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Gay Anglicans in Nigeria - Rowan Williams answers (BBC); Louie Crew responds


Louie Crew, Ph.D., D.D., D.D., D.H.L.
Member of Executive Council of the Episcopal Church

Subject: Gay Anglicans in Nigeria - Rowan Williams answers

Rowan Williams interviewed by Simon Mayo on BBC

Transcript courtesy of Fulcrum

Lesbian and Gay Anglicans in Nigeria

Simon: On that subject, in the current issue of the Church Times, there's a
story about 800 lesbian and gay Anglicans from all over Nigeria, who met
together. I don't know if you've seen this story. They met for the first
time. Their organization being 'Changing Attitude of Nigeria'. Their
Director has said that: 'The Archbishop of Nigeria, the Most Revd Peter
Akinola, has been telling the other Primates and Provinces an untruth when
he says that gays and lesbians did not exist in Nigeria and that the church
should stop colluding with cultural repression and discrimination against
lesbian, gay and bisexual people. It's the first time gay Anglicans in
Nigeria have met together, I think. Judging from this account, they were
quite scared, actually, as to what the implications might be. What would be
your message to them?

Rowan: I think my message into the whole situation would be actually what I
tried to say this time last year really, in my Advent letter, that there are
all sorts of complicated questions about the ethics of same-sex behaviour.
What I think there is no question about, is the right of homosexual people
to tolerance, civil rights, and public respect, from Christians as from
everybody else. And it's very difficult when the questions - these complex
questions of ethics - get tangled in with a whole set of cultural
prejudices. I hope we can pull those apart a bit.

Simon: And we can look at the situation in this country in just a moment.
And so your message to these gay Anglicans in Nigeria would be: 'Hang on,
keep talking'? Because it doesn't sound as though Archbishop Akinola even is
prepared to accept that they exist.

Rowan: My message, I think, would be: 'They have a right to be listened to,
to be respected as human beings, as in any culture.'

Simon: Do you think they're going to get that respect? Do you think they are
going to get that right?

Rowan: We'll have to wait and see.

Simon: But they should have it, in your opinion?

Rowan: Yes.

-----Original Message-----
From: Louie Crew [mailto:lcrew@andromeda.rutgers.edu]
Sent: Thursday, December 29, 2005 8:51 AM
To: bishopsdeputies@hobd.org
Subject: Re: Gay Anglicans in Nigeria - Rowan Williams answers

+Rowan was guarded and stingy when he responded to the reporter concerned
about the persecuted lbgt Anglicans in Nigeria.  It was as if Jesus had
ended the story about the Good Samaritan by saying, "but do not
misunderstand me:  while I think Samaritans should have the civil rights of
others, of course I am not endorsing the Samaritans' loose way of living.
Nor should you think that I am speaking at odds with the scribes and the
Pharisees on this matter. We have not yet reached a theological consensus."

It's hard to manifest co-passion when you are trying to sustain a
bureaucracy that scapegoats the objects of your compassion.

In May a Ugandan minister in another denomination sought me out at a
reception during the annual meeting of the NJ Council of Churches. She
wanted to talk with me about Archbishop Henry Orombi.  When he was just a
bishop but not yet archbishop, she told me, he routinely dismissed most of
the discussion about homosexuality as a diversion from the real needs of the
church and the people of Uganda.  He had even helped a gay priest to leave
Uganda and get a job in England, where he would be less likely to be
persecuted, she added.

She was disturbed that someone with this level of sensitivity and spiritual
knowledge could now be endorsing the persecution of gays. I accepted her
invitation to join her for lunch a few weeks later. She changed the report
slightly to say that the priest Orombi helped place in England is not
himself gay but had befriended gays and was still at great risk in the
church in Uganda.

Most in the Network are not dummies.  They know that the issues are far more
complex than the rhetoric of Akinola and Orombi and other bullies whom they
underwrite. Many Network folks will tell you that homosexuality is only the
presenting issue, not the source of their major concerns, which typically
are the authority of scripture and the creeds.... Some will acknowledge that
their own children are embarrassed by the crudeness of the actions towards
lbgts by those with whom they are making alliances.

Nevertheless, they do little or nothing to stop the scapegoating, and on
some occasions promote it.

Several years ago a friend within Episcopalians United acknowledged to me
privately that the homosexual issue had great utility, especially when they
made financial appeals.  People would give when you told them that you were
protecting the church against the queers.

Jesus expects much more of us all.

Chair of the Newark Deputation, member of Executive Council

> ---------------------------- Original Message Subject: Re: [HoB/D] Gay
> Anglicans in Nigeria - Rowan Williams
>        answers
> From:    tbwsalinas@aol.com
> Date:    Wed, December 28, 2005 11:05 pm
> An HBO special cited statistics that the prevalence of homosexual identity
> and behavior is significantly higher in Africa than in other continents.
> Tom Woodward
> ECR c

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