Friday, May 19, 2006

The Gospel According to Nigeria: Partners in Prejudice

The UK Guardian's Peter Tatchell offers quite a scathing critique of Nigeria's Akinola and of the Archbishop of Canterbury's failure to call him on his support for homophobic persecution. Click here to read the whole piece -- but here are a few excerpts to get you started:

With the full blessing of the Anglican Church of Nigeria and its leader, Archbishop Peter Akinola, the Nigerian government has begun legislating one of the world's most repressive anti-gay laws. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, leader of the global Anglican communion, has declined to criticise this church-endorsed homophobic persecution. Instead he embraces Akinola and the Nigerian church, appeasing their prejudice in the name of Anglican unity.


Dr Williams would not appease a racist or anti-semitic cleric. Why is he appeasing a boastful homophobe like Archbishop Akinola? The leader of the Anglican communion wants church unity at any price, apparently even at the price of betraying gay people. He would, it seems, rather unite with a self-proclaimed persecutor than with the victims of homophobic persecution. When it comes to the fate of queers, the sermon on the mount cuts little ice with the archbishop: he prefers to curry favour with modern-day pharisees. For gays and lesbians, especially gay and lesbian Christians, Dr Williams is a huge disappointment. He is a good man who has lost his conscience.


In contrast to Dr Williams's sad abandonment of gay people, Episcopal Bishop John Bryson Chane of Washington DC has courageously spoken out against the victimisation of lesbians and gay men by the Nigerian government and condemned the cruel sermonising of Akinola and the Anglican Church of Nigeria. Bishop Chane's support for the human rights of gay Nigerians accords with a gospel of love and compassion, while Akinola's homophobia embodies only hatred and ignorance.


All Along the Watchtower said...

I will say it once, I will say it a million time until this trashing of an Anglican Archbishop of the Anglican Communion's largest providence stops.

Peter Akinola does not hate homosexuals. I will say it again - Peter Akinola does not hate homosexuals.

Peter Akinola does not hate homosexuals. He knows - as we all do - that Jesus loves and died for homosexuals as he loves and died for all. There are no boundaries to Christ's redeeming love. If anyone knows that, it's the Archbishop of Nigeria.

Rowan Williams knows that too - he knows Peter Akinola.

Do you?

Shame on you for spreading such hateful and mean-spirited campaign worthy of the sort of hard-ball politics of personal destruction we see here in Washington.

As I have written here before, the last time I saw Archbishop Akinola he had just come from the bedside of one of his bishops who had been shot by Islamic extremists in a drive-by. We should get our facts together about the reality of the war on terrorism in Nigeria before we start slinging our arrows of cultural imperialism across the Atlantic - we cannot begin to impose our comfy lifestyle of abundant affluence and our self-righteous mean-spirited accusations on someone who is doing everything he can to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His love to people who are in despair in ways we cannot even imagine.


hg said...

The Archbishop Akinola that you paint with your entries on this blog, Susan, and that John Chane has painted with his long-winded statement of several weeks ago, is simply not the courageous loving man of God known by those of us who have actually met, prayed, and celebrated the eucharist with him. I have to agree with "aatw" that it seems that most attacks on Archbishop Akinola from within ECUSA are built on gravely erroneous hearsay and incomplete knowledge of the terrifying situation that he and his fellow Christians face daily "on the ground" in Nigeria.

revsusan said...

Great ... let's set up a meeting and have some tea. I'd love to learn more from the Archbishop about the challenges he faces proclaiming the Good News of Jesus in Nigeria -- and I'd love to tell him about the hard work we're doing trying to do the same thing here in Southern California -- the hotbed of secular hedonism.

Likely we'd have a lot to learn from each other -- but in order to do that you have to listen to each other and in order to listen you have to be safe to speak and in order to speak about being a lesbian Christian I'd have to do it somewhere other than Nigeria where the mere fact of my being gay would land me in jail.

My calendar is really full but I'd sure be willing to move some stuff around if ya'll could set up a chance for us to chat. I'd love to be able to ask him about our Nigerian brother who was scheduled to be with us in Columbus to witness to his faith and the challenges of being Christian in Nigeria but can't get a visa to come because since he's been identified as a gay man if he applies for a visa he ends up in jail. Maybe the Archbishop could help us help him with that.

Like I said ... I'd be willing to clear my calendar ...

rmf said...

People in the Communion and in the Episcopal Church keep trying to get to know Akinola better but he keeps refusing to have anything to do with anybody but who he says is ok enough to meet with. Problem? Could be.

As for trying to make Akinola be something that he's not, he is doing this all by himself.

He has repeatedly trumpeted his positions about gays and lesbians. They are cruelties out and out.

There is no way around it. He supports strongly, and may even helped propose/draft (I forget where I read this part about drafting) legislation that bans mentioning gays and lesbians. He fuly supports legalized discrimination against them.

His spokesman regularly trumpets this fact and derides gays and lesbians. Much money that has been donated to the church in Nigeria over the years by the Episcopal Church to help construct their communications networks and infrastructure, they now use to attack the Episcopal Church and to spread lies and aspersions against gay and lesbian people.

Everything in the Communion requires the Church in Nigeria to create safe space for these people, yet the leadership does the opposite, even backing laws that make it illegal for gays and lesbians to speak.

How can he listen to people if he wants to make it illegal for them to even speak?

Jeff Martinhauk said...

If Akinola is so filled with the love of Christ how does he condone this law that is filled with hatred and intolerance?

Check out today's Daily Office Gospel. I wish Akinola would.

Anonymous said...

I can not speak from anything other than my opinion, but I have to believe that the Archbishop has greater concerns than whether a group of individuals feel accepted in his country where I know that they must go to bed each night thankful that they survived another day of spreading the Gospel. We are so full of ourselves if we think that he is doing anything other than worrying about the overall safety of his flock. And maybe this is how he feels is the best way to keep them safe. It is arrogance of us Americans to even pretend to think that we have a glimpse of what he and others have been called to. the majority of the problems that we face here have to do with the assumption that we deserve the best, and we have every right to demand it. Why does the culture demand that people wait in line for hours to buy a new "improved" gaming system, when they just spent $$$$ buying one the year before? Because we want the best, and we want it now.
Those called to serve in hostile countries want to live, and want to spread the Good News...and the 2nd is even more important than the 1st to many of them.

Susan- Your comments were full of sarcasim and derision. You came across as if true discussion were the last thing you would ever consider. I obviously can not attest to your true intentions, but that is how you sounded. Maybe, for once, the Archbishop's actions and remarks could be viewed in light of what is really going on in his world, rather than making everything always come back to this agenda. There are bigger concerns facing the world-wide church than the gay issue, and not everything has to be directly related to that.

revsusan said...

There ARE bigger concerns facing the world-wide church than the gay issue ... and if the Archbishop would like to help us focus on those concerns instead of scapegoating gay and lesbian Christians for all the problems in Christendom then I'm all over it.

Until then I'm not holding my breath ... and the offer to pour the tea stands.

Oh ... and we're not "an issue" -- we're living, breathing, baptized members of the Body of Christ who have vocations and relationships and ministries and ask only to be given the chance to live in peace and witness to God's love in our lives.

Jeff Martinhauk said...

To anonymous and all who think that Akinola is so benevolently working away on his own issues... Why is he so busy trying to remove the "speck of sawdust" from the eyes of the ECUSA and Anglican Communion of what he considers to be our "issues" before removing his "plank" in his own eye of violence, poverty, disease, and general hopelessness?

I can't find in this the character you make him out to be. And if he is, I think he would love to have tea with Susan.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous of 7pm, if you think that Nigeria is such a great place to be a Christian and like what and how Akinola dictates, why don't you just move there.

jg6544 said...

Tell us, aatw and hg, how much do you know of the history of this country? What do you have to say in favor of the hundreds of thousands of white Christians and the hundreds of white Christian ministers who not only condoned segregation and racism, but in some instances participated in the expression of its most vicious manifestations?

jg6544 said...

Refresh my recollection, Susan. Did Akinola hang around to hear what you had to say in England last year?

Anonymous said...

That was helpful and mature commenting, anon of 9:52.

Just because I am not blasting him, doesn't mean I am called to serve over there. But it does mean that those that are called to serve in countries that are hostile and dangerous to the Christian Movement have my respect.

jg6544 said...

"doesn't mean I am called to serve over there."

Oh give me a break! More likely, it means you wouldn't live in Nigeria if someone held a gun to your head! Spare us the pomposity.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous of 8:20, the last thing I intended to convey was you "serving" over there, much less anywhere. What I intended and you apparently missed was that if you like Akinola's policies of hate and discrimination so much then you are living in the wrong country. My intent was that you should live there instead of here; you would be much happier...and frankly, so would we.

Jeff Martinhauk said...

Anon of 8:20 -

I think the more poignant comment is, again, why does Akinola feel called to serve over here when he has so many unsolved problems at home?

I'm going to disagree with Susan and say that I don't think there are "bigger" issues facing the church than the "gay issue". I don't think we can rank them. To the teenager sitting in his bathroom late at night, thinking of suicide because he has been taunted, harrased, teased, and feels like he is completely alone in the world (a problem perpetuated by the church's position), this is the ONLY issue. For the person in Nigeria suffering horrible persecution, the horrible living conditions there is the ONLY issue. We need to find solutions to both.

Akinola needs to focus on his "issues", and we need to focus on ours.

Jeff Martinhauk said...

Better yet, let's all focus on all the issues together.


Chip said...

"Why is he so busy trying to remove the 'speck of sawdust' from the eyes of the ECUSA and Anglican Communion of what he considers to be our 'issues' before removing his 'plank' in his own eye of violence, poverty, disease, and general hopelessness?"

"Violence, poverty, disease, and general hopelessness" are not "planks" in the archbishop's eyes. In the scriptural context, the "plank" must be a sin that the other person is guilty of committing. Akinola is not responsible for the issues that plague Africa. You can ask why he's not focusing on them more (although he is very concerned about them), but they're not "planks" in his eye.

Why is he concerned about the church over here? Because we are the worldwide body of Christ, and what one part does affects all the others. The church is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic in nature, and it does us no good to ignore any of those four marks of the church.

Peace of Christ to all,

Jeff Martinhauk said...

Chip, my point of view is different.

My point of view is that he is seeking something other than the benevolent healing of the problems that plague his country.

The manipulations and power plays he has taken within the primates and within our province tell me that he seeks power.

No other primate has taken such agressive action. Maybe Uganda. But Akinola has, instead of using his role to publicize the problems of his country, instead highlighted doctrinal and theological differences with his brothers and sisters in Christ, rewriting the canons of his province, throwing out the traditional role of the ABC, realigning his province so that he can take over power for his own sub-group of primates if he doesn't get his way.

That isn't acting as the Body of Christ. That isn't serving the purpose of the poor, the outcast, the destitute. That seems, at least on the surface, to be very self-serving.

Benevolent? Hardly.

qe2 said...

Akinola is missing his chance to witness Christ's amazing love and grace to Iran's regime of true and horrible hate and persecution of gays and lesbians. All one has to do is read the accounts of prolonged torture, gang rapes of gay men and lesbian women while in custody and then their eventual murders, all in the name of "religion". Instead, Akinola is not far behind Iran's extreme persecution and horrendous bloodshed if he continues in the narrow view he now holds.

May God have mercy on our brothers and sisters in Christ in Nigeria, but more so on the gays and lesbians--Muslim, Christian or otherwise--in Iran. Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini must be right proud of Iran right now.