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.
Mark - There is a big difference between challenging particular legislation in a country and decrying that a country has lost its way, and that its Christian leaders have had little to nothing to say about it. I suspect he is going to learn the difference pretty quickly.ReplyDelete
cb you are absolutely right. My remark was only that the section where he is critical of legislation here is an OK turn around. Now what he is doing is taking sides among Christians here about legislation here.ReplyDelete
You are quite right... he is going to learn the difference pretty quickly.
Who is actually writing these missives? Several years ago one of my previous bishops was told that the statements being issued were authored by American parties and then issued under the name of African primates. Wouldn't it be helpful if the authors were identified so that the degree of manipulation could be seen?ReplyDelete
This statement strikes me, quite sadly, as a very old and well-worn recording in a new wrapper. Even the religious right in this country now recognize that this abusive rhetoric doesn't get much traction anymore.ReplyDelete
I think you're right, Mark. It is, at best, an "in-house" appeal.
And it's just another reminder that the OAC with Akinola at the helm is a fait accompli. Only two questions remain in my mind: 1) who will be part of it with him; and 2) how long the Archbishop of Canterbury will hold out hope for keeping the broken pieces together.
The first phrase of your last sentence touches a really painful spot for me! "If this is Christianity, I want no part of it ..." I am so tired of trying represent the gospel to people for whom Akinola (and the late Falwell) are all they know of what being a Christian means. Sorry - I just had to say, "Amen! Me, too!"ReplyDelete
What in the world makes you guys think Akinola is capable of learning anything? Despite his lofty (but empty) words to the contrary, he is already his own highest authority.ReplyDelete
What an odd communication. Sure sounds like our U.S. dominionists and I.R.D. types to me. But also, it reads as if the flack Akinola took for promoting the gay criminalization legislation got to him -- not that he learned anything, but he experienced shame or hurt at being called out on it. So he is hitting back with what he's got. Kind of petty.ReplyDelete
It is so sad that not one of you so far has responded to the questions he asks and the challenges he poses in this address at a press conference - but you are all either critical or suspicious of his motives, or critical of his theology or of the man himself, or claim he is being manipulated by someone who is writing this for him without any shred of evidence other than 3rd hand hearsay. He raises some very pertinent points about the breakdown in moral order in 1st world countries and the serious impact this is having on Christian living and witness throughout the whole world. Why not dicuss and respond maturely to this issue - or are you not willing to recognise reality?ReplyDelete
Come now - let us discuss the reasons for the divorce and abortion epidemic, for the proliferation of promiscuity, pornography and STI's, for the increasing rate of addiction of young people to harmful substances and self destructive behaviours, for the increasing violence in society and the extraordinarily high rate of ownership and use of guns in the USA, for the persecution of ministers for proclaiming the truth and trying to live by it even in such socially advanced countries as the UK; not abuse the man who raises these questions. Is it really hateful to raise questions about the rectitude of our western culture in the face of such problems? You are appearing to be like those people of the world whom Jesus spoke of to his disciples in John 15:18-25
For an example of the consequences of abstract doctrinal notions on actual flesh and blood, and to get a good look at what is really at stake in this whole conflict, have a look at this article in today's NY Times:ReplyDelete
While 3 to 5% of the population as a whole is gay, lgbts make up 20% of the homeless youth population, and are disproportionately more prone to violence and abuse.
Check out the shelter in Michigan that forced gay youth to wear brightly colored jumpsuits to single them out.
Yes please. Let's talk about the abuse of power and terrible cultural pressures to "perform" that leads to our young people to drugs. Let's talk about immigration laws that divide families -- even the ones Archbishop Akinola would recognize as holy. Let's talk about the absurdities of hyper-individualism, hyper-capitalism, the sin of greed, and the objectification of other people. Let's talk about the spiraling cost of healthcare and the terrible financial dilemmas that break up couples, families, and lead to the destruction of the body both physical and spiritual in this country.
And while we're at it, let's talk about the abusive way our thirst for oil pads the pockets of corrupt governments in Nigeria and elsewhere.
And let's talk about unjust wars and the hubris of the West.
But let's stop blaming it all on gays and lesbians.
Yes, I would be happy to discuss these matters with you, or even with Archbishop Akinola. Come and visit my blog if you'd like to discuss these matters with me. Maybe we can find a way to work together.
As for Archbishop Akinola, he has had every opportunity -- even at the latest primates meeting, to step up and work with rather than against others. The Episcopal Church and the Church of England all over the place is trying to feed the poor, keep struggling families together, and find ways to address the moral issues of our age: global poverty, rampant disease, hunger, and threats to the environment, etc.
Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Abuja bellows threats and invective, and appears to blame all the woes of the Western world on gays and lesbians.
Yes, let's stop and talk and find a way to work together.
As another example of the impact that "abstract" doctrinal notions have on real flesh and blood witness the extraordinary growth of Christians in the 3rd world - where people are turning away from lives of sexual promiscuity and thus reducing the risk of exposure of themselves and their families of being infected with AIDS, hepatitus and any number of other STI's. Witness that they are now living with hope and joy in desperately poor circumstances. They are now living by the only gospel which would give the same hope and joy to the homeless poor and youth in our own cities. Along with that comes a desire to amend their own lives and sexual orientation - if only anyone had the courage to speak the words of that gospel of the saving death of our Lord Jesus Christ for each one of those lost souls - and that is not some abstract notion - it is an actual historical event in human history, which continues to have an extraordinary impact in world even up to the present.ReplyDelete
Counterlight - I read that article in the NYT - does it say anywhere that the hostels where the gay youth experienced abuse were run by evangelical Christians, or were they run by secular humanists? But again, in your response, you have not dealt with the big issue - why are there so many youth who identify as being gay? It is indicative of a deeper and worsening spiritual problem that is not being recognised at all.
Brian F wrote: "Why not dicuss and respond maturely to this issue - or are you not willing to recognise reality?"ReplyDelete
Sorry Brian, but this may be "reality", but is not "mature" it is propaganda. Political propaganda.
It has nothing to do with the issues hinted at. They are just for show.
Propaganda can never be "answered", as if of good faith. It isn't. It's propaganda.
Someone is trying to make you fall into his traps.
This person is a promoter of hate laws.
Never forget that.
brian f - My problem with Akinola's statement is not that he points up problems, but that he points up problems that we at least in America have been made aware of on an ongoing basis by evangelicals and fundamentalists and Catholics, and other protestants for decades. I could list a dozen Christian leaders who have talked about this loud and long.ReplyDelete
He wants to make a name for himself as the great conservative Anglican leader in the tradition of Falwell, Robinson, Dodson, Warren fine. But don't try to come off as if you have either diagnosed a problem or found a miracle cure that others have not already put forth to the American public in spades. It merely shows that he is grossly out of touch with the broader culture and what has been going on here for 30 years.
The market place is glutted with high profile conservative Christian leaders who don't like our culture or our democracy and like to use gays as a wedge issue to get people to think that they are doing something about it by legislating against them. The problem for me isn't what he said, but that he thought he was saying something I hadn't already heard. Practically, ad nausem.
Brian F. -ReplyDelete
Why are these gay kids homeless?
Their "family values" parent(s) threw them out of the house, or threatened to kill them.
These are throwaway kids.
What they need is a friendly face, a shoulder to cry on, somewhere to stay, and a chance to go to school. Not another lecture with threats - God and I won't love you unless you stay chaste etc. The kids won't put together their lives until they have some sort of accepting relationship that acknowledges them as people with feelings and hopes.
The fixation on gays is just an excuse for straight people to avoid cleaning up their own messes.
Anonymous: I didn't ask why are gay kids homeless, please read my previous post more carefully. I asked why are more young people identifying themselves as homosexual?. I think I know and understand why kids who come out as homosexual get kicked out of home, but I don't agree with their parents' response to that difficult situation. I hope I would react differently as a parent, but thank God, that hasn't arisen yet in my family - many years ago my own brother identified himself for a while as being homosexual, after being heterosexual and now has a try anything orientation - just showing that in his case it really is a matter of choosing a lifestyle that pleases himself without reference to any higher divine authority for his life.ReplyDelete
And no - I am not fixated on homosexuals, nor am I blaming homosexuals for all the ills of our post modern society. Neither am I limiting my focus to North America - these problems are just as endemic in the UK and here in the most beautiful richest city in Australia. But I'm concerned about any manner of problems in our society for which secular humanism has no adequate response - declining education standards, increasing addiction rates, increasing promiscuity, increasing self harm etc etc etc.
And I still affirm that the gospel of the atoning death and bodily resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and of his continuing Lordship over us is the answer - if only people would turn back to God and be willing to submit themselves to his authority. I know this might sound a bit trite and doctrinaire to secular humanists who would write me off as a religious crank. I can not help but think that what is said in the book of Judges 17:6 and 21:25 remains true today - and that is why so many people bring so much misery into their lives, and then so called Christians merely so : "you poor thing, but don't worry, everything will be alright, God loves you."
And CB: it does no credit to you to attribute motives to Abp Akinola which would be far from his mind - "He wants to make a name for himself as the great conservative Anglican leader". Why can you not accept that he is simply endeavouring to proclaim the gospel and glorify God through his challenging critique of western Christians?
I know this might sound a bit trite and doctrinaire to secular humanists who would write me off as a religious crank.ReplyDelete
One certainly does not have to be a secular humanist to have that impression of you.
There are many, many reasons for the social problems you and Akinola cite, but blaming, say, the high incidence of divorce on gays is just silly. There's nothing to respond to there. It's that far beyond the bounds of reason. It's like meeting a raving lunatic on the street who loudly insists that Queen Elizabeth is sucking his blood as he sleeps. How would you respond to that?
Hypercapitalism and hyperconsumerism have a lot to do with our problems, but the Political/Religious Right never wants to address those issues. Much easier and safer to blame The Gays, I guess.
There are as many homosexuals now as there have always been.ReplyDelete
Just as there have always been proportionately the same number of left-handed people and the same number of black folk in the world as always. Like wise, the proportion of homosexuals remains constant. There is no "plague" of homosexuality and there never was. You can't catch it like the flu.
What has changed is that gays are now able and willing to live openly for the first time in centuries. We no longer need to meekly endure lies about us, such as the one that says we "choose" to be this way (a lie that has never made any sense to me; why would anyone "choose" to be become marginalized, legally disenfranchised, and constantly threatened with violence?). We no longer must quietly accept the lies and slanders about ourselves, our relationships, our communities, and our faith. We no longer feel obliged to accept the status of pathological and evil that the majority assigns to us.
Indeed, we've walked that Via Dolorosa in a very real and physical way that our enemies never will. We know in our flesh and spirit what it means to be despised and rejected. We've watched the High Priest rend his robes at the sight of us. We've felt the blows and heard the soldiers jeer us. We've felt that lash on our backs too. We know that Our Lord, the same one who made us and declared us to be Good with the rest of His creation, walks with us and for us, and bears all with us and for us.
Nancy P is right. Most of those kids are throwaway kids. I've seen this sort of thing myself over and over. Parents decide that they cannot love their gay kids, so they throw them out like so much garbage. They abandon them like an unwanted dog. And they get treated like garbage in the whole foster-care and shelter system.
brian f - Precisely because I do not think it is a challenging critique. He is being critical - yes. Provocative in your face - yes. Insightful - no. Humble - no. Arrogant - yes. Glorifying to God - no.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Counterlight. I am tired of being blamed for everything too. I also understand much of what Brian F is trying to say but he has imbibed too much of the uber-right rhetoric.ReplyDelete
But the moment that we think that all will be righted in the world if we believe alike, or one way, we lose our grip on reality. Christendom has never experienced a commonality of thought. So why would he believe that common belief would make any difference in how the US or UK or any other nation can address problems so universal in scale?
Faith in Christ has to do with relationships and how we live with one another, not dogmatic pronouncements.
It isn't hate to warn people away from destructive relationships; it isn't love to encourage them toward such relationships.ReplyDelete
And that is why we stand against the anti-gay "gospel," JF.ReplyDelete
It isn't love to advocate that a whole class of people be pathologized and disenfranchized based on old medical notions that were proved wrong over 40 years ago.ReplyDelete
It certainly isn't love to advocate that they be criminalized and incarcerated, as a certain African archbishop and his American followers do.