In a nice twist of missionary history, several of America’s oldest and richest Anglican parishes now claim to be under the authority of African bishops. The issue that has led them to renounce their own national leadership is homosexuality; some of the minority of Anglicans (or Episcopalians) who object to gay bishops in American dioceses are aligning with conservatives in Africa.
The most influential is Archbishop Peter Akinola, who leads the 17m-strong Anglican church in Nigeria, as well as his new congregants in Virginia. His hostility to homosexuality may reflect mainstream African opinion, but he is pragmatic too. His conservative reading of the Bible helps protect his Anglican flank against the fast-growing Pentecostalists. It also seeks common ground with Nigeria’s homophobic Muslims.
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