Akinola, Repudiate Anti-Gay Violence

January 29, 2008

Nzimbi Fiddles While Kenya Burns


Kenyan Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi leading an anti-Gay forum in Rochester, Minnesota one year ago this week. He claims the Kenyan Church is growing madly, but this talk attracted all of 40 souls.

It’s been a month now since the elections in Kenya, and so far the violence is unabated. This is a particular tragedy felt all over Africa and all over the Anglican Communion. Lives are being lost and hopes are being dashed all over the continent, because up to now Kenya has been a particularly bright spot. It is a large and prosperous country which successfully moved from one-party rule to democracy. Now it appears the government has stolen the election, leading at first to mass street protests, then a government crackdown, and finally violence, which has degenerated into tribal hatred. And somewhere near the middle of it all stands the Anglican Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi, heretofore best known as a Gay-hating wedge-driver splitting the Episcopal Church in America.

He should have stuck to his own knitting. He should have concentrated on his own country instead of conducting border raids in the United States.

But the same can be said of many Anglican Archbishops in Africa. They’ve been so busy conducting anti-Gay campaigns in the West they’ve neglected their own countries and their own churches.

But wait, it gets worse. Several weeks before the late December elections, Nzimbi was appointed the head of a special religious peace commission to hold the country together through the electoral process—to bless it, if you will. Here’s how the Anglican Church of Kenya’s website described it:

Religious organizations in Kenya have launched a peace campaign to ensure a peaceful and secure process as the December 2007 general elections approach.

The campaign whose slogan is “Chagua Amani Zuia Noma” (Choose Peace Avoid Chaos) was launched recently by President Mwai Kibaki at a colorful ceremony at the Kenyatta Conference Centre grounds.

The Chairman of the inter-religious forum, The Most Rev. Benjamin Nzimbi had this to say during the launch:

It is my great pleasure to welcome all of us to this grand occasion. Today, we join hands with the rest of the world to celebrate peace and remind ourselves of the immense negative effects of conflict and violence.

Your Excellency, Ladies and gentlemen, peace is so important in our lives that we should not allow the transient activity of holding elections leave us beholding each other as enemies. We are one nation: Our differences in language, race, religion and economic power are just a flavour that makes living together interesting and worthwhile.

The “Excellency” he refers to is, of course, President Mwai Kibaki, the one who stole the election from opposition leader Raila Odinga.

So there was Nzimbi in September, receiving his “peace coronation” from the current President in the absence of the opposition leader. They must have all felt pretty good about what they were doing that day, ensuring peace and all.

Here’s what Kenya looked like yesterday.


Of course, since the riots broke out, Archbishop Nzimbi and his peace commission are nowhere to be found. They sided with the status quo back in September and now have no credibility at all with the average Kenyan.

So the Anglican Church is ducking undercover to save its skin. Other international friends have had to go to Kenya to faciliate negotiations, including former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and retired Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa. As the violence gets worse, the peace prospects dim.

Interestingly, the next news story on the Kenyan Anglican website carries these two worthies: schismatic American priests Bill Atwood and Bill Murdoch, who were recently ordained Bishops of Anti-Gayville by Nzimbi:

bill-atwood.jpg bill-murdoch.jpg

Don’t these White guys just look precious in their lace and finery? This stuff would be funny if it weren’t so tragic.

The one thing they all have in common—Nzimbi, Kibaki, Atwood, Murdoch and their American enablers—is that they really don’t care who gets hurt, as long as they get their way.

As we’ve seen over and over in nation and after nation, fake religious leaders define morality in personal, sexual terms to enable governments to act immorally, thus enriching those in power. We see it in America, in Nigeria, in Kenya, in Europe, in Central and South America, in Russia, in the Middle East; we see it everywhere.

How long, oh Lord, how long?

Pray for Kenya. Pray for the Church.++

December 13, 2007

Nigerian Witchhunts: Pentecostal Violence against Children

Filed under: Anglican,Blogroll,Christianity,LGBT Rights,Nigeria,Peter Akinola,Schism — Josh Thomas @ 9:22 am


As if there weren’t enough to be depressed about, the British newspaper The Guardian reports about the scapegoating of children in Nigeria:

Evangelical pastors are helping to create a terrible new campaign of violence against young Nigerians. Children and babies branded as evil are being abused, abandoned and even murdered while the preachers make money out of the fear of their parents and their communities.

Do read the article; yes, it’s depressing, but it’s an invaluable firsthand account for anyone who wants to understand Africa, its churches and worldwide fundamentalism. Here is the Pentecostal church at work—taught Biblical literalism by American and Scottish missionaries, the article claims—not the Anglican Church of Nigeria, which prefers to scapegoat Gay, Lesbian and Trans people instead. Archbishop Peter Akinola doesn’t advocate gouging Gay eyes out or throwing acid in their faces (although Davis Mac-Iyalla’s been threatened with the latter), he wants to jail Gay people for 14 years instead.

With all that is screwed up about Nigeria, you’d think Akinola would speak out against the abuse of children. But you’d be wrong. Since Anglicanism has to compete with Pentecostalism (and by many reports, is losing that competition), you’d think he’d compare and contrast these two versions of “Christianity.” But again you’d be wrong.

Beware the next time you hear some right-wing American Christian tell you to support missionary work. Chances are, the missionaries are just teaching Pentecostal-style hucksterism: how to get rich by stealing and committing violence in the name of God.

Lord, have mercy. Defenseless children!++

December 7, 2007

Kolini Tries Bait & Switch in Rwanda: “No Mingling” with Gays


Here’s the news from The New Times in Kigali, as aggregated by AllAfrica.com:

Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini has called on churches in the East African region to fight against homosexuality for the good of the society.

The leader of the Province of the Anglican Church of Rwanda insisted that Anglican churches in East Africa will not mingle with the homosexuals in the affairs of the church for the good of the community.

“We are reformed Anglicans who want to adhere to the original creeds of the Bible, and that’s why our church has decided to ignore the 2008 Lambeth Conference because it has not done much to fight homosexuality in the communion,” he said on Sunday.

Other than being another blanket condemnation of Gay people to advance his position in domestic and Church politics, it’s hard to interpret Kolini’s exact meaning. If he actually did say the words “the original creeds of the Bible,” it’s an incoherent statement; the Bible doesn’t contain any creeds.

The “no mingling” bit is equally confusing. Remember, English is not the native language of Archbishop Kolini or the news reporter, Grace Mugabe. The meaning and use of words changes from place to place. If you thought Biblical interpretation was difficult, try parsing the English spoken in Africa.

Suffice it for now that Kolini has felt the need to demonize Gay people, so ignore the plausible distraction and keep your eye on what he’s really up to. You can bet it’s really about politics.++

December 1, 2007

Nigeria & Shariah: Cool Out


There’s an interesting report today about Nigeria in The New York Times. It debunks the notion, constantly repeated by Anglican schismatics, that Archbishop Peter Akinola has to promote draconian anti-Gay laws to compete with the Muslims.

Shariah hasn’t worked out too well. One guy got his hand amputated for stealing a cow, but otherwise, the politicians turned out to be politicians.

The shift reflects the fact that religious law did not transform society. Indeed, some of the most ardent Shariah-promoting politicians now find themselves under investigation for embezzling millions of dollars. Many early proponents of Shariah feel duped by politicians who rode its popular wave but failed to live by its tenets, enriching themselves and neglecting to improve the lives of ordinary people.

For the past two years, U.S. Episcopalians have been treated to the amazing spectacle of White Southerners trying to place themselves under the jurisdiction of Black African archbishops, in a bid to segregate Gay people. Schism is now a cottage industry, complete with coffee mugs, T-shirts and cheap mousepads, as well as multi-million-dollar lawsuits.

The frenzy has even reached usually-placid Canada, where last week a retired bishop defected to Chile and became a Southern Conehead.

Loyal Episcopalians have tried pointing out to the dearly departed that they’re hitching their buggies to horses they don’t know; that the cure is worse than the disease. But the fever continues unabated.

In 2006 Akinola tried to get a law passed in Nigeria that would make it illegal for LGBT people to go to a meeting, visit a website or have lunch together. His proposed penalty: 14 years in prison.

It was so ridiculous that even George Bush’s State Department protested.

When Episcopalians publicized this outrageous proposal, the newbie “Anglicans” replied that Akinola’s program was much more humane than the Islamic fundamentalists to the north, with whom he was said to compete for hearts and minds, because under Shariah the punishment for Gay sex is death.

But Shariah doesn’t criminalize lunch, and any government that wants to outlaw “sodomy” soon finds the Gross Domestic Product plumeting to zero. There’s too much sex going on to possibly root it all out. You’d have to deputize half the population, and even then most people will look the other way.

So now the “Anglicans” are stuck. They’ve hitched their wagons to an archbishop who’s an international joke. Akinola tried to prohibit freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of the press and freedom of thought. They knew exactly what they were getting into, and they went with him anyway.

Their plunge over the cliff will be long and hard, so look away and don’t watch.

Meanwhile it’s interesting that the four U.S. dioceses considering secession (out of 110) have suddenly taken up with the Chilean Coneheads, not Akinola. His sun has set.

Still, it’s a long way from Falls Church to Buenos Aires, and the archbishop there is fruitcake. Sooner or later the Virginians will run out of places to hide. Not secession nor nullification nor segregation are sufficient to keep them safe from Gay people on their knees.++

November 26, 2007

Kleptocracy: Government by Thieves


Episcopal Café has a wonderful tribute today to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, written by Dr. Howard Anderson, warden of the Cathedral College at the National Cathedral in Washington, which recently presented him with a prize. Tutu stayed for a week and Anderson got to spend a lot of time with him. The article brings some good insight into Tutu’s spirituality and manner of life.

Anderson goes on to compare the Little Giant of South Africa with another African Archbishop, Peter Akinola:

When I read Archbishop Akinola, and for that matter, people like Bishop Duncan, I see a model of a God I do not recognize. A God who would ask God’s people not to emulate compassion, or combat injustice, oppression and evil, but rather, to judge those who fall outside of what can only be called a modern version of purity codes. It is an Old Testament God of wrath, of judgment, of tribe and clan that emerges.

Anderson also tells the truth about something most secessionist Episcopalians don’t know or try to deny: that Akinola’s claims of massive, exponential growth in the Nigerian Church are dubious at best.

While the intimidating presence of men of power like Archbishop Akinola thunder, Anglicans by the thousand in Nigeria leave the Church to find the “Good News” being lived out and preached in Pentecostal and other churches. Nigerian friends of mine tell of visits home in formerly Anglican areas that are now predominantly Pentecostal, for those churches are trying to meet the needs of the people, not to find new ways to condemn others.

But then Anderson goes off track, in my opinion. He makes a prediction about the future:

I think the Akinolas will soon give way to a less power hungry, more egalitarian leader, and with that, a polity which is more democratic, where clergy and laity, not just primates and bishops, discern God’s will for the Church. We must be patient. And even as men like Archbishop Akinola castigate us, reject our way of being Anglican Christian, we must pray for them. I must be patient like Archbishop Tutu told me to be.

It’s the “soon give way” that caught my eye. I posted this reply:

I wish I could share Dr. Anderson’s unabashed optimism about the post-Akinola generation of Church leaders. Nigeria is a kleptocracy. Corruption is rampant and institutionalized. Akinola serves this system, as do certain other very vocal African bishops. Gay-bashing also serves this system by providing scapegoats.

South Africa is a special case. Many people there, especially Mandela and Tutu, heard God’s call to serve justice and the people. God calls in Nigeria, Uganda and Zimbabwe too, but fewer people seem to be listening, except for the Gay people.

The good news is there are LGBT voices being heard in Uganda, thanks in part to Integrity; and in Nigeria, in large part due to Changing Attitude (Davis Mac-Iyalla and Colin Coward). I have talked by phone with two or three other young Gay men in Francophone Africa, though I’m unaware of any LGBT voices raised in Zimbabwe, which is so far down the tubes it’s entirely lawless.

What seems important to me as a Gay American Episcopalian is that we take a few steps on behalf of our African sisters and brothers. First, pray for them, knowing that God hears their cries and weeps with them. Second, do what we can to publicize the voices of LGBT Africans and help to tell their stories about actual conditions in their countries. Third, we should continue to press government and Church officials to respond to abuses of power directed at LGBT Africans to further the kleptocracy. There is no excuse for the worldwide Anglican Communion to participate in demonizing our people.

Fourth, LGBT Americans need to take a much more international view of LGBT issues. People are being murdered all over the world for being Gay. Skinhead thugs beat LGBT people in Russia with the cooperation of Putin’s police. Saudi Arabia and Iran cheerfully execute our people.

In short we need our own foreign policy, independent of Washington, London and Brussels. We need our own diplomats, as well as armies of organizers. As human rights are slowly won here in the West, our focus must shift to organizations such as the International Lesbian and Gay Association.

We are citizens of the world, skeptics of our own rulers; it’s not like we don’t have kleptocrats here. When U.S. Rep. William Jefferson (D-New Orleans) wanted to make some cold hard cash (discovered in his freezer), where did he go? To Nigeria, the capital of kleptocracy.

So we know what’s happening here and elsewhere. As we extend our gains in the U.S. and Western Europe, it’s time to expand our movement to the whole world.

Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”
Matthew 25:40

November 18, 2007

African Bishops Afraid of Protests?


Peter Tatchell in the pulpit at Canterbury Cathedral, 1998

This from “Anglican Mainstream,” which claims to be “Anglo-Catholic, Evangelical, Orthodox, Charismatic and Mainstream,” but which is at most two of those, including “Charismatic”:

It has been affirmed that the Lambeth Conference is definitely going ahead and that prior to the Lambeth Conference there will be a mini-Lambeth in each diocese, where hospitality will be offered throughout the UK dioceses to the arriving bishops from overseas. Many bishops of course from overseas have indicated that for many reasons they cannot currently accept the invitation to Lambeth. This has to do with the impossibility for them to have fellowship with those who have blatantly defied the counsels of the Lambeth Conference and the wishes of the Communion over the last 10 years. Some have mentioned their concern at the possibility of being subject to protests over their orthodox stances.

There are at least three ways to interpret this mealy-mouthed, passively-voiced report (“It has been affirmed that…”); one is that the protest I organized against Peter Akinola in Wheaton, Illinois in September has resounded throughout the Anglican Communion. I’m not at all sure this is true, though I might like it to be.

Another is that Akinola now wants to attribute to LGBT people the same violence he incites against us—and has incited against Muslims in the past, resulting in over a hundred deaths at the hand of rioting Anglicans. Accusing Gay people of this won’t stand up to scrutiny, however, as we are some of the most peaceful folks on the planet, despite constant hetero provocations. Why, you’d almost think we were Quakers.

A third is that the Africans are looking for any excuse not to go to Lambeth, since they’ve set themselves up for “the impossibility for them to have fellowship with those who have blatantly defied the counsels of the Lambeth Conference.” Clearly these folks aren’t Anglicans at all; Anglicans don’t cluster around doctrine, but about worship in the Book of Common Prayer.

Whatever excuse they come up with, I really don’t care. Lambeth Conferences have NO power to legislate for the Anglican Communion. Neither do Primates’ pronouncements.

But I do note that Peter Tatchell, the British Gay Christian activist, has already been accused by Akinola of “violence” for interrupting the Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey’s Easter sermon in 1998—with an entirely peaceful protest that lasted all of three minutes, for which he was convicted by an English court of the mildest possible misdemeanor, the court noting that nothing approaching violence occurred. Tatchell didn’t touch Lord Carey.

That didn’t stop Akinola, though, who has since exclaimed repeatedly about Gay thugs.

I have previously noted (in my novel “Murder at Willow Slough”) these dueling stereotypes of Gay men as passive sissies (“It has been affirmed that the Lambeth Conference is going ahead”) and marauding thugs. These opposites can’t both be true, and in fact neither one is. We’re not passive, but we don’t commit violence. If you’re looking for thugs, go to Akinola’s Nigeria.

Akinola’s remarks go beyond spin to utter falsehood. The man’s a liar, and by their fruits ye shall know them.

I don’t approve of what Tatchell did necessarily, interrupting a church service (on Easter no less), but Carey is a homophobic bigot and sometimes a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.

Meanwhile I note that Davis Mac-Iyalla’s protest that Abuja, Nigeria ought not to be awarded the British Commonwealth Games, backed up by Tatchell, has been successful; the 2012 Games will be held in Glasgow, Scotland.

Fewer thugs there, I take it.++

October 9, 2007

Human Rights Watch: Nigerian Corruption Endemic


The Primate of All Nigeria

The Washington Post notes this report from Human Rights Watch about how Nigeria is governed:

JOHANNESBURG, Oct. 9 — Human Rights Watch warned on Tuesday that wealthy and violent political godfathers have hijacked Nigeria’s eight-year-old democracy while enjoying almost total impunity for their misdeeds.

The group’s 123-page report portrays April’s disastrous and widely condemned national elections as symptomatic of a system in which political players compete mainly with rival gangs of heavily armed youths, who rape, kill and intimidate opponents. The winners of these battles then use the Nigerian government’s vast oil wealth to entrench their power.

“In violent and brazenly rigged polls, government officials have denied millions of Nigerians any real voice in selecting their political leaders,” the report says. “In place of democratic competition, struggles for political office have often been waged violently in the streets by gangs of thugs recruited by politicians to help them seize control of power.”

The report does not detail the Anglican Church’s involvement, so let me add a few facts which, if more widely known, ought to embarrass American “Anglicans” who have been quick to pledge allegiance to Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola because of his assiduously publicized anti-Gay campaign:

• The Nigerian government donates the land on which many Anglican churches are built, including Akinola’s own cathedral in Abuja. There is no such thing as separation of Church and state in Nigeria.

This is a much bigger danger to the Church and the Gospel than it is to the government. When the Church gets co-opted, injustice invariably results.

• The Nigerian presidency, by common consent, rotates between Christians and Muslims. Christian presidential candidates choose Muslim VP’s and vice-versa. The previous president was an Anglican; the current president is Muslim, and his vice-president is an Anglican. Among all the Christian denominations in Nigeria, only Anglican politicians win the top slots.

• Government officials attend every important Anglican event—a school here, a bishop there—arriving in their Mercedes and BMWs and mixing with the “in” crowd. Indeed, belonging to the Anglican Church is seen as a way to get ahead financially and politically.

• The president of the Christian Association of Nigeria—Akinola until recently, when he was defeated for re-election by his fellow Christians for being too close to the government—is an automatic member of the government’s National Security Council. Akinola tried to stack the deck for his re-election by rescheduling the vote for a date when his main Catholic rival was out of the country attending a Vatican event. Akinola’s fellow Christians saw through his manipulation and denied him even the loser’s automatic vice-presidency. He’s losing prestige at home, even as he continues to attract homophobes in America.

By the time this schism is done there’s going to be hell to pay. Akinola’s American backers have hitched their wagon to a mafioso in a Mercedes; can blood be far behind?

October 2, 2007

Akinola Protestor Rev. Deborah Lake on YouTube

Kenyan Human Rights Chair Slams Anglican Bishops


L. Muthoni Wanyeki, the executive director of the Kenya Human Rights Commission, is one African leader fearlessly doing her job. In an opinion column in The East African newspaper, she says this:

On July 7 this year, two black South African lesbians were executed in Soweto. It is believed that they were followed home after a party. They were removed from their car, taken to a field and gang-raped before being executed.

Their deaths were not isolated. Another woman, also known to be a lesbian, was killed in Cape Town around the same time. And, in line with the ignorant idea that lesbians can be “fixed,” over 10 women known to be lesbians were raped. An atmosphere of fear has been created.

That is South Africa. Closer to home, the Tanzanian Lesbian Association has had to help relocate two lesbians following the publication of a picture of them kissing under the banner: “Uchafu.”

Lawrence Mute, formerly a commissioner with the Kenya National Human Rights Commission, remarked last week, “Being blind, I know what being disadvantaged, being vulnerable, being discriminated against, is all about.” He was, on behalf of the KNHRC, one of the drafters of the so-called Yogyakarta Principles — an attempt to being together, in one document, the range of already agreed upon international and regional human rights standards that apply (or should apply) to ensure the equal treatment of the gay community (or communities).

Noting that the history of human rights is one of claim, contestation and confirmation, sexual rights are human rights — but remain abstract until those oppressed begin that arduous and long process of first staking claim.

That no less than one of the most powerful mainstream churches on the continent does not seem to understand this — or to even be willing to try to do so — is a cause for deep concern. Prejudice and stereotypes both cause and enable systemic discrimination. When they are “sanctioned” by those considered to be authorities, the logical outcome is the kind of hate crimes now being witnessed in South Africa.

LET US BE CLEAR ABOUT THIS. WE all reacted with horror to the kind of human-rights violations seen during the genocide in Rwanda. We all asked ourselves: How could family, friends, neighbours turn on each other in such a devastatingly vicious manner. What we all should remember is that all it takes is sanction from authorities of any kind — the state, religious organisations and so on. We are all capable of being genocidal. We just need to believe that we are “right” in being so.

What the African Anglican bishops have essentially said is that African citizens are “right” in their prejudices and stereotypes about African gay communities. It is thus the African Anglican hierarchy that should “repent.” If we do not stop and check ourselves, we can rest assured that the damage ultimately caused will not just be to the Anglican family worldwide. The damage will be to our own.

Kenyan Anglicans are some of the leaders in the current anti-Gay schism.

You can read the whole thing here.

It is nice to hear an African woman’s voice for a change in all this. Who better knows about rape as a weapon?

September 27, 2007

Canterbury’s Analysis of the Schismatics

Filed under: Anglican,Blogroll,Christianity,Episcopal Church,LGBT Rights,Schism — Josh Thomas @ 7:57 pm


“Theirs is a sectarian, congregationalist church that can tolerate only one sort of Christian and only the authority of bishops who agree with them. There is no room for dialogue, doubt or debate… Homosexuality is their last great taboo and they are determined to fight it tooth and nail. If they give way now, the whole authority of the Bible, on which they base their belief, must crumble, just as their ancestors thought it would disintegrate if slavery was deemed un-Christian or women were ordained or divorce was permitted or shellfish was eaten. It is the issue they have chosen. It has not been thrust upon them–they spotted it as a rallying point more than a decade ago and have been waiting for their opportunity to strike. They see it as a useful way to unite their constituency in opposition to the shifting sands of belief and secular culture.”

The Most Rev. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury,
quoted by Stephen Bates in “A Church at War: Anglicans and Homosexuality” (2005)

“A useful way to unite their constituency”—in other words, a scapegoat.

What do you see when you look at a crucifix? Atonement for our sins, or God as a scapegoat?

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