Wednesday, 19 April 2006
Nigeria: latest developments
The previous TA entry on this, originally posted on 9 April but updated on 13 April.
Since then there has been a further significant press release on 17 April from Changing Attitude titled Nigerian Anglican hostility to gays and threat to Davis MacIyalla revealed. There is also some background on African and Anglican involvement in the recent ILGA Geneva conference.
Today, politicalspaghetti published a very detailed review of recent Nigerian events under the title Things fall apart. (This entry also deals with the New Yorker article, see immediately previous post here.)
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on
Wednesday, 19 April 2006 at 6:22pm BST
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
The parallels to the early Nazi regime continue to develop. I read a Jewish article recently (sorry couldn't find link, but if challenged will do so) that talked about early in the Hitler's regime development they encouraged "dialogue" with the local authorities. The Jewish communities in good faith would send their respected leaders to table the issues their people were having in terms of bullying and mistreatment. What they did not know was happening was that the regime was developing a short list of potential Jewish leaders. When they started their ethnic cleansing, the first people to "disappear" were the Jewish leaders who had gone to represent their people early in the Nazi regime's development. The same thing happened in Chile (who remembers the movie with Jack Lemmon in it?)
What I am finding interesting is the parallels to the Jewish model of Erev Rav. Which were the souls that started with the Israelites into Exodus but caused problems for the people during exile, including constructing the Baal idol the whilst Moses was in retreat getting the first set of stone tablets from God. Here are some interesting links that people might find useful:
Now there might be those who consider me to be Erev Rav because I advocate tolerance towards mutually consenting adult monogamous relationships. I have no problems with the Catholic Church for example, deciding that they will stay true to the priestly principles of maleness or celibacy. I would have problems if they were then to try and impose their internal values on other external churches or faiths.
The Anglican church has a history of being innovative (refer links to Gene Robinson's early education and perspectives of Queen Elizabeth I only a few days earlier on TA). They were also at the forefront of embracing visions such as the abolition of slavery, denouncing apartheid, respect for women having intelligence as well as wombs.
In this debate there might well end up being two churches claiming Anglican/Episcopal roots. One church will happily tolerate the other because tolerance and hospitality are core values. The question in my mind is whether the other church will tolerate the former and whether they will help or hinder those seeking tolerance and compassion within "their" dioceses. Or will they continue to use suppression and "re-education" to hinder like-minded souls finding each other and developing an alternative. Especially if that alternative does not draw on any of their material or communication resources? Further, who and how will those alternatives be in with communion on an international scale - the Archbishop of Canterbury will acknowledge who and how?....
And to say that the alternative shouldn't be allowed to develop is to deny God's rights to plant new forests aka Ezekiel 17.
The writer of the email says â€œThe police are looking for you everywhere and the curate was saying it is better if any one knows they are gay or lesbian to confess to the church before MacIyalla is arrested and will give your names to the church...â€
Ah! Ah! Ah! The asylum plot thickens.
Give me the name of the church and the curate if it is true someone demanded confessions of homosexuals. I will like to know whose instructions he is obeying and will gladly make such public. Also let me have the date such an announcement was made. I might need to contact other members of the Church in case there is a denial.
Am I the only one seeing thruâ€™ this â€˜police are looking for you everywhereâ€™â€¦ BUT â€˜..give your names to the churchâ€™ thing. Makes me feel so important as to be able to send the Nigerian Police everywhere so as to get a list of names (laughter ) And TA will even countenance this as â€˜significant press releaseâ€™. I am disappointed.
Please COME OFF IT.
The Church of Nigeria is not after Iyalla. Yes, he claims to be a homosexual, but for that the Churchâ€™s response is â€˜see your pastor for counselling and prayers.â€™ Yes, he is being alleged to have defrauded a diocese but the Churchâ€™s initial response was â€˜come and explain yourselfâ€™ but someone went on a 2 year 'vacation'. Now the Church is only saying â€˜come and sort out how you will return the cash.â€™ That vacationer now needs asylum and is working hard at it.
The Church of Nigeria is a God fearing body of believers. I repeat
We disturb no intending worshipper, turn away no one, persecute no one, and unashamedly maintain the sanctity of the Holy Scriptures.
You clearly do persecute them, as evidenced by your Primate's statement, by your comments here, and by your support for persecuting legislation
I would be willing to take what you are saying at face value if what was coming out of your office wasn't so confusing. On the one hand, you say that the "Church's response is 'see your pastor for counselling and prayers'" and that you "persecute no one," while on the other hand your boss endorses legislation that would put someone advocating homosexuality in prison for 5 years.
This is a very mixed signal, and in a country with strong taboos against homosexuality, I can imagine that Mr. Mac-Iyalla would be reluctant indeed to return to Nigeria under the present circumstances.
Furthermore, while I am truly glad you are involved in the discussion, I am amazed that you have given so much to this discussion, given your official capacity as communications director for the Church of Nigeria.
In 46years of independence, there had been laws in Nigeria that will punish a confirmed homosexual with either death or 14 years in jail. I am yet to be aware of anyone being so punished and wonder at Davisâ€™ fear. A new law is being proposed to (as I personally see it) reduce the term to 5 years and also avoid imposition of a practice the Church terms to be sinful upon the unsuspecting populace. I am still amazed to read that the same church should kick against such a law.
My duties include the correction of public misrepresentation of the Church. That may explain why I bother at all. The time spent on this particular discussion has been a source of worry to me as well. This can be evidenced by my almost three months stay away from it. I must emphasise that apart from the 'disclaimers', I have not initiated any of the arguments. Most of my contributions have been reactions to deliberate re-stirring of issues by CA and TA.
My colleagues are again telling me to ignore this site as Thinking Anglicans has definitely tilted to represent a particular group. This can easily be seen from the comments and the leads from Colin. I will soon do that, but will first want to put to rest the noise by that group about my publishing what I cannot defend.
I know that may be a tall order since many are so rigidly polarised in the Anglican world, but I believe eventually the truth always triumph.
"A new law is being proposed to (as I personally see it) reduce the term to 5 years and also avoid imposition of a practice the Church terms to be sinful upon the unsuspecting populace. I am still amazed to read that the same church should kick against such a law."
The point is that just because this law seems less oppressive than what went before does not make it a good thing. The Church should oppose any oppression. I am amazed that you should think otherwise. You speak of "imposing" homosexuality on Nigeria. This law will not get rid of gays in Nigeria, it will merely drive them further underground in a climate of fear and repression. You would be better able to ignore their suffering, perhaps even ignore their murder, but they will still be there, they will suffer, and the Church will be complicit in this.
I would advise you to do an internet search for "Matthew Sheppard". You have probably not heard of him. When you see the pictures and read the story, do you see yourself hanging on that fence? I can assure you, every gay person in North America does. Gay people in North America enjoy unprecedented freedom, but we still can lose out jobs, our families, and even our lives at the hands of people who believe they do God service. When they kill us, they merely have to state that the person they killed made homosexual advances against them and, though not in the case of the murderers of Matthew, this can result in a lenient sentence or even no sentence at all. Our lives are cheaper than yours.
Read the words of your Church as though they were directed at you. Perhaps then you will understand the fear, hurt, and anger with which we respond. We all have in our minds eye the faces of these guys as they beat Matthew and left him to die. We can hear their laughter as they killed a queer. And when we read what your Archbishop says about us, we hear the same thing.
Compassion for gay people does not mean you suddenly have to announce that you are "promoting" hoomosexuality. It merely means that you find ways to preach your message that do not endanger our lives. As it stands, this law would seem to mean that a priest who councils a gay person to anything other than hide his/her sexuality can go to jail as well. How is this right? You can say that homosexuality is a sin without implying we should be jailed or killed.
Thank you Tunde, for your response. My only concern has been about the legislation, and why your office has endorsed it. My understanding of the situation has become very dark indeed. Because of the lack of clarity over why it was proposed, and why you and the Archbishop endorsed it, I have become concerned that the legislation was in fact put forward at your or the Archbishop's bidding (I am willing to believe a denial), and for that reason I have given time to the issue of Changing Attitude and your response to it. I have never met Davis, or Colin Coward, but your communication has thus far inflamed -- not assuaged -- my suspiscion that what they say is correct.
That said, you must know that the new legislation does not replace the old. The colonial-era anti-sodomy law (in the Nigerian Civil Code), with a penalty of 14 years' imprisonment, will still be on the books once the new law is passed. The new law will add a penalty of five years' to anyone who speaks out on behalf of homosexuality, or in favor of gay marriage. There is no provision in the new legislation that nullifies the old; thus, the new will not replace the old, but add to it.
Be that as it may, the Church still finds itself in an uncomfortable situation. Whether the law is passed, or whether it or the old law will be enforced is one question -- another is whether the Church, which has the stated goal by your own words of ministering to homosexuals in whatever capacity, is sending the very mixed message that they also support putting them in prison.
In that respect, I want very desperately for you to correct this particular "public misrepresentation of the Church": that it supports the imprisonment of gay men and women for their speech and for the organizations they establish. Do that, and much animosity will be relieved. You will be perceived as a good-faith partner in your ministry to homosexuals. In fact, if you do, and the Archbishop calls for a revision to the legislation or that the legislation be withdrawn, then I will shut up on the whole matter, even on my own website.
However, my guess is that it would be impossible for you to change your stance at this time, and that the horse has already bolted. By pulling the legislation, you would be signalling to your Muslim brothers that you endorse homosexuality. But this is a problem of your own making, and the only way through is to explain that the Gospel cannot come amidst the silence of others.
I fear that you have allowed a bad situation to get worse. There may be those among the readership of Thinking Anglicans who bitterly oppose your stance on homosexuality and how it affects the Anglican Communion, but right now there are those outside the Communion, like myself, who strongly oppose what you've done for reasons that have nothing to do with the problems that the Communion faces. The US State Department, about 18 human rights organizations, and 60 members of the European Union Parliament have all denounced it. You don't need more enemies.
That said, thank you for what was clearly a very sincere comment.
"We disturb no intending worshipper, turn away no one, persecute no one, and unashamedly maintain the sanctity of the Holy Scriptures."
It's hard to reconcile this statement with the public statements of Archbishop Akinola on the Muslim violence and the homosexuality law.
I really find it quite puzzling that you think you are following Christ in these outrageous acts.