Jim Naughton has received word suggesting that legislation in Nigeria, making any organizing for or by gay or lesbian people a crime with a penalty of imprisonment, has once again been delayed. Archbishop Peter Akinola of the Church of Nigeria has publicly supported this legislation, and was reportedly lobbying Anglicans in the Nigerian government now for its passage. Still no public response has been offered that I know of by our Anglican Communion Primates. A wide range of national and international groups oppose the legislation, from Human Rights Watch to the U. S. State Department, on the grounds that it violates essential human rights and undermines Nigeria's own constitution.
Canon AkinTunde Popoola, Director of Communications for the Church of Nigeria, in a comment at Thinking Anglicans writes simply this in response to criticism for the church's support:
"I do not think speaking publicly against the bill will do the Gospel any good in our context."
My question: Whose Gospel are we talking about here?
For more background:
Matt Thompson is watching at Political Spaghetti. Mark Harris reflects on the discussion of the Episcopal Church's Executive Council on the matter, and the New York Times published an editorial on the legislation. Also read the an editorial in Time, following up on an article on Archbishop Akinola several issues prior. Our House of Bishops only obliquely referenced the matter in their statement from Camp Allen on March 20th, but Bishop Catherine Roskam addressed it directly in the media conference immediately after, condemning any acts that inflict violence -- legal or otherwise -- on LGBT people.
Still asking what you might do?
Matt offers recommendations. I called my representative and senators asking for their attention to this matter, with the hopes that they might help bring appropriate pressure to bear.
Please continue to pray for Archbishop Peter Akinola, for Davis Mac-Iyalla, and for all LGBT people in Nigeria. Please also continue pray for the countless in Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, who suffer from the degradation of hunger, disease, inter-religious violence, governmental corruption, and the pollution caused by international drilling for oil along the Nigerian delta. Would that the focus of the Anglican Communion turn wholeheartedly to these pressing needs rather than get caught up in the scapegoating of some of our sisters and brothers.
It strikes me that none of us, regardless of where we stand on the question of human sexuality, can stand in favor of draconian legislation and death threats that undermine essential human dignity. The Gospel witness is that Jesus stood for and with all who were considered sinners in their own place and day when their lives and dignity were threatened. As Christians, we can do no less.