Friday, September 07, 2007

Good News from Nigeria for a change?

Still waiting for verification but Kendall Harmon and Stand Firm are both reporting that:

In an email communication The Venerable Akintunde A. Popoola, Director of Communications for the Church of Nigeria has stated that Bishop Orama has denied making the statements attributed to him in a September 2, 2007, UPI report. Additionally, the journalist who issued the statement has given a verbal apology for the misrepresentation and has promised to print a retraction.

If accurate it is indeed good news for ALL to rejoice and be glad that reports that a bishop of the Church of God would declare gay and lesbian people inhuman and "unfit to to live" were unfounded. I will be most interested in the full accounting of the interview and look forward to sharing that here.

In the meantime, here are a couple of "take aways" for a Friday afternoon:

I find it sign of encouragement that the outspoken rejection of the remarks attributed to Bishop Orama came so quickly and so clearly from ALL along the the theological spectrum -- notably titusonenine's Kendall Harmon and Stand Firm's Greg Griffith. It was also heartening to have the ABofC step up and call for an accounting ... as I noted earlier this morning "Good for him." That's the "Makes the Heart Glad" part.

On the other hand, the venom and vitriol unleashed in some of the comments and emails regarding this matter illustrate, once again, the deep divide between what the church says with its lips and what it lives out in its life and witness. That good, faithful Christian people could assert that the statements attributed to Orama were, in fact, "more biblical" that TEC's commitment to seek and serve Christ in all persons OF COURSE strikes fear and trembling into the hearts and minds of LGBT people who live on the margins of both their communities and their Communion.

And, as I've noted elsewhere, anybody who doesn't "get" the level of threat and fear that kind of marginalization engenders needs to see "For the Bible Tells Me So" and get back to me. So while it will be good news if the bishop was misquoted it is not good enough news that it outweighs the volume of anti-gay rhetoric which HAS come from "the church." It will not dissuade us -- Integrity, et all -- one whit in our commitment to offer an antidote to the venom of homophobia as we witness to the power of God's transforming love in our lives through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And it continues to "Make the Heart Sad" that there is SO much work to be done in that regard.

Finally, ANY of us who choose to step up and speak out take the risk of being misquoted or misrepresented. It's part of the deal. But I believe we assume the responsibility for setting the record straight when that occurs and (as noted above) I look forward to reading the fuller accounting from the bishop and journalist in question. I think that's called "Trust AND Verify!"


Frair John said...

I'll believe it when I see the retraction and a denyal from the Bishop. And even then I will be suspicious, if only because UPI's still got it up.

Lorian said...

I think the denial was to be expected. Whether Bishop Orama actually made the statement or not will likely never be known for certain. At least, if he did make the statement as originally reported, he has now learned to keep such sentiments private in the future. Not that it's a whole lot better, but at least it's not a public incitement to violence.

If he in fact did not make the statement, then I would expect him to not just publish a statement of denial, but also a statement contradicting the sentiments expressed in the original, and affirming his Godly love for his gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, no matter what he may believe about the scriptural correctness of their sexuality.

I await the developments.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for a great post, Rev. Russell. Though I am a rock solid reasserter, I would sooner be a Spong disciple than be associated with such a horrible statement. 99% of us agree that anything other than Christian charity to all God’s people is where one gets off the bus, regardless of what one views as Biblical wisdom or healthy living.

Anonymous said...

This is a non-denial denial issued five days after the report was published in the government-owned News Agency of Nigeria.

UPI simply monitors this and other African government news agencies and reprints what they say.

Five days later, after explosions of bad PR in America and Canterbury, Akinola's spokesman - NOT the bishop originally named - claims he was misquoted.

It's like Sen. Larry Craig waiting five days after "Roll Call" broke the story to send Mitch McConnell's spokesman out with a denial.

No one who's truly misquoted waits five days later to say so.

(And thank you, Reason and Revelation.)

Caminante said...

Whether the bishop said these words or not, someone wanted them to be in print. Their mere existence is offensive and the fact that they made it into the media is sufficient enough for whoever wanted them out there.