I commented extensively on the letter posted by Faith McDonnell of the Institute on Religion and Democracy in an earlier post. She's written again, this time to Episcopalians in the Albany, New York, area, whom she believes are being specifically targeted by Chane's Washington Post op-ed.
The new letter, published in the Times Union of Albany, is similar. It's not worthwhile to go over it all again, but it is helpful to review two important points. First, McDonnell emphasizes IRD's role in "mobilizing church members across the country to speak for international human rights and religious freedom." However, we are still waiting for the IRD to take a clear stance on human rights and religious freedoms for those outside the church. Thus far, it's a Christian-only club, or at worst a club for non-gay Anglicans -- so much for democracy.
Second, it is patently ridiculous to argue that Akinola's "duel challenge of rebutting such accusations [that Christians support Western immorality] while opposing Shari'a" has somehow forced him into the position of supporting legislation that would limit speach, assembly, religion, and the press. Such legislation would, in fact, lay the groundwork for granting Shar'iya greater legitimacy. Furthermore, it clearly indicates to Islamist extremists that democracy is a pushover. Good job, Institute on Religion and Democracy!
If the IRD were truly a serious player -- and it clearly isn't -- it would go much further than Faith McDonnell's statement that "IRD does not favor restrictions on free speech," and both condemn the Nigerian legislation and Akinola's support of it. Or do political alliances count more than principle? Or, worse, are some principles more important than others?
In which case, I wonder with Bishop Chane, whether "what we see in Nigeria today may well be on the agenda of the Christian right tomorrow."