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New head of ACO: “I do not support the law in my country that criminalises homosexuality”

New head of ACO: “I do not support the law in my country that criminalises homosexuality”

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 2011 he pleaded with Gafcon Primates not to boycott Lambeth. He took a similar stance in 2007.

In 2008 he was demoted from archbishop to bishop by then Archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola.

Posted by John B. Chilton


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Cynthia Katsarelis

Folks, be sure to check out the 3rd installment, the response to “misleading quotes.” Martin Reynolds and John Chilton provide devastating information.

Catherine and Julie, have a look. And we all need to consider whether we are being played.

We know that the Risen Lord is with the victims of brutality, gay, straight, women, girls, all victims. It is imperative that we calibrate our moral compasses to our Risen Lord and the suffering people, and not a competition to see who is more liberal, tolerant, intolerant, etc.

Gary Paul Gilbert

Advocating against equal rights for LGBTQs is much more serious in an African context, where basic human rights are not honored. “Love the sinner but hate the sin” is unacceptable in an Anglican leader. Jürgen Moltmann says the idea that heterosexuals are better than gays betrays the doctrine of justification by faith alone.

Singling out gay people for discrimination is wrong.

Gary Paul Gilbert

Catherine Salmon

I think some commenters might benefit from reading this:

While I encourage all to read it in its entirety, I include here a few quotations:

Bishop Idowa-Fearon “has worked heroically for understanding and reconciliation with the Moslem majority in his present diocese and in the northern regions of Nigeria. He has steadfastly supported the full participation of the African Church in the Anglican Communion. … His witness for peaceful accommodation with Moslems has been at great cost to him personally and put him in harm’s way. His loyalty to the Anglican Communion has put him at odds with the leadership of his own church and others in Africa and elsewhere who champion schism and disunity and work for the fragmentation of the Anglican Communion.”

“Bishop Idowa-Fearon is a traditionalist, does not support same-sex unions, but, unlike many others, believes that in baptism we are drawn together, have a common identity as children of God, and thus cannot but work together however we may disagree. We are saved by faith, trust in God, and not by the perfection of our beliefs or conduct. In short we are all sinners, saved by grace.”

“… Anglicans, at least in the West, have been drawn into group identity, holy tribes, sure of their own perfection and ready to denounce those perceived as enemies … Has a particular view on sexuality now become the litmus test of suitability, a core doctrine?”

“… One can only hope and pray that all Anglicans will come together and support the new secretary-general and not give in to the impulse to withdraw into sects of self-regarding virtue on the left and right.”

David Allen

Sisters, you’re both out of posts in this thread today.

Catherine, I’m sorry that you find the 4 post per article per day rule difficult. We ask everyone to follow it.

Cynthia Katsarelis

I may have maxed out my four posts for the day. But Catherine, this blog that you link is from a very conservative blog, deeply skewed, and almost hysterical.

My biggest objection is that it conflates legitimate concern for the human rights support (or lack thereof) of Bishop Idowu-Fearon with conservative positions. This is deeply disingenuous, but self-serving.

One must admit that the Church of England and the ACC has a history of coddling human rights abusers, so all skepticism was well deserved.

Sadly, I believe that the conservatives are deliberately conflating these two, separate, issues.

The fact that this blogger raises the spectre of TEC withholding funding from ACC on account of this appointment is just wildly speculative and came from one commentator with no standing in the larger church (that I know of). It might be a good idea for TEC to spend our resources on more useful ministries, but I would think that would be part of a larger discussion about our priorities.

June Butler

From the article by Tony Clavier:

“It has been predicted that the Episcopal Church will withdraw funding from the ACC as a result of this appointment. Such an action would perhaps fatally cripple the Council. One can only hope and pray that all Anglicans will come together and support the new secretary-general and not give in to the impulse to withdraw into sects of self-regarding virtue on the left and right.”

Predicted by whom? And stated in the self-protective passive voice. May we have a source? A link perhaps?

Further, it’s not entirely true that “Archbishop Welby had no part in Bishop Idowa-Fearon’s appointment, an appointment which was the unanimous decision of the ACC…” He approved the appointment.

Catherine Salmon

David Allen, I disagree. Having the ability to prevent an appointment is still not the same as making the appointment oneself – unless, perhaps, one rejects every single appointment until those who are making it choose the person one wanted them to choose in the first place. I have seen absolutely no sign that this happened here.

Approving an appointment others have made is hardly the same as making an appointment oneself.

David Allen

However, he could have vetoed the choice, could he not? So that grants him the ultimate hand in the selection, as he could have sent them back to choose someone else.

Bro David

Catherine Salmon

Approving an appointment others have made is hardly the same as making an appointment oneself.

As for who has predicted what, I don’t know what Tony has read or with whom he has discussed the subject; I haven’t had a chance to speak with him yet today.

-fixed it for you, Bro David

David Allen

FYI – It’s been noticed that five different folks commenting in this one thread all have the same IP address. After a quick discussion among the moderating team, we will be blocking the superfluous alias’ comments.

Bro David

June Butler

Good heavens! Have the courage to post under your own name, rather than sneaking your way in to post under several aliases. You waste everyone’s time with your trolling, and, in the end, you will be found out.

David Streever

ahhh him again. I already told him (when he promised never to post here again) that we can see his IP. Weird.

David Allen

He was becoming Legion.

Whit Johnstone

I have a question for anyone who knows the good bishop, or at any rate knows his native language. Is it polite to call him Bishop Fearon, or is necessary to refer to him as Bishop Idowu-Fearon? I ask because ‘Fearon’ is quite easy to spell and pronounce, while ‘Idowu-Fearon’ is quite impossible for me to manage.

christopher seitz

Yes, I suspect many of our words are likewise confusing to Africans.

I don’t think Bishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon would object to being referred to as ‘Bishop Josiah’ here, if typing his surname is ‘impossible to manage’. He’s very much a kind and informal man, should you have the opportunity to address him orally.

Whit Johnstone

I don’t have a problem with typing his full name, but pronouncing it is another matter entirely!

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