Thinking Anglicans

Nigeria is not a 'safe place'

In addition to the press release from Lambeth Palace issued earlier today, Ruth Gledhill reported yesterday on her blog that Rowan Williams has recently written this in response to this LGCM Open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury following the Tanzanian Primates meeting Feb 2007:

‘I don’t think there was a chance of getting an agreed statement out of the Primates on this subject at the moment. I don’t take any pride in that, but it’s a fact.’

She mentioned this in the context of the Listening Process dossier:

Peter Akinola… has given an interview to Philip Groves, who head[s] the listening process for the Anglican Communion, in which he makes it clear that he is fully behind the draconian anti-gay measures currently going through Nigeria’s legislature.

The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) statement in that dossier, which can be found here, says:

The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) has therefore strongly opposed the developments in the Episcopal Church (USA), the Church of Canada and the Church of England. The Primate has called for the Church of England to be disciplined within the Anglican Communion for its response to the Civil Partnership Act.

In Nigeria the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act 2006 is passing through the legislature. The House of Bishops has supported it because we understand that it is designed to strengthen traditional marriage and family life and to prevent wholesale importation of currently damaging Western values. It bans same sex unions, all homosexual acts and the formation of any gay groups. The Standing Committee of the Church of Nigeria has twice commended the act in their Message to the Nation.

And another quote:

The Primate of all Nigeria has said “Our argument is that, if homosexuals see themselves as deviants who have gone astray, the Christian spirit would plead for patience and prayers to make room for their repentance. When scripture says something is wrong and some people say that it is right, such people make God a liar. We argue that it is a blatant lie against Almighty God that homosexuality is their God-given urge and inclination. For us, it is better seen as an acquired aberration.”

Many people, when commenting on the dossier, have made specific reference to the Nigerian entry.

Changing Attitude issued a lengthy statement which includes:

“The Archbishop’s concern for situations where the Church is seen to be underwriting social or legal attitudes which threaten proper liberties may be taken as code for the situation in Nigeria. The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) has used high ranking Anglican officials to persuade the Government to introduce a new bill banning same-sex marriage and extending sanctions against any lesbian or gay social or political activity. The Church continues to support the proposed legislation despite international reaction against the Nigerian Government.

“Changing Attitude Nigeria and England have alerted the Communion to the active support being given by Archbishop Akinola and senior Church officials to the bill. The bill extends sanctions against lesbian and gay people to the extent that all social activity will become illegal. As we have repeatedly pointed out, this would make any bishop who met with and listened to a lesbian or gay Anglican subject to arrest and imprisonment. The Church of Nigeria is working actively to ensure that the listening process can never happen in Nigeria. We hope the Archbishop of Canterbury’s concerns for the legal attitudes which threaten proper civil liberties will be communicated directly to Archbishop Akinola.

The Living Church has Provinces’ ‘Listening Process’ Reports Published:

In contrast to the submission by The Episcopal Church, the report submitted by The Church of Nigeria views homosexuality as an “abominable deed.” The report notes that the House of Bishops in The Church of Nigeria has supported a proposed state law which if approved by the Nigerian legislature would, among other provisions, ban same-sex unions, the formation of homosexual advocacy groups and “prevent wholesale importation of currently damaging Western values.”

Ekklesia wrote Archbishop of Canterbury says churches must be ‘safe’ for gays:

In what will be seen as a reference to the situation in Nigeria where Anglican Archbishop Akinola is backing legal measures which would oppress gay and lesbian people, Rowan Williams said; “I share the concerns expressed about situations where the Church is seen to be underwriting social or legal attitudes which threaten these proper liberties. It is impossible to read this report without being aware that in many places – including Western countries with supposedly ‘liberal’ attitudes – hate crimes against homosexual people have increased in recent years and have taken horrifying and disturbing forms.

and also there is Gay Christians appeal to international community over repressive laws.

Among the blogs:

William Crawley has Primate of homophobia?
Tobias Haller wrote They Will Never Learn
Fr Jones wrote Anglican Centrist 18 – The Listening Process
Jim Naughton has ABC kinda sorta speaks out in a muted and extremely qualified sort of way
Scott Gunn has Rowan says church must be a “safe place”
Not too much has Nigerian church condemned by its own words
Fr Jake has The Listening Process: Reports from the Provinces
Jared Cramer has Lambeth Ringing Hollow

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Laurence RobertsJulia T.garethleePluralistGöran Koch-Swahne Recent comment authors
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Counterlight
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Counterlight

The silence from the ConsEvs on this issue remains thunderous. It’s obviously getting to be too much even for Ruth Gledhill. Aren’t you fine upstanding defenders of orthodoxy even the least bit embarassed by any of this? Do you support this? Would you like to see similar legislation in the West? As a scandal and offense against all things holy, this far outclasses what a sailor and a hairdresser like to do with each other on a Saturday night; or any irregularities about a duly elected Bishop of New Hampshire. If finding myself yoked to something like this in any… Read more »

Laurence Roberts
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Laurence Roberts

BE CLEAR, in the context of the human rights disaster that is now unfolding in Nigeria, the presnt report of alleged ‘listening in the AC’ is too little, too late. It is too late for Nigerians of all religions and none. It is also too late now for the Anglican Communion itself. It will never be able to recover from the ethical and spiritual nadir into which it is inexorably descending. You may say that it recovered from its part in the process of financial enrichment from enslavement of others. And that no-one worries that the USPG and C of… Read more »

Merseymike
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Merseymike

But who is looking for an ‘agreed statement’?

How about a bit of courage and leadership from Williams – telling the Nigerians what is unacceptable and why.

If they storm off – something to celebrate, surely? This abhorrent church should not have any connection with the Church of England.

Jared Cramer
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Thanks for the usual excellent roundup of links. It’s helpful to know that my concerns regarding ++Rowan’s statements are shared by others.

Cheryl Clough
Guest

“When scripture says something is wrong and some people say that it is right, such people make God a liar.” So when scripture tells us to not oppress, but others say oppression is right, does that mean they are making God a liar? When God promises an everlasting covenant e.g. to the Daughter of Zion (Isaiah 55:3, 60:14-21, 61-62) and males deny and dishonor it, does that make God a liar? Ezekiel 18:4 every living soul belongs to God. Ezekiel 18:29-30 It is not God who is unjust, it is the ways of human that are unjust? God will judge… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
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Just to say that I posted Rowan’s reply to LGCM on this blog first on 24th March in a comment on a story dated 22nd March.

Pluralist
Guest

Ruth Gledhill mentions the Rathbone ancestors. Just information that the fourth William Rathbone became a Unitarian and some Rathbones still are (I used to see one from time to time). It is interesting to look at current presentations of slave history and racism, that the anti-slavery attitudes, including among the evangelicals attracted to the cause, faded some decades on to become replaced by an attitude of suppressing the “weaker races” with the notion that all were not equal, and British and German empires that stood by while inferiors died and even systematically killed them. One reason for this change was… Read more »

Andrew Innes
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Andrew Innes

Noted Martin:

Without attribution, which I thought was very discreet, at the time. Applause.Applause.

Pluralist
Guest

I think Jim Naughton confuses “seen to be” with “seems to be”. I suggest that it is not what is perceived to be happening with Nigeria but that it is actually *seen*. That it is seen is causing Western governments and the European Union to condemn Nigeria, and here the Archbishop is being forced to say at least (the least) something. But he does it by saying about homophobic attacks in the West. So he tries to balance what he says. He doesn’t get it, does he? There may just be one or two (or even more) Christian believing idiots… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
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Brava! to Ruth Gledhill!

NP
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NP

counterlight – you are imagining your opponents are silent because it suits your prejudices….

“conservatives” have criticised both the Nigerian legislation and abuses in Harare…..but that does not mean we have to also accept heresy in the AC – (this does not follow – I am against VGR and the chap in Harare and the Nigerian legislation – based on scripture, I can accept none of these)

Tim
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Cheryl,

I agree entirely. Holding conservo-fundie right-wing views makes hypocrisy all the easier to fall into.

Laurence Roberts
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Laurence Roberts

‘they died through lack of hope.’

Thank you for this compelling and moving expostion Pluralist (one of many here).

Those six words seem to say it all.

May the efforts of TA and other sites and those who use them bring hope and so hold back forces tending to death …

counterlight
Guest
counterlight

I’m still waiting for Bishop Minns and the Moderator of the Network to come out and forcefully and unequivocally condemn this legislation.

So far, all I’ve heard is crickets chirping.

mumcat
Guest

Pluralist is right in the comment about the difference between a few nut jobs who commit hate crimes against homosexuals (hate crimes not proposed, encouraged or supported by TEC) and the church supporting legislation in a national campaign of oppression and abuse against one segment of the community no matter how small. I really don’t understand this ABC. Can he say nothing to condemn wholesale oppression of a group for whom he just said the church should be a safe place without slamming the “liberal” areas where such hate crimes are decried and the safety of GLBTs is of paramount… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
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Ruth Gledhill also reports that Dr Rowan is taking 2 months off, combined with his ususal August vacation – which explains why there is no time left to meet with the HOB and the TEC Executive Counsel between now and the September “deadline”.

Today on the American HOB and D list it is asserted (by the TEC Bishop of Europe) that this sabbatical was planned several years ago…

The crisis shall have to sort it self out ;=)

(which makes me think Dr Rowan is even more self-absorbed than I thought possible)

Pluralist
Guest

This is quite important, isn’t it, this three months in total off. It does say no to TEC, in terms of a meeting, unless it is a last minute job. It raises questions about what sort of reflection Rowan Williams will have, rather than just burying his head into some books.

He sets something up and then, as the various places manoeuvre and the intensity of the situation grows, moving towards a deadline, he disappears.

I wonder if he is considering more than just needing a break from the intensity of it all?

garethlee
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garethlee

Crawley nailed it: The Primate of Homophobia. That’s akinola to a tee.

Julia T.
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Julia T.

Regardless of what side one comes down on re. this divide in the Anglican Communion, this truth stands for all and relates to slavery of the soul” “A man is a slave by whatever controls him.” Whatever is lodged in our brains about who/what a man or woman can/cannot be is what controls them. We also forget that the Christian life and the living of it has NEVER been about genetics or one’s proclivities whatever they seem to be either by the design our genes or the “pronouncements” put on us about by others about what we are or can… Read more »

Laurence Roberts
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Laurence Roberts

Church leaders show little sign of all this Julia. I think you will find the history of ‘sinless perfection’ shows what a false and danerous notion it is. Ever heard of the old man?!