UPDATE: Statement from the Rt Rev Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon via Anglican Communion News Service
Statement from the Rt Revd Josiah Idowu-Fearon responding to misleading stories concerning a sermon in 2014 and an interview in 2007:
In Benin on Sunday 23rd March, 2014 at St. Mathew’s Cathedral where Knights and their wives were being admitted, I encouraged them to continue to uphold family values in their homes bringing up their children as Christians in order to make a difference in their society. I then went on to challenge the National Assembly, comparing corruption with homosexuality that they had just criminalized. I wished the National Assembly had spent all that time and energy to criminalize corruption rather than homosexuality which is not damaging the Nigerian society as is corruption.
I have never supported the law in Nigeria that criminalizes the gay community and I will never support it. The Church is called to love and protect everyone without discrimination, ‘love the person but hate the sin” whatever the sin may be, corruption, sexual sins of all kinds, misuse of power or anything else.
In this I believe I am affirming the position of the Anglican Communion in Lambeth 1:10.
In a Dallas interview in 2007 the question was about the Bible and culture. I did say by way of explanation that the West brought the Christian Faith to us and our forefathers embraced the faith finding it corroborated our view on marriage. Today, the same West are telling us that the position has changed. To the African, that is confusing, hence the difficulty between the Western church and the African church.
Again, my position is clear. For the majority of African Christians, the Bible judges culture, including African culture. As African Christians we must accept other cultures and the way they also understand the Bible’s relationship with culture. I accept and promote a culture of respect for such differences.
The Rt Revd Josiah Idowu-Fearon
A member of the Episcopal Women’s Caucus has posted an email from the newly-named Secretary General of the Anglican Communion Office, Bishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon of the Church of Nigeria. In the email he states “I do not support the law in my country that criminalises homosexuality as a Christian, that has been my position and it has not changed.”
Idowu-Fearon’s email is posted at the open Facebook group Episcopal Women’s Caucus. It is his response to a request that he “work on his LGBT relations.” His full email message follows:
I believe it is right for me to take up your offer and contact you.
Firstly, permit me to thank you for your mail and congratulatory message, I feel encouraged and hopeful. I have been very frightened of this opportunity to serve our Communion, your letter is a part of the Lord assuring me that He will provide for my enablement.
Julie, I do not support the law in my country that criminalises homosexuality as a Christian, that has been my position and it has not changed. The church must always critique any government policy that is discriminatory, that is why the church is there! When any government enacts or passes any law that is wrong, the church must and should provide an alternative.
I hope my clear and unapologetic position will make it possible for us of the same Anglican Family to talk with rather than at each other. I have spent over 40 years working on the culture of respect for differences among Christians and Muslims in Nigeria and Africa, this is what I believe the Lord has called me to spend the rest of my life and ministry doing now within our own Family: the Communion.
I look forward to our learning from each other and using our differences to work for the Lord.
Changing Attitudes UK says “Bishop Josiah is being judged and condemned for his anti-gay position.” But it continues,
I have met Bishop Josiah twice and found him open to me as a gay priest and activist and far less obviously hostile than he is now being portrayed. I have often wondered whether his more extreme remarks were made to satisfy the deep prejudices of the collective House of Bishops in Nigeria. Bishop Josiah’s engagement with me was in marked contrast to Archbishop Peter Akinola and the now-Primate of All Nigeria, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, both of whom ran away from Davis MacIyalla and myself at the Primates’ meeting in Tanzania in 2006.
Davis MacIyalla, past Director of Changing Attitude Nigeria, has commented on Thinking Anglicans: “I am happy over the appointment of Most Revd Dr Josiah Atkins Idowu-Fearon as the next Secretary General of the Anglican Communion. I know that Josiah, will be more open to serve the Anglican Communion without bias. The Church of Nigeria would not be walking away if a Bishop like Josiah was the Primate of All Nigeria.”
Yesterday The Episcopal Café quoted accounts where Idowu-Fearon was quoted as supporting criminalization of homosexuality. A portion of our report of yesterday follows:
From “No going back on stand against gay marriage – Anglican Communion,” March 2014, in the Nigerian newspaper New Telegraph:
The Church of Nigeria, (Anglican Communion) said yesterday that there was no going back on its 1998 stand against promoters of homosexuality and bi-sexual tendencies. Leadership of the communion lauded the Federal Government for the decisive step it took banning the ugly practices.
Bishop of Kaduna Diocese of the Anglican Communion, Most Rev (Dr) Josiah Idowu- Fearon, who spoke at the induction/investiture of knights and dames, held in Benin, Edo State capital, stated that legalising gay marriage or such acts amounted to making God’s good creatures and standards to look imperfect.
Rev. Idowu-Fearon said, “Our battle today is not against homosexuals, our battle today is against those who say God’s standards are not good enough for us.
The government has criminalised homosexuality which is good, our battle is not against human beings, it is against the devil.” He urged all those already initiated to reestablish the family system that is Anglican oriented.
“You knights should go back and re-establish the family system and that is the Anglican position. Our resolution of 1998 on homosexuality has not changed and will not change by the grace of God.
Idowu-Fearon preached at the consecration of Justin Welby as Bishop of Durham. The biography Archbishop Justin Welby: The Road to Canterbury, contains the following passage,
In 2008 he was demoted from archbishop to bishop by then Archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola.
Posted by John B. Chilton