Saturday, June 24, 2006

Now we see what they're after

The "Right" Rev. Peter Akinola, bigoted canon of the African Anglican churches, has made quite a bit of news recently on his efforts to bully the American church into rejecting gay people. The US Episcopal church's nomination of a female leader, coupled with its studied rejection of efforts to force out gays, has driven the third-world denominations into paroxysms of rage.

The Advocate offers this fascinating quote:

Nigerian archbishop Peter Akinola, head of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa, said in the letter that Anglican primates from the developing world would meet in September to give a more detailed statement on the U.S. church. Akinola, one of the church’s most outspoken voices against gay rights, said that the African bishops have carefully followed what has been said at a U.S. Anglican convention this week in Ohio.

“We have observed the commitment shown by your church to the full participation of people in same-gender sexual relationships in civic life,, church life, and leadership,” he said on behalf of African bishops in a statement dated Thursday. “Our churches cannot reconcile this with the teaching on marriage set out in the Holy Scripture and repeatedly affirmed throughout the Anglican Communion.”

Akinola's rage must be overcoming his regular PR filter, since his objection to the US Episcopals' declaration on gays is total -- he believes that even allowing gay people to participate in civic life, or secular political and daily life, is "incompatible" with and "cannot be reconciled" by the Anglican Communion. This is not a complete surprise to anyone who has watched the situation in Nigeria, where Akinola has been a primary sponsor of a bill which would imprison gays simply for worshipping or congregating together.

However, it does represent a dire form of cultural imperialism -- just not that which is regularly decried by apologists for the third world. Akinola is trying to bully the American (and Canadian) communities into doing to gays what he's trying to do in his own corrupt polity -- including push them to lobby for stripping away their civic participation in secular/daily life.

This is already shocking enough. What elevates it into the absurd is Akinola's appeal to Biblical literalism and Anglican tradition. After all, he was also one of the driving forces behind getting the Anglican Church to recognize and honor polygamous marriages in Africa -- which not only fly in the face of Anglican tradition, but which are expressly forbidden as adulterous in the expressly Christian part of the Bible, the New Testament.

However, that's not likely to faze Akinola and company. It's not religious purity they're truly after, but rather, a justification of their own hatreds by leveraging doctrine to present themselves as pure, morally superior beings. I am sure Christ himself would have a few words to say about that.


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