Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Nigeria and the Enlightenment

The Anglican Archbishop of South Africa, Njongonkulu Ndungane, has called for the Anglican Church to accept openly gay and partnered V. Gene Robinson, the Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire. Writes David Boaz (Guardian UK):
The Nigerian primate ... Archbishop Peter Akinola, condemned the consecration of Robinson as bishop, calling it a "satanic attack on the church of God." ... So what makes Ndungane different? He's the successor to Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu, one might recall. ... after [Ndungane] was released [from Robben Island] he decided to enter the church and took two degrees at King's College, London. The arguments of the struggle against apartheid came from western liberalism - the dignity of the individual, equal and inalienable rights, political liberty, moral autonomy, the rule of law, the pursuit of happiness.
While acceptance of Bishop Robinson is a decision for the Anglican Communion alone, my hope is that, barring acceptance, they can at least recognize the many gifts that "western liberalism" has brought to the developing world. Many Anglican conservatives would do well to heed the distinction between moral arguments that can be proved, and those that depend solely on religious texts or other authorities for their support. Failing that, they risk falling into the moral trap that Archbishop Peter Akinola already has -- by supporting legislation that would put openly gay Nigerians in prison for vocalizing their beliefs, he has let ministry turn to persecution.

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