Thinking Anglicans

news from Nigeria

Long-term TA readers will remember the saga in 2006/07 concerning proposed legislation in Nigeria, see for example, Nigerian legislation and the Church of Nigeria and Nigeria: legislation imminent.

The story was covered exhaustively on Political Spaghetti.

That issue has returned, see this from Amnesty International last week, Nigeria: ‘Same Gender Marriage (Prohibition) Bill’ violates Constitution, and also Nigeria: ‘Same gender marriage (Prohibition) Bill’ threatens imprisonment of members of the LGBT community.

This development makes even more timely the publication by Ekklesia of a research report by Savi Hensman Contrasting church attitudes on human rights for all.

Simon Barrow writes:

Savi Hensman has produced another very useful research essay for Ekklesia on different church attititudes and stances towards human rights for all. Since 1948 Christians have played a significant role in extending personal and societal respect for human dignity, including promotion of the UN Declaration. At the same time, church leaders have also questioned and denied rights-based precepts and practices in a number of instances. In this paper, Savi traces these discontinuities while pointing to the substantial traditional theological and spiritual resources that can be deployed in producing and developing shared commitments to freedom and justice.

The publication of this document coincides with the Primates of the Anglican Communion meeting in Egypt from 1-4 February 2009, the upcoming Church of England General Synod discussion on the Human Rights Act, the Convention on Modern Liberty in the UK, and recent comments on human rights from the Vatican, from Evangelicals and from the new Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Kyrill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad.


  • Father Ron Smith says:

    Having just read the statement made by the Coptic Pope Shenouda, (supplied by Simon Sarmiento on the previous thread) on the subject of homosexuality, one can perhaps understand why African and Egyptian Church officials are so keen to expunge any signs of ‘the Love that dare not speak its name’ (cf: Oscar Wilde) from their partricular territories of influence.

    This state of ignorance about the reality of human sexuality, and the need to come to terms with what modern science is bringing to light on the whole subject, would be laughable – if it were not so tragic; in terms of the many lives that have been spoiled by the intransigence of the Church on this matter, in past ages and even in today’s enlightened environment.

    The sooner the Anglican Communion tackles this whole area of human injustice, in ways consonant with what the Christian President of the USA is advocating for the citizens of his country, the better respected will our Church Leaders become in the eyes of the world for which Christ died.

    Ignorance is no longer an excuse for injustice.

  • Andrew says:

    This is off topic.
    Abp Desmond Tutu was pictured today, at the Davos economic conference, in the San Francisco Chronicle. Tutu has become, in many moral aspects, the number one Anglican of the world, at least in some sophisticated circles. He is certainly the number one Anglican celebrity. I wonder how non-Anglicans view ABC, bogged down still with sex-motivated threats of schism. Is his moral voice seen as ananchronistic, much as the Pope’s?

  • Just in time for the Primates Meeting…+Akinola can be extra generous to LGBT Anglicans now by pointing out that he NOW/SUDDENLY DISAGREES with this legislation…it´s somehow flawed, he´s seen the light, the error of his ways…er, well, maybe it will, at least, support his major reason for being/beefing…afterall.

    Spare us, oh great one, save us from acts of Nigerian political corruption and outright religious bigotry.

    We shall see.

  • What I could see in Pope Shenouda’s article is rather the Missiological Question:

    “How will our adversaries see that Christianity is true, even True, if we deny their (not so very popular) popular prejudices instead of accomodate them?”

    And yes, that may be a “deeply held” Theological – even Biblical – question.

    Nor does it seem to have been un-known to first Millennium Christians ;=)

  • Father Ron Smith says:

    “When asked why the Anglican church was spending so much time on the issue of homosexuality instead of war, AIDS and poverty – a question raised by South African church leaders – Nigerian Archbishop Akinola replied, ‘I didn’t create poverty. This church didn’t create poverty. Poverty is not an issue, human suffering is not an issue at all, they were there before the creation of mankind.’” – Savitri Hensman –

    In this article, Savitri Hensman has put a finger on the truth at the heart of Abp. Peter Akinola’s ignorance of logical progression. He says that:
    “Poverty is not an issue, human suffering is not an issue at all, THEY WERE THERE BEFORE THE CREATION OF MANKIND!”

    I know that Akinola may not be all that facile in the English language, but surely he understands the ridiculous illogicality of what he is saying here: When the Church or the World speaks about poverty, or human suffering, it is from the background of actual human experience – not some vacuum space, from before the Creation.

    Perghaps this is the clue to his (any some other Global South Primates’) misunderstanding of the complexity of human sexuality. The implication here for the need of education in the basics of human development are huge. For the requirement of true justice to be implemented on this, and other issues of our common humanity which are crying out to be properly understood, Akinola and his cohorts in parts of Africa who are insisting on Sola Scriptura methods of theological praxis to be maintained ‘at any price’, will have to be educated by the rest of the Anglican Community in the process of coming to terms with “What the Spirit is saying to the Church” – today, not just in the past. Renewal also ought to mean progress, not just looking backwards. What basically needs to be understood is that Jesus Christ was not just representatively male – but fully HUMAN.

  • Ford Elms says:

    “Poverty is not an issue, human suffering is not an issue at all, THEY WERE THERE BEFORE THE CREATION OF MANKIND!”

    So, is this a case where arrogance wins out over intellect? I mean, +Akinola is a very smart, well educated man. Can it be true that he really doesn’t understand what the Fall is about? It’s not merely the idea that human suffering by definition has to come after the creation of humans. It’s that human suffering is the result of the Fall. I mean, I know many of his fellows subscribe to the “humans are all criminals by nature, and God had to be a pure enough victim so that His own anger could be assuaged, and He could let the criminals get away with it” school of redemption, but, for some reason, I expected better of him. The Fall, and our redemption from it, are not some legal transaction whereby a corrupt judge is bought off by those who hate themselves enough for His liking. Jeez!

  • Robert Ian Williams says:

    Poverty doesn’t matter…! I noted he had a spanking brand new Mercedes when he was interviewed on the BBC documentary about GAFCON.

    Did it come from the 17 million adherents…..or an American billionaire?

    Incidentally he also took God’s name in vain.

  • john says:

    Well, I for one always (or nearly always) enjoy your contributions, RIW. But why not come back? Jesmond Parish Church is admittedly a dreadful church but all your instincts are ‘liberal Christian’. Of course, there are plenty such within the RC Church, but the breed is less clandestinely represented within Anglicanism. You ‘know’ that’s where your heart is.

  • drdanfee says:

    A real scandal for believers, and for those who follow something or someone other than Jesus of Nazareth, or nobody in particular at all – is the appaling state of human rights violations around the world for queer folks – not two daddies or two mommies committed ethically (and often seeking to confirm legal protections for the children involved, just as any other parenting family would seek to do).

    The Shenouda worry is a red herring. Shenouda is completely unable – not a whit of being able – to use both strong scriptural and traditional foundations, as well as contemporary democratic human rights law and policy thinking, to challenge the egregious ignorance – in this case about queer folks, but let’s face it, a great many places in the world do not have particular positive views of women or girls either. Any evangelical credibility gained by not challenging silly prejudices about queer folks is a house of witness built on cultural sands, not on the bedrock of God’s revealed graciousness in Jesus.

    Like Canaries in coal mines of the past, whatever can and is done to target the queer folks is a useful bellweather indicator of just how low cultural prejudices, sadly often grounded in and justified by religion, can sink into dark deeps.

    Instead of losing evangel street cred, a strong clear stand for queer folks would instead over time offer a shining witness, bright light from a city set on a high religious and ethical hill that cannot be mistaken for business as usual in, say, Nigeria or other countries of Africa.

    Bottom line? Shenouda is afraid of feeling publicly shamed, an image of laughing prejudice pointing fingers at him just as he points to ridicule queer folks, or at least preaches that his sense of gospel prophecy is so weak that he must necessarily remain silent while others do so all around the planet.

    So far as Akinola’s education, by their fruits we shall know how far any education has really been internalized. Good to see that he now says something to the effect that he has changed his mind about the sorry antigay Nigerian laws, but stay awake. The folks who passed P8 in California have the sheer chutzpah to claim they wish queer folks nothing but all the best as brother-sister citizens. Is Akinola spin doctoring again? Time and harvest will tell. Akinola and other conservative Anglican leaders have shown themselves quite able to proffer mild appearances while fiddling to demean their fav target groups via typical GAFCON purities. In these matters, such believers are still human, not superhuman saints and role models, alas, Lord have mercy.

  • Robert Ian Williams says:

    Dear John.. I am a Catholic by solid conviction, believing in the Petrine claims, as so beautifully set out in Scripture. I am not a liberal…but I am disgusted how the Evangelicals are using homosexuality to advance their cause…when they have turned a blind eye to divorce/ re-marriage…and in reality have no real understanding of marriage. They claim the clear authority of the Bible and can come to no consensus as to what it means as regards heterosexual marriage.

    In fact they have left Sodom, but stayed in Gomarrah. The false alliance with Anglo-Catholics is also ungodly and disturbing, and needs to be exposed.

  • Erika Baker says:

    “Jesmond Parish Church is admittedly a dreadful church but all your instincts are ‘liberal Christian'”

    I wouldn’t be so sure about that. RIW points out policies and inconsistencies without ever giving a hint of his own views.
    The only times you get a glimpse of his own thoughts is when he defends the Pope as preaching the absolute truth. And with the current Pope that’s more than enough for me to doubt even the slightest touch of liberalism.

    RIW is simply stirring it – why? Probably like all fervent converts who don’t convert because they truly believe in the new, but because of deep disillusion with where they come from. They just can’t let go until they’ve finished working through that.
    He’ll get bored of it eventually.

  • JCF says:

    “believing in the Petrine claims, as so beautifully set out in Scripture”

    *LOL*, RIW!

    On-topic: the essay by Savi Hensman is extremely helpful—if chilling. It is disturbing to see so inarguably Christ-like a concept as “human rights” (rooted as it is, in our view, in the dignity of the Imago Dei, redeemed by Christ) dismissed out of purely cultural (“worldly”, nez pas?) biases. Lord have mercy!

  • No more ad hominem comments about other commenters here either, please.

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