Thursday, January 04, 2007

Nigeria Working My LAST Good Nerve!

Lost in the din of pre-Christmas news were a few articles about Episcopal parishes in Northern Virginia, including George Washington's parish, voting to leave the Episcopal Church and recognize the Archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, as their leader. Then there was news of a law in Nigeria that the Archbishop is pushing to make homosexuality subject to the death penalty.

I have written about the struggles of the Episcopal Church of the USA regarding homosexuality. My adopted church not only ordains openly gay clergy, but also has an openly gay bishop. This summer, at our General Conference, our deputies and clergy elected the Katherine Jefferts-Schori as the new Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the USA. As such, she is considered the "primate" of the United States in the worldwide Anglican Communion, and the equal to Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria. This turn of events, some have decided, must not stand.

The wealthy, largely conservative, and most certainly Republican, parishes of Northern Virginia who voted to leave and join the Anglican Church of Nigeria are bigots who should be faced with the full legal force of the church to strip of them of the property they hold in TRUST, a trust they have broken. For them, it was bad enough when we let women become priests and bishops. It got much worse when homosexuals were allowed to wear the clerical collar, and they reach the end of their rope when an openly gay man was elected Bishop of New Hampshire. Apparently, having a woman as the chief bishop of the church in the United States was the straw that broke the camel's back. They simply REFUSE to acknowledge the authority of a woman, and instead back a man who holds their views that women shouldn't be priests, let alone bishops, and gays deserve jail and death rather the the love of Christ and the church.

These people are stalwarts of the Republican Party nationally, considering the location of the fleeing parishes. They hold nothing but contempt for a process based on the US Constitution and written largely by our Founding Fathers. This contempt is based on the fact that they have lost the argument. They are on the wrong side of the great issues of the day, and they will not tolerate it.

Personally, I'm tired of mollifying these conservatives and their right wing, hate-filled agenda. If they want to leave the Episcopal Church, fine. Lock the doors and give us the keys as you leave. All property is held in trust by Parishes on behalf of the National Church. That national church should be vigorous in enforcing its rights in court. Let these bigots meet in a field for all I care. We have tried and tried to reach compromise, approach these people in good faith and loving spirit, and they spit in our eyes each and every time. It's their way or the highway, and I'm personally sick of it. We have a woman as the head of our church, and some dioceses may feel called to elect an openly gay person as their bishop. Get over it. Time marches on.

Let's look at what this "savior" of theirs from Nigeria has been up to. Peter Akinola is a proud bigot. He claims he must discriminate against women and gays because the bible commands it (it doesn't), and because he's in competition with Islam for the souls of Nigeria. Nigeria is a state that is 50% Muslim and 50% Christian. The Muslims control the northern parts of the country, and the Christians control the southern parts. There is a real competition for control of Nigeria's religious life. Since Islam hates gays, Christians must to in order to "compete".

In this spirit, Archbishop Akinola has openly supported a new law in Nigeria that would not only outlaw gay marriages (which are now legal in South Africa), but ANY form of association between gay people, social or otherwise, as well as the publication of any materials deemed to promote a "same sex amorous relationship." Under the law, anyone attending a meeting between gay people could receive a sentence of 5 years in prison. Other activities prohibited by this law are participating in gay clubs, reading books, watching films, or accessing Internet sites that "promote" homosexuality.

Take a moment to digest that paragraph. It's stunning the malice and sheet hatred of gay people expressed in this new Nigerian law. Two men having DINNER together could be construed to be illegal under this law. Straight people who allow more than one gay person in their home would be eligible for a prison sentence of up to 5 years! Reading this blog could get you put in prison or stoned to death. Apparently, the Christian south would only use prison, but the Muslim north would be allowed to use the death penalty, which constitutes stoning to death. The Republican Episcopalians in Northern Virginia have aligned themselves with Peter Akinola and his precious Gay Holocaust law. Make no mistake, that this bill is intended to eliminate any person deemed to be homosexual. No one will be safe.

In NYC, Archbishop Akinola was visiting a church. Afterward, he was greeting parishoners, and a man shook his hand, told him how much he enjoyed his sermon, and then introduced him to "my partner, who's been with me for several years." When Akinola understood that the man clasping his hand was GAY, he recoiled in horror, jerked his hand away, and jumped back. Later, he recalled this story with PRIDE.

Personally, I'm done with Nigeria too. In my work, I've known the problems they cause in polio eradication, the corruption, the graft, etc. We should simply build a wall around Nigeria and them rot. Oh wait, they have OIL, so we can't do that. Still, my disgust with this country leads me to support such a wall nontheless. They are trying to destroy my church, and if I went into their country, they would try to take my very life.

Reading my blog, one might think that all I care about are gay issues. That is certainly not true, as anyone who knows me could tell you. I care about access to quality healthcare, women's rights, strong families, fiscal responsibility, patriotism, fighting terrorism, etc. The list goes on and on. Yet, as a gay man, I feel a sense of danger in the political world surrounding me. I do have the sense that all will be OK in the end, but it will take a while. I do not think that any state in the USA would dare pass a law as draconian as the Nigerian law. Yet, I see people from the other side of the political spectrum rising up to CHEER the very men who push forward such laws. Perhaps my being a gay man makes me more sensitive, and more likely to have a vociferous opinion when it comes to gay issues. I would love to have no reason to blog about it ever again. Unfortunately, I think I will be an old man before that happens.

1 comment:

Everett said...

Wow, this is difficult for me. I'm married to a Nigerian lady and I'm an Episcopalian in a "liberal" parish. I love my wife and my Nigerian family is wonderful. BUT, the church scene there is scary. I spent the month of December there, one of my neighbors was a muslim fundemetalist -- not unlike our Christians. We had many long interesting talks about things. He asked why gays "choose" to be gay, I asked him if he "chose" to be a heterosexual. I told him it wasn't a choice.
I'm afarid Anglicanism in the US is on it's deathbed. I think if these folks took a trip to Nigeria to experience Anglicanism there they might see things in a different light.
We have a great parish here in Tempe, AZ -- you are welcome here.