Thursday, 8 March 2007

Nigeria: New York Times editorial

In Denying Rights in Nigeria the New York Times today expresses its editorial opinion, starting this way :

A poisonous piece of legislation is quickly making its way through the Nigerian National Assembly. Billed as an anti-gay-marriage act, it is a far-reaching assault on basic rights of association, assembly and expression. Chillingly, the legislation — proposed last year by the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo — has the full and enthusiastic support of the leader of Nigeria’s powerful Anglican church. Unless the international community speaks out quickly and forcefully against the bill, it is almost certain to become law…

Update
Matt Thompson reports Passage still imminent.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 8 March 2007 at 4:20pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Opinion
Comments

What, if anything, is Rowan Williams doing or saying about this? What about the other primates and bishops on the Anglican Communion? Reluctance to speak out fiercely against this dreadful legislation reflects a grave lack of courage and moral leadership.

Posted by: james lodwick on Thursday, 8 March 2007 at 4:58pm GMT

And here are some more clear reasons why 'conservative' 'Anglican' silence equals death:

http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSL0159088020070301

For those who suffer from the ick factor, it's about how persecuting, oppressing and criminalising LGBT people in Africa leads to a greater incidence of HIV infection and also death from AIDS. It's fairly uncomplicated stuff. Very easy to grasp if you care to look.

But if you keep very quiet and pretend it's not happening then your 'conservative' fellow 'Anglicans' who are pushing for this furtherance of death - these people with whom you are allied - (and who value your opinion over all others) will, I'm sure, politely not remind you of the suffering your political silence caused all those ghastly, depraved black people.

The world is really better off, eh?

Silence = Death

Speak now, or it will be too late.

Posted by: matthew hunt on Thursday, 8 March 2007 at 5:04pm GMT

The publisher of the NY Times, Arthur O. Sulzberger, Junior, is an Episcopalian. He is the fourth or fifth generation of his family to hold the job. Of course publishers do not write editorials, but it is hard to imagine that he would not have approved this one.

Posted by: Andrew on Thursday, 8 March 2007 at 5:28pm GMT

"...has the full and enthusiastic support of the leader of Nigeria’s powerful Anglican church."

Where does Lambeth Palace stand on the Nigerian anti-gay legislation? Is the silence part of the listening process? Help us understand. The world is entitled to know.

Posted by: Robert on Thursday, 8 March 2007 at 5:58pm GMT

From Canada...not about this post but cannot find a good spot for it.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20070308.wxbishop08/EmailBNStory/National/home

Posted by: Aaron on Thursday, 8 March 2007 at 6:42pm GMT

I hope that someone will forward this not only to Bishop Minns of CANA, but also all of his followers.

I wish also that this would be sent to ++Rowan and the bishops in England who have been so quick to lecture TEC about morality. The I am sure ++Rowan would issue a statement deploring this legislation [but I won't hold my breath].

I also hope that our own Bishop Katharine would issue a statement deploring this hateful and potentially lethal legislation.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Thursday, 8 March 2007 at 7:38pm GMT

The legislation will probably come to pass. Sometimes bad things must happen so that good things can come out of it. If players had not had their hearts hardened, the debate would never have become so public; and thus the dynamics, lessons and principles would not have been articulated.

The same thing happened when Moses was trying to get the people out from under the pharoah. In refusing to cooperate with Moses, God could demonstrate and educate.

The same with Jesus' ministry. If there had not been such an outrage, there would not have been the manifestations and the written history, from which we have the proof of Jesus' incarnation and the lessons to be learnt.

Similarly today, if souls had not been so hardened, then the tsunami would have led to an outpouring of compassion that would have been enough for the millenium development goals to be achieved without further prompting.

The problem is that would not have fixed more deeply entrenched problems. For example, the greatest tragedy from Austwitzch is not what happened within that period, but that the Jewish people went on to allow the Palestinians to live in such appalling conditions for decades afterwards. The greater tragedy of Rwanda and Cambodia is not that they happened, but that the lessons on how it happened were not examined and preventative principles put in place.

This negligence is worst for the faith communities who are meant to be the "moral" leaders of society.

When there is a plane crash, a team of investigators is sent out to work out why the plane crashed and what can be done to prevent it happening another time. The industry created the "little black box" so that they had evidence they could examine after the fact.

Our faith communities have never bothered having an evidence gathering system. Nor have they ever come up with postulations of how to avoid it in the future. Nor do they have strategies to stich up new loopholes when they are found. Plus they slander and dismiss as heretical anyone who tries to help them do what they have failed to do for themselves.

The legislation will come into play. The debate about the legislation and its errors will lead to repentance elsewhere. Once God deems enough of humanity understands the core principles, the Nigerians will put in place more compassionate legislation.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Thursday, 8 March 2007 at 8:04pm GMT

Not only Akinola, the Catholic Cardinal of Lagos has also spewed ignorance and hate in his rhetoric in favor of this bill. Nigerian gays have to rely on American newspapers for their defence -- they find no friends in those who call themselves their fellow-Christians. This rancid homophobia -- whose full extent is visible in Anglicanism, invisible in Roman Catholicism -- is no longer an excusable sin or a tolerable scandal.

Posted by: Fr Joe O'Leary on Thursday, 8 March 2007 at 9:02pm GMT

More chillingly, The Anglican Primates at their very recent meeting in Tanzania IGNORED the dangerous to LGBT Christians/Muslims legislation in Nigeria in favor of focusing their grim/greedy attention on "restricting" LGBT Episcopalians at all levels of The Episcopal Church life...meanwhile the "primates" also turned their head to the Diocesean Boundry intrusions and the "poaching" on Episcopal Church property in the U.S.A.!

Are we viewing great sins of ommission from the Primates or just plain cowardly and self-seeking leadership or "selective thinking/believing" at the Anglican Communion?

Morally chilling is the fact that the Archbishop of Canterbury has enthusiastically endorsed the "communique" from Tanzania that tarnishes Anglican intergrity and his own moral Stewardship!

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Thursday, 8 March 2007 at 9:02pm GMT

Bishop Katharine is too busy trying to remain at the table to do anything that might rock the boat. I guess as part of her season of fasting she's fasting from standing up for human rights.

Posted by: Richard Lyon on Thursday, 8 March 2007 at 11:12pm GMT

Leonardo is right: the fact that the meeting in Dar es Salaam ignored this is unacceptable. That Rowan continues to ignore it shows that he has lost whatever moral authority he may once have had.

Posted by: Dennis on Thursday, 8 March 2007 at 11:20pm GMT

Presumably ++Rowan and his friends know all about this and for some tragic reason remain silent. What *we* need to do is pray for the poor souls who will suffer under this legislation.

Posted by: Davis d'Ambly on Thursday, 8 March 2007 at 11:30pm GMT

+++Rowan is Judas in this passion play. He condemns with his silence.

Posted by: Reed on Thursday, 8 March 2007 at 11:46pm GMT

Richard,

May I suggest that it was a cheap shot on ++KJS? The fact is that you -- nor I -- do not know whether she has written or spoken with ++Akinola on the matter. Publicly, at least, every time she has underscored our baptismal call "to respect the dignity of all human beings". I just barely know her, but I would say that she is not a "shrinking violet" kind of person. Further, can you imagine her trying to buy ++Akinola by keeping quiet? Is she secretly shining Orombis' shoes too?

C'mon...

Thomas+

Posted by: Thomas+ on Thursday, 8 March 2007 at 11:46pm GMT

The CofE has no right to talk about 'morality' - they abandoned any moral high ground when they opted for cuddling up to Gauleiter Akinola.

Still, I warned that this would happen but certain people wouldn't listen (are you reading, Colin??)

Posted by: Merseymike on Friday, 9 March 2007 at 12:05am GMT

Why is it seemingly impossible for any bishop in the world to say that Akinola has crossed the line with his support (or should that be Championship?) of this legislation?

Rowan Williams, for all the frustration he is causing among us layfolk, is pursuing a line that has a perfect logic. While I respect the logic - moral compromise in the present for the achievement of a longer-term unity - I consider the consequences so toxic that it would be better if he reconsidered it and moved in a direction closer to the very writings and statements of his own past life that he has been at pains to repudiate. The moral compromise in the present, which includes what went on in Tanzania, the lack of interest in telling non-TEC bishops to butt out (including those shrill colleagues on the English Bench) - the list really does go on - will taint and pollute any long-term unity. This might be an alliance, but at this cost it will be unity. On this basis I will certainly not be buying Williams' next book when it comes out, or indeed anything bearing an introduction or a chapter by him. Fascinating and inspiring as his theology is, it's becoming bunk when taken with what's fallen out over the last year or so.

Therefore I think those of us who look to men (and the odd woman) in pointy hats to say something of substance about human rights issues, we had best cast our glances elsewhere. Since TEC is the lightning rod for all this, I suspect a more credible voice is there.

So I ask, WHERE ARE YOU Gene Robinson? Of all people in the world who could credibly say something that would be heard all over the world, you are surely the one.

We wait, with decreasing calm and patience, for your voice.

Posted by: kieran crichton on Friday, 9 March 2007 at 5:44am GMT

Gene Robinson spoke out the other day friend. Alas I do not have the reference or quotations to hand.

It was a clear, courageous and defiant piece.
Perhaps Simon will know of it.

Robinson must be under terrible pressure. He is one of the few to emerge from all this with integrity. I feel encouraged by him, but know I mustn't lean on him. He must think of his health and family too. He has done so much for us all who are lgbtq

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Friday, 9 March 2007 at 9:33am GMT

nice idea Kieran - I am sure the "moral authority" of VGR would stun the ABC and ++Akinola to change their views!

Posted by: NP on Friday, 9 March 2007 at 10:35am GMT

Unity is something which should be rejected. Who wants unity with the evil beliefs of Akinola and the Nigerian Church?

Posted by: Merseymike on Friday, 9 March 2007 at 12:56pm GMT

Thomas,

I do not think that my comments about the activities of KJS are a cheap shot. What she might or might not be doing as a private individual is not relevant. She is a public leader in a very public position. Other religious and political leaders are showing moral leadership on this issue and she is not. She talks on terms of other people fasting so that she can remain at the table. It seems entirely plausible to me that her unfortunate silence on this matter is directly related to her political wheeling and dealing with the primates.

Posted by: Richard Lyon on Friday, 9 March 2007 at 2:44pm GMT

Breaking news from 'Voice of America', Davis Mac-Iyalla is now in Togo, having sought refuge from Nigeria.

See here for details: http://voanews.com/english/2007-03-09-voa30.cfm

Posted by: Andrew in Montreal on Friday, 9 March 2007 at 4:41pm GMT

Perhaps +KJS's silence (or least at this point) is a tactical device to let ++Akinola hang himself, as he seems to be doing a very good job of it. Then again, something from ++RW would be encouraging. As for +VGR, please leave the poor man alone.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Friday, 9 March 2007 at 6:24pm GMT

Richard

I was concerned by KJS signing such a document, but when I look at the politics that was going on at the time I think she played the most appropriate way at the time. Before she went, I referred to Jesus's final trials and that he chose not to be defiant or fight back but allow his enemies to throw the full force of their vitriole at them.

They have done their worst. But she still is there.

We will have to wait a bit longer to see if she is strong enough not to be co-opted into preserving the establishment. There are some who have chosen to preserve the status quo, even if that means aiding and abetting active abuse by the "priestly castes and elite" on the sinners in their midst and surrounds.

I pray that KJS has a strong back and remains loyal to protecting the least and oppressed.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Friday, 9 March 2007 at 7:02pm GMT

"I pray that KJS has a strong back and remains loyal to protecting the least and oppressed."

So do I but I am having my doubts. Her stated assumption that she has to do whatever necessary to remain at the table seems to me to be highly questionable. She really doesn't have any demonstrated track record for actually having stood up to oppression. She's said some very nice sounding things and a lot of people have some fervent wishes about what she will do. That is not the same thing as actually having done them.

Posted by: Richard Lyon on Friday, 9 March 2007 at 11:56pm GMT

I fear a typo crept into my comments above:

"This might be an alliance, but at this cost it will be unity."

should read

"This might be an alliance, but at this cost it will NOT be unity."

Posted by: kieran crichton on Saturday, 10 March 2007 at 1:27am GMT

Certainly very interesting that divine providence has so ordered things at the moment.

Dar es Salaam focuses in its near entirety on North America without much of a thought, if any, for upholding human rights.

In parenthesis I should say that there are of course many human rights violations of people of faith but human rights work best as a seamless web of protections - as soon as you begin to cut holes in it for this or that group that you're not so keen on, don't matter quite so much or are expedient for the greater good, the cloth will become useless because everyone believes in human rights in theory but getting them applied in practice - and universally - is the key.

As previous posts have intimated if the legislation passes (and I hope it doesn't) there will be a monument to the people who were the inspiring force behind putting it there.

I think that and the many countries - including those within the Anglican Communion) that still violate the consciences and freedom of gay people by criminalising homosexuality (Jamaica, Uganda, Egypt, Nigeria for starters) will cause many to reflect and ponder on the true effects of the Anglican standard of teaching.

It will be there in public view for all to draw their own conclusions.

Posted by: Craig Nelson on Saturday, 10 March 2007 at 8:55am GMT
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