Sunday, 18 December 2005

Nigeria: New York Times report

The recent Changing Attitude event in Abuja is now reported in the Sunday edition of the New York Times:
Nigerian Anglicans Seeing Gay Challenge to Orthodoxy by Lydia Polgreen. here’s an extract:

…The Anglican debate has largely played out as one between traditional African values and what many people call the decadence of the West. As one Anglican, Chimae Ikegwuru of Port Harcourt, put it: “Homosexuality is a Western thing. In Nigeria we don’t condone it, we don’t tolerate it.”

Nigeria’s gay men and lesbians regularly face harassment and arrest, gay activists here say. The criminal code bans acts “against the order of nature,” and imposes sentences of up to 14 years for those convicted. In practice, gay men are often arrested and jailed until they can bribe their jailers to let them go. In areas of Nigeria that adhere to Islamic law, Shariah, the sentence for homosexual acts is death.

Yet homosexuality is relatively common, particularly in the military, which dominated the country’s politics for decades, said Dare Odumuye, founder of Nigeria’s first gay rights organization, Alliance Rights Nigeria. “It has always been in our culture in Nigeria,” he said.

Still, in a country riven by corruption and strife, and perpetually perched on the edge of chaos, deeply conservative religious beliefs and literal readings of not only the Bible but also the Koran offer certainty and stability otherwise unavailable.

“The Bible and the creeds don’t lend themselves to any variation over time,” said Oluranti Odubogun, general secretary of the Anglican Church of Nigeria. “They don’t subject themselves to cultural changes. They are guidance given for human existence from age to age.” But that desire for certainty and absolutism has run up against another powerful force, the wider struggle for self-determination, particularly among young people in Africa…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 18 December 2005 at 4:00am GMT
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Anglican Communion

My goodness, where to begin?

It seems there are some very courageous Nigerians.

Interesting how some in the article claim that minority sexualities didn't exist until the "West" exported them!

So some in the Communion who complain of same sex bishops and ordinations,etc., come from a place where the law enshrines putting gays/lesbians to death for their sexuality?

I wonder how those in the Communion who side with them and hold them up as pillars, square this?

It seems there is plenty of work to do in these places and perhaps church leadership should be focusing like lasers on domestic work rather than flying about the world criticizing and issuing speeches on "deserts".

Just an idea. ;)

Posted by: RMF on Sunday, 18 December 2005 at 1:19pm GMT

Homosexuality a decadent export of the West indeed! Piffle! The same country that now publicly hangs adolescent boys caught in erotic embrace from construction cranes (Iran) once produced famously passionate and lyrical homoerotic love poetry. And they did so for many centuries. And Morocco, like the rest of the Arab world in the throes of a fundamentalist revival, has a very ancient native gay culture with its own literature and traditions. And what of now famously prudish Japan? Surprise! the faggots have been there for centuries. Should we be so surprised that Africa probably teems with such subcultures?
I think I may have figured out the puzzle of the strange alliance in America between fundamentalist Christianity and capitalist oligarchy, at least partially. Both divide the world into winners and losers (the "saved" and the "left behind"). Both are forces for cultural homogenization. I suspect Islamic and Hindu fundamentalism are not very different in that respect. As can be seen from the persecution of some very ancient native subcultures in Iran and the Arab world, those too are forces for cultural sameness.

Posted by: Counterlight on Sunday, 18 December 2005 at 2:17pm GMT

Oh dear! I should have edited that last post a little more carefully. I used a term for a bundle of wood frequently used in my part of the world as a word of abuse for a certain group of people (to which I belong). Before the intended irony of that word falls completely flat and causes offence (which I do not intend), I truly apologize.

Posted by: Counterlight on Sunday, 18 December 2005 at 3:02pm GMT

"The Bible and the creeds don’t lend themselves to any variation over time"

Good posting and splendid comment. The word of God cannot be compromised. Needless to argue whether homsexuality is a western export to Africa or primordial to the African community. One hard truth majority of TA 'thinkers' will not agree is that HOMOSEXUALITY IS A PERVERSION FROM SATAN!

Sorry if my words hurt anyone but my Brother Mac Iyalla sure needs audience from the Primate of Nigeria. And His Grace needs patience and love to listen to them. He (Akinola) or any other senior Bishop in Nigeria needs to come out on national TV with CAN members, hand-in-hand with them and with all brotherly affection declare the truth "Christ came to save sinners which I am Chief among them... Mac I have been to Jesus for the cleansing blood and I really want you to come to him just as you are... say no to the deception of the enemy... come Mac, come Changing Attitude members... Christ will chnage your attitude.

Posted by: Chijioke on Sunday, 18 December 2005 at 4:09pm GMT

Akinola isn't interested in REAL Nigerian domestic violence/intolerance/discrimination challenges...he's only interested in creating more enthusiasm for religious persecution and HATE internationally/domestically by promoting his customized and factless "version" of GOODNEWS(remember Gay's don't *really* exist in Nigeria according to ++hiself)..the man has little sense of REALITY or TRUTH or basic DIGNITY or HONOR other than what he twists into believing is "Christlike."

Akinola scores "points" with wealthy/terrified/ignorant religious (or not) bigots as he tries to promote Global South purity/purging rites/goals throughout OUR church.

He avoids/denies LOVE in service to ALL his fellow Christian women/men.

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Sunday, 18 December 2005 at 7:20pm GMT

So how exactly can a so-called Communion exists with premodern homophobia uppermost, such as that expressed in the post from Chijoke?

Satan can you reason with this sort of laughable superstition?

Posted by: Merseymike on Monday, 19 December 2005 at 10:33am GMT

Dear Chijoke,
Pardon my American pragmatism, but I've always taken very seriously Our Lord's words when He says, "You shall know the tree by the fruit that it bears" And which fruit is preferable? a pair of lesbians in Belfast signing up for legal rights as a couple? or a pair of dead boys hanging from a construction crane before a mob?
I have no doubts about which I would prefer, which is the more civilized, and yes, which is the holier.
My country may be poised to turn into a Christian version of the Iranian state, but it won't be with my assistance or consent.

Posted by: Counterlight on Monday, 19 December 2005 at 2:22pm GMT

Any chance that Mr Odubogun can point to the section of the creeds - which "don’t lend themselves to any variation over time" - which condemns homosexuality? Or has the Lambeth resolution reached the status of the Nicene Creed in Nigeria?

Posted by: RPM on Monday, 19 December 2005 at 2:50pm GMT

"So how exactly can a so-called Communion exists with premodern homophobia uppermost, such as that expressed in the post from Chijoke?

Satan can you reason with this sort of laughable superstition?"--Merseymike

Obviously one cannot reason with pre-moderns; we (the Communion) should show them the door no matter how many "Rice Christians" they claim to have.

Posted by: Kurt on Monday, 19 December 2005 at 4:56pm GMT

All I can say is "Praise Be To God!" that the faithful Nigerians under +Akinola are zealously rejecting cultural decadence exported from the West!

As it says right there in the article lead:
"At one end of town on a fall Saturday morning, in a soaring cathedral nestled in a tidy suburb, dozens of Nigeria's most powerful citizens gathered, their Mercedes, Porsche and Range Rover sport utility vehicles gleaming in a packed parking lot. The well-heeled crowd was there to celebrate the Eucharist with the leader of Nigeria's Anglican Church, Archbishop Peter J. Akinola."

My God... they ARE in communion with Plano and Long Beach. They've got the same ride!

Posted by: Jay on Monday, 19 December 2005 at 6:00pm GMT

I am somewhat alarmed by some on here who constantly post the same general comment in every thread regardless of its content.

First of all, Chijioke , you state that "sorry, you don't mean to hurt anyone" but same sex affections are Satanic.

Um, no they're not.

Perhaps in your country people are put to death for same sex affection or the law makes such affections "illegal," but in Western countries, this does not happen. This does not mean naturally that the law "creates" them.

Secondly, to those who then respond to these sorts of posts with "expel them," we must keep in mind that in some nations until only recently ruled by military or some flavor of dictatorship, there are gay and lesbian Anglicans who face real danger.

Do you think it best to abandon them just because their bishop might be strident?

I think not.

As for the repetitive posts about splitting Communion, why not let's give it a rest.

And the posts about "exporting" sexuality--every anthropological/archaeological study I've read or heard about suggests quite strongly that life began in Africa and moved out from there; so if anything, it is Africa that has exported homosexuality. ;)

Lucky for the communion, none of you is an instrument of unity!

Posted by: RMF on Monday, 19 December 2005 at 8:16pm GMT

The Communion is already split. I am just awaiting the terminal demise.

Posted by: Merseymike on Monday, 19 December 2005 at 9:09pm GMT

"The word of God cannot be compromised."

Indeed not, Chijioke.

Jesus Christ, the eternal Word of God, is determined to love---and save---*EVERYBODY* ("I will draw ALL humankind to myself": note *lack* of homosexual behavior exception).

There is nothing you (or your Archbishop) can do to stop Him! Alleluia! :-D

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Tuesday, 20 December 2005 at 12:50am GMT

Yet another sponsored report adding to the confusion. What are we to believe? Planned 3 day meeting for 1,000 Anglicans, Friday meeting of 360 persons with a subsequent 800 people strong all night meeting that lasted till 4.00am or now this- a Saturday morning meeting in a clubhouse that cannot accommodate up to 200 persons while pictures show Davis and a Muslim gay 'MC' holding microphones outside.

Yawn! Any more cash to spread around in order to deceive?

What point is CA actually out to make with all these?

Posted by: Tunde on Tuesday, 20 December 2005 at 3:42pm GMT

Haven't a clue.

But I am disturbed as to the unbridled homophobia which these threads have displayed from Nigerian church members.

It is clear that any gay or lesbian person in that environment would not be safe.

Posted by: Merseymike on Tuesday, 20 December 2005 at 4:44pm GMT

Honestly, Tunde, what are you on about? That the New York Times has been bought off to publish a phony story?

Give it a rest. The meeting happened. Get over it.

Posted by: Christopher Calderhead on Tuesday, 20 December 2005 at 4:45pm GMT

Yes indeed, a pan-global conspiracy to do what is clearly impossible--suggest there are gay Nigerians and gay Nigerian Anglicans! :0

I still wonder how those who trumpet the virtues of Nigerian Anglicanism square their laws' putting to death or imprisoning those with same sex affections, and how they square that country's Christendom being infuenced in its measures and policies, by its Islamic laws and pressures?

If anything, to me the NYT story shows the clear need to remain engaged with the faithful in that country, many of whom obviously face persecution and even death but still courageously step forward. That is worthy of keeping lines of communication open in my book, regardless of what some of their bishops might say.

Posted by: RMF on Tuesday, 20 December 2005 at 7:00pm GMT

Dear Tunde, the point that CA are making is that there are people everywhere, even in Nigeria, with homosexual orientation (a fixed and strong same sex sexual attraction, often experienced since childhood)). Therefore, they would argue, it is "ok to be gay".

The weaknesses in this argument include:

1. that many people experience other fixed and strong sexual attractions that even CA would condemn acting on.
2. experiencing an attraction, even feeling that it is *your* natural preference, is not the same as the attraction being objectively natural. Nor is it necessarily "God given" (see point 1).
3. some people do experience homosexual orientation and then change; other decide to deny their their sinful attractions.. (see this link from a recent presentation to the Canadian House of Bishops: )
4. Some "Liberal" contributors seem to dramatically paint Christian morality as some new "war on gays".. As if we condemn people for the temptation to "same sex affections", rather than just saying that it is sinful to give in to them!
Some also act as if we have previously been "neutral" about active homosexual practice; wheras in fact it has *always* been said to be contrary to the Christian Scriptures and Church teaching; it is against the two authoritative CofE statements (GS Nov 87, HoB 1991 'Issues in Human Sexuality'); and it is also labelles as sinful by Lambeth 98 1.10, the Primates meeting 2005 and the ACC 2005.

Posted by: Dave on Tuesday, 20 December 2005 at 7:37pm GMT

I think you may miss an important point, Dave.

There are many things that have been considered "sinful" or wrong, or perfectly well and good and even "natural," that have then been reconsidered in light of the Spirit and in the continued growth of human knowledge and experience.

And we are not talking about other attractions that you may then expound upon, we are talking about same sex attractions and unions between consenting adults.

There is one excellent example in the Gospel of Matthew (1:18-26) that suggests that faithfulness to legalism is not the same as faithfulness to the continued working of the Spirit—Mary wasn't even married yet and yet despite clear legalisms about her status, God chose her. Why would God choose an unwed girl, couldn't he have just waited until she and Joseph were properly married?

I don't know the answer though I have some ideas. Joseph, naturally, was going to follow the legalisms and not have anything to do with her because being with child out of wedlock was punishable both to her and her Son.

Luckily the Spirit intervened and straightened it all out. Just as well, Joseph paid attention.

Naturally there are many other examples of the Spirit turning things on their head; and to say that something is this way because it has always been this way, is no bar to the working of the Spirit. (Nor is it enough to simply say "the Spirit" wills it so, because we must discern.)

As far as the canons of the CoE are concerned, there are in several key respects to worship in England and America, things that the American church has moved forward on. (Some of these have even made their way round Communion.)

Perhaps the clearest example is that the CoE is a state church and must swear fealty. Not so with the American church, which could never be so.

Posted by: RMF on Wednesday, 21 December 2005 at 4:48pm GMT

RMF wrote: "There are many things that have been considered "sinful" or wrong, or perfectly well and good and even "natural," that have then been reconsidered in light of the Spirit and in the continued growth of human knowledge and experience."

Dear RMF, I think you will have to spell out what those "many things" are - I can't think of any.. If you are thinking of slavery, this was already not seen as good in the NT (Paul said get free if you can) and the OT (ban on enslaving fellow Jews). If you are thinking of women in leadership, there was evidence of this in the NT (deaconesses; some of Paul's "Fellow Workers") and OT (the Prophetess Judith who lead Israel) too.

However this is not the case for ANY form of liberally approved sexuality (not just homosexuality).

Posted by: Dave on Wednesday, 21 December 2005 at 6:27pm GMT

Tunde has a point that is not easily dismissed. What credibility do people have who are making what certainly seem to be outrageously exaggerated claims about how many people showed up for this event? Why the felt need to invent such numbers? Should not the Western Gay groups that are pushing for such events be just as proud of their efforts if twenty people showed up, and shouldn't they be embarrassed that such inflated numbers of attendees are being claimed? The NYT author seems not to have witnessed the event itself, and the only photographs purportedly from the event suggest a handful of participants rather than the hundreds that are claimed.

Posted by: Dave C. on Thursday, 22 December 2005 at 2:43am GMT

Dave, I suppose we can rehash well worn paths, although it seems you fall back again on what Scripture has mentioned before, ignoring what it also evidences as to what is called into being.

I suppose my main point, which you do not address, is about the nature of legalism which is purported to be from God, and then what God actually intends and does which may in fact subvert/overturn that legalism.

But I will note that you cite two good examples; and there are more.

Posted by: RMF on Thursday, 22 December 2005 at 12:57pm GMT

I think what bothered me most about Tunde's remarks was the opening phrase: 'Yet another sponsored report adding to the confusion.'

If he has evidence that the New York Times accepted money to print a false story, let's hear it.

I'm interested to know the facts of the matter. It seems unlikely that thousands attended, doesn't it? It seems equally unlikely that the whole thing has been made up.

No one is served by spreading rumors or falsehoods. And I'm afraid the repeated assertion that this is all some kind of hoax is beginning to fall into that category.

Posted by: Christopher Calderhead on Thursday, 22 December 2005 at 3:53pm GMT

Dear RMF, love & obedience versus legalism is an interesting topic....

Finding out "what the Bible means for me" is, I think, dealt with quite well in "How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth" by Fee and Stuart. It's available on Amazon, not huge and worth reading if you want to get another perspective - or just wondering why one earth "the other side" thinks like it does !

Posted by: Dave on Thursday, 22 December 2005 at 5:03pm GMT

Or alternately, Peter Gomes' The Good Book, if you want to do the same with regard to our perspective, Dave!

Posted by: Merseymike on Thursday, 22 December 2005 at 11:50pm GMT

Merry Christmas everybody!

Posted by: RMF on Friday, 23 December 2005 at 10:14am GMT

Dear All,

Sponsored may not mean being bought off. Rather I mean ‘influenced’. How that influence is exerted is left to different interpretations. Note the NYT reporter did not claim being present at the meeting as reported by CA long ago. The photograph on NYT was taken in the Cathedral. Like all the other newspaper reports, the clear indication is that they were releases given out to reporters. The major problem I have is why they do not rhyme.

Many of those in the CA photographs have been identified as members of a gay club that has even appeared on national TV. They have no relationship with the Anglican Church and many are not even Christians. They still live freely in Nigeria.

The major point I have been trying to make is that Davis is a Con man who is living off CA which is desperate to say the Church of Nigeria is not listening to her 20, 360, 800, 1000 or 2000 gays and lesbian members. Sorry, but till he is ready to come forward, or we have reports from the priests about this, such members only exist in the immagination of CA.


Posted by: Tunde on Friday, 23 December 2005 at 12:34pm GMT

As I have said before, I'm not particularly interested if the meeting occurred or not (and Nigerian corruption and trickery is hardly anything new!)

But I note Tunde has still said nothing at all about the violence carried out towards gay people inn his country and the continuing illegal status of gay and lesbian sexuality.

I can only asssume the church actively supports that,in the way it supports the corrupt Government of Nigeria and turns a blind eye to unsavoury practices against women.

The sooner we in the CofE are free of such an organisation, the better.

Posted by: Merseymike on Friday, 23 December 2005 at 4:02pm GMT


Based on his last entry, it seems Tunde's point is that no meeting occurred becasue there are no gay/lesbian anglicans in Nigeria.

More interesting, I agree, is the church in Nigeria's work vis a vis government corruption, and state sanctioned violence against its citizens.

Posted by: RMF on Saturday, 24 December 2005 at 10:54pm GMT


Dave and mersey,

Thanks for the book suggestions, I will look them up.

Posted by: RMF on Saturday, 24 December 2005 at 10:55pm GMT

The one thing that I love about Christmas is that it is the one time of year when my fellow Americans in the "mainstream" (whatever that is) celebrate the birth of a bastard child to an unwed teenage mother in a stable out back of a hotel; and in that is our hope.
Thanks be to God who cares not one whit about our parameters of the socially acceptable. Thanks be to God who in His Incarnation as much as in His Death and Resurrection threw out the whole grim arithmetic of power vs. powerlessness, success (including moral success) vs. failure, "who may" vs. "who must" by which the world always works. Thanks be to Christ our Liberator who beat a path out of our captivity to fear and selfishness, to sin, for us all to follow to the City of God where there are no more strangers, only friends.
A Blessed Feast to All.

Posted by: Counterlight on Monday, 26 December 2005 at 8:08pm GMT

I'll have a look at Mike's book too..

Posted by: Dave on Tuesday, 27 December 2005 at 6:34pm GMT

Its an interesting one Dave, as the author is both theologically liberal, black and an American Republican!

Posted by: Merseymike on Tuesday, 27 December 2005 at 7:46pm GMT

Mike, I'll let you know what I think (and why).

Posted by: Dave on Sunday, 1 January 2006 at 10:16pm GMT
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