on Friday, 18 April 2008 at 3.07 pm by Simon Sarmiento
categorised as Anglican Communion
The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) has published Response to alleged attacks on Changing Attitude leaders in Nigeria: Archbishop Benjamin Kwashi.
This is in response to the material reported earlier here and here.
Like much of the conservative commentary, Archbishop Kwashi misses the point. Nobody has said that Peter Akinola got on the phone to some hired thugs and told them to put a beating on Davis Mac-Iyalla. The open latter doesn’t say that. Neither does the extensive online commentary from both Davis and Colin Cowrd. The issue raised in the open letter is the language GAFCON leaders use to refer to homosexuals and the posswibility that such language either incites violence or, at the least, increases the likelihood of violence against them. Calling people “cancer,” “satanic” or “less than human” is not… Read more »
And here is a direct link to the response at the Church of Nigeria website.
Thanks, I have eliminated the intermediary now.
Just wait on a minute Bishop Benjamin Kwashi! As I remember the sequence of events – it was YOU and YOURS who first claimed they were not coming to Lambeth because the feared being attacked by the thousands of gay activists that were lying in wait to pounce on anything with a black face and a purple frock!!! I remember Richard Kirker (who WAS physically attacked by a Nigeria bishop at the 1998 conference) roaring with laughter when he read that announcement – and suggesting cheekily we might employ a cohort of exorcists to do a bit of homophobia demon… Read more »
That tells you all you really need to know about Kwashi’s response?
I think they are deliberately ignoring and distorting the case being made. Its really quite simple – its about creating a culture which leads to violence, whether this be deliberate or not. Akinola, the Nigerian church, and in my view, conservative evangelical groups in this country are all responsible for doing that.
_If a Nigerian Bishop or church leader were mugged in England, would the Archbishop of Canterbury, or even the Church of England in general, be blamed for this? That the Archbishop of Canterbury, backed by a group of English bishops should – without evidence being presented – choose to accuse any other person(s) of resorting to violent crime and illegal acts, is in fact to resort to the unchristian bullying and behaviour which they so abhor._ He would be blamed for setting the agenda, creating the conditions for attacks, and for being feeble when attacks happen. The second sentence here,… Read more »
Malcolm, I think we have established that this language of contempt is not only coming from one side! So can we get on to something more constructive? So long as we can not glimpse the larger reality we are only digging a deeper rut (that could become a grave). The bishop from Nigeria talks about false accusations and denigration, that never happens here, so I’m sure he is making it all up!! That some actions against gay people happened I do not doubt, and we should just try to get to the bottom of it and deal with it. That… Read more »
“If a Nigerian Bishop or church leader were mugged in England, would the Archbishop of Canterbury, or even the Church of England in general, be blamed for this?”
Possibly – if they had spent the previous several years referring to Nigerian Bishops and church leaders as “cancer,” as “satanic,” as “less than human.”
If so, they would be morally culpable, yes.
By Malcolms logic, American activists (who have implied if not stated that he is a violent man if not a murderer) are “morally” responsible for violent attacks on Bishop Kwashi and his family.
Ben W: you criticise us for commenting so much on homophobia in the Church of Nigeria and less on Darfur. But you are commenting on the gay issue every time it comes up on TA, aren’t you? I’m gay, so Christian homophobia affects me personally. I have experienced, and unfortunately continue to experience, plenty of it first-hand within the Anglican Church. But I am really amazed at how so many straight conservatives have the energy to argue in defence of Anglican homophobia. They’ve been doing so for how many years now since the Jeffrey John debacle kicked this all off?… Read more »
Ben’s comment is at least coherent and logical – unlike Bill’s fatuous straw man. (What is the word for a caricature that isn’t strong enough to be a straw man?) So in replying to Ben, I’m quite confident I can manage to dismiss Bill’s silliness as well. Ben, I still have yet to see examples of anyone on this “side” of the issue calling either Akinola or Kwashi “cancer,” “satanic” or “less than human.” “Pompous ass” yes. But that is hardly the same thing. “Arrogant git” possibly, but again, hardly in the same league. While it would certainly be apropos… Read more »
Fr Mark, To begin with I would not characterize it that way. I think the Darfur piece calls for attention from all of us – it is that important. We need to think what can be done (or what we can do), one thing is certain we can not simply ignore it!It is true, in light of the preoccupation here I do see deep irony in the situation. It is a clear question of human rights and of justice, the reason a lot of people here claim as the basis for speaking. This is a test if ever there was… Read more »
Perhaps you should start to recognise that the global discrimination and prejudice against gay men and lesbians, largely supported by religionists, and in my view, encouraged by their negative stance, is also a human rights issue, Ben.
Plenty of evidence available – see the relevant Amnesty International webpages.
We do see the issue of homosexuality differently, but you might begin by actually hearing what I have said! I have said all along the rights of gay people are to be addressed and justice is to be done here also. Plenty of evidence available.
Ben W: I don’t disagree with you about Darfur. I’ve worked in developing countries; with the homeless; and in ministry to asylum seekers and illegal immigrants in the UK: I am one of those gay people who has been involved for years in justice issues outside those which most personally affect me. In fact, some of those whom I’ve tried to help have been among the most homophobic (and generally illiberal) people living in the UK – some of the immigrant communities in Britain are not at all on the same wavelength as the rest of society when it comes… Read more »
Then, Ben, the starting point is for you to change your view, as you are not affording gay people equality and affirmation.
And that is what human rights is all about.
‘Justice, like charity, surely beings at home’
Fr Mark – I couldn’t agree more with your beautifully reasoned sentiments. Justice within the Church is absolutely vital if we are not all to seem like hypocrites: a vice for which Christ reserved particular contempt.
Changing Attitude appreciates the letter from the Most Rev. Dr. Benjamin A. Kwashi, Archbishop of Jos Province, who did indeed meet Davis Mac-Iyalla at the General Synod meeting in York in July 2007. Ben Kwashi has responded presumably because two of those who have been attacked or sent threatening texts are Nigerian. The Open Letter was sent to the leadership team of GAFCON. It did not accuse the Church of Nigeria of anything. It asked the whole Anglican Communion to be mindful of the words we use and the opinions we express when talking about LGBT people and to actively… Read more »
Fr Mark, Your note provides some context for what you have to say here. And I second your further statement: “Getting our own house in order first is important.” In part that was my concern when people constantly refer to places elsewhere to talk about “our situation.” We do not know those places (their circumstances or what is possible and can actually be done there), and our first reponsibility is putting things in order here where we are. That also applies when we are talking about language that people use to refer to the “others.” This is not just certain… Read more »
Ben W, now that we have published the police report on the liquid in the syringe that the attacker tried to inject into Davis Mac-Iyalla, which shows that it was a poison, do you now accept as fact that the attack happened? Why introduce Darfur into this thread? I abhor any injustice against any individual or group. There is no hierarchy of justice here. Injustice against one individual gay man is as abhorrent as injustice against any group of people. The problem is that the teaching of the church encourages people to hold views about LGBT people which are prejudiced… Read more »
If approval of how someone behaves is to be equated with “what human rights is all about” you have a long way to go!
What about all you have said here about C of E leaders (who have again and again affirmed the rights of gay people and affirmed them as human beings), and certainly of African Christian leaders?
If I focus on homophobia, it’s not because I’m indifferent to the genocide in Darfur, or the repressions in Tibet or Burma or Zimbabwe for that matter. It’s because it hits me where I live as a gay man. The constant threat of violence is something that every lgbt must live with no matter their race. class, nationality, or religion. I’ve been threatened myself on occasion. I’ve known many people who’ve been assaulted and injured very badly. This is not an abstract or remote issue for me. If lgbts are hostile to the Church, it’s because the Church is hostile… Read more »
Colin, You will see above before your “syringe evidence” (who produced it under what conditions I cannot vouch for) I said that some of these actions happened against homsexuals I do not doubt. On Darfur, it was introduced here because it follows on the list (it is on here!) and because it is one of the great justice matters right before us now; if we say our central concern is justice and the basis for our speaking up, well let us see! There has been the language of contempt that polarizes and generates enmity from all sides (if that is… Read more »
That is a powerful question counterlight, but many of us LGBT’s still go to worship our Creator since that our faith exceeds the hatred from his/her children.
Defies reason. Could be madness, but I hope counterlight that it is love and longing instead.
Ben W wrote: “To begin with I would not characterize it that way.” Surprise, surprise… Ben W wrote: “I think the Darfur piece calls for attention from all of us – it is that important.” You go first. And do it b e f o r e you moralise… We need to think what can be done (or what we can do), one thing is certain we can not simply ignore it!” We don’t know anything, really. Not nearly enough to pontificate, the way you do on an other issue here. Starvation and refugee camps have been around for quarter… Read more »
Ben W wrote: “It is a clear question of human rights and of justice, the reason a lot of people here claim as the basis for speaking. This is a test if ever there was one whether that is at the heart of our concern. I myself need the thought and encouragement of others to think about appropriate response.” Perhaps others here are not so tempted as you are to pontificate without knowledge. Nor as un-willing to learn… Ben W wrote: “Further, I don’t think my speaking up has been simply to “comment on the issue of homosexuality.” No? Ben… Read more »
Colin “we have published the police report on the liquid in the syringe that the attacker tried to inject into Davis Mac-Iyalla, which shows that it was a poison” The report does not show that it was a poison. The report shows that they suspect it was a poison but that they could not identify it, and that it was not a commonly available drug. It is entirely possible that it was a poison that they could not identify, and it is valid to keep on suspecting that it was a poison. But to go from there to stating that… Read more »
Ben “You will see above before your “syringe evidence” (who produced it under what conditions I cannot vouch for)” Can you see the problem we have with your posts? You are entirely right, you cannot vouch for who produced the report and under what conditions. That goes without saying, as you are not involved in this in any way. The fact that you mention it hints at a slight suspicion that, because you cannot vouch for it, and because you don’t actually trust those who are part of the process, it is possible that there was something fishy about the… Read more »
No, Ben, you make the classic conservative mistake of trying to reduce people’s gay relationships and orientation to ‘the way they behave’. It won’t wash, and until you stop doing this, you will never understand why you are, in fact, inherently homophobic in your attitudes, as is the religion which you follow.
Affirmation incorporates full inclusion at all levels, Ben. There are a few leaders in the CofE who do personally support such a stance, but publicly, few if any express that view.
Erika, Thanks for both your posts about this attack. I said earlier the point is to try and get to the bottom of this and deal with it. Your own point about whether it was actually poison or not is similar to my question, with the evidence as it is, and from this distance, we can only remain tentative. In the case of Darfur we have had the UN, TV networks etc all in different ways roughly confirming the same evidence (so it is not simply a question of suspicion but of being realistic about the position we are in… Read more »
Please ensure your comments relate directly to the subject matter of this article, which is what Archbishop Kwashi said.
Ben there is uncertainty and uncertainty. And where Archbishop Kwashi talks about an “alleged attack” and says he has been unable to ascertain any facts about it, we may confidently assume that he hasn’t tried very hard. The attack on Davis is documented, the injury was treated in hospital, the syringe analysed by the police, and a statement from Davis also taken by the police. This is precisely what would happen in the UK too. Here, too, there are not always actual witnesses coming forward with a signed testimony. Nevertheless, there is a degree of objective certainty even for those… Read more »
Erika, Three things: 1.Consideration of the evidence has nothing to do with whether the person is gay or not (note how another person on this list puts in question what has happened in Darfur on the world stage with public investigations and an array of media reports!). I have questions about the situation because it is far removed and because of the reporting on it (and therefore do not make any kind of “final” judgements). Perhaps you have more direct evidence and therefore more assurance. 2.I do not know with assurance that the bishop knows who made the accusations, and… Read more »
Ben: so you think that Colin Coward is in the habit of making up false claims , are you?
The mindset of those who immediately look for reasons as to why the events did not happen are clear enough. Its a shame you can’t recognise your own homophobia, but its a problem of conservative Christianity and its followers
Ben It’s quite simple, isn’t it. If you posted here that you had been attacked, I would immediately send a sympathetic email, telling you I hope you hadn’t been injured too badly and that you were coping with the psychological repercussions. That I have no actual evidence of the attack, do not know any of the people involved and cannot make any affirmative statements that hold up in a court of law has nothing to do with it. We don’t, generally, communicate on the basis of mistrusting everyone unless they provide us with a whole armful of evidence for what… Read more »
Erika, You forget that I do not know these people (not knowing in any close way the situation, with fragmented reporting)and when there are conflicting claims I withold judgement, it’s that simple. If you can’t deal with that I think that is your porblem. I have never said the people you speak of are lying. I have in fact said that I do not doubt that some of these events happened. About language, I have spoken up on this from the beginning, when there has been misrepresentation or denigration of people I have tried to point that out. When liberals… Read more »
Ben “when there are conflicting claims I withold judgement,” But you are judging. We all do. I come to my views by looking at what different people say, how they say it and what evidence they provide. So when Tunde starts a smear campaign against Davis and makes no effort to answer the questions Changing Attitude puts, then my judgment begins to veer towards CA. When, as in this thread, an Archbishop strongly defends his organisation against accusations that have never been made, but ignores requests for gentler language, that have been made, my judgment begins to veer a little… Read more »
At the end of the day, whether Davis was attacked or not is irrelevant.
Language that might incite violence against gays is an offence against the gospel and it behooves Christian leaders to be mindful and to avoid such language.
That’s the point.
Why do “conservatives” have such trouble saying “such language is wrong and we shouldn’t use it.”
It almost looks as though the problem is they don’t really believe that there’s anything wrong with inciting violence against gays.
I really hope that isn’t what they believe. I really hope this is just the usual feckless amateur communications.
Malcolm: I think the problem is as follows. Conservatives, on the whole, might be prepared to say ‘we don’t want gays to be beaten up’ However, their loathing of gay relationships is such that most of them would, in their ideal world, criminalise gay and lesbian people in loving relationships. As a result, they do not want to be seen to admit that any comments made against gay people are at all problematic or have any consequences. Otherwise they know that their comments, made all too frequently on various conservative blogs and boards, would certainly be seen as contributory to… Read more »