Thursday, March 01, 2007

Spotlight on Nigeria

While some of our Anglican colleagues are spending LOTS of time and energy insisting that the American Episcopal Church "comply" with the Windsor Report it's looking like some of them are falling rather short of that mark themselves. Case in point:

HRW PRESS RELEASE: Christian Leaders in US Condemn Nigeria’s Anti-Gay Bill

(New York, February 27, 2007) – A pending law in Nigeria that would impose brutal penalties on all relationships, activism, advocacy, and shows of affection among lesbian and gay people violates basic religious principles of respect for human dignity and life, a group of more than 250 Christian leaders said in a letter to the Nigerian government today. The draconian bill – poised to pass possibly as early as this week – would introduce criminal penalties for any public advocacy or associations supporting the rights of lesbian and gay people, as well as for same-sex relationships and marriage ceremonies.

“Christianity teaches us to respect all our sisters and brothers, and that includes lesbians and gays,” said Reverend Susan Russell, Senior Associate for Pastoral Life at All Saints Episcopal Church. “Whether in Nigeria or in the United States, the Christian value of human dignity for all is paramount. We call upon the government of Nigeria to respect basic human dignity and reject the persecution of lesbians and gays by withdrawing the proposed law.” Read the rest of the press release here.

Click here for a summary of how-it-came-to this from Political Spaghetti

Click here for an update on the current status of the bill in question. (Note that the title of the post is "passage imminent.)

Click here for a press release from Changing Attitudes UK which names the grim reality of the danger gay and lesbian people face in Nigeria that is about to become worse if this homophobic legislation is adopted. AND it names the very real complicity of the leadership of the Nigerian Anglican Church in further marginalizing and oppressing its gay and lesbian members:

[Colin Coward as quoted in the CA release]: "It is intolerable that no Nigerian Bishop or Archbishop has issued a statement condemning the threats of violence and intimidation against Mr Mac-Iyalla. By their silence, they are tacitly showing approval for those members of the Church of Nigeria who believe they have the blessing of their church to abuse another Anglican and threaten to commit murder by drenching him in acid.”

"Both Archbishop Akinola and Bishop Martyn Minns are now implicated in the deep and destructive prejudice shown towards lesbian and gay people in Nigeria, characterised by the threats against Davis Mac-Iyalla and the Church of Nigeria‘s support for the proposed anti-gay legislation."

"In Dar Es Salaam, in front of Canon David Anderson and Canon Chris Sugden, I asked Bishop Minns to contact Canon Akintunde Popoola and tell him to cease issuing lies and false statements about Davis. These statements have encouraged Nigerian church members to visit Mr Mac-Iyalla and threaten him with death. I have not yet received confirmation from Bishop Minns that he has done this, nor that such assurances have been given."

"Time is now urgent. Mr Mac-Iyalla has been forced into hiding yet again. The Primatial and Episcopal leaders of the Church of Nigeria are acting with blind disregard for the safety of one of their own church members. They are deliberately supporting a bill which contravenes basic human rights and justice and renders the listening process impossible in Nigeria.”

And finally click here to send an email to Archbishop Akinola (of Nigerian Anglican fame) that might read something like this (with thanks to Gordon Gritter):

Dear Archbishop Akinola,

It is urgent that you use your influence with the Senate of Nigeria to oppose the Same-sex Marriage Prohibition Act. Please remind the Senators that:

1) Paragraph 146 of the Windsor Report of the World Wide Anglican Communion states that "any demonizing of homosexual persons, or their ill treatment, is totally against Christian charity and basic principles of pastoral care"; and

2) Nigeria is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil andPolitical Rights, and the African Charter on Human and People's Rights, which guarantee freedom from unfair discrimination, and the right to privacy; and

3) Those rights are also affirmed in the Constitution of Nigeria.


It couldn't hurt!


John Gibson said...

And this is the crowd the PB wants to throw us under the bus for so the ECUSA can stay "in communion" with them.

Anonymous said...

Considering that under current law in N. Nigeria LGBT people can be stoned to death, I disagree with your statement that this new law (as inadequate as it may be) makes them worse off.

Lorian said...

Funny. I don't hear anyone from the "orthodox" end of this discussion coming to the defense of ++Akinola and friends. Are we all in agreement that the leadership of this movement to oust TEC from the AC are engaging in singularly un-Christlike behavior in their own backyards?

Anonymous said...

Susan, thank you for highlighting Nigeria again and mentioning Davis Mac-Iyalla.

However, anyone who thinks Akinola will be swayed by reason (as in the suggested e-mail text) is naive or a fool.

Here's what I sent Akinola instead.


Most Revd Archbishop:

May I suggest you go on record opposing that portion of the proposed law that prohibits homosexuals from associating, speaking, writing, assembling and other human rights, because you're getting hammered by your Episcopal Church enemies in America for it. Why give them so much ammunition?

The law as written is repugnant to the U.S. Bill of Rights, the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights and important provisions of the Windsor Report, and if the law passes without significant amendment, you'll be blamed here by ordinary Anglicans who otherwise sympathize with you.

It would also be gracious of you to express concern for Davis Mac-Iyalla and to ask that no one in or out of the the Church harm him, just as you were gracious in meeting him yourself in Dar-es-Salaam.

Such actions would go a long way to defuse the rising criticism of you and Bishop Minns in the West. Momentum is suddenly shifting against you, as even the Revd Kendall Harmon has now criticized that portion of the bill as "repugnant." It is becoming a wedge between you and your American flock. An American blogger is on a mission to debunk the "Islam is even worse" argument, and he's making serious inroads.

Yours in Christ,

Josh Thomas

t.l.h.heller said...

it there a way to subscribe to a listservice to receive your postings in my morning email without getting umptyump gazillion notices from allllll of the other gltb newservices?

Lisa Fox said...

I noted with sadness that Bishop Katharine is not among those who signed the letter urging rejection of the Nigerian legislation (though many TEC priests and bishops did sign it, TBTG). I suppose she's forebearing -- for a season -- from asking her brother Akinola to do justice or love mercy.

Anonymous said...

Or perhaps she's already written us off. Why else would she sign the communique` and not sign this document. Her words proclaim her support for us, but her actions do not back up her words.

And words -- to me -- are meaningless without action.