Friday, November 20, 2009

Signer of Manhattan Declaration wanted to jail gays and lesbians

By now we have all heard about the Manhattan Declaration put out by various religious right figures and groups urging, among other things, non-cooperation with laws that in any way recognize same sex couples.

It has been condemned in many circles and for good reason.

Wayne Besen of said the following:

“This is a disturbing call for anarchy from a group of radical clerics and activists who believe they don’t have play by the same rules as other taxpaying Americans."

And according to the blog Instaputz, there is another reason to not only oppose this document but also raise the alarm about it.

Some of the names those signing the declaration aren't a surprise. They are the usual folks who oppose lgbt equality - Tony Perkins, James Dobson, Maggie Gallagher, Gary Bauer, etc.

But here is a name which you may not be familiar with:

Rev. Peter J. Akinola
Primate, Anglican Church of Nigeria (Abika, Nigeria)

Akinola is the Anglican Primate of the Church of Nigeria. He is also Bishop of Abuja (Nigeria's capital) and Archbishop of Province III, which covers the northern and central parts of the country.

According to Instaputz,  he supported a 2006 Nigerian anti-gay bill which: 

called for five years imprisonment for anyone who "performs, witnesses, aids, or abets" a same-sex marriage, and anyone who engaged in public advocacy or associations supporting the rights of lesbian and gay people.

Most specifically, according to Human Rights Watch (by way of Box Turtle Bulletin), the 2006 bill:

would attack all lesbian and gay individuals, families and human rights. The bill would provide for five years’ imprisonment to anyone who “goes through the ceremony of marriage with a person of the same sex,” “performs, witnesses, aids or abets the ceremony of same sex marriage” or “is involved in the registration of gay clubs, societies and organizations, sustenance, procession or meetings, publicity and public show of same sex amorous relationship directly or indirectly in public and in private.” Any priest or cleric aiding or abetting such a union could be subject to the five-year prison term. The law would also prohibit adoption of children by lesbian or gay couples or individuals.

 Despite attempts by the signers of the Manhattan Declaration to make their position seem noble, the adage of "knowing someone by the company they keep" is highly appropriate here.

It's the main reason why I tend to roll my eyes when I hear folks like Gallagher go on whining about how lgbts are persecuting them and unfairly calling them bigots.

If you aren't a bigot then why do you align yourself with one. And yes Akinola is a bigot. It's one thing to believe that homosexuality is a sin but it's something entirely more sinister to advocate jailing lgbts.

The huge irony about Akinola signing the declaration is how Tony Perkins (another signer) and others have been giving potential EEOC head Chai Feldblum hell for signing onto a statement which supported government recognition for relationships other than "traditional marriage."

They accused her of advocating polygamy and made such a case of her signing the statement that she disavowed her signature.

Is this the situation with Akinola the same as the situation with Feldblum? Maybe, maybe not.

But based upon Akinola's participation, an explanation and clarity as to what the signers of the declaration believe (and especially desires for the lgbt community) is at least owed. At the very least, Akinola's appearance on this declaration gives pause to its narrative. We aren't talking about Christians pushed to the brink by an evil society. We are talking about christians (small "c" intended) who can't seem to understand that their worldview has no more bearing on reality than those who do not believe as they do.

We are talking about people throwing a tantrum; albeit without the kicking and screaming, but still a tantrum.

Box Turtle Bulletin has also written an excellent review of the Manhattan Declaration.

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1 comment:

Philip Lowe, Jr. said...

The Manhattan Declaration is an outrageous abuse of pastoral and spiritual "authority".

The answer from Nigeria's Anglican Bishop is very disturbing.

Andrew Gerns from The Episcopal Cafe wrote something very different that I found very enlightening. "But for the signers, religious freedom does not extend to those who would bless same-sex unions out of religious conviction, or who of theological reflection understand that birth control is a matter of conscience and those who would pastor rather than condemn women who have had abortions.

The freedom to opt-out is not enough because conscience clauses for this group flows in only one direction and so, it follows, does religious freedom. "

The negative voices of Christianity are not the only voices that speak. There are positive one's that are very much worth listening to. Including Bishop John Bryson Chane of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington who made an excellent "Christian Case for Same-Sex Marriage" this week.

Keep up the good work Alvin. I support what you do and how you do it.