Saturday, March 11, 2006

"... or will Anglicans get there first?"

In what appears to have been an afterthought to a blog post on the Islamic response to Western tolerance of homosexuals, Andrew Sullivan wrote:
By the way, how long before religious right leaders urge a ban on gay marriage because it is inflaming Islamist terrorism? Or will Mickey [Kaus] get there first?
Good question. And if I might humbly ask, "... or will the Anglicans get there first?"

It may already have happened. The Rev Canon Martyn Minns', in his letter to his parish in Northern Virginia defending Archbishop Akinola's support of Nigeria's proposed gay-marriage ban (legislation that is really just an effort to limit speech and assembly), says:
There is a precarious balancing act between those regions that are under Muslim influence – where Sharia law calls for the stoning of homosexuals – and those that have a majority Christian population. The situation is volatile as demonstrated by the repercussions from the Danish cartoon saga that have already led to hundreds of Christian and Muslim deaths. Keeping the lid on this situation is a formidable task. In recent months homosexual activism sponsored in part by organizations from the UK and South Africa has threatened to add further instability. In response the President of Nigeria has proposed legislation that would restrict such activities. [emphasis mine]
Other conservative Anglicans with whom I have corresponded directly have said much the same thing: the new law is meant to appease Muslims in the north of Nigeria. (I agree, not because it prevents terrorism, but because it provides cover for Obasanjo's bid for a third term. I'm also beginning to suspect that it's intended to keep gay-friendly church organizations out of Nigeria.)

Why should this matter to American Anglicans? This is what Archbishop Akinola had to say in his Pastoral Letter to the Church (2/25/2006):
These times are perilous for our Communion world-wide, resulting from the continuing obstinate revisionist agenda, master-minded by ECUSA [Episcopal Church USA] and her allies. We must intensify our prayers for the truth of the word of God to be the guiding light for the Church. We will also do more by ensuring that we do not associate with ECUSA in any official capacity. We have already taken a decision to train our clergy and church staff within our own environment and in partnership only with those who hold similar biblical views of God and human sexuality with us. The emergence of Church of Nigeria Mission to America, known and called, 'Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA)', registered Charity Trust in U.S.A., is a serious step to put into action our bible-based convictions. [emphasis mine]
For more on this "Seventh" Convocation (from a man with a severely conservative -- can I call Republicans "conservative" anymore? -- bent), see here.

As Bishop Chane of the Diocese of Washington said in his Washington Post Op-Ed, "what we see in Nigeria today may well be on the agenda of the Christian right tomorrow." I'd say that it's on the agenda now. It could be years before the cultural standards of the Nigerian Church come to America en masse, if ever. But with the confluence of an effort to stifle the civil rights of Nigerian gay and lesbian citizens alongside the stated desire of the Nigerian polity to contain Muslim-versus-the-West cultural struggles and violence, Andrew Sullivan's question appears already to have been answered.

Stay tuned.

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