Thinking Anglicans

update on Nigeria

Matt Thompson links to this Associated Press report which summarises the situation well: New law and old prejudices threaten Nigeria’s gay community.

Matt’s own report, which should be read in full, is here: “There is a lot of ignorance”.

25 comments

  • The fact that Roman Catholic and Anglican bishops have been among the most vocal supporters of this un-Christian persecution betokens not only ignorance about homosexuality — which could be inculpable ignorance — but ignorance of the basic premisses of the Gospel. These self-proclaimed upholders of biblical and Christian tradition seem not to know the very basics of the Gospel. Let us remember how Rwanda, the “pearl of the missions”, was the scene of appalling genocide in the 1990s, and how the espousal of racial prejudice by Belgian missionaries was one of the roots of that. Today Catholic and Anglican prelates in Nigeria are serving another brand of hatred, amounting almost to lynch-law.

  • Weiwen says:

    In my opinion, Archbishop Williams should publicly condemn ‘Archbishop’ Akinola for supporting this legislation. ++Rowan should threaten to disinvite Akinola from Lambeth. That, and he should publicly call on the Nigerian government not to pass this legislation. It would not be enough, but it would be the right thing to do. Is ++Rowan brave enough to do so?

    Akinola has demonstrated that either he is wilfully ignorant about LGBT people getting jailed, or that he actively WANTS them to be jailed … either would arguable violate the demands of the last Lambeth conference. Some will argue that the Episcopal Church has also violated Lambeth, but even if we have, that does not excuse people like Akinola from following it.

  • Colin Coward says:

    It is good to see the attitude of the Nigerian Govenment and church towards homosexuality, and the proposed Nigerian bill which extends sanctions against homosexuality, receive increasing coverage in the world press. (Remember, the bill hasn’t yet been passed onto the statute book).

    This world-wide focus is one of the ways in which pressure for change can be built against the prejudice and ignorance in Nigeria fuelling the attitudes behind the bill.

    I met Oludare Odumuye at the International Lesbian and Gay Association conference in Geneva in March 2006, where I also met Davis MacIyalla for the first time. Bisi Alimi, also mentioned in the report, attended the Changing Attitude Nigeria General Meeting in Abuja in November 2005 and is pictured in the photos on Changing Attitude’s web site.

    Bisi, like Davis, is fully open about his sexuality, and has suffered as a result. Both have had abuse and humiliation heaped on them and are surviving with the help of benefactors because no-one in Nigeria wants to be seen to support a gay man.

    I am awed at the courage of these gay men, who despite abuse and personal suffering, refuse to remain invisible, or return to the closet, or deny who they are under God. The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) is putting huge pressure on Davis, by intimidating his family and through the abusive emails he is receiving which threaten him with death.

    Three men, representing tens of thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Nigerians who remain invisible to their parents, families and communities

    We have to keep telling the world the truth about LGBT people in every continent, and especially in Nigeria where the threat to human life and safety is extreme. Davis and the work of CA Nigeria urgently needs practical support – donations can be made via http://www.changingattitude.org.

  • Matthew Hunt says:

    The Church is supposed to be the body of Christ on Earth. Christ offered his body to be broken for the sake of ALL humanity. We are called to follow Christ. The unity of the Church is NOT the purpose of the Church. Canterbury is mistaken in its obsession with unity and cowing to internecine Anglican politics. If the Anglican Communion cannot be held together in unequivocal unity against such human-hating and human-destroying legislation then clearly that Communion – that part of Christ’s body on Earth -needs to be broken for the sake of the humanity that will suffer from that legislation.

    Sloth/apathy/inaction is a capital sin isn’t it?

  • Merseymike says:

    The words ‘bravery’ and ‘Rowan Williams’ can never be used in juxtaposition. The man is a spineless coward who can’t even support his own friends, let alone those suffering in other countries. He is a spineless, vascillating waste of space. At least with George Carey you knew where you stood.

  • Davis Mac-Iyalla says:

    If God is truly speaking to our Nigerian church leaders as they claim, he must by now be telling them to have a rethink about their actions. The truth is that these holier than thou people are just adamant to break the Anglican Communion apart.

    They are not making much progress in intimidating and splitting the Episcopal Church in the USA so they have turned their attention to the CofE. Where in the Bible did Christ or any apostle ask us to lie in the name of working for Christ? ++Akinola recently went to the UK to seek support from his fellow English conservatives and Nigerians in the UK, and told the world he went for medical treatment. We have well-qualified medical personnel who are members of the church in Abuja who can give him the best treatment. If the medical services in Nigeria are not acceptable or adequate for Primate Akinola, why not call on his Aboukuta brother Obasanjo to improve them?

    The Bill to ban same sex relationships is being pursued at his personal request. ++Akinola needs it as a weapon to intimate and jail not only the Nigerian LGBTs but any priest or bishop who will dare to oppose him. We will keep drawing the attention of the world to that deadly bill until it is withdrawn?

    My question to the western conservatives supporting Archbishop Akinola is, do you really hope and pray that we Nigerian LGBT Christians should be jailed or even be killed because of our sexuality?

    Canon Tunde, I need you to answer just this one question for me. Why is the archbishop is so worried about the Primates meeting in February 2007 in Tanzania? Why is he using every means at his disposal to create confusion and undermining the ability of the primates to meet and do their work, even before they have arrived in Dar Es Salaam?

  • Tim says:

    Matthew Hunt, I think you miss the point of unity.
    If Akinola has some belief that “God loves everyone”, he’s not doing a good job of showing it, that’s for sure; however, it would be disingeneous for us to say that God loves LGBT folks but not Akinola!

    Breaking the communion for hating one person’s hatred isn’t really a good idea.

  • mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) says:

    MM said:
    At least with George Carey you knew where you stood.

    You just didn’t like where you were standing….

  • “Scorched Earth” policy is being rolled out. It’s not confined to the Anglican communion, the US Democrats are walking into a minefield of debt and fiscal bankruptcy.

    Their attitude reek or “If we can’t have power, then we’ll make sure you have no resources. Then when you fail we can say it was because you were incompetent or incorrect. When really the truth was we plundered the family treasures for our own power mongering, stealing from our siblings and future generations for our short term greet and ego satisfaction.”

    May history remember these people for their greed and deceit. May God bless us with an alternative: Jeremiah 8:10

  • Weiwen says:

    Tim,

    You said, “Matthew Hunt, I think you miss the point of unity.
    If Akinola has some belief that “God loves everyone”, he’s not doing a good job of showing it, that’s for sure; however, it would be disingeneous for us to say that God loves LGBT folks but not Akinola!

    Breaking the communion for hating one person’s hatred isn’t really a good idea.”

    I’m actually the one who first suggested (in this thread) breaking the communion over hating one person’s hatred.

    Your point is a good one. Breaking communion is never a good thing.

    However, I was pointing out that, if it is justifiable to break the communion over ordaining gay people, then it is justifiable to break communion over trying to put gay people in prison.

    Akinola and others who would do or suborn actual physical violence toward the LGBT community must be called to account. I have no power to invite or disinvite people to Lambeth. But if I did, I would ask Akinola to publicly disown the legislation. He would be in no danger if he did – his opposition to homosexuality is well-known. If he did not, I would strongly consider not inviting him.

    Unity is an excellent goal. But unity at what price? Akinola is supporting legislation that is almost universally recognized as being a grave violation of human rights, one that even the US State Department has condemned. If you oppose homosexuality, there are ethical ways to oppose it – teach your children well, provide counselling for gays, provide support services for those who choose to remain celibate. Threatening to throw people in jail for congregating in public (or in private, as I believe the law says) to discuss gay rights is not ethical. The current law, up to 14 years in prison for homosexuality, is something that Akinola and the church should be opposing, not adding to.

    If Akinola and Jefferts Schori get invited to Lambeth 08, I shall be sure to let her know that Akinola should be confronted over this issue.

  • Wade says:

    Anyone who truly cares about basic human rights like freedom of speech, expression, religion, association, etc. should be vocally opposing this law. Anyone who truly cares about basic human decency should too. The Network here in America has made a deal with the Devil by allying with ++Akinola. Minns should be ashamed of himself for lying about ++Akinola’s position concerning gay people. And as others have noted, ++Rowan Williams’ silence is sin – plain and simple.

    “In the end, it will not be the words of our enemies that we will remember, but the silence of our friends.” — Martin Luther King

    Those who know better should speak the truth and let the chips fall where they may. The Global South is going to set up their own southern hemisphere based communion anyway.

  • Tim says:

    Weiwen, I don’t disagree except to point out that I would never want to be the one breaking communion or not-inviting someone. Leave it up to others to decide as&when they’re weak enough to call it quits.

    The thing to do is to set the example that Akinola *isn’t* – to call him to account by all means, try and apply corrective measures before risking disowning. And then still postpone disowning as long as possible. And this is actually biblical, as distinct from spreading hatred and the filth of separatism all around the communion.

    “But unity at what price?”

    “I am become all things to all men … for the sake of the gospel.”

  • Craig Nelson says:

    Very sad that neither the Archbishop of Canterbury nor various conservative luminaries have the ability to say outright that the proposed law in Nigeria is wrong.

    This must mean that either in principle they believe it is right (5 years in prison for being a member of a gay association or for positive portrayal of homosexuality) or that they believe it is wrong but for political reasons are happy to connive at the Nigerian law.

    Either way I think we have a right to ask the question of any conservative “Were you for or against this repressive law? If against, what did you do to speak against it?”

    The answers, if they come, will speak volumes.

  • AlaninLondon says:

    The silence of the Church of England’s bishops on this is truly shameful. I suspect Rowan Williams et al will say, ‘Oh, you must realise the difficult situation the Christian Church is in Nigeria. They are competing with Islam and can’t compromise on this….’ Yet the greater blasphemy for Islam is the doctrine of the Incarnation. Yet we don’t see Anglicans accomodating to Islam here and becoming Unitarians!

  • Matt says:

    AlaninLondon:

    “Yet the greater blasphemy for Islam is the doctrine of the Incarnation. Yet we don’t see Anglicans accomodating to Islam here and becoming Unitarians!”

    I hadn’t thought of it that way before. Thanks.

    There has been, since this imbroglio began, a kind of cowardice in the public statements by the CofN regarding Islam (and I don’t use that word lightly). First, the CofN demands protection for their missionaries working in northern Nigeria, Niger, and Chad among Africa’s Muslims. Then, they capitulate to Islam (or claim to) in the face of the looming “threat” of Shari’ya. In my view, this makes ++Akinola neither “lion” nor “Daniel”.

  • Matt

    Ditto on thanks to AlaninLondon.

    Wade, I loved the Martin Luther King quote.

    It reminds me of similar one about the development of Nazi Germany. First they came for the homosexuals, and I was not one, then the Jews but I was not one, then… then they came for me and there was no one to protect me because they had already gone before me.

  • Prior Aelred says:

    I must say that I concur with the thrust of all that is being said here — this propsed law is an abomination & there is something very wrong if the leaders of the church cannot say so — good grief, the Bush State Department, hardly the most gay friendly organization in an administration which has not been terribly open-minded about freedom of assembly for opposing views has condemned this proposed legislation!

  • BabyBlue says:

    Let’s see. How shall we get started?

    First of all, which of us has actually been to Nigeria, have lived there, and can explain to the rest of us why it is in danger of becoming another Iran? Anyone?

    Next, what do we think it’s like for Christians in Northern Nigeria – all of them, even the Anglicans? Ideas anyone? Feel free to share.

    Next, let’s talk about the last time we talked with Peter Akinola. What did we learn? We do remember the last time we sat down and talked with him? Right?

    Next, how shall we keep the Islamic militants from taking over Nigeria and killing not only the homosexuals, of course, but the Anglicans as well? Thoughts?

    Next, shall we continue supporting the One Campaign and promoting Red and the MDGs or any of those things are helping Africans fight back against the terror peacefully, without bullets? Would someone get Bono on the phone? Thanks.

    Next, does it seem clear to everyone that we have come to the conclusion that Peter Akinola is the anti-Christ, the force of all evil in the world? Should we have a problem with that?

    Now, what are we going to do about Rowan Williams? Apparently he knows Peter Akinola and supports him. What’s up with that? Why isn’t he pointing the finger of condemnation at Peter Akinola like we are? Does he know something we don’t?

    bb

  • Merseymike says:

    Akinola, Islamic militants – spot the difference.

    Both as bad as each other. Both following repressive and exclusive religions.

    Supporting Akinola as a means of opposing militant Islam – whats the point? Let them fight their fundamentalist war of two evils.

  • Baby Blue’s points:

    1. “why it is in danger of becoming another Iran? Anyone?”

    It isn’t. This is American political propaganda. Only northern Nigeria is Muslim, maybe 1/3 of the population. Most Nigerians live in the South, no Sharia there.

    2. “what do we think it’s like for Christians in Northern Nigeria – all of them, even the Anglicans? Ideas anyone? Feel free to share.”

    Mmmm, let me guess; kind’a what it’s like for lesbian and gay Nigerians?

    3. “Next, let’s talk about the last time we talked with Peter Akinola. What did we learn? We do remember the last time we sat down and talked with him? Right?”

    Let’s talk about the last time we sent him an e-mail, Baby. Did we receive an answer?

    4. “Next, how shall we keep the Islamic militants from taking over Nigeria and killing not only the homosexuals, of course, but the Anglicans as well? Thoughts?”

    Speaking the Truth… witnessing… marturein.

    5. “Next, shall we continue supporting the One Campaign and promoting Red and the MDGs or any of those things are helping Africans fight back against the terror peacefully, without bullets? Would someone get Bono on the phone? Thanks.”

    Which terror? Oil companies? AB Akinola’s proposed legislation? (it’s meeting difficulties in the Nigerian Parliament, you know… ;=)

    6. “Next, does it seem clear to everyone that we have come to the conclusion that Peter Akinola is the anti-Christ, the force of all evil in the world? Should we have a problem with that?”

    It’s perhaps Truro and Falls Church who should ask themselves this.

    7. “Now, what are we going to do about Rowan Williams? Apparently he knows Peter Akinola and supports him. What’s up with that? Why isn’t he pointing the finger of condemnation at Peter Akinola like we are? Does he know something we don’t?”

    Lord Druid of Wobbley? Come on, Baby – you can do better than that!

  • NP says:

    Goran wrote “Lord Druid of Wobbley”
    – a tad unkind….but made me laugh out loud, I must admit

    For what it is worth, I think the Nigerian laws are wrong and also would like to see bishops speak up against persecution.

    Please note the English evos “covenant” statement this week is not looking to Nigeria for oversight but for an English solution.

  • laurence says:

    AlaninLondon:

    “Yet the greater blasphemy for Islam is the doctrine of the Incarnation. Yet we don’t see Anglicans accomodating to Islam here and becoming Unitarians!”

    Speak for yourself ! : – )

  • laurence says:

    Lord Druid of Wobbley”
    – a tad unkind….but made me laugh out loud, I must admit’ NP

    Now I’m smiling too ! Theres’s something infectiously sane and human about laughter and smiling, isn’t there. Could this be a way forward ? Perhaps we need to be sharing jokes rather than Covenants ?

  • Matt says:

    I’m not sure why we’re responding to BabyBlue’s flame. I’m glad she has given voice to her opinion, but I’m not entirely pleased with the hyperbole and false witness that has come with it. If she can’t accurately depict the objections to the legislation, then what’s the point of responding?

    For instance, she writes, “Next, let’s talk about the last time we talked with Peter Akinola. What did we learn? We do remember the last time we sat down and talked with him? Right?”

    I, for one, would be thrilled were Archbishop Akinola to “sit down” with me and explain his perspective. Unfortunately, I’m still waiting for the phone call / email. For now, I’ll have to rely on his signed press releases, or on our conversations with his Communications Director here on this blog. BabyBlue should know all this, and probably does. We have called repeatedly for clarification on various points. Canon Popoola has been kind enough to respond, but his responses have only buttressed our contention that the CofN fully supports the legislation. +Minns has obliged us on only two occasions, but not without a certain degree of evasion and counter-accusation, putting us in the position of having to choose between his word and ++Akinola’s.

    Also, it is very difficult to respond to BabyBlue’s nonsensical understanding of Nigerian Islam and the “threat” that it poses to Nigerian Christians. Any student of Nigerian history will tell you that while there is an unmistakable but superficial religious taint to many local clashes or riots one reads about in the Nigerian and international press, at their root nearly all are due to long-standing political and economic conflicts. They are often directly provoked by State leaders eager to consolidate kickbacks from the sale of Nigeria’s enormous petroleum reserves. Sometimes they are responses to old grievances (like the attacks against Muslims by Christians in the southeastern town of Onitsha this February). I have no idea what being a Christian living in northern Nigeria entails; I have no idea what it’s like to even visit the country, as I never have. But no serious account of modern Nigeria has ever claimed that the country is due to become the next Iran (especially since Nigeria’s Muslims are Sunni), or that Shari’ya will sweep the country’s legal system. Like Göran said, those accounts are propaganda.

    I will close now, ironically, with this thought: don’t respond to comments that fail to honestly depict the debate at hand.

  • I just couldn’t resist :-/

    “BabyBlue should know all this, and probably does.”

    She does. I have explained about the non answering policy before, over at Father Jake’s place.

    “… an unmistakable but superficial religious taint…”

    As absolutely everywhere since Millennia back and forth ;=)

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