Thursday, December 07, 2006

Does Abp. Akinola Want to Jail All Gays?

There are two parishes in Virginia that will be deciding this weekend if they will be leaving TEC. Since Martyn Minns is rector of one of these parishes, and also a Bishop of Nigeria, overseen by Abp. Peter Akinola, the assumption has been that these parishes will choose to join Nigeria.

On Monday the Washington Post carried an article on this situation, which included the following excerpt:

...Some members of the two Fairfax churches say they are comfortable with the arrangement because Minns is their "missionary bishop." However, they know there are questions about a suburban Washington congregation technically under the leadership of Akinola, who has supported a new Nigerian law that penalizes gay activity, whether private or "a public show of same sex amorous relationship," with jail time.

Jim Pierobon, a member of The Falls Church serving as a spokesman for both Fairfax churches, said he believes Akinola is trying to ease tensions between Nigerian Anglicans and Muslims by supporting the law. That doesn't mean the leadership issue doesn't weigh on Pierobon's conscience.

"I can't ignore what's gone on," he said Friday. "It gives me pause. But I understand it well enough that it's not a show-stopper"...
In response to this article, Bp. Minns has posted A Statement of Clarification on the Truro Church website:

In a recent Washington Post article, Archbishop Peter J. Akinola was characterized as “an advocate of jailing gays.” That is not true.

Archbishop Akinola believes that all people—whatever their manner of life or sexual orientation—are made in the image of God and deserve to be treated with respect. “We are all broken and need the transforming love of God,” Archbishop Akinola said to me during a recent conversation.

Archbishop Akinola also said, “Jesus Christ is our example for this. He refused to condemn the woman caught in adultery instead he said. ‘Go now and sin no more.’ That is an essential part of the message of the Gospel and the teaching of our congregations.”
That still leaves me with some questions regarding Abp. Akinola's previous public statements in support of Nigeria's proposed legislation.

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.

Also note the following explanation from a Nigerian official regarding the proposed legislation:

...Justice Minister Bayo Ojo said the law would also ban "any form of protest to press for rights or recognition" by homosexuals, the AFP news agency reports...
So, what are we to make of this? Is Abp. Akinola continuing to advocate for the jailing of gays and their supporters? Or are we to consider Bp. Minns' denial as a retraction of Abp. Akinola's previous statements?

This proposed Nigerian legislation is contrary to Lambeth 1.10, the Windsor Report, the policy of the US Department of State, and basic Christian decency. One would hope that Abp. Akinola's (previous or continued?) support of such legislation would give the parishes in Virginia good reasons to reconsider aligning themselves with Nigeria.

Jim Naughton offers us two excellent commentaries on this situation. If you want more background on the development of this legislation and the Church of Nigeria's role in that development, make sure you follow Jim's links.


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