The Archbishop of Nigeria, also the Bishop of Abuja, had a press conference following the meeting of the synod of that diocese. He had a good bit to say about matters in the United States and the UK. Now that he has a proto-diocese on US soil I suppose he feels he has an obligation to speak to matters here. Fair enough. We criticize his support of legislation in Nigeria, he criticizes legislation in the US. But he is mongering hate-fish. We must have no part of it.
Here is what he had to say:
"WHERE IS THE CHRISTIAN CONSCIENCE?
Many people look to the USA as a Christian country and its leaders often assume the role of moral leaders for the world who are ready to point the finger at problems around the globe and yet we must not forget that there is another side to their story. The present generation of Americans would do well to remember their own history. While they and their forebears claim their nation to be a gift from God it is in truth a land forcefully taken with no respect for the human rights of the despised and dispossessed Indians – it is also a land where a great deal of its early economic foundation was built on the sweat and blood of de-humanized African slaves.
Americans seem to have forgotten the same LORD in whom they say "In God we trust". Deuteronomy 7 and 8 are relevant biblical passages
"And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth" 8:18a
"Then it shall be, if you by any means forget the LORD your God, and follow other gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish." 8: 19
The God who has blessed so abundantly is also a jealous God who requires obedience and holy living. But instead of calling for obedience to the Word of God we now have the situation where those who call for faithfulness in holy matrimony or abstinence outside of it risk being accused of hate speech. The breakdown in marriages in the USA is a scandal. It is causing a massive crisis in their own society and the rest of the world. But instead of admitting the problem and finding creative ways to strengthen traditional families we see a relentless promotion and protection of so called 'alternative lifestyles.' Recent legislative bill H.R. 1592 (Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007) passed in the House on May 3rd 2007, and the H.R 2015 (Employment Non-Discrimination Act.) being discussed are worthy of note. God will not be mocked."
As an equal opportunity critic, the Archbishop then takes on the United Kingdom:
"We see a similar crisis in the UK. The decline in marriages and the breakdown in families has become an epidemic. But instead of encouraging holy living and strengthening family life we read of a bishop of the Church of England called before tribunal to explain his refusal to hire a certain youth worker. His offence was 'discrimination', we were told because the job seeker in this case was a self-confessed homosexual and who said he had just ended a five-year homosexual relationship. Surely the Church has an obligation to promote holy living not apologise for it!"
He then asks the following:
"Where is the Christian voice in all these?
Why are Church leaders not concerned about this breakdown in society?
Why are they ashamed of promoting holy living?
Why have they lost their confidence in the Word of God?
We are very much aware of the challenges that face us today in Nigeria. Many of these we addressed in our Synod and continue to do so day by day. Our hope is in the Lord – the maker of heaven and earth - and in His Holy Word."
"We call on Christians worldwide to rise to the challenge of protecting our Christian: -
- Freedom to read the Bible privately and in public
- Freedom to preach from the Bible, and declare uncompromisingly the total oracles of the Lord
- Freedom to shield ourselves, and our children, from what we believe our God says is immoral and abominable.
- Freedom to seek to help those willing to escape Satan's deceitful traps.
- Freedom to live holy and acceptable lives in the sight of God
The issue here is not about homophobia. We are concerned about defending the right to existence of Biblical Christianity. It is about allowing the Spirit of God to transform people rather than deceive them that there is nothing wrong in their unholy practices. It is about rejecting a world system that wants to curtail our freedom to live as our Saviour taught us to. It is simply trying our best to live and encourage others to live to be HOLY as our GOD IS HOLY.
May the Lord keep us Holy."
The freedoms he lists: to read the bible publically and privately, to preach from the bible, to shield ourselves and our children from the immoral and abominable, to seek to help those willing to escape Satan's deceitful traps, to live holy lives in the sight of God… are all not only possible here in the ol' USofA and in the UK, they are freedoms practiced daily by all sorts of folk. The Rev. Jerry Falwell, may he rest in peace, said appalling things in all sorts of venues precisely because those freedoms are recognized.
The Archbishop is speaking of "Christian freedoms" here, and therein is the trap. What the Archbishop doesn't say is that he has an unlisted freedom in his back pocket, which reads, "We have the Christian freedom to claim this a Christian country as we define it by our read of the bible, our understanding of morality and our sense of Satan's traps. He gives himself away in his first sentence, "Many people look to the USA as a Christian country." His rant against the US rightly points to the genocide and slavery as part of the formation of the country is on target. But he has already slipped in the beginning proposition: that the US is or ought to be a Christian country. We know who this is written for: US and UK Evangelical (a word stolen from an honorable past) Christians.
The Archbishop has entered the morass of American religious politics. Soon he will be on the talk shows and an established darling of the religious right. After all, he has a proto-diocese here now.
This is a mess and it will only get worse. Falwell dies, Akinola rises. A whole host of people, friends and companions in this weary world will bear the brunt of it all. If this is Christianity, I want no part of it: rather a follower of Jesus Christ than a monger of hate fish.