Updates on Feb. 27. see below.
Bishop Chane has an op-ed piece appearing in The Washington Post. It is online here.
Here is some of what it says:
Archbishop Peter J. Akinola, primate of the Church of Nigeria and leader of the conservative wing of the communion, recently threw his prestige and resources behind a new law that criminalizes same-sex marriage in his country and denies gay citizens the freedoms to assemble and petition their government. The law also infringes upon press and religious freedom by authorizing Nigeria's government to prosecute newspapers that publicize same-sex associations and religious organizations that permit same-sex unions.
Were Archbishop Akinola a solitary figure and Nigeria an isolated church, his support for institutionalized bigotry would be significant only within his own country. But the archbishop is perhaps the most powerful member of a global alliance of conservative bishops and theologians, generously supported by foundations and individual donors in the United States, who seek to dominate the Anglican Communion and expel those who oppose them, particularly the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada. Failing that, the archbishop and his allies have talked of forming their own purified communion -- possibly with Archbishop Akinola at its head.
Because the conflict over homosexuality is not unique to Anglicanism, civil libertarians in this country, and other people as well, should also be aware of the archbishop and his movement. Gifts from such wealthy donors as Howard Ahmanson Jr. and the Bradley, Coors and Scaife families, or their foundations, allow the Washington-based Institute on Religion and Democracy to sponsor so-called "renewal" movements that fight the inclusion of gays and lesbians within the Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian and Lutheran churches and in the United Church of Christ. Should the institute succeed in "renewing" these churches, what we see in Nigeria today may well be on the agenda of the Christian right tomorrow.
Updates: Some readers have questioned whether the Archbishop actually supported the law. Here is this from Voice of America:
“The Anglican Church in Nigeria Thursday said it welcomes government decision to push for legislation to outlaw homosexuality. The government said it will introduce legislation to punish homosexuality by up to five years in jail and ban same-sex marriages. A spokesman for Nigeria's Anglican Church described homosexuality as an abomination.
The spokesman for the Anglican church in Nigeria, Reverend Tunde Popoola, says the proposed ban is appropriate. The Anglican community in Nigeria has long waged a vigorous campaign against homosexuals, as Reverend Popoola explains.
"The Anglican church in Nigeria has been in the forefront of condemning the attitude because the church sees it as an aberration, in other words, we see it as against the norm. We see it as an abomination," he said.”
Others have asked whether the law does what the bishop says. Here it is as a pdf.
Here are the sections that I think should give pause to anyone, regardless of their views on same sex marriage:
6. Prohibition of celebration of same sex marriage in a place of worship
(1) Same sex marriage shall not be celebrated in any place of worship by any recognized cleric of a Mosque,
Church, denomination or body to which such place of worship belongs.
This provision gives the government power to dictate what religions can and can't do. It violates freedom of religion.
7. Prohibition of Registration of Gay Clubs and Societies and Publicity of same sex sexual relationship.
(1) Registration of Gay Clubs, Societies and organizations by whatever name they are called in institutions from Secondary to the tertiary level or other institutions in particular and, in Nigeria generally, by government agencies is hereby prohibited.
This provision infringes freedom of association.
(2) 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.
Infringes freedom of the press.
(3) Any person who 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 is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a term of 5 years imprisonment.
Freedom of association again.
8. Offences and Penalties.
(1) Any person goes through the ceremony of marriage with a person of the same sex is guilty of an offence and
liable on conviction to a term of 5 years imprisonment.
(2) Any person performs, witnesses, aids or abets the ceremony of same sex marriage is guilty of an offence
and liable on conviction to a term of 5 years imprisonment.
Why the need to criminalize that which the state has already declared invalid?