Skip to comments.Lies They Love to Tell About Akinola - Part One
Posted on 02/14/2007 10:00:38 PM PST by sionnsar
When feelings run strong in times of crisis, a scapegoat is often selected to carry blame or as the target of demonizing rhetoric. Archbishop Peter Jasper Akinola DD has achieved the status of both scapegoat and demonized individual. Such treatment doesnt detour him, however, from defending Christianity and his fellow Anglicans who are marginalized and mistreated by The Episcopal Church.
+Peter Abuja is a Christian whose authority has been recognized by Time Magazine, The New York Times, The London Times, and The Christian Science Monitor. His detractors, mainly American and British, are lesser figures who take pleasure in perpetuating lies about him. Some, such as Bishop John Chane, do so as officials of the Episcopal Church establishment. Others post pseudonymous blog comments full of vitriol and misrepresentation. They favor lies that portray the bishop as naïve, selfish, unsophisticated, manipulative and cruel. In reality, the target of their outrage is a well-informed, generous, and humble man whose churchmanship is world-wise, conciliar and apostolic.
Let us consider whether the picture painted by his detractors aligns with the public record.
Lie #1: Archbishop Akinola is a homophobic single-issue crusader.
One of the stories Akinolas detractors love to circulate is the account of Bishop Akinolas reaction when introduced to a homosexual man. The story goes that Akinola was physically repulsed, but there is no evidence that this occurred. This supposed eyewitness account appears to be fabricated.
Another lie that circulates about the Archbishop puts these words in his mouth: Homosexuals are worse than dogs and pigs. Here is a typical example, posted at Ruth Gledhills blog:
Peter Akinola - the Nigerian big man riding around in his chauffeur-driven, bullet-proof Mercedes, rubbing shoulders with the rich and the powerful
taking [his] cue from the unlikeliest champion of family values, President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, who in 1993 flamboyantly but infamously branded gay people as worse than dogs and pigs
. Virulent homophobia, incubated in the right-wing movements of the imperialist metropoles and also as an outgrowth of Africas own indigenous patriarchal systems, is finding a home in the political agendas of desperate African leaders
[who] seek to buttress their authority through corruption and strong-arming.
I searched every public statement of Archbishop Akinola and have never found him referring to homosexuals as worse than dogs and pigs. It appears that these words have been attributed to him by the source named above.
According to The Living Church, Peter Akinola has denied accusations that his opposition to the episcopacy of the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson is driven by revulsion of homosexual persons, saying his actions arise from the concern that false teachers are leading the Episcopal Church astray.
Its all about responsibility, Archbishop Akinola told The Living Church. Everyone has sinned. Everyone needs to be cleansed by the blood of Jesus. If people come to the church and do not hear the message of new life, then we have not fulfilled our responsibility.
Akinola argues, We are not being responsible or faithful if we say, Let us bless your stealing. Let us bless your adultery. When the church in the West says, We bless your homosexual union, they have failed people. We should love them better than that, he said. (Source: The Living Church, Jan. 2005)
Archbishop Akinola has also said: Homosexuality seeks to destroy marriage as we know it, unity as we know it, family life as we know it, so how can we endorse that? That is completely outside what God planned for humanity. Homosexuality is nothing short of sinning against God with impunity as you are going against his will. Homosexuality is wrong, its from the devil. (Source: Interview in The Christian Science Monitor, 8 January 2007)
This is the sort of truth telling that makes enemies and martyrs, but the Archbishop remains firm in his belief that the fundamental problem is The Episcopal Churchs rejection of biblical authority.
In a statement issued by the Church of Nigeria, it is clear that homosexuality is not foremost in the Archbishops mind:
We are not going to Tanzania to discuss gay marriages. We are going to Tanzania because we are Primates of the Church and we have many things to talk about and to pray about. We come together primarily for fellowship as Primates, we come together to study the word of God and to think together on various matters that concerns our provinces. So the gay marriage thing is not the main agenda. It may rear its ugly head again but it is not the main agenda. (Source: Communiqué of the Church of Nigeria, 12 Jan. 2007)
Lie #2: Archbishop Akinola is a loose cannon who may fire without warning and without provocation.
Let us consider Akinolas leadership style to see if this characterization is true.
Archbishop Akinolas influence in Nigeria is considerable exactly because he is working to build consensus. Consider this:
How are we going to convince our Muslim neighbors and our governments that Nigerian Christians have no other place to call their country but this country? Since 1988, people have been maimed and brutally murdered, their hard-earned money and property destroyed by hooligans, by murderers, all on account of religion. And no one has been brought to justice that we know of. Usually arrests are made, but before you know what is happening they are released, so its like theyre doing this with impunity. So our challenge, therefore, is how were going to get everybody in this country to know that Nigeria belongs to all of us. I have been in touch with my Muslim counterpart this whole time, and we are hoping that we can meet soon, so we can work together and see how we can get our followers to understand. (Source: Christianity Today, 2005)
Outside of Nigeria, Archbishop Akinolas influence has grown as he and other Global South bishops seek to aid congregations and clergy under duress.
The Rev. Martyn Minns, rector of Truro Church in Virginia, was elected bishop on June 28, 2006 by the Anglican Province of Nigeria to oversee the Convocation for Anglicans in North America, which includes more than 20 Anglican churches that minister to Nigerians living in the United States. CANA has become a refuge for Episcopal congregations who have found it impossible to continue under revisionist bishops. This action was not taken unadvisedly or precipitously. Akinola stated, We have deliberately held back from this action, in the hope that the Episcopal Church would turn back from its 2003 consecration of Canon V. Gene Robinson as the worlds first openly homosexual bishop. But the actions of last weeks Episcopal General Convention make it clear that far from turning back, they are even more committed to pursuing their unbiblical revisionist agenda. (Source: The Washington Times, 29 June 2006)
The conciliar nature of Akinolas churchmanship is evident also in the way he has continued in conversation with Rowan Williams. Despite differences, the two archbishops have arrived at similar conclusions. Consider how close the two men are by comparing these statements:
The Archbishop of Canterbury has said, In terms of decision-making the American Church has pushed the boundaries. It has made a decision that is not the decision of the wider body of Christ. In terms of the issue under consideration: there are enough Christians of good faith in every denomination - from evangelical to Roman Catholic - to whom it is not quite so self-evident. Who are not absolutely sure that we have always read the Bible correctly. They are saying: this is an issue we must talk about. But if we are going to have time to discuss this, prayerfully, thoughtfully, we really dont need people saying: we must change it now. The discussion must not be foreclosed by a radical agenda. The decision hasnt been made yet. Or rather, the tradition and teaching of the Church is what it always was. (Source: Nederlands Dagblad, Interview by Wim Houtman, Religion Editor)
Akinolas position is expressed in this statement from a letter to the CANA congregations of Virginia:
We are a Church that teaches the truth of the Holy Scriptures and understands that every person, regardless of their religion or sexual orientation, is made in the image of God, loved by God, and deserving of the utmost respect. That is the conviction that informs our passion for evangelism and drives our determination to establish new dioceses and congregations. We have no desire to place anyone outside the reach of Gods saving love and that is why we have supported well reasoned statements such as Resolution 1.10 from the Lambeth Conference in 1998 and also the section of the Dromantine Communiqué, which condemns the victimization or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex. (Source: Washingtonblade.com, 22 Dec. 2007)
Akinolas influence is evident also in efforts to avoid the present crisis in the Anglican Communion. At the October 2003 gathering of Primates, he spoke with then Presiding Bishop Frank Griwold, saying You and I have come a long way in the past three or four years. We have established a new relationship, new friendship, new rapport, new understanding. Akinola said he mentioned how primates from India and Pakistan were in tears because of General Conventions decisions, then added, Our hearts are bleeding. You can save the communion this costly problem by putting a stop to this agenda. You can stop the consecration of a practicing gay priest. Griswold responded that he did not have the authority to stop Robinsons consecration. (Source: Christianity Today, July 2005)
In 2006, Peter Akinola warned, Once theres a crack in the wall, you are likely to have all sorts creeping in. When we began to notice these cracks a few years back, we did try as much as humanly possible under God to patch up these cracks. Since the leadership of the church in America keeps doing everything we thought they would not do, those who dont agree with them have chosen to go where they want to go and I thank God. (Source: BBC Profiles, 19 Dec. 2006)
Lie #3: Akinolas view on homosexuality is not shared by most Africans.
A reporter for the Christian Science Monitor reported, Amid the rattle and hum of portable generators on Abujas Wuse market, shoppers leafing through Christian books and Bibles variously describe homosexuality as evil and an abomination.
We are very conservative here in Nigeria, says Norma Obazele, who describes herself as a devout Christian and declined to give her age. Homosexuality is wrong, its from the devil. (Source: The Christian Science Monitor, 8 Jan. 2007)
In February 2006, Akinola issued a communiqué on behalf of the Church of Nigeria, stating, The Church commends the law-makers for their prompt reaction to outlaw same-sex relationships in Nigeria and calls for the bill to be passed since the idea expressed in the bill is the moral position of Nigerians regarding human sexuality. (Source: Church of Nigeria News, 2006). The quick passage of the legislation suggested wide support by Nigerian legislators.
Bishop Martyn Minns said of Akinola, He does not advocate jailing homosexuals. What he supports is a bill strengthening traditional morality in Nigeria its quite complex. (Source: Washingtonblade.com, 22 Dec. 2007).
To many Americans the Church of Nigerias position seems harsh, but it should be regarded in the context of the radical Islamic presence in Nigeria. Akinola elaborates in his January 2007 statement to the churches in Virginia:
As I am sure you have heard, there is a bill currently being debated by the Nigerian Legislature that addresses the topic of same-sex marriages and homosexual activism. The Standing Committee of the Church of Nigeria, in its desire to see the strengthening of marriage and family life in our society, has commended the legislators for tackling this difficult issue. We have no desire to see our nation follow the path of license and immorality that we have witnessed in other parts of the world. And we also oppose the severe sanctions of Islamic law.
We recognize that there are genuine concerns about individual human rights that must be addressed both in the framing of the law and its implementation. I am glad to inform you that while the Honorable Speaker of the House, a Moslem, wanted the immediate and outright passage of the bill, the Deputy Speaker, an Anglican, persuaded his colleagues to allow full public debate on it. (Source: CANA news)
As we review the public record, it is evident that the claims of Archbishop Akinolas detractors are based on wishful thinking, delusion, fabrication, willfulness and prejudice. In Part 2, we will examine other lies the Left loves to tell about one of Anglicanism greatest leaders.
It was Mugabe who said that homosexuals are "worse than dogs and pigs."
Not an outright lie, but highly deceptive.
The story about Archbishop Akinola being repulsed by a homosexual who identified himself as such was reported by gay activist Louie Crew at his website. Since this account has no other source to substantiate it, and given the large number of Akinola's enemies who would have reported it were it true, we can assume that the account is not credible.
What? No way! Everyone knows that the beliefs and values of "non-Western" and "indigenous" peoples are beyond critique by western liberals because of their "otherness!" [/sarcasm]
The Left's favorite continent is going to give the "gay rights movement" hell! I love it!
So does Mugabe's "homophobia" trump his Communism, or vice versa?
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