As you may remember, Bishop Chane wrote an op-ed piece in The Washington Post a couple of weeks ago criticizing Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola for his support of a law that would violate three articles of the United Nation’s Universal Declaration on Human Rights.
Since that time, Akinola’s allies in the Episcopal Church have been in a dither attempting to extricate themselves from the difficult situation in which he has put them. The Living Church, a right-leaning church publication (which, I will hastily concede, publishes some pretty good stuff) advanced the novel argument that while Akinola’s spokesman placed the Church squarely behind the bill in an interview with Voice of America in January, his statements didn’t really indicate that the archbishop himself supported the bill. (Except that shortly thereafter the Church of Nigeria endorsed the bill on its Web site. But maybe the archbishop didn’t know about that either.)
The LC also disputed Bishop Chane’s interpretation of the bill. It did so by relying–at least as far the story indicates–on the legal analysis of the archbishop’s spokesman. This is akin to using me as your only quoted source in an article disputing the interpretation of a bill before the U. S. Congress. I’d be flattered, of course, but your editor would suggest you make a few more phone calls.
Meanwhile, the Rev. Canon Martyn Minns, of Truro Church in Fairfax, Va., and Bishop Robert Duncan, moderator of the Anglican Communion Network have released statements that ignore the thrust of Bishop Chane’s piece:
“Our global community has certainly achieved no consensus on the issue of same-sex marriage or the related issues of civil unions.
But the Nigerian law has crossed the line in several important respects. Its most outrageous provision deals not with marriage but with “same-sex relationships” and prohibits essentially any public or private activity in any way related to homosexuality. It reads in part: “Publicity, procession and public show of same sex amorous relationship through the electronic or print media physically, directly, indirectly or otherwise are prohibited in Nigeria.”
Any person involved in the “sustenance, procession or meetings, publicity and public show of same sex amorous relationship directly or indirectly” is subject to five years’ imprisonment.”
Canon Minns’ parish even posts on its homepage a letter from All Saints, Chevy Chase, one of the two Network parishes in our diocese. Perhaps naively, the bishop assumes that private correspondence is, um, private. Interestingly, the letter posted on Truro’s site isn’t on All Saints’ own home page. I urge you to give it a read, though. It gives you an amusing glimpse of not one, but three priests asking their bishop to provide them with material that is easily available on the internet (including links that were already available on this blog) and setting a deadline for his response.
Among the least edifying elements in these statements include the assertion that it is necessary to violate the human rights of gays and lesbians to some degree to keep the Isamic north of Nigeria from violating them to a greater degree. This might be a plausible argument if Archbishop Akinola had never previously opened his mouth on the subject of homosexuality, or if there was any indication that the Church worked to soften a previous version of the bill.
The attempts to garner sympathy for the archbishop because of the recent sectarian violence in his country would be more compelling if the archbishop’s own statement warning Muslims that they did not hold a “monopoly on violence” were not widely seen as having exacerbated existing tensions.
In closing his statement, Canon Minns wrtes: “We are passing through trying times in our church. My hope is that we can continue to maintain respect for one another in the midst of our differences. In that regard Bishop Chane’s ad hominem attack is not a helpful contribution.”
As means of demonstrating my respect, I invite Canon Minns to take another look at the bishop’s op-ed piece and underline all of the ad hominem comments. I’ll contribute $50 to his church for every one he can find.
To see Minns’ and Duncan’s statements anaylzed in further detail, visit http://politicalspaghetti.blogspot.com/