Monday, 5 March 2007

Nigeria: Voice of America reports

Updated again Monday afternoon

Voice of America has this: US, Nigerian Anglicans Seek New Solutions for Same Sex Unions and Gay Ordination.

It includes an interview with Kendall Harmon (audio just under 5 minutes).

…As for this week’s indications that Nigerian legislators plan to criminalize same sex relationships and all promotion of a homosexual lifestyle, Canon Harmon says he hopes the Nigerian diocese and its leaders will strike a balance that respects the region’s cultural history and the personal rights and freedoms of Nigerian citizens.

“Nigeria is closely divided between Islam and Christianity. So you have Sharia law in the minds of a lot of legislatures. From an American perspective, it looks very, very punitive relative to American legislation. So I think the hard part is the degree to which the Church can push back in a compassionate way and still try to uphold the teaching of the Church in a society where Islam and Christianity are competing strongly,” he said…

Matt Thompson has responded with Canon Harmon drops the “Shar’iya” bomb and Kendall Harmon has written Matt Thompson Criticizes Kendall Harmon about an Interview.

Update
Matt Thompson has posted further: Clarification on the “Shar’iya” bomb and also republished the text of the draft legislation.

Monday morning
Matt Thompson has published a further item Apologies. See also in the Comments below.

Monday afternoon
Matt Thompson has posted From the comments: Ephraim Radner and highlighted what Ephraim Radner wrote only last night.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 5 March 2007 at 4:05pm GMT | TrackBack
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Comments

"So I think the hard part is the degree to which the Church can push back in a compassionate way and still try to uphold the teaching of the Church in a society where Islam and Christianity are competing strongly"

A truly vomit-inducing attempt to defend the indefensible. It reminds me of the fellow travellers who travelled to the Soviet Union during the Great Purge and reported on how wonderful everything was, and sure even if it wasn't, then it was all for the sake of the perfect Socialist future.

Similarly, I doubt whether people like Kendall Martin and Martin Minns really support the criminalisation of free speech and free assembly, but in order to get their ideologically pure Anglican conventicle, they're prepared to turn a blind eye.

I feel physically sick and utterly powerless to do anything.

Posted by: Gerry Lynch on Friday, 2 March 2007 at 4:45pm GMT

"the degree to which the Church can push back in a compassionate way"

That would be the bit in the confession where we say "and we have not done the things that we should have", would it?

The issue is not that Islam would do worse, but that Nigerians are not doing what is right.

Posted by: Tim on Friday, 2 March 2007 at 5:16pm GMT

From the perspective of a liberal American Episcopal priest these statements are simply cowardly and morally repugnant.

Posted by: The Rev Frank Durkee on Friday, 2 March 2007 at 5:51pm GMT

When it comes to TEC and radical inclusion, Canon Harmon and all the Network voices spare nothing when pontificating and accusing progressives of apostasy and having a theology built only on political correctness.

But suddenly Canon Harmon and Bishop Minns are "culturally sensitive"! Eureka! We can set aside foundation Biblical teaching to "love thy neighbor (even gay ones)", so as to not give fundamentalists in other religions a leg up in the cultural power struggle in Nigeria.

Posted by: Jay on Friday, 2 March 2007 at 6:05pm GMT

I too like how relativist sounding and context sensitive Kendall can get when apologizing for his friends.

These violations of human rights are morally repugnant and may well lead to physical violence. A Christian bishop should face martyrdom rather than reconcile himself or herself to the kinds of violation of human dignity and liberty that the new Nigerian law will lead to. So much for the right wing's attempt to coopt Janani Luwum.

Posted by: Bill Carroll on Friday, 2 March 2007 at 7:41pm GMT

There is a room in les Archives de France called l'Enfer. It houses political pamphlets from the French Revolution, including the ones attacking the sexual mores and person of the French Queen.

You will get the feel of it if you go to Titusonenine and have a look at the thread referred to above, but it is nothing for a weak stomach.

http://titusonenine.classicalanglican.net/?p=18090

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Friday, 2 March 2007 at 9:43pm GMT

"From an American perspective, it looks very, very punitive relative to American legislation."

No, sir. From a Christian perspective it is clear that it IS very punitive relative to Jesus' teaching.

How anyone can follow such morally bankrupt and shamelessly opportunistic creatures is beyond me.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Friday, 2 March 2007 at 9:59pm GMT

Oh Gee, Canon Harmon and Bishop Minns are both straight and ordained. That must make them right on this, don't you think? I suggest either man take up residence in Nigerian prison ministry to the impending near future inmates of dubious sexual orientation, along with any friends or family members who dared to speak honestly and/or positively of them for any reason. Or would that prison ministry, itself, be prohibited by these draconian and extreme Nigerian laws, unless the prison chaplain restricted himself to giving the last rites?

Posted by: drdanfee on Saturday, 3 March 2007 at 1:41am GMT

From the NY Times, "A Divorce the Church Should Smile Upon" March 1, 2007
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/01/opinion/01miles.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Posted by: Steve Lusk on Saturday, 3 March 2007 at 2:38am GMT

Yes, it's amazing how multiculti Harmon and the others can get when it furthers their plan to take over the church.

Posted by: JPM on Saturday, 3 March 2007 at 5:37pm GMT

I note that Canon Harmon had the honesty to admit that he had not read the proposed legislation in Nigeria. Brave indeed to enter a debate – yet alone answer the questions of an interviewer armed only with his understanding of what some other commentators had to say about the subject.

For those who avidly await his contributions to the (TEC) House of Bishops and Deputies listserv – we now expect a new declaration from Kendall to his posts, perhaps it will run thus:
“Posted but not written (or read) by Kendall Harmon”

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Saturday, 3 March 2007 at 7:47pm GMT

I know it looks as if the Nigerian Church is trying to out shari'a the muslims. This is not the case.

I want to bring up another issue. Most of the world's anglicans live in areas where radical islam is a living and present danger. We are not talking of people like Omar Brookes or the "hook hand", we are talking about people who can and are actualising their threats.

The question is; before those of you in the West criticise us for being too radically "islamic" - have done as much as to lift a finger in support of your persecuted brethren? What has the Archbishop of Canterbury (or any senior Church man for that matter) done about close to 100,000 people murdered (many of them Anglican) over the past ten years in Nigeria alone?

The people who are actively following the religious situation in Nigeria and making sure our voices are heard like Baroness Caroline Cox and Rev. Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo are firmly in the evangelical camp. Akinola is much villified but he is a much more useful leader in these circumstances than say, Rowan Williams.

Many of us doubt the usefulness of our brethren in the West since they are one-track people (homosexual rights), who could not be bothered to even study the tense religious situation in sub-saharan Africa. They carry on is if priests are not being killed and churches are not being razed in Northern Nigeria.

Posted by: Maduka on Sunday, 4 March 2007 at 1:35am GMT

That’s nonsense Maduka. Many of us have multiple interests and give our time and resources to support a wide variety of organisations. My family has strong ties to the Sudan and we are more than aware of the tensions and difficulties there.

I have great admiration for the witness of Lady Cox despite her support for the Wale Babatunde book. http://observer.guardian.co.uk/politics/story/0,6903,792649,00.html

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Sunday, 4 March 2007 at 9:39am GMT

Maduka;
Although any persecuted Church must have the prayers, support and understanding of the rest of the Christian family, there is a fatal flaw in your argument, which seems to be that the Church in Nigeria will only survive if it adopts beliefs and practices which the violent Islamists will respect.

Now where are you going to draw the line to accommodate their demands, eh? Some cultural areas may be easy, eg homosexual rights and female subservience. But your reference to Abu Hamza as 'Hook Hand' calls to mind JM Barrie's Peter Pan story, where the crocodile eats Captain Hooks hand, and so likes the taste that he keeps haunting Hook in the hope of getting another bite.

'Forced choice' moral decision making is always terrible. You feel you have to decide between a de facto condemnation of your gay brothers and sisters to imprisonment and probable death and a de facto condemnation of some of your Christian brothers and sisters to persecution and probable death. The mathematics of evil are vile and you cannot avoid moral taint, a dreadful responsibility.

But what will be your next surrender to the dominant culture of Northern Nigeria? The Incarnation? The Trinity? The Bible as containing all things necessary for salvation? You are as much a cultural captive as any of your western friends, are you not? Aren't you just feeding the crocodile?

Posted by: mynsterpreost on Sunday, 4 March 2007 at 12:21pm GMT

Please, folks, be kind to Canon Harmon right now. We all have significant disagreements with him on the theology, but he has shown himself to be more than willing to email me privately and engage with me on his blog. It seemed odd to me, too, that he had not yet read the legislation, but he has now -- I emailed him a copy. Let's encourage him to speak out, not bludgeon him into silence.

My belief is that the tide is changing. Check out the difference in tone at the end of the comments on the link Simon provided to Kendall's response to my post (here: http://titusonenine.classicalanglican.net/?p=18090). There is now at least one Network Dean (Bill Thompson+) who is willing to publicly state his opposition to ++Akinola's blanket endorsement of the legislation. A bit late, I agree, but I don't know if you realize that this is signficant progress.

Maduka: you leave a comment worth examination. I am answering you on my blog later today (I am in Washington, DC) where you left a duplicate copy -- for now, I must go. But, please, hear me when I say that I believe that Shar'iya is a real threat. I did not mean to belittle or it, or to say that it has not been responsible for great loss of life, or that it does not represent a threat to Nigerian Christianity in the Northern states. I am scared of Shar'iya.

Posted by: Matt on Sunday, 4 March 2007 at 1:56pm GMT

Now, what I would like to ask Canon Kendall is not whether he has read the Nigerian legislation to be, but whether he has read Titusonenine?

I refer to the comments.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Sunday, 4 March 2007 at 7:28pm GMT

Maduka does make a good point that many of us in the liberal west need to take to heart. Persecution is very real, and we have done little to respond to it. But how does that justify persecuted Christians becoming persecutors of others? Scapegoating homosexuals will surely do little to endear Islamic extremists to Christianity. Surely it only shows the willingness of Christians to turn away from Jesus' Gospel of grace and mercy when it is expeient to do so. This failure is certainly not unique to Nigerians, or those in Islamic countries. I suspect most of us are guilty of it. Just as Jesus loved those scorned by society at great cost, so we are called to take up our cross and love them as well.

Posted by: Garth on Sunday, 4 March 2007 at 9:13pm GMT

The lack of understanding, charity and compassion in these responses is truly sad. I was unable to speak to the wording of the current legislation because I did not have it. I tried to get it from Nigeria and was unable to

The interview was to be about the Tanzania Communique.

Posted by: kendall Harmon on Sunday, 4 March 2007 at 11:18pm GMT

Matt, I would be glad to think that "the tide is changing" and Canon Harmon and others might be persuaded to voice their opposition to the pending Nigerian legislation on same-sex marriages.

However, it is also true that Canon Harmon at this moment is working very hard to get Fr. Mark Lawrence, Bishop-Elect of South Carolina, confirmed by the Bishops and Standing Committees of the Episcopal Church. If they do not confirm his election, Fr. Lawrence will not be able to assume his duties as Bishop. It has been touch and go, and although a majority of Bishops have now confirmed him, the Standing Committees have not as yet. The deadline is next Friday, March 9th.

It is therefore in Canon Harmon's interests at this point to show himself as willing to engage in dialogue with those who disagree with him, and even seem to be willing to change his mind.

The following thread is more typical of the views of his core supporters, however, and he can't afford to get too far away from his "base":

Comments on "From the Anglican Women gathered at the 51st Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women"
http://titusonenine.classicalanglican.net/?p=18131#comments

Posted by: Charlotte on Monday, 5 March 2007 at 1:23am GMT

Kendall Harmon wrote: "The lack of understanding, charity and compassion in these responses is truly sad. I was unable to speak to the wording of the current legislation because I did not have it. I tried to get it from Nigeria and was unable to"

I find a certain amount of disingenuousness in this posting, because so much has been written about the proposed Nigerian legislation -- in so many places -- that the good Canon could easily have said something to the effect of:

"I would need to read the proposed Nigerian legislation to thoroughly comment, but it is certainly true that no person should be prosecuted simply because of advocating for fair treatment of homosexual persons, or supporting those who may be homosexual. Christian charity demands no less than this."

Posted by: Jerry Hannon on Monday, 5 March 2007 at 2:08am GMT

"I was unable to speak to the wording of the current legislation because I did not have it. I tried to get it from Nigeria and was unable to"

I believe that it can be found on this site if you scroll down - perhaps it would be good for the site stewards to repost it?

It is not a secret. It makes for very grim reading. That is why so many human rights organizations have denounced it. That is why Archbishop Akinola's support for it is so disturbing.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Monday, 5 March 2007 at 4:53am GMT

In response to Kendall and Matt:

Matt Thompson has written on his blog:

While the negative comments were not my own, I want to personally apologize to Canon Harmon for making him the target of vitriol from the left (such comments on Thinking Anglicans as "it's amazing how multiculti Harmon and the others can get when it furthers their plan to take over the church" were beyond the pale). He has been very gracious to me on his blog. I hope to return the favor continuously.

I find Kendall's own comment here rather surprising. The TA comments on this item (as on most items) reflect a wide range of opinions. I hope this will continue to be so. I do not think Matt needs to take responsibility for them!

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 5 March 2007 at 9:02am GMT

Cynthia
The text of the legislation has been linked to so many times from so many places that I have lost count. The most recent is at
http://politicalspaghetti.blogspot.com/2007/03/legislation-under-debate.html

It is also at
http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/news/2006/20061121radner.cfm?doc=167#appendix

which is a site that is widely read by English evangelicals.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 5 March 2007 at 9:09am GMT

I am sad Kendall feels there is a lack of charity for him here.

A little gentle chiding – even some tongue in cheek remarks hardly qualify for such a comment. If he wants to read comments that are genuinely lacking in charity I have a blog or two I could suggest.

We have always argued that allies of the Global South in the west had a particular duty of care for their lesbian and gay brothers and sisters throughout the world. In this letter http://www.lgcm.org.uk/html/importantNews.html and in subsequent correspondence with the “orthodox” leadership we have argued that a consequence of the present debate was increasing danger for queer folk throughout the world. We asked them to accept an “enhanced responsibility” for the welfare of these people, fellow Anglicans and others, and to keep a careful watch on laws that might ratchet up their persecution.

We were assured that “anathema” pronounced in the Dromantine Communiqué was a partial response to this and that further measures would follow.

The problem has always been the lack of importance attached by some to this promise and the failure of many for it to even figure on their radar. We are often left aghast by the cries for help by Christians throughout the world who are themselves happy to see queer members of their own faith communities murdered, tortured and imprisoned for their sexuality. We were deeply shocked that this matter even fell off the Primates radar in Dar es Salaam and that does not bode well for us all.

The Nigerian Law, as Simon comments, has been a matter of deep concern here. It is to be regretted that it has not attracted the same prominence and careful attention elsewhere

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Monday, 5 March 2007 at 9:35am GMT

This is a single issue that should and can draw us all together with one voice. Instead, for many here and on T19, there is a tendency to turn it into a polemic.

No thanks.

When there is the opportunity for unanimity -- and there is here regardless of past disagreements, current grumpiness, or the chasm that separates us all on the theology of homosexuality -- then I feel very much responsible if my very explicit efforts to draw some out into a debate on which everyone should agree leads to their being ridiculed.

That said, the majority of the comments here dealing with the American Anglicans' use of the Shar'iya argument, arguments that Kendall should be reading carefully, were excellent. It's too bad that Canon Harmon couldn't have responded to those directly. I was not speaking about those comments.

Posted by: Matt on Monday, 5 March 2007 at 11:14am GMT

'*it's amazing how multiculti Harmon and the others can get when it furthers their plan to take over the church"* were beyond the pale). He has been very gracious to me on his blog.'

I don't see the *contested words* (*above) as being remotely vitriolic, let alone 'beyond the pale'. However, it may be that my sensibility has been blunted over time through reading the shocking stuff to be found there. This stuff is puported to be from the pens of born-again, bible believeing Christians. I still find them shocking--when I can bear to read them. I think that I still ideal Evangelicals, after my childhood, and expect too much of them.

I find the levels of sadism of a good many of the posters cause for concern; also the lack of self insight. This combination can be dangerous.

I have not, myself, experienced Kendall Harmon as 'gracious', but authoritarian and bullying.

He loves to give it, but hates to take it !


Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Monday, 5 March 2007 at 11:22am GMT

The idea that Canon Harmon was not able to find a copy of what the EU, Human Rights organizations and the US State Department have been discussing for over a year is peculiar.

In old Vestrogothia Pietism we used to call it Den obotfärdiges förhinder, which translates:

The Obstacles of The Unready.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Monday, 5 March 2007 at 5:18pm GMT

And, moreover, the tone of comments on this particular site before, during and after the Dar Es Salaam meeting were some of the most even-keel comments to be found anywhere on the Anglican web.

Posted by: Raspberry Rabbit on Monday, 5 March 2007 at 5:38pm GMT

'As for this week’s indications that Nigerian legislators plan to criminalize same sex relationships and all promotion of a homosexual lifestyle, Canon Harmon says he hopes the Nigerian diocese and its leaders will strike a balance that respects the region’s cultural history and the personal rights and freedoms of Nigerian citizens...'
K. Harmon

This statement is inadequate. However the words quoted above are totally unacceptable to me. Harmon just isn't listening. To speak of 'a homosexual lifestyle' is demeaning and trivialising of gay people.'

If 'even-keel' comments means balanced I must disagree with RR -- even though I make a point never to disagree with rabbits of any flavour !

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Monday, 5 March 2007 at 7:06pm GMT

Look, it is my opinion that the level of debate here is higher than what is generally found at T19, but we all have the tendency to drift into polemics. The worst that is found there in terms of illogic and anger and impatience can sometimes be found here, though not at the same level as at T19. The best that is found here can also be found there.

But this is not the point.

What you may not realize is that there are a great many conservative Anglicans in US who are on the fence with regard to the Nigerian legislation, but are jumping our direction. They must be poked and prodded and tweaked, but they must also must be gently pulled. This issue cannot be made to be the same as the issues that are splitting the broader Anglican Communion.

There should be no light between any of us on this issue, and it is polemics that pulls us apart. So if you see your conservative colleagues discussing the legislation in the future, be gentle. We're close to crossing a bridge on this one. Canon Harmon has already said that he adheres to Ephraim Radner and Andrew Goddard's position on this legislation -- let's take him at his word, but work to get him and others to be more publicly explicit.

Apologies to JPM for singling you out. That wasn't my intention.

Posted by: Matt on Monday, 5 March 2007 at 7:07pm GMT

>>>such comments on Thinking Anglicans as "it's amazing how multiculti Harmon and the others can get when it furthers their plan to take over the church" were beyond the pale

I would say that rationalizing monstrous human rights violations by appealing to cultural sensitivity is beyond the pale.

Posted by: JPM on Monday, 5 March 2007 at 7:21pm GMT

Seems that no-one dips into the writings of Luther, Calvin or Cranmer nowadays.

Posted by: lapinbizarre on Monday, 5 March 2007 at 9:00pm GMT

Are Shar'iya laws and how they can be applied a concern? Yes.

Is there scope for compassion in Shar'iya interpretation and implementation? Yes.

Are there dynamics that make it hard to reform Shar'iya precedent and interpretations? Yes.

Are there souls who would see attempts to advocate such reforms as heretical and sacriligious? Yes. Would those people advocate that anyone who advocated a more compassionate interpretation was from the "evil one" and unholy because they had not fully appreciated the divine scriptural decrees? Would they advocate that such souls should be ignored, discredited, imprisoned or attacked for daring to question their holy interpretations? Yes.

But as we have seen in the Anglican Communion in the last few years, we have the same dynamics here too. It has only been the secular state and fear of litigation that has stopped some of the more violent repressive forms occuring. Many of us know that if they thought they could get away with such conduct, they would do so.

The Anglican Communion has been used as a fractal precedent. The tensions, the debates, the positions, the posturing, applies and ripples across the communion and into other organisations and even our own families.

A position based on "we are right, so anything goes" leads to the right to use force to impose your views upon another.

A position based on trusting God and understanding that God's covenant with one group of people does not preclude God having a covenant with another means one can tolerate co-existence. (For example, if there was a sentient life form on another planet in another constellation - could or would God enter into a covenant with it? Would that covenant void God's covenant through Noah with humanity? If God could enter into a covenant with another planet, there is no reason God could not enter into a covenant with a stranger on another continent. The curse of Babel led to you failing to recognise the same God manifesting in different forms, all pointing to the total but never containing the totality.)

Wisdom is recognising that we can learn from each other's mistakes, and that being right does not justify using might.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Monday, 5 March 2007 at 9:27pm GMT

If it be that Conservative Christians (if you allow me to abuse the label) are finally (well at least a handful of them amongst the many) are coming round to wanting to take a position of commonality with regard to human rights abuses that is to be welcomed with an open heart.

Let's get to it right away and let's make sure our differing understandings are not a barrier to that. If we agree on this one thing let's work together. Though we may not agree on a lot of things it will do much for healing of the present controversy that besets us.

There are though (at least) two problems in this.

The first is that the few who are now making a stand are a drop in the ocean of conservative opinion. Its a small minority voice. We can only speculate as to why that is, my guess is that the Conservatives have diverted so much energy in opposing positive legislation as well as advocating repressive measures that their mindset doesn't have the capacity to now all of a sudden start thinking about support for human rights.

The second is that my deep suspicion is that this is a defensive tactical move from some on the conservative side of things who see a little into the future that allying their side of the equation with repression and cruel measures will, ultimately, lead to their point of view being rejected by a more enlightened age. So I am a little cynical about this.

I see a small movement (of course its a welcome one) maybe its the beginning of something bigger and more consequential but its very small at the moment and doesn't carry the mass of Conservative christianity with it. But it will only be so if people actually speak out in a way that brings a wider mobilisation.

Now, I maybe wrong but I really don't see that happening yet in any significant way.

Posted by: Craig Nelson on Monday, 5 March 2007 at 10:07pm GMT

Craig -- there are many more than you think. Some have emailed me privately to express their concern but have asked that their names not be used. Cowardly? Perhaps. But there is a great deal of pressure to tow the conservative line.

If, however, the voices of those like Ephraim Radner (and, eventually, Canon Harmon) grow strong enough, people will gain the courage to speak out. But not if we deride them for being daily-come-latelies. We have to be completely accepting of any budging, even if it comes with the most dreadful comments about homosexuality.

Posted by: Matt on Monday, 5 March 2007 at 10:41pm GMT

Matt, if your presence can raise the tone and level of discussion on the issues that divide Anglicans, I, for one, will be quite glad.

Polemics are tempting, and some blogers seem to want to provoke them, in the way that certain television and talk radio program hosts, here in the US, want and intend to shock, anger, and frighten their audiences. They know what they are doing; they make a point of pushing buttons because it builds ratings and sells advertising. Faced with this stuff, I fall as often as any into a merely reactive stance.

However, building opposition to the Nigerian same-sex marriage law is too important. And shock-jocks and their blogging equivalents do degrade any polity in which they take up residence. In my better moments I try to remember this.

But: some time ago I sent e-mail letters on the Nigerian law to the Archbishop of Canterbury's secretary, Jonathan Jennings, and to AkinTunde Popoola, Archbishop Akinola's press secretary. Neither has so much as acknowledged the letters. That kind of thing has a tendency to bring on one of my worser spells.

Posted by: Charlotte on Tuesday, 6 March 2007 at 1:23am GMT

"But there is a great deal of pressure to tow the conservative line."

I'd be interested to know what this pressure is - and how it balances up with the pressure Nigerian LGBT folk will be under soon (or are under now even).

But then, look what they said about Schori for associating with Spong. Still, doesn't quite balance.

I agree it's best to encourage when others make steps toward vocal resistance to injustice, but we can't take any responsibility for the moral negligence of those who seek to persecute us mildly while they tacitly consent to others persecuting our brothers brutally.

It's a natural blindness on their part. Part of an inevitable continuum, which I believe our Lord referred to in principle with Matthew 5:21-22 for example:

‘You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not murder”; and “whoever murders shall be liable to judgement.” But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgement; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, “You fool”, you will be liable to the hell of fire.

They are used to seeing LGBT people (in varying degrees) as a threat, as wicked, as polluters of their pure faith and church, as carriers of disease (vermin as it were), as literal abominations, as molesters, as amoral, as comparable to dogs, as criminals, and so on. Anglicans in the west have for centuries believed that this is right thinking. The overflow of that hatred and its associated theology spilled over Africa and Asia during the colonial missions, and is again sloshing over the sides of the Global Anglican chalice today.

It is the same cup from which they drink. How can they call for Akinola to abstain with their own lips still wet?

Posted by: matthew hunt on Tuesday, 6 March 2007 at 2:00am GMT

"We have to be completely accepting of any budging, even if it comes with the most dreadful comments about homosexuality." Matt

Holy moley,

Elocution lessons.

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Tuesday, 6 March 2007 at 3:37am GMT

Re Nigeria: I'm reminded of the bit

1. Boss fires worker

2. Worker gets drunk, goes home, beats his wife

3. Wife, distraught, beats her child

4. Child, traumatized, kicks dog


Much to weep about here---but NOWHERE does that *justify* kicking the dog. :-/

Posted by: JCF on Tuesday, 6 March 2007 at 3:37am GMT

Matt Thompson wrote: “Canon Harmon has already said that he adheres to Ephraim Radner and Andrew Goddard's position on this legislation -- let's take him at his word, but work to get him and others to be more publicly explicit.”

Excuse me Matt, I much admire the work you have put into making this perverted legislation, promoted if not actually proposed by AB Akinola and his Office, known by American opinion but it seems to me that you now deny your effort trying to appease the bullies.

I am a European, I have a family background, I know that appeasement means certain Destruction.

The “position” of Messrs Radner and Goddard is to use the Sharia canard to blame TEC for the Nigerian legislation.

And I am sorry, but unless and until said Messrs, Canon Harmon and +Minns do speak up loudly, issuing a public condemnation in defence of the UN Charter, the Nigerian Constitution and so on and so on, they don’t.

And I leave it to you yourself to understand why.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Tuesday, 6 March 2007 at 10:14am GMT

What's more Matt, what Canon Harmon objects to is not the church promoted Nigerian legislation, but the w o r d i n g:

“… there is no way I could support it based on the way it sounds like it will be worded.”

(quoted from the Titusonline post referred to above)

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Tuesday, 6 March 2007 at 11:43am GMT

I would like to respond to Matt's earlier reply to mine above.

I do welcome any budging and am very much in support of generous moves in that direction associated with those who we don't fully agree with.

BUT I do think we need to reflect on what's happening here. Why so many? Why so few? Why so late in the day?

Not to cast doubt on the motives of people who are moving in a positive position, though sending a private email really don't cut it for me.

If many people are sending private emails but no more then I make the following observations:

1. People like to hold a negative view of LGBT people but some of them are shocked at their own party's excesses when they put it into practice and (in private at least) want to distance themselves - well it's not of my doing, I woouldn't go that far etc etc. Time for the truth - holding a systematically negative view of one group of people does, always does, lead to them being discriminated against and abused if that is left unchecked.

2. What is it about the conservative point of view, frame of reference, that when you adhere to it makes you afraid to speak out for others and against abuses?

Of course we should welcome any "budging" (in fact we've been crying out for it but to not much effect) but to say that we are entirely responsible for making it happen - well I think that Conservatives themselves have some responsibility to work for the common good.

Ultimately comes down to this - will they speak out or hide in a corner? Will they email privately or will they say it out in the open?

If not we can start to make some deductions, not about the good intent which I don't doubt for a moment, but that the effects of a negative view of gay people leads inexorably to what we see in many countries of the Anglican Communion, with the active connivance of their Primates and Synods.

Posted by: Craig Nelson on Tuesday, 6 March 2007 at 12:09pm GMT

Matthew Hunt wrote: "I'd be interested to know what this pressure is ..."

It's adolescent. It's borne out of a desire to fit in. It's borne out of fear of even mild criticism.

The "pressure" isn't organized; it's emotional.

Craig wrote: "Ultimately comes down to this - will they speak out or hide in a corner? Will they email privately or will they say it out in the open?"

Bingo.

Posted by: Matt on Tuesday, 6 March 2007 at 12:53pm GMT

Radner is saying we all agree this law is (at least in part as far as he is concerned) a subversion of basic human rights.

That is good.

It seems however that this general agreement has had no effect on the position of the Anglican Church of Nigeria which redoubled its efforts in support of the legislation after his essay.

So, it seems that all our work to date has been completely ineffective and the law may soon come into existence despite all our best efforts.

I will be interested in how Radner and others respond to our combined failure to persuade Peter Akinola of the wrongness of his actions. We believe our position has been clear and unequivocal here. We have not clouded the water as Radner alleges “the gay inclusionist wing of the church” have done. We have remained consistent in seeing this as a separate matter that requires an independent focus.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Tuesday, 6 March 2007 at 1:43pm GMT

Lawrence Roberts comments above are a good example of the poor listening that occurs in too many parts of the blogosphere. He attributes words to me which are from the interviewer and not from me, as the quote marks make that clear.
But of course I am the one criticized. I applaud Matthew Thompspn for seeing the lack of charity here and the overly strong desire to personalize even though some here do not see it

This kind of "gotcha" politics is so unhelpful. If something upsets you, then "j'accuse!" I see this on all sides and in no many suggest it is only reappraisers or reasserters who do it. But I would like it to occur less.

Posted by: Kendall Harmon on Tuesday, 6 March 2007 at 5:17pm GMT

You're of course completely right, Martin. This has always been treated as a separate issue by our end of the spectrum.

Posted by: Matt on Tuesday, 6 March 2007 at 8:44pm GMT

I believe that the support of the proposed legislation by the Anglican Church of Nigeria is wrong, because the legislation itself contradicts several important elements of the Christian Gospel, not to mention commitments that Anglicans themselves have made together. I gather that there are other Christian churches in Nigeria supporting this legislation. This too is wrong, I believe. I am not sure why there has been so little convergence of conservative and liberal commitment in opposing this. I have suggested that, in part, there is so little trust between these groups in our church today that common commitments are viewed as contaminating. Certainly that is how many seem to act and speak.

What will happen if this legislation passes? With respect to Nigeria, I do not know. It will surely be something shameful and will cost some individuals greatly. How much remains to be seen. With respect to the church, we shall probably see a good deal of recrimination, and a general and further weakening of our common credibility before the eyes of the world. One of the elements I do not see much of among conservatives in the Communion, quite frankly, is mutual and godly accountability. (Nor do I see it among much of anyone, for that matter.) Part of the tensions within our Anglican councils of late, and I am sure that includes the recent Primates' meeting, derives, however, from the genuine grasping after such accountability, difficult though it is to manage. Perhaps we can pray for such a spirit to be born more concretely and genuinely in the future.

In the meantime, we cannot afford, no matter who we are, to desist from pursuing such accountability within the scope of our powers -- something that must be at work among the nations and among the churches both.

Posted by: Ephraim Radner on Tuesday, 6 March 2007 at 9:17pm GMT

If progressive voices from within the Conservative tradition are now engaging in that debate then that is, however a good thing for all of us and will help to create some common space so that things become less polarised.

I'd like to think that was starting to happen, I really would. But I'm also a realist and not a dreamer, which means you run the risk of becoming wary and cynical.

On a more practical level, it's only conservatives' opposition that will stop the bill as only conservatives share the worldview of those promoting it and have any chance at this late date in influencing them. Actually the more Conservative the opponents of the bill are, the better in terms of getting a change of mind with regard to this.

If it does go through (and as things stand current indications are that it probably will, despite opposition from within Nigeria) it will stand for a very long time as a monument to the style of thought that inspired it in the first place.

Posted by: Craig Nelson on Tuesday, 6 March 2007 at 11:50pm GMT

After a number of posts, most of them rather reasonable and calling upon Kendall Harmon to clearly state his opposition to the abominable proposed legislation in Nigeria, the good Canon instead comes back with a complaint about some comments by Laurence Roberts.

How convenient it is to ignore the real issues challenging him, by simply dumping upon one of the posters with whom the Canon subjectively takes personal issue. It seems a convenient diversionary tactic.

I would very much like to have an objective answer from Kendall Harmon, who seems capable of reading and responding, as to why he could not have made a more substantive response to the interviewer's questions by stating:

"I would need to read the proposed Nigerian legislation to thoroughly comment, but it is certainly true that no person should be prosecuted simply because of advocating for fair treatment of homosexual persons, or supporting those who may be homosexual. Christian charity demands no less than this."

Posted by: Jerry Hannon on Wednesday, 7 March 2007 at 3:31am GMT

I see this clear and unequivocal statement from Ephraim Radner as helpful.

The more nuanced approach employed in his essay was not received as I believe it was intended.

While we may honestly disagree about the illness within our Communion, its causes and cure – we are all agreed on the wrongness of this Nigerian legislation and the threat it represents to the lives and liberty of many and the credibility of our faith.

We are not good at protecting each other, nor are many willing to engage in proper debate.

Last Friday evening the leaders of our national (Welsh) LGCM group met in my home to discuss our presence at the next Mardi Gras celebration. The event was marred last year when police arrested a solitary man giving out leaflets quoting Leviticus and the question arose as to what to do when he returns.

My proposal was that we should form a protection group for him. A cordon sanitaire persuading those celebrating to engage with him in a positive and meaningful way, to protect him from potential violence, abuse or arrest by interposing ourselves – putting ourselves in the way of harm.

It was the same policy I had advocated to Archbishop Vanags from Latvia when he came for the Porvoo meeting in Cardiff last year. I asked him to consider that while he must say what he feels about the annual Gay Pride March in Riga, he might consider advising his congregants to form such a cordon sanitaire to protect the marchers from harm.

My suggestion received short shrift in this gracious interview, and (you may not be surprised to learn) were also greeted with concern last Friday.

After difficult years of building a good relationship with the LGBT community within Wales our leadership was anxious that it might so easily be lost by standing with him. But I certainly believe we can do no other.

How this, or other responses, might apply to the Nigerian situation I ask others to consider.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Wednesday, 7 March 2007 at 9:54am GMT

Jerry Hannon:

"How convenient it is to ignore the real issues challenging him..."

"I would very much like to have an objective answer..."

You sound like a primate speaking to TEC.

Posted by: Chris on Wednesday, 7 March 2007 at 6:07pm GMT

Chris wrote of my comments to Kendall Harmon:
"You sound like a primate speaking to TEC."

Well, actually, I am not trying to impose my various beliefs on the good Canon, therefore I am not acting like some of the Primates w/r/t TEC. And, the last I heard, TEC was not trying to get any of the GS Primates to follow the lead of TEC on matters where they differ.

Kendall Harmon made a wimpy statement about the proposed Nigerian legislation, as if he could not comment because he had not read it.

Ignoring, for the moment, whether he could have found it -- in a number of places, had he actually looked for it -- I was asking the Canon to explain why he could not have at least given an affirming statement that made it clear that persecuting those who even advocate for, or support, homosexual persons, would be particularly in violation of Christian charity. Certainly that should have been the least he should have done.

Regardless of the chasm which separates TEC from Kendall Harmon and his allies, we should all be allied in the fight against violations of basic human rights, with Nigeria simply the latest and most flagrant example, just as we should be allied in the fight against hunger and poverty.

Posted by: Jerry Hannon on Thursday, 8 March 2007 at 12:27am GMT

Kendall Harmon's mother just died from a protracted illness. Our thoughts and prayers go to him and to his family.

Posted by: Matt on Thursday, 8 March 2007 at 3:28pm GMT

Craig, at one point you wrote "...Its a small minority voice..." and you have other concerns about quantity.

They are legitimate concerns and prayers are required.

However, I have complete faith in God on this one. Too many profound things have happened in too many ways.

One man dying on a cross would change history? Who would have thought. But it did.

1 Thessalonians 1:18 "The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia — your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God..."

This was one of the last sermons by a departing minister, and an allusion to the impact of what he saw happening. There are times in history when something can seem as insignificant as a butterfly, but the flapping of the wings leads to a ripple in history bigger than any terrorist bomb.

It is my belief we are witnessing one of God's moments in time, when paradigms are fundamentally shifted because it is God saying "make it so".

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Thursday, 8 March 2007 at 8:33pm GMT

The hypocrisy of Canon Harmon knows no bounds, despite the earnest defenses of Matt. In the March 17 Washington Post, Harmon is quoted as saying

"It speaks volumes that a double standard is used for conservatives, and it is further evidence that conservatives are not leaving, they're being driven out of the Episcopal Church," the Rev. Kendall S. Harmon, a conservative theologian in South Carolina, said yesterday.

Canon Harmon, you are speaking with a forked tongue and as a sister in Christ I am compelled to point this out to you for your betterment and the betterment of the Body of Christ.

Despite the attempted last-minute smear against Gene Robinson at GC, he received 62 votes of confirmation. Rev. Lawrence received 50. This is not a case of a "double-standard' being applied, it is simple mathematics. And the harsh words from Rev. Lawrence and yourself in response to the nullification give fruit to the suspicions many held of your true motives.

Rev. Lawrence is quoted as saying

"A curtain has been drawn back on the stage of the Episcopal Church, and everyone can now look into what I would call the theater of the absurd -- that those who uphold the trustworthiness of scripture and the traditional teachings of the church are repeatedly put in a position of having to justify our beliefs," Lawrence said yesterday in a telephone interview.

These are not the words of pious, God-fearing Christian ministers. You have been called out repeatedly here to state whether you support human rights violations against homosexuals or oppose them. Instead of responding, you lash out like a spoiled child against the questioners. I rebuke you, as the scriptures you hold so tightly to your breast, command me to do as a fellow Christian.

I will pray for you and Rev. Lawrence and trust that God will ultimately shed light on your personal darkness. Through Christ we are all made whole and renewed and it is my prayer that we may all experience Christ's compassionate forgiveness and lovingkindness in this turbulent time.

Posted by: Priscilla on Saturday, 17 March 2007 at 10:13pm GMT
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