Canon Kendall Harmon, the proprietor of the right-leaning Anglican blog Titusonenine, was just interviewed by Voice of America's Howard Lesser about the meeting in Tanzania, and also about the legislation before the Nigerian Federal Assembly that would radically abridge basic civil rights (like speech, press, assembly, free exercise of religion) for gay and lesbian Nigerians.
In light of recent news developments (see here, here, and here), Canon Harmon's words, which echo the arguments made by other conservative American Anglicans, and by Archbishop Akinola himself -- that the legislation may be necessary given the threat of Shar'iya -- ring very, very hollow:
I have a great deal of respect for Kendall Harmon, and I don't want this come across as a personal attack.
As for this week’s indications that Nigerian legislators plan to criminalize same sex relationships and all promotion of a homosexual lifestyle, Canon Harmon says he hopes the Nigerian diocese and its leaders will strike a balance that respects the region’s cultural history and the personal rights and freedoms of Nigerian citizens.
“Nigeria is closely divided between Islam and Christianity. So you have Sharia law in the minds of a lot of legislatures. From an American perspective, it looks very, very punitive relative to American legislation. So I think the hard part is the degree to which the Church can push back in a compassionate way and still try to uphold the teaching of the Church in a society where Islam and Christianity are competing strongly,” he said.
But he "hopes that the Nigerian diocese and its leaders will strike a balance"? Too late! That ship has long since sailed. The very imminent passage of this legislation is rapidly turning into a serious PR disaster for anyone who continues to blame Shar'iya for this legislation, or who fails to recognize the implications this would have for potentially millions of Nigerians.
Here's an appropriate "balance" for Canon Harmon. Call for Archbishop Akinola to revise his endorsement to leave intact those parts of the legislation that state that gay marriage is not to be recognized by the Nigerian government, and strike those parts that would put a gay or lesbian Nigerian in prison for 5 years for disagreeing.
UPDATE March 2, 2007, 12:29. Canon Harmon, via email, has indicated that he did in fact condemn the legislation, but that it did not make the tape, and that the interview with Lesser was intended to be about Tanzania. I believe him. He also said he would never support legislation like this.
However, I don't believe that I should be the one clarifying his position. One shouldn't have to take it from me.
UPDATE: I'm currently engaging Canon Harmon's readers on this subject on Titusonenine. Come by and check it out.