Monday, June 23, 2008

Primates of Nigeria and Uganda; In Denial or Simply Lying?

Here is a purported quote from yesterday's GAFCON press conference:
Iain Baxter of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement: "Don't you feel the gospel is compromised by bishops who support jailing gay people in their countries?"

Abp. Peter Akinola of Nigeria: "I am not aware of any."
Oh really? Shall we refresh the Archbishop's memory?

Here are some of Abp. Akinola's previous public statements in support of Nigeria's proposed legislation intended to incarcerate all gays in Nigeria:

From February 2006:
The Bill against Homosexuality:

The Church commends the law-makers for their prompt reaction to outlaw same-sex relationships in Nigeria and calls for the bill to be passed since the idea expressed in the bill is the moral position of Nigerians regarding human sexuality.
From September 2006:
Human Sexuality

The Church affirms our commitment to the total rejection of the evil of homosexuality which is a perversion of human dignity and encourages the National Assembly to ratify the Bill prohibiting the legality of homosexuality since it is incongruent with the teachings of the Bible, Quran and the basic African traditional values.
Note that Peter Akinola's name appears at the conclusion of both of these documents.

This proposed Nigerian legislation is contrary to Lambeth 1.10, the Windsor Report, as well as the policy of the US Department of State.

Abp. Akinola's claim that he is not aware of this legislation is more than a bit disingenuous, it seems to me.

Iain also asked about the Archbishops' response to the torture and rape of Prossy Kakooza in Uganda. Riazat Butt has more on their response:
...Akinola did not condemn these acts. Neither did the other African archbishops. Orombi said he had never heard of people being tortured because of their homosexuality, that when he learned about incidents – from the western media – he was at a loss to understand why he had not heard of them. He refused to accept that persecuting and torturing gay people was done openly in Uganda.

It was clear they failed to grasp how homophobic rhetoric from the pulpit led to violence and intimidation, as described by Colin Coward from Changing Attitudes. Still no condemnation was forthcoming. As a follow-up I asked whether the lack of condemnation meant they condoned torture of homosexuals. It took the Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, to articulate opposition to all acts of violence towards all people. The Africans didn't even nod in agreement.

Their muteness – either because they did not understand the question or did not understand why they had to issue a condemnation – is a harrowing glimpse of a dogmatic and draconian narrative that has not been explored thoroughly; least of all, it seems, by those who have allied themselves with the populous Anglican churches in Africa...
These are the men who intend to lead whatever it is that is trying to emerge out of GAFCON. Whatever this new thing may be, it is clearly not Anglican. I'm no longer sure if it is even Christian.

J.

UPDATE: Thinking Anglicans now has a transcript of the press conference. Both Akinola and Orombi were even more outrageous than can be seen in the bit I quoted. Go take a look.

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