Akinola, Repudiate Anti-Gay Violence

January 10, 2010

Douglas Foster: Black, Gay and Indisputably African

Filed under: Africa,Christianity,Uganda — Josh Thomas @ 9:57 am
Tags: , , ,

Anti-Gay demonstration last month in Kampala, Uganda. (Marc Hofer/The New York Times)

UPDATE: Chilling videos here of Scott Lively’s violence-inciting lies from Box Turtle Bulletin.

Check out this op-ed piece in the LA Times by Douglas Foster, the Medill Professor of Journalism at Northwestern University.

He describes the incredible liberation felt by African Gay men over something simple: dancing together at a Gay bar, Simply Blue in Johannesburg.

And he effectively indicts the three American fundamentalists—Scott Lively, Caleb Lee Brundidge and Don Schmierer—who inspired the notorious “kill the Gays” bill in the Ugandan parliament, and now want to run away from it:

They participated in the March conference that sparked the Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2009, though they insist they had no intention of inspiring legislation that calls for the death penalty for homosexuals. But by posing as experts who offered testimony about how gay men rape teenage boys and how homosexuals are plotting to destroy marriage and the family, they helped build an explosive device and light a fuse.

One of them, at the time of the conference, announced that these sorts of revelations were like a “nuclear bomb” that would eliminate the entire country of homosexuals. They can’t now disclaim responsibility for the bomb having been detonated.

Self-proclaimed Christians want Gay people dead. It’s that simple.

But what Lively, Brundidge and Schmierer will find—what Sarah Palin will find, and Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, “tea-partiers” and James Dobson will find—is that they are the cursed, despicable, tiny minority. And Jesus will have the last laugh.++

Scott Lively making money in Uganda. (Courtesy Box Turtle Bulletin)

March 25, 2009

“Corrective” Rape: Excuse for Male Violence


From mothersfightingforothers.com

ActionAid, an international anti-poverty agency founded in 1972, recently issued a report on the use of rape to control women in South Africa, and specifically violence against Lesbians to “correct” their misbehaving ways.

The organization reports:

In South Africa, no woman is safe from violence. The country’s war against its women continues unabated, with an estimated 500,000 rapes, hundreds of murders and countless beatings inflicted every year. For every 25 men accused of rape in South Africa, 24 walk free.

This shameful record has resulted in an increasingly brutal and oppressive culture of male violence, in which women are forced to conform or suffer the consequences.

As part of this oppression, the country is now witnessing a backlash of crimes targeted specifically at lesbian women, who are perceived as representing a direct threat to a male-dominated society.

”Corrective” rape survivors interviewed by ActionAid for the report Hate Crimes: the rise of corrective rape in South Africa, said that verbal abuse from their attackers before and during the rape included them “teaching us a lesson” and “showing us how to be real women and what a real man tasted like.” The research was carried out in conjunction with ActionAid partners People Opposed to Women Abuse (POWA), Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) and the Lesbian and Gay Equality Project (LGEP).

Since when does being a “real man” involve violence against women? Is that what heterosexual men tell each other on their rampages?

Where I come from, being a real man means never hitting someone smaller or weaker than yourself.

Real men don’t hit women; there’s no glory in mopping the floor with someone who can’t fight back. If males have something to prove, let them fight each other.

The only men who hit women and children are males who are afraid of other men. Fear and masculinity are opposites. Courage is the highest attribute of a real man.

He doesn’t care if some women don’t want him. He doesn’t feel a need to bash people who aren’t doing him any harm.

ActionAid continues:

Support groups say that rape is fast becoming the most widespread hate crime targeted against gay women in townships across South Africa.

One lesbian and gay support group says it is dealing with 10 new cases of lesbian women being targeted for ‘corrective” rape every week in Cape Town alone.

Zanele Twala, Director of ActionAid South Africa, said: “So-called ‘corrective’ rape is yet another grotesque manifestation of violence against women, the most widespread human rights violation in the world today. These crimes continue unabated and with impunity, while governments simply turn a blind eye.”

Thirty one lesbian women have been reported murdered in homophobic attacks since 1998. But support groups stress that because hate crimes on the basis of sexual orientation are not recognised in the South African criminal justice system, the actual number of women killed is likely to be much higher.

The murderers are walking free. Of the 31 cases, only two have ever made it to the South African courts and there has been only one conviction.

Tsidi, a hate crime survivor from Cape Town said: “Here in South Africa you have judges sending women to jail for stealing a loaf of bread to feed her baby, but men who gang rape women, who murder lesbians… they walk the streets as free men.”

South Africa has one of the most progressive constitutions in the world, guaranteeing the rights of gay and lesbian people. However, the South African legal system has not caught up. Hate crimes on the basis of sexual orientation are not recognised by South African law and the courts refuse to recognise that it plays any part in these cases. The police are reluctant to investigate hate crimes against lesbian women and there is inadequate support for the survivors.

One lesbian woman said: “We get insults every day, beatings if we walk alone, you are constantly reminded that…you deserve to be raped, they yell, if I rape you then you will go straight, that you will buy skirts and start to cook because you will have learnt how to be a real woman.”

“Worldwide, it is utterly unacceptable that millions of women and girls live daily in fear of their lives. The international community have a duty to address violence against women as the most serious threat to security in the world today,” Ms. Twala said.

Obviously the problem of violent male domination and state-sponsored homophobic violence isn’t confined to the followers of Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola. It isn’t confined to the Anglican Church or the continent of Africa. We find it sponsored by every major religion in every society in the world, West and East, North and South.

To a lesser extent we also find it condemned by every major religion in every society. But power = money, and to understand why we live in such an unjust world, follow the money.

President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should take swift steps to crack down on male violence against women and Gay people, including economic sanctions. Ms. Twala is right, such violence is the leading threat to family and personal security in the world.

Of course, if Obama and Clinton were to take such steps, the clamor among rich American businessmen would make eardrums rattle. “Now is not the time,” they’d say. “We need every job and dollar we can get in this economic recovery!”

Oh, but now is exactly the time to condition continued trade with other countries on progress in women’s rights. We’re still richer than any other nation, and we can afford to drive prices lower; it’s called bargaining.

“Steel-thighed” Hillary would be the perfect Secretary of State to carry this policy out. If Americans think she’s a tough broad, wait till she takes on a bunch of bushmen in primitive societies, backed by every woman on the planet.

Then she can come home, look every Fortune 500 CEO in the eye and say, “You’re next, buster.”

If she works it right, she doesn’t even have to be president to get her way. Michelle Obama can lead the cheering section—and then outdo her in style, beauty and popularity if she starts getting too big for her pantsuits.++

March 11, 2009

Nigeria Tries Again

Filed under: Christianity — Josh Thomas @ 3:33 pm


The Nigerian government tried to criminalize the freedom of association and assembly for Gay people and their Straight friends three years ago, but couldn’t get the bill through Parliament after an international outcry, including by the U.S. State Department under President Bush and Secretary Condoleeza Rice. Now we have a new administration that’s up to its eyeballs in economic worries, so the Nigerian government, in collaboration with the Anglican and Catholic churches, is trying again. They’ve cut the jail time from 14 years to 5, but even a month is enough to kill ya in a Nigerian jail.

Changing Attitude is the relevant LGBT Anglican lobby group in West Africa. I don’t share their hope that invoking the “listening process” on Gay issues within the Church is going to move vicious Archbishop Peter Akinola one inch – but I guess when you’re desperate, you use whatever ammo you’ve got.

Here’s their statement, written by a White priest in the U.K. who’s made it his business to advocate on their behalf.

Group leaders from Changing Attitude Nigeria present statement on Same Gender Marriage (Prohibition) Bill 2008 at public hearing in Abuja
Wednesday, 11 March 2009

by Colin Coward

Today, Wednesday, March 11, the Same Gender Marriage (Prohibition) Bill 2008 will be debated at a public hearing in Abuja. The Bill was referred to the Joint Committee on Human Rights, Justice and Women Affairs. Legislators in Nigeria will again address a matter of life and death for the tens of thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people of Nigeria.

Three leaders from the Changing Attitude Nigeria groups in Lagos, Jos and Abuja will be present at the hearing to present testimony against the bill. They will present the following statement:

Same Gender Marriage (Prohibition) Bill 2008
Statement by Changing Attitude Nigeria

The Same Gender Marriage (Prohibition) Bill 2008 will further undermine the fundamental human rights of all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Nigerians, their families and friends. It will criminalise LGBT Nigerians simply for being who they are. Anyone who “goes through the ceremony of marriage with a person of the same sex,” “performs, witnesses, aids or abets the ceremony of same sex marriage” or “is involved in the registration of gay clubs, societies and organizations, sustenance, procession or meetings, publicity and public show of same sex amorous relationship directly or indirectly in public and in private” and any priest or cleric aiding or abetting such a union would be subject to a five-year prison term.

Archbishop Peter Akinola and the bishops of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) have committed themselves to the process of listening to LGBT people. Lambeth Conference resolution 1.10 #3 committed the Church to listen to the experience of homosexual persons. The Windsor Report in para.146 called for an ongoing process of listening and discernment. The Archbishops and bishops of Nigeria cannot with integrity listen to LGBT people and support the Same Gender Marriage (Prohibition) Bill. If the bishops are honest and serious about listening to LGBT Anglicans they must speak out now in condemnation of this bill and ensure that it is defeated.

Conservative Christians want to use Nigeria as an example to other African countries to demonstrate that anti-gay legislation can be passed which criminalizes all affection and activity between LGBT people.

The Bill targets a non-existent threat. There has been no proposal that same sex marriages should be made legal in Nigeria. Changing Attitude Nigeria may wish that such a Bill legalising same sex marriage should be added to the statute book but we are realistic. A Bill could not be introduced until the present penal code against homosexuality has been repealed. Our ultimate goal is the repeal of Article 214 of the Penal Code and specifically Section 215, 217 and 352.

Very few Nigerian LGBT activists are free to speak out in a country which already has repressive anti-gay legislation on the statute book. The new Bill will increase the pressure on LGBT people in Nigeria and push them further into secrecy and a clandestine pattern of life. What the Bill will not do is reduce the number of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Nigeria. It will increase prejudice against them and heighten the risk of violence and arrest.

Changing Attitude Nigeria stands as a reminder to the world-wide Anglican Communion that the Church of Nigeria is promoting and supporting a bill which will erode the most basic human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The Nigerian government has an obligation to promote and protect the human rights of its population without distinction of any kind, including sexual orientation or gender identity. We therefore urge the National Assembly not to pass this Bill.

Find out more from Episcopal Café here.++

July 29, 2008

UK Grants Asylum to Davis Mac-Iyalla; Now the Rest of the Story

Davis Mac-Iyalla wearing my Purdue sweatshirt, under my crucifix in my home office.

I am pleased to note that the United Kingdom has granted the asylum petition of Davis Mac-Iyalla, the Nigerian Anglican Gay activist, with whom I’ve had frequent dealings.

The decision comes smack in the middle of the Lambeth Conference, where bishops of the worldwide Anglican Communion are in the midst of an orchestrated crackup over homosexuality.

The British government’s asylum decision has been reported in The Times of London, among many other media outlets. The news has been greeted with howls of outrage by anti-Gay zealots eager to preserve a favorable image of Archbishop Peter Akinola and the Church of Nigeria (Anglican), who have persecuted Mac-Iyalla for years as an embarassment to their anti-Gay crusade.

I know Mr. Mac-Iyalla better than anyone else in the United States, having served as sponsor of his six-week, coast-to-coast American tour last year. We spent every day and evening together, living in the same hotels and homes, sometimes in the same room.

I believe the British Government has made the proper decision in his case. Now that he is presumably safe, I am free to tell what I know of this man, one of the “World’s 50 Most Influential Anglicans.”

I do not like Davis Mac-Iyalla, nor do I trust him. But I believe him.

Indeed, I brought him to the United States last year to save his life from Church-inspired violence.

I was present when he met with an immigration attorney at the offices of Episcopal Migration Ministries in New York. We were there to evaluate the case for Davis’s applying for asylum in the U.S. The attorney pronounced it a very winnable case, though the U.S., like the U.K., does not generally look favorably upon impoverished Africans with sob stories.

Davis was not particularly convincing during this meeting, for which he arrived late. We’d had a disagreement about how to get from Chelsea Square to 815 2nd Avenue. He insisted on taking a taxi, while I told him as a steward of Episcopalians’ money that a bus would be fast, efficient and cheaper.

Once he arrived, he began telling his story of persecution in Nigeria in his laborious, roundabout way. To save time, I provided the lawyer with numerous documents obtainable on the internet, including an eyewitness report in The New York Times of the first secretive meeting of Davis’s LGBT Anglican organization, Changing Attitudes. Other documents included the Nigerian Church’s written smear campaign against Davis, photographs of his first Communion, his commissioning as a lay minister in the Nigerian Diocese of Otupko and a copy of a written death threat. I also provided evidence of Archbishop Akinola’s promotion of a draconian bill in the Nigerian Parliament that would have criminalized with a 14-year term any public or private meeting of LGBT Nigerians or their friends; I called it the “No Gay Lunch” law. I showed that the U.S. State Department under Secretary Condoleeza Rice had denounced the proposed bill and warned the Nigerian government its enactment would be an abuse of human rights.

The American lawyer found these documents convincing. Meanwhile we were also pursuing a request for an investigation by the United Nations’ “special rapporteur” for human rights.

Despite the attorney’s favorable recommendation, Davis chose not to pursue an asylum request, which was entirely within his rights. Richard Parkins, the Episcopal Church’s director of Migration Ministries, had counseled me not to try to persuade Davis, but simply to lay out the case. No one, Parkins said, has the right to tell another person to uproot himself from his country of origin for an unknown future elsewhere. I disagreed with Davis’s decision, but I accepted it.

The U.K.’s asylum decision is for me the best possible outcome; Davis can live in freedom and I don’t have to put up with him in the United States.

I found his private behavior over the six weeks we were together to be rude, manipulative, arrogant, spendthrifty and destructive. He was continually sexually predatory, in ways both disgusting and laughable. Our tour nearly broke apart in Chicago after the first week; I had to seek the intervention of two Lesbian priests who were hosting us. I also had to warn Bishop Gene Robinson, who had consented to a joint appearance with Davis at a Pride Week Eucharist in New York, of the difficulties Davis’s behavior presented, so that the bishop would not be embarassed by the association.

Earlier in Cleveland, the Dean of Trinity Cathedral, Tracey Lind, had to send her curate the Rev. Judith Alexis to fetch Davis to attend a Choral Evensong, after which a dinner was held in his honor. Though I had warned Davis of the time, I could not pry him loose from an explicit Gay website (silverdaddies.com) offering dating and chats with “sugar daddies.” He was in mid-chat and he wasn’t about to lose a live prospect. Ms. Alexis, Caribbean-born, her hair in dreadlocks, finally dragged him into the nave.

The entire tour was like that, but we managed to keep it together. He “scored” twice, both times while we were resident at American seminaries.

He did manage to keep up his appearances, and though he never became expert at presenting an overview of Nigerian LGBT Anglicans’ experience, dawdling too long on his own story and failing to connect it with the larger, even global issues, he can be an eloquent and powerful speaker. He managed to “nail” his speech once in Tucson, Arizona, ironically in a large parish that was more indifferent to him than any of his other venues.

He was also moderately effective in two appearances before the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council in Parsippany, New Jersey—visits I arranged with the help of Bonnie Anderson, President of the House of Deputies. We sat together at dinner that night.

Davis is occasionally prone to hyperbole and exaggeration, though I never heard him say, in his public appearances, a single thing that wasn’t true. One can question some of his interpretations of events and personalities in the Church, particularly the role of Archbishop Akinola and his associates, but Davis is a credible, dedicated and self-sacrificing advocate for LGBTs in West Africa and in the Anglican Communion. For that I respect him and call him my brother.

It is immoral, wrong and sinful to persecute this man. Archbishop Akinola and his allies—African, British, Australian and American—must answer for their encouragement of anti-Gay violence, whether physical, verbal, written or ecclesiastical. It is the Church itself they are attacking, to enhance their own power and wealth.

Indeed, the maintenance of power and wealth are always the sources of homophobic bigotry. That’s why the Archbishop of Canterbury acts as he does at the Lambeth Conference, to maintain the power and wealth of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion.

All over Africa, politicians allied with religious leaders incite anti-Gay violence and scapegoating. From Nigeria to Zimbabwe, Ghana to Uganda and Kenya, the cooperation of Anglican Churches in transparent schemes with the local strongman is an international scandal.

Davis himself is very familiar with this system of corruption; indeed for the first 30 years of his life, until he came out as Gay, he benefited from it. He grew up amidst fabulous wealth as the son of a Nigerian Army colonel. When we stayed overnight in the lovely home of a Gay American couple, renovated with taste and class and overlooking the Hudson River near West Park, New York, Davis dismissed his surroundings as “no better than my father’s children’s quarters.”

That he managed to say this, while living in a hovel in Togo, took my breath away.

Davis unfortunately understands gifts and bribes as “the way the world works.” Remember his constant visits to that “sugar daddy” website in the U.S.? If he had met a wealthy older man here, he’d have applied for asylum last year.

But his decision to leave his father’s home, to enter into poverty and danger, to subject himself to international abuse, even to give up his beloved Nigeria, in order to advocate for LGBTs in Africa and in the Church shows just how authentic, believable and faithful his witness is.

I do not like Davis Mac-Iyalla, I do not want him near me—but I recognize the Christ in him.

I will go to my grave proclaiming that the Holy Spirit got Davis that U.S. visa in 2007, after he’d been denied entry two years ago by both the U.S. and U.K. Mr. Parkins advised, two members of Congress helped, Episcopalians gave donations and issued invitations and I did my part coordinating a thousand pieces, but it was the Spirit of God Himself that moved the bureaucratic mountain and brought Davis to temporary safety.

If God be for him, who can be against him?

Who else stands for Nigerian Gay people against the entire edifice of Anglicanism? No wonder Akinola and Williams are so afraid.

One could never know this from iconography or Renaissance paintings, but as often as not, saints stink. To which Gene Robinson advises, “Love them anyway.”++

June 20, 2008

Arab Nation Refuses to Admit Akinola

Finally. Somebody has refused to allow Peter Akinola to wreak havoc in their country.

Reuters is reporting that the nation of Jordan has denied Akinola permission to enter to attend GAFCON, the right-wing conference that purports to plan the Global Anglican Future of schism, America-bashing and homophobia.

GAFCON (Fr. Jake calls it Gaffe-Con) has proven to be one disaster after another for its organizers. First it was supposed to happen in Jerusalem—but the Anglican Bishop didn’t want it there, saying it would inflame Israeli-Palestinian relations in that sensitive part of the world. Then they moved the parley to Jordan, with a “pilgrimage” to Jerusalem tacked onto the end. Now that hasn’t worked either; Jordan won’t let Akinola in.

Why? They want to know his role in an anti-Muslim riot in Nigeria in 2004 which killed 660 people. This was in response to an anti-Christian riot two months earlier in the town of Yelwa, in which 70 Christians were murdered. Supposedly some of the Christian rioters wore name tags identifying themselves as members of the Christian Association of Nigeria, which Akinola headed until he was tossed out earlier this year.

He was asked about all this by a reporter for The Atlantic magazine, grinned and said, “No comment.”

This is the Anglican Archbishop of Nigeria, who’s made his entire name and reputation by trying to purge the Episcopal Church of homosexuals, or barring that, to steal as many buildings and altar hangings as he can get his hands on.

Jordan said no thanks. The United States should likewise prevent him from entering. It appears the man’s a criminal.

The American homophobes who have cast their lot with him (in Virginia, Illinois and elsewhere) are cruising for a bruising. Akinola has no moral stature. He isn’t a leader of the self-proclaimed “orthodox Bible believers,” much less the second most powerful man in Anglicanism; he’s an outlaw, a pretender, a usurper.

Lately American schismatics seem to agree; they’re all running the other direction these days, to Argentina and the Diocese of the Southern Cone, which offers homophobia without the anti-Islamic violence.

Still, it’s all for naught; you can’t build a church in America anymore where the product is anti-Gay; the market rejects it. This isn’t a matter of “trendiness,” as the GAFfers like to claim; it’s a deep-seated conviction, born in American high schools, Why’s Everyone Picking on Tommy? What Did Tommy Ever Do to You?

The GAFfers are crazy-delusional. You can’t take the staid, solemn ritual of the Episcopal Church, overlay it with snarky homo-hatred and expect anyone but old people to show up. You sure as heck can’t put an outlaw in charge and think you now rival the Queen of England. It just doesn’t work that way.

This will all be over soon, and Tommy will have more fans than ever.++

May 28, 2008

Rightful Bishop of Harare: Persecuted Anglicans “Will Never Cease to Worship”

The spray paint says, “Mugabe is a dictator.”

From Only Connect, a pastoral letter from the persecuted Anglican Bishop of Harare, Zimbabwe:

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

We are shocked and dismayed by the continuous police interference with Sunday services and by the increased brutality causing casualties. Many of you have been assaulted and beaten, and several parishioners of St Monica’s Church, Chitungwiza, were brutally assaulted on 18 May and had to be admitted to hospital.

Our struggle to worship without harassment continues. The Supreme Court Order issued by the Hon. Chief Justice on 12th May was totally disregarded by the police, as previous orders have been. Needless to say where there is law and order such defiance would result in the arrest of those in contempt of court. Today in Zimbabwe the rule of law does not exist. That leaves us with no recourse to ensure that our members can freely and peacefully exercise their constitutional right for example, for everyone to worship without harassment. We are however not deterred by this lawlessness and will continue to seek justice through the courts.

Once again we appeal to the law enforcement agents, and especially the police, to let sanity prevail and refrain from harassing and brutalising Anglican Christians in Harare Diocese even if it may fall on deaf ears. Let it be said for the record.

As a Diocese we will look for alternative worship places to ensure that members of our congregations remain united as we struggle for freedom of worship. We will never cease to worship. We also believe, whether the police like it or not, that God will intervene, may be not today or tomorrow but in His own time. We will rejoice when this happens.

As Christians we encourage you all to take solace in reading the Bible and be guided by the power of the Holy Spirit. We are reminded of Jesus’ promise to his disciples:

“I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:16-18).

Our lives as Christians will always have security in Christ and not in the powers of this world. May we take this inspiring message into our hearts.

In the book of Revelation chapter 13 we are reminded of the image of the beast whose agenda is to destroy the followers of Christ (Rev 13:5-10). Rest assured that the principalities and powers of this world come and go, but the God who is Alpha and Omega remains to achieve His purpose to save humanity in spite of the challenges put before us by the beast.

We encourage those of you who do not belong to a house group, to join one, as this is a way in which you can support one another in prayer and otherwise.

Bernard Mizeki celebrations will be on 13-15 June.

May God bless you all!


Lord Jesus, we talk glibly about your suffering but rarely stop to think what it involves. It was not so easy to imagine the physical, mental and spiritual suffering you had to bear on our behalf. You underwent all this in the company of your Father, although at a time you felt abandoned but not forsaken (Psalm 22).
The physical, mental and spiritual anguish we are going through in our Diocese, meted by non-God fearing police officers and their superiors is not hidden from you. We believe that we are with you here on earth as in heaven. We believe that those who believe in you are never forsaken.
Send your Holy Spirit to guide and strengthen us as we go through the challenge of being denied to meet together in your name. Your Kingdom come.

+ Sebastian Harare

Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Harare CPCA

Background: Robert Mugabe, the revolutionary independence leader turned brutal dictator of Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia), is fighting to remain in power despite losing the recent presidential and parliamentary elections. His party, called ZANU-PF, runs campaign commercials on state-run television promising violence for those who don’t vote for him. One of his strongest supporters is the former Anglican bishop of the capital city, Harare, a man named Nolbert Kunonga, who has since been deposed as bishop and excommunicated. Kunonga himself has been accused of murder.

Mugabe’s platform blames Western imperialism and Gay people for his nation’s problems, which include 80% unemployment, 16,000% inflation and mass hunger. Similar tactics are employed by Peter Akinola, Anglican Archbishop of Nigeria and spiritual father to right-wing White Americans trying to destroy the Episcopal Church and steal our property.

Akinola, Kunonga and Mugabe: repent!++

May 15, 2008

NYT: Zimbabwe Unleashes Police on Anglicans

The New York Times online reports the following:

Published: May 16, 2008

JOHANNESBURG — The parishioners were lined up for Holy Communion on Sunday when the riot police stormed the stately St. Francis Anglican Church in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital. Helmeted, black-booted officers banged on the pews with their batons as terrified members of the congregation stampeded for the doors, witnesses said.

A policeman swung his stick in vicious arcs, striking matrons, a girl and a grandmother who had bent over to pick up a Bible dropped in the melee. A lone housewife began singing from a hymn in Shona, “We will keep worshiping no matter the trials!” Hundreds of women, many dressed in the Anglican Mothers’ Union uniform of black skirt, white shirt and blue headdress, lifted their voices to join hers.

Beneath their defiance, though, lay raw fear as the country’s ruling party stepped up its campaign of intimidation ahead of a presidential runoff. In a conflict that has penetrated ever deeper into Zimbabwe’s social fabric, the party has focused on a growing roster of groups that elude its direct control — a list that includes the Anglican diocese of Harare, as well as charitable and civic organizations, trade unions, teachers, independent election monitors and the political opposition.

Anglican leaders and parishioners said in interviews that the church was not concerned with politics and that it counted people from both the ruling party and the opposition in its congregations. Yet the ruling party appears to have decided that only Anglicans who follow Nolbert Kunonga — a renegade bishop in Harare who is a staunch ally of President Robert Mugabe — are allowed to hold services.

The violence by Mugabe and Kunonga’s forces has been going on for weeks now. It makes me very sad (and is a cause for much prayer), but at least I’m glad it’s finally being reported.

“As a theologian who has read a lot about the persecution of the early Christians, I’m really feeling connected to that history,” said Bishop Sebastian Bakare, 66, who came out of retirement to replace Mr. Kunonga. “We are being persecuted.”

Church leaders say the struggle in the Anglican diocese of Harare is not only over its extensive, valuable properties, but also over who controls the church itself in a society riven by political divisions, especially since the disputed elections of March 29.

Mr. Kunonga, who broke with the church hierarchy late last year and recently called Mr. Mugabe “a prophet of God,” is known in Zimbabwe as an avid supporter of the ruling party and a proponent of its seizures of white-owned commercial farms, often accomplished violently. In fact, he appears to have benefited richly from the policy himself.

Zimbabwe is the worst case, but this is how much of African politics works. The Times fails to mention that Mugabe is officially an Anglican too.

While such strong allegiances have clearly played a role in the attacks on parishioners, Anglicans beyond Zimbabwe have also taken steps likely to have enraged Mr. Mugabe and the ruling party, known as ZANU-PF.

The worldwide Anglican Communion issued a statement in January expressing “deep concern” about Mr. Kunonga’s close ties to Mr. Mugabe. Then on April 21, amid the postelection intimidation of opposition supporters, the communion called on all Christians to pray for Zimbabwe’s rescue “from violence, the concealing and juggling of election results, deceit, oppression and corruption.”

And three weeks ago, an Anglican bishop in South Africa persuaded a judge there to halt the delivery of Chinese-made ammunition to Zimbabwe’s military — bullets the bishop warned could be used to repress Zimbabweans.

As an Anglican I’m proud of my church’s opposition to Mugabe. I’m glad those bullets never made it to Zimbabwe. But The Times’ polite description of “the postelection intimidation of opposition supporters” is sadly lacking; try beatings, houseburnings and murders instead.

Still, credit Celia Dugger and an unnamed Zimbabwean journalist for getting the story; journalism is illegal under Mugabe. They could both be killed.

Now Bishop Bakare’s followers, who include most of the city’s Anglicans, say that Mr. Kunonga has falsely told the government that they are politically aligned with the opposition — an accusation the ruling party seems to be taking seriously.

Despite a High Court order requiring that Anglican churches be shared among the worshipers, church officials say that only people who attend services led by priests allied with Mr. Kunonga have been allowed to pray in peace.

This week, the Supreme Court dismissed Mr. Kunonga’s appeal of the sharing order, but church leaders say they are far from sure that the law will be enforced.

A widowed mother of five who sings with the choir at St. Francis Church in Waterfalls — and who was too frightened to be quoted by name — asked despairingly this week where she could seek solace now that her church was no longer sacrosanct.

“I go to church to talk to the Lord and feel better,” the woman said. “Now, I don’t know where to go.”

Man, that just breaks my heart.

The Times’ report takes awhile to get to the money quotes, but they’re coming:

When Chief Superintendent Oliver Mandipaka, a police spokesman, was asked about police assaults on Anglican parishioners, he said he was unaware of such episodes and asked for the names of those complaining. “Give me names, because without those I will not comment,” he said. “Thank you and bye.” Then he hung up.

At the heart of the conflict with Mr. Kunonga is more than property and power, but also some of the church’s core values. Mr. Kunonga told Anglican officials last year that he was withdrawing from the mother church because of its sympathy toward homosexuals, they said. By October, the Anglican Province of Central Africa said Mr. Kunonga had “severed” his relationship with the church.

Bishop Bakare said Mr. Kunonga had preached hatred of gays and lesbians, contrary to the Harare diocese’s stand. “We believe in a church that is inclusive, a church that accepts all people,” Bishop Bakare said.

Kunonga and Mugabe are so toxic that now, even an ally of Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola has disowned them:

But even a spokesman for an alliance of conservative bishops who oppose “the ordination of practicing homosexuals as priests,” distanced them from Mr. Kunonga. Arne H. Fjeldstad, head of communications for the alliance, the Global Anglican Future Conference, said in an e-mail message that Mr. Kunonga was not part of the conference, but “rather that he’s one of Mugabe’s henchmen.”

Mr. Kunonga appears to have gained much from that loyalty. In 2003, the government gave Mr. Kunonga a 1,630-acre farm outside Harare and a seven-bedroom house that sits on it, according to Marcus Hale, who said the farm, bought by his family in 1990 for $2 million, was confiscated without payment.

Mr. Kunonga’s influence has been felt in church after church in recent weeks as well. Anglican parishioners said they found themselves shut out or driven out by police officers who claimed to be acting on orders from their superiors to allow only Mr. Kunonga’s priests to preside.

At St. Paul’s Church in the Highfield suburb of Harare, the congregation refused to budge and kept singing “Gloria in Excelsis Deo” when a dozen policemen entered the church on May 4. But the commander radioed for backup, and soon more than 50 riot police officers arrived, the church’s wardens said.

Still, Akinola’s got way too much in common with Kunonga to wiggle out of this just because a spokesman said something. He’s in tight with the rich and powerful Anglican Establishment in Nigeria; he scapegoats LGBTs; he’s accused of fomenting violence against Gay people and others; and he lives rather well.

Pray for Africa; pray for the Anglican Church.++

April 28, 2008

Giles Fraser: Take Death Threats Seriously

The Rev. Giles Fraser, “team rector” of Putney in Greater London and lecturer in philosophy at Wadham College, Oxford, exhorts readers of The Church Times to take seriously the death threats recently received by Changing Attitude, an Anglican LGBT organization in England, Nigeria, Togo and elsewhere.

Dr. Fraser writes:

I get my fair share of hate mail writing this column. But I don’t get half the nastiness received by the Revd Colin Coward, the UK director of Changing Attitude. Here is a sample: “Evil homosexual promoter, we gave your Nigerian homosexual representative and his followers long time to repent but he underrated us. Come and save them if you can.” Then there was the equally charming: “You will loose ur life for what u re doing go and write todays date u have few days to live.”


The Archbishop of Canterbury has rightly commented: “The threats recently made against the leaders of Changing Attitude are disgraceful.” But I do not think we as a Church are taking all this nastiness seriously enough. It is not at all impossible to imagine that the hatred coursing through the veins of the Anglican Communion could soon result in somebody’s death.

It’s interesting to me, in a macabre way, that Davis Mac-Iyalla, director of Changing Attitude-Nigeria, is twice described as Fr. Coward’s “agent” or “representative.” Apparently the Nigerian thugs think an African man is incapable of coming to his own conclusion that Gay people have and are entitled to human rights, and must therefore be an “agent” of a (superior) White man in Great Britain.

But this belief may bolster Nigerian thug ideology that homosexuality is a White, Western import, as if words for Gay people didn’t already exist in native Nigerian tribal languages (“bowo!”) before English Victorian missionaries ever arrived.

Dr. Fraser continues:

There will be those who say that the Church of Nigeria cannot be held responsible for a few bad eggs. This would be true, if the Church did not describe homosexuality as “devilish and satanic. It comes directly from the pit of hell. It is an idea sponsored by Satan himself and being executed by his followers and adherents who have infiltrated the Church. The blood and power of Jesus Christ of Nazareth will flush them out with disgrace and great pains.”

Language matters. The history of human violence suggests that if you can persuade people to describe others as “cockroaches” or “rats”, or “unclean” or “evil”, then those thus described are not far from harm. And the Bible tells of a God who is for ever by their side.

Since the most recent attacks on Davis Mac-Iyalla and his colleague in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, a schismatic American website called Stand Firm in Faith has taken up its favorite Gay-bashing cudgel to deny that any such attacks occurred; demanding proof (police reports, physicians’ statements—so reliable in Africa) not only of the attacks themselves, but also that if any such assaults did occur, that the victims can prove that Archbishop Peter Jasper Akinola is directly and personally responsible.

Without a smoking gun, Viagraville shouts, who can prove that anyone got shot? Forget the victim over there on the floor bleeding to death; where’s the proof he was shot?

It’s a Trojan Horse demand, exactly like this one out of the corrupt, murderous government of Zimbabwe, where the entire world knows that president Robert Mugabe is doing everything he can to steal yet another election (aided by another renegade Anglican bishop). From today’s New York Times (“Signs of Attacks on Zimbabwe Opposition”)”

Senior officials in Mr. Mugabe’s party have denied that it has organized attacks on the opposition. The justice minister, Patrick Chinamasa, who lost his own parliamentary seat in the elections, has suggested it is the opposition that has fomented violence, and he challenged those accusing the party to come forward with proof.

I mean, Mugabe (who blames all Zimbabwe’s troubles on Gay people) ran TV commercials this year promising violence to his opponents: “If you want to live, vote for me.” (Background: Frontline on PBS.)

Stand Firm, of course, has no presence in Africa and no way to know whether Mac-Iyalla was targeted in an assassination attempt or not; this hasn’t prevented them from loudly denying that it occurred. “Proof proof proof! Show us proof!” If they actually got proof, they’d change the subject or find a way to denounce the proof. They don’t care about the truth; they care about their ideology, their income and their power. Everything, including God, is subservient to those goals.

Their problem is, with a few thousand other ex-Episcopalians in the U.S., that they’ve hitched their wagon to Akinola, a Nigerian huckster they barely know. One day they will pay a heavy price for this. The blood on their hands won’t go away, no matter how much they wash.

I caution Mr. Akinola: If anything further happens to Mac-Iyalla, your short life will become a living hell.

As to our pals at Viagratown: enjoy it while it lasts, kids, ’cause it won’t last long.

These are not threats; they are simply predictions. Real Christians don’t arm themselves, but trust God to carry out the justice human beings are incapable of.

We’ve seen thugs like these before. We grow plenty of our own here in America. Thomas Blanton:

Bobby Frank Cherry:

April 18, 2008

Archbishop Kwashi Promises Probe of Anti-Gay Violence, if…

Peter Akinola, Anglican Primate of Nigeria

From The Lead, part of Episcopal Café, an Episcopal Diocese of Washington website, posted by the Rev. Nick Knisely, Dean of Trinity Cathedral in Phoenix, this afternoon:

Last week the Church of Nigeria was accused of being involved in some way on a series of assaults upon the leadership of the Changing Attitudes Nigeria organization. While some have questioned whether or not the assaults took place, today the Nigerian Church has responded by deploring any possibility that they might have been connected in any way, calling for an investigation if evidence points their way.

From a statement by the Nigerian Church’s Archbishop of Jos which has appeared on the provincial website:

“We are saddened and worried that some Churches and Christians now find these teachings and standards unacceptable. However, we will never seek to bring any person or persons to our way of thinking and believing by using violence, force, slander or blackmail: to do so would be to contradict the gospel which we proclaim. Should anyone bring a case against us in this respect we will most certainly investigate it and deal with it. I would have hoped that the accusations made concerning the attack on Mr. Davis Mac-Iyalla could have been properly presented in this manner, with evidence: it would then have been dealt with swiftly. This was not done, and it would be helpful to consider that there may indeed be other reasons why certain individuals felt they had a score to settle with Mr. Mac-Iyalla. All my attempts so far to discover the place or the nature of these attacks and threats have proved unsuccessful.

Simply to accuse the Anglican Church of being the perpetrator of a physical attack on the streets of a large city, does not make sense. If a Nigerian Bishop or church leader were mugged in England, would the Archbishop of Canterbury, or even the Church of England in general, be blamed for this? That the Archbishop of Canterbury, backed by a group of English bishops should – without evidence being presented – choose to accuse any other person(s) of resorting to violent crime and illegal acts, is in fact to resort to the unchristian bullying and behaviour which they so abhor.”

The statement by the Archbishop continues:

May I note that I was invited to speak at a fringe meeting of the Church of England Synod last year. Mr. Mac-Iyalla was present at this public meeting, and at the end of my paper he made comments to which I responded. This all took place without there being any feeling of aggression, or any indication that the Church of Nigeria is homophobic or violent.

The full statement from the Church of Nigeria can be read here.

What follows is my comment, which also appears on The Lead:

It is significant that this comes in the name of the Archbishop of Jos, Benjamin Kwashi, who has been something of a centrist on these issues.

He is correct in noting his friendly and respectful encounter last year with Davis Mac-Iyalla during General Synod. Davis considered this to be of some significance, since shortly before this the Church of Nigeria had publicly questioned whether Davis even exists.

They labeled him a con man, denied that he was Anglican (“we can find no record of him on our rolls”) and various other claims that appeared to be part of a smear campaign – all because he has the audacity to say that he is Gay, Nigerian and Anglican.

Archbishop Kwashi knows full well why the Nigerian Church has been accused in this latest matter. Therefore the significance of his statement is not his defense of his church, which is to be expected, but his promise that evidence of Anglican involvement in anti-Gay violence will be investigated.

For that I thank him as a brother.

Finally, I note this description of Nigeria published in The Edge, an alternative newspaper in Boston, published April 17. I believe it to be accurate:

Nigeria’s current leader is Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, whose April, 2007 election to a four-year term was characterized by a U.S. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor report as “marred by massive fraud, vote rigging and political violence.”

That report also noted “government officials at all levels” committing abuses, including “politically motivated killings by security forces, arbitrary arrest and prolonged pretrial detention” as well as “restrictions on speech, press, assembly, religion and movement.” Homosexuality, illegal under federal law, is punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

The Anglican Church, headed by Peter Akinola, is the leading religious power in southern Nigeria. Akinola was turned out as president of the Christian Association of Nigeria last year for being too close to the Government. Akinola, the leading proponent of schism in the worldwide Anglican Communion and The Episcopal Church, remains as Primate and Archbishop of Abuja.++

April 9, 2008

Canterbury Denounces Nigerian Violence

Filed under: Christianity — Josh Thomas @ 11:37 pm

My my my; one post on this tiny blog and Anglican Land goes nuts. Our pal Greggy at Viagraville pops more pills; Fr. Jake stops the world; even the Archbishop of Canterbury weighs in. Why? Because of an e-mail Davis Mac-Iyalla sent me a week ago, describing how the leader of the Gay Anglican group Changing Attitude in Port Harcourt, Nigeria was assaulted at Davis’s sister’s funeral over Easter.

I posted the e-mailed press release as I received it, without comment. It speaks for itself as a statement of Changing Attitude-Nigeria. Do I know it to be true? No. Do I know it to be false? No. What I know is that it is a statement made by the only openly-Gay activist in Nigeria, my friend Mr. Mac-Iyalla, who is a prominent layman in the Anglican Church.

Considering how aggressively homohating Nigeria is, goaded on by its politically ambitious Archbishop-Primate who has advocated jailing Gay people for 14 years for the horrific crime of having lunch together, it seems right to me to give Mac-Iyalla a web forum in which to speak.

He gets to be responsible for what he says.

And yes, I’ve known him to exaggerate a time or two—but far less than Peter Akinola, the bloodsucking Archbishop of Abuja.

When Davis says that a Gay leader got beaten up at his sister’s funeral, I think he’s probably right. Greggy doesn’t seem to realize this, but Gay people really don’t have a need to make up persecution stories; they happen quite enough in normal life. It’s hard for us to imagine more of them. We have no need to invent when the examples are all around us.

The good news is that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, denounced the violence:

In response to reports of violence and threats towards Christians involved in the debate on human sexuality, the Archbishop of Canterbury has given the following statement:

“The threats recently made against the leaders of Changing Attitudes are disgraceful. The Anglican Communion has repeatedly, through the Lambeth Conference and the statements from its Primates’ Meetings, unequivocally condemned violence and the threat of violence against gay and lesbian people. I hope that this latest round of unchristian bullying will likewise be universally condemned.”

I am often critical of Archbishop Rowan, but in this case he deserves a little bow. Here is the point Greggy doesn’t seem to get: the Rev. Colin Coward is not a Nigerian, but a priest of the Church of England and a man with a reputation for reasoned, moderate truth-telling. I highly doubt Rowan would have issued this statement based on Davis Mac-Iyalla’s claims alone; Rowan was moved to act because of death threats received by Colin Coward thousands of miles away.

Get-Hard Greggy can “call out” Mac-Iyalla all he wants, demanding photographs, police reports (in Nigeria? oh, those would be reliable), hospital records—as if proof would satisfy; it wouldn’t, Greggy’d just change the subject. After all, it’s an activist site; he doesn’t deal in truth, but ideology.

Imagine that; someone actively trying to kill off the Episcopal Church for the sake of his own homophobic masturbation.

The ambition involved is quite breathtaking. But when he “calls out” Colin Coward, he’s facing someone well-known in the Church of England; hated by the right, not entirely endorsed by the left, but respected even in Canterbury.

Mind you, Colin and I have fought a time or two; but I believe he tells the truth.

I have no reason to doubt Mac-Iyalla’s claims, or Fr. Coward’s. And I know Davis better than anyone else in America. I know his weaknesses, flaws and sins; I traveled and lived with him for two months and believe me, the results were not that pretty.

But I also never caught him in a lie about the Anglican Church of Nigeria. I believe he speaks a prophetic truth about Peter Akinola, a con man who will one day embarrass every innocent in his breakaway American churches.

They’re the ones I feel for, really; they’ve let homophobia and Bible-thumping lead them into schism—a lot worse sin than sucking dick.

I mean, God’s already seen this stuff; he knows what goes on. And like all those liberals Greggy’s so distraught over, I think God’s a lot more concerned with warmongering in Iraq than who does what with a penis.

Wars kill people, and you should have seen the teeth-gnashing on GetHard when William F. Buckley died! They thought he was a saint, when he was just a TV performer with a gimmick—a guy who underpaid college students to search out polysyllabic words no one had ever heard of, which he could then introduce on his little-watched debate show on PBS.

He reminds me of the song from “Gypsy,” “You Gotta Have a Gimmick!” Buckley had one, all right, leaving the morons in Mississippi going ga-ga over the brilliant talk of the snake-oil salesman. “He has to be smart, he says words we never heard of!”

Gee whillikers. And he advocated every war in U.S. history, especially Vietnam and Iraq.

This brings me back to Fr. Jake, the world-stopper, with a cool cartoon of a snake-oil salesman. (Clue: snakes aren’t greasy.)

When I passed on Davis’s (and Colin’s) press release to Jake, I didn’t comment, I just served as a conduit. Like Greggy, I’m doubtful about the formal English attributed to the attackers. I doubt someone had a tape recorder on the scene. I doubt these were the exact words that were said; they’re way too neat—unless the so-called thugs were highly educated Anglicans, who may well have spoken this way. Nigerians are more English than the English are, though they also garble the language continually.

But I don’t doubt that the attack occurred, or that all such attacks are encouraged by Peter Akinola and the Anglican Church of Nigeria. No doubt he’s slick enough to stay several steps removed, but the man advocates violence—which is why several thousand Americans are going to one day feel betrayed.

Let them march on Greggy’s website in Mississippi.++

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