Sunday, March 04, 2007

Apologies

I recently posted two entries regarding comments made by Canon Kendall Harmon, the proprietor of Titusonenine, to Howard Lesser of the Voice of America. Reaction to these entries, both on his blog and on Thinking Anglicans, has disturbed me. Many engaged in the debate over homosexuality in the Anglican Communion wish to make the issue of Archbishop Akinola's endorsement of the Nigerian "gay marriage" legislation part of their own partisan polemics. This is a grave mistake, and it shows in the ugliness and personal nature of many of the comments on both sites.

The dangers associated with Archbishop Akinola's endorsement transcend the current crisis. Conservatives -- no matter how justified their position might be -- run the risk of looking like monsters, bent on jailing their opponents rather than hearing them out; gay and lesbian Nigerians lose by being put in prison for their speech. Until the implications of Akinola's endorsement are resolved, neither side can reasonably come to the table with an interest in honest discussion. Whatever we think of Peter Akinola as a person and as a spiritual leader, he was wrong to have endorsed legislation that would effectively put in prison those that disagree with him on the issue of homosexuality, and his actions must be admonished and corrected.

While the negative comments were not my own, I want to personally apologize to Canon Harmon for making him the target of vitriol from the left (such comments on Thinking Anglicans as "it's amazing how multiculti Harmon and the others can get when it furthers their plan to take over the church" were beyond the pale). He has been very gracious to me on his blog. I hope to return the favor continuously.

8 comments:

*Christopher said...

Matt,

Thanks for your continued efforts to keep this in the spotlight. I wrote again of this here.

Anonymous said...

Matt,

The issue is re-education. As I said earlier, Nigerian public opinion is firmly behind Bishop Akinola.

Compared to the Catholic Bishops and some other people I would not mention, he sounds like a moderate.

If we harp on homosexual rights, we are merely looking at the tip of the iceberg. What about the rights of widows? Illegal detention? Police Brutality? Environmental degradation? What about two-thirds of all Nigerian prisoners that are merely awaiting trial?

Let us be wise and start wisely. We cannot have Shari'a law and gay rights co-existing in the same country. Shari'a must be dismantled first.

As I speak, I doubt if anyone in the Anglican Communion has the backbone for this task. Certainly not Rowan Williams, not Liberal Theology (that bends over backwards to "accomodate diverse points of view"). Certainly not Akinola (dispite his bluster).

It is a pity that the Church is led by the West and the Church in the West is led by cautious scholars instead of men of conviction and backbone.

Maduka

Matt said...

Maduka,

Shar'iya will not be dismantled quickly enough to make a difference here. And the entire point of my posts has been to point out that Shar'iya should be irrelevant to whether this legislation is supported through the Federal Assembly. Decency and fairness (relating simply to questions of civil rights, not to whether homosexuality is sinful) are so abjectly violated by this legislation that it must not pass, and it must not pass with the Anglican Church's endorsement or acquiescence. Period.

Archbishop Akinola's tacit defense of this legislation has been that it is both in the spirit of his beliefs on homosexuality and it is intended to protect northern Anglicans from their Muslim neighbors. This argument has been parroted by Akinola's American supporters in various forms since the legislation was first presented.

But, honestly, can you really say that Anglicans will be any safer if this law passes? It just doesn't make sense. To be truly safe, Christians in northern Nigeria would have to renounce Christ, give up their possessions, and leave.

Anonymous said...

Matt,

As a Nigerian who has lived in Northern Nigeria I can tell you that there will be no progress in human (and gay) rights until Shari'a is abolished.

You can quote legions of academics to prove me wrong - but I know Nigeria.

The West has (as usual) chosen the easy target. I don't recall similar uproar when Bello Jangedi's right hand was cut off for stealing a cow or when Amina Lawal was sentenced to death by stoning for "adultery".

Akinola is all over the airwaves, but I doubt you can name a single prominent muslim leader.

Maduka

Matt said...

Maduka,

You are taking a valid and principled position. I agree with you that in Nigeria as a whole, Shar'iya must not be allowed stand in for standard civil courts.

But you are very mistaken about Amina Lawal. (I must confess that I knew nothing of Bello Jangedi.) She was very prominent in the news here in the US, and a subject of much consternation for our State Department, and for liberals in general. And, I assure you, Akinola is no more prominent in the US media today than Ms. Lawal was then.

But I think you misunderstand -- this is different. This is our own Church condoning something that we think is wrong. Perhaps the legislation won't be defeated, but it is my goal to make sure that if it passes, it is not with the support of American Anglicans.

How about the new Sultan of Sokoto, Abubakar? And, no, I didnt' look it up after you asked the quetsion.

Anonymous said...

Matt,

I shouldn't have included Amina Lawal. Thousands of unknown and unsung individuals have suffered under Shari'a though. Ranging from Christian Civil servants to Christian pastors.

I still have my fears about the West. I (and many others in Africa) fear the West is not tough enough to stand up to radical Islam. The entire American military might could barely protect a christian convert in Afghanistan and the American military is presiding over the death of Assyrian Christianity in Iraq.

Even during the colonial period, "Republican" France and "Enlightened" Britain deferred to the existing Islamic power structures. They treated Islam more favourably than traditional African beliefs and in many cases, christianity.

The West is calling on Nigerian Society to radically change its views on sexuality. It is easy to make that call from the comfort of your study - but that call has implications, implications that will be borne by the people on the ground.

We are Africans, we are not "Children of the Enlightenment". We do not have the same confidence you have in secular institutions because in our experience, secular institutions do not work. Faith based institutions work. Now faith based institutions come with certain mores and acceptance of homosexuality is not one of them.

We are not a Calvinist society and neither are we Sweden. If you carefully study our constitution, you will understand that separation of Church and State is not as clearly cut out as in yours

Maduka

Anonymous said...

http://www.janinedigiovanni.com/divine-injustice.html

Will help you understand Nigeria

Maduka

Matt said...

Maduka,

Thanks for the very disturbing link.

For the record, with respect to your prior comment, I want you to know that I understand very well that Nigeria is not an enlightenment nation. But I have never asked Nigerians to accept homosexuality (not the "homosexuality" per se is an enlightenment value). I have asked that speech, which is necessary for both faith-based and government-based institutions, be protected.

If speech is lost, then speech is lost for everyone.

If Nigeria calls for speech to be abridged, then it loses the right to even call itself a democracy.

If Anglican Nigeria calls for the speech of some to be lost, then it loses the right to speak for itself.

If American Anglicans acquiesce to Anglican Nigeria's call for speech to be abridged, then they, too, lose the right to speak.

These are simple things that do not require an "enlightenment" period to be understood. These are simple issues of fairness. I do not claim that Shar'iya is not dangerous or terrible -- rather that Anglican Nigerians, who do not live under Shar'iya, must not throw one group under the bus to appease it.

And, please, I ask that you not belittle the importance of speech -- you are benefitting from it right now on my blog, and I am glad to have your voice.