In a letter to the new Nigerian congregations in the United States, Archbishop Akinola seems to be trying to say the right things. But his comments about revising the most objectionable provisions of the draconian bill he has been supporting are vague and ring hollow, coming as they do at a politically expedient time. His attempt to blame the harshness of this legislation on Muslims, while continuing to support it himself, is deeply troubling.
If the archbishop disassociates himself and his Church from the bill, people will stop criticizing him for supporting it. But he hasn’t done so.
In a separate letter, Bishop Minns also takes pains to dispell notions that his Church is anti-gay. Okay, if it helps cut through the fog, let’s put that phrase aside for the moment.
Minns’ Church is supporting a bill that has been roundly criticized by 16 international human rights organizations and 60 members of the European parliament. Even the U. S. State Department has expressed its concern. These groups have no pooch in the great Anglican Communion dogfight. They are just calling it the way they see it. And what they see is a repressive piece of legislation supported by a Christian Church.
And the victims of this repression will be either gay people, or their allies.
(Father Jake is on this, too. And he’s got links to Akinola’s two previous statements of support for the legislation, neither of which say anything about softening its rough edges. Here’s Matt Thompson’s take.)
Update: Matt has a more serious second post on the letters. It begins:
“I am stunned by the PR corner Bishop Minns and Archbishop Akinola have put themselves in. They both know that Akinola can’t back down on this legislation. It would make him look weak, and it would further his embarrassment among his Nigerian co-religionists about the consecration of Bishop Robinson (Diocese of New Hampshire).
But if they stay where they are, they have to weather the increasing hail of bad press Truro and The Falls Church have received after their votes to leave for the rather sordid “civil rights” pasture of the Church of Nigeria.”
“From a purely PR perspective, there are only three ways through this pickle. One, ignore the bad press and push on as usual, stopping every once in a while to shift the weight of the growing burden of bad public perception that CANA carries as it moves to Nigeria. Two, have Bishop Minns publicly denounce the legislation, saying that it should never have been endorsed by Akinola in the first place. I do not believe that Minns will do this, but it’s an option. Three, have Archbishop Akinola withdraw his endorsement, or modify it.
There is no middle path here, even though they seem to want it both ways. ”