. And *all three* are important; you can’t just pick out one issue and use that as *the* defining principle. So, for instance, the Lord and St Paul both indicated very clearly that they think that divorce is sinful in all but the most extreme situations. However that does not mean that Christ would cease to *love* people who do divorce (or that we should), or that people who divorce should be punished legally.… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Dave

“I don’t seen why a state should make provisions for morally sinful relationships”

I think you are missing the point that most, though not all, nation states are not religion-based, and therefore make their judgements on a different moral basis to you and me.

Certainly the Nigerian state – which is what we are supposed to be discussing here – is not based upon any particular form of Christianity.

RMF
Guest
RMF

Dave, Sometimes in your zeal to keep to a point, you make some wild claims that really, are a bit illogical if not ridiculous. Granted, there is no canonical authority for a law banning murder–but go right ahead and do it, and you will be amply and justly punished. Now let us take our two nations, US and UK, and recognize that we are not theologies. Also, your lumping together of same sex relationships between consenting committed adults, with “polygamy, incest etc etc” is quite beyond the pale. I think you have gone over the edge there and henceforth must… Read more »

Tobias S Haller BSG
Guest
Tobias S Haller BSG

Dave, Doesn’t a state which allows for divorce and remarriage under any circumstance other than adultery “make provisions for morally sinful relationships”? You appear to be suggesting that the right to free speech, assembly, and religious ceremony being asked for by same-sex couples is “beyond those for any other people in mutually dependent relationships.” That is, same-sex couples want exactly the same rights as mixed-sex couples. There is no prima facie moral case to be made that a faithful same-sex couple is _more_ sinful than a couple one or both of whom is divorced with a partner still living (which… Read more »

Peter Bergman
Guest
Peter Bergman

Tobias, I think it is increasingly unrealistic to expect anything like the UNDHR to be honored in Nigeria, given that there is creeping sharia in the northern states – a far cry from British colonial days, when English common law prevailed in Nigeria. This, along with ‘traditional African beliefs’, is why polygamy exists in the country. In most Islamic societies you won’t see much that corresponds to western conceptions of huamn rights (freedom of speech, assembly, conscience, religion; gender equality). We might even wonder whether Nigeria can continue to subsist as one nation. I don’t know what the abortion law… Read more »

Rob Hall
Guest
Rob Hall

Dave, If the “truly sacred issues are Love, Truth *and* Justice”, surely they need to be put into action? And how does this NOT lead to defending human rights? I note you don’t address the discussion about this. In the case of Nigeria, I hope that we can all agree that the Church of Nigeria has the right to make its own judgment on the qestion of same-sex blessings – even if some of us strongly disagreee with its judgement. And I hope we can also all agree that – to quote Andrew Carey – “a truly pastoral approach to… Read more »

Dave
Guest
Dave

Dear Simon, OK what I meant is that, like polyamory, or incest, homosexuality is immoral because it is disordered with respect to the created order for sexuality. As a Christian I see that in terms of sinfulness, I think that most people in Nigeria see it in terms of sexual deviance. Dear RMF, I wasn’t meaning that I think every state is, or should be, a theocracy (though in fact Britian theoretically is!). As for Nigeria allowing polygamy; not all polygamy is non-consensual, it could be polyamory… but I don’t think that either is within the ideal to which God… Read more »

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

Dave ; you may not have noticed, but the State is under no obligation to reflect your restrictive religious prejudices, whilst allowing you to practice your religion.

But as I said before, any attempt to circumvent my rights and you will find your religious delusions very low on the priority list for protection.

Tobias S Haller BSG
Guest
Tobias S Haller BSG

Dave,

Thanks for the clarification. Would you then agree that life and liberty are God-given rights; that is, people should not be deprived of life or liberty arbitrarily? Is the right to marriage a “God-given right” (you appear to indicate as much)? In short, do you acknowledge that at least some “rights” are God-given, even if you do not share the enthusiasm of Thomas Jefferson when it comes to “the pursuit of happiness”?

Dave
Guest
Dave

Dear Merseymike, Slightly ironic, isn’t it, that the right to express one’s sexuality one of the few things in the UK that overrides the freedom of people to say what they think… it’s up there with blasphemy and glorifying terrorism ! ps. As you know, my “delusions” are those of Jesus Christ , His Apostles and the Church. There are plenty of other things that we believe that people find objectionable (try Christ as “The Way”, revealed Truth, belief in evil, judgement and “heaven / hell”)… You don’t by any means need to feel that we are just objectionable on… Read more »

Dave
Guest
Dave

Dear Tobias, Rights thinking is human-centred, I think it comes from the enlightenment and French revolution (“les droits d’homme”?), but the Bible talks primarily in terms not of rights but of duties (of leaders, subjects etc) – eg ruling with justice, ethical behaviour, moral rectitude. We can’t demand God’s love and blessing, but He loves and blesses us because that is what He is like. Similarly those in authority have a duty to treat people with Love, Truth and Justice – because they should emulate God. And we have a duty to relate to everyone based on Love, Truth and… Read more »

Beryl
Guest
Beryl

Prior Aelred:

The Episcopal Bishop of Washington HAS spoken out strongly on this issue.

http://blog.edow.org/weblog

I hope that others will follow his example.