Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Is This What You Episcopal Folks Had In Mind?

[Update I & II below]

Memo to the handful of “breakaway” congregations that left the Episcopal Church for the Anglican Church of Nigeria over the issue of gays. I realize you were really upset over the ordination of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire, but I’m wondering if this is really what you had in mind:
Anglican bishop calls LGBT people inhuman

The Anglican Bishop of Uyo, Rt. Rev. Isaac Orama, this month condemned the activities of homosexuals and lesbians, and described those engaged in them as “insane people.”

In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria, earlier this month, Orama said: "Homosexuality and lesbianism are inhuman. Those who practice them are insane, satanic and are not fit to live because they are rebels to God's purpose for man."
The Bishop noted that the Anglican Church in Nigeria had continued to lead the fight against the practice especially in the US where it led the opposition to same sex marriages.

Is this really your vision for the modern American Episcopal church? Do you agree with Rt. Rev. Orama that gays and lesbians are "satanic" and "inhuman"?

Just wondering.
[UPDATE]: John in comments links to this article, in which the quote is denounced as false:

A spokesman for the Church of Nigeria, Archdeacon Akintunde Popoola, told The Living Church the quote attributed to the bishop was false.

The Bishop of Uyo “denied making such a statement,” Canon Popoola said. While the bishop’s address to his diocesan synod did speak to the issue of human sexuality dividing the Communion, and the Church of Nigeria’s position on these issues, “he did not say that [gays and lesbians] are to be hated, nor that they are insane or unfit to live.”

The News Agency of Nigeria reporter has “apologized for the misrepresentation and promised a retraction,” Archdeacon Popoola told TLC.

This is an interesting story, for a lot of reasons. For one thing, the story appeared in UPI, owned by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church. Rev. Moon, the controversial cult leader, has called gays and lesbians "dung-eating dogs,” so if the report truly was false, I wonder if there will be any repercussions?

Nor does it let the African Anglican churches off the hook for preaching homophobia. There have been plenty of other incidents involving the Anglican Communion in Africa, less heinous ones, perhaps. From the Boston Globe last week we have this:

Criticizing the Episcopal Church's embrace of gays and lesbians, the Rev. Samuel Muchiri told the 1,000 worshipers "we in Kenya feel this is not what God wants." An usher advised a visiting reporter to "remember that Sodom and Gomorrah was demolished because there were homosexuals." Another warned that the reporter could be assaulted if he asked worshipers about the issue, and said that America's permissiveness toward homosexuality had led Osama bin Laden to attack.

Those sentiments have been building for years, and now a group of Anglican archbishops is attempting to plant the seeds for a new, conservative Anglicanism in North America that will either transform or replace the Episcopal Church.

This is truly ominious for the American “Anglicans.” Here in Nashville we have one church that covered the “Episcopal” in their church sign with a black banner following the ordination of Bishop Robinson. They now call themselves “St. Andrews Parish Anglican Communion.”

I wonder, do they believe gays are the reason for the 9/11 attacks?


Another blogger on the story points to this bill before the Nigerian Parliament that would strip gays and lesbians of all rights.

Division in the church is hurtful, if not inevitable, but those American congregations who feel the need to split over the issue of gays need to know what kind of deal they’re making.