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Nigeria’s Bishop Orama: Gays “Are Not Fit To Live”

Jim Burroway

September 8th, 2007

Ed Brayton, at Dispatches from the Culture Wars, passes on this report from UPI (a report that is no longer available at the UPI web site):

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

“It is scaring that any one should be involved in a thing like that and I want to say that they will not escape the wrath of God,” he said. Orama told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) today in Uyo, that the practice, which has worsened over the years, was “unbiblical and against God’s purpose for creating man”.

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 said. [Emphasis mine]

Changing Attitude Nigeria (CAN) responded to this statement, and notes that Bishop Orama “was recently ordained as a bishop. He is one of Archbishop Peter Akinola’s newly appointed bishops, carefully chosen to support the Archbishop‘s own agenda.” Davis Mac-Iyalla, director of CAN, knows well the dangers of being openly gay in Nigeria, and the particular hatred the Anglican Church in Nigeria harbors towards gays and lesbians:

In December 2005 following the first General Meeting held by Changing Attitude Nigeria in Abuja, the Church of Nigeria, (Anglican Communion) became aware of his presence, a gay Nigerian Anglican.

The Rev. Akintunde Popoola, Director of Communication for the Nigerian Church, published a disclaimer on the church web site designed to destroy Davis’s reputation. Canon Popoola denied that Davis exists, denied he is an Anglican, denied he is gay, accused him of theft, accused him of falsely planning to marry a bishop’s daughter, accused him of soliciting money from foreigners under false pretences, and then posted to numerous Anglican websites denouncing Davis.

… When Bishop Ugede died unexpectedly, Davis was dismissed as principal of the Diocesan School because he was gay. Since founding CAN he has been falsely arrested after printed materials were found in his car, beaten and held for some days in a police cell. He has received death threats, one delivered directly to his door last December, been forced to flee his home and become estranged from his family. Whatever Christians think about the morality of homosexual behaviour, no person should be treated in the way Davis has been treated by his own Church.

And yet these are exactly the sort of Christians whom American conservatives are rushing align themselves. And this sort of violence is officially sanctioned in Nigeria, where the criminal code penalizes consensual homosexual conduct between adults with 14 years’ imprisonment. Shari’a penal codes in northern Nigeria provides for the death penalty by stoning.

But as draconian as these laws are, they don’t satisfy Anglican Archbishop Peter J. Akinola. He is head of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), which calls for speedy passage of a new bill that is before the Nigerian parliament. That bill, according to Human Rights Watch:

The bill is entitled “Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act 2006,” but goes much further: it 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.

The ban on gay clubs, societies, organizations, as well as a ban on any display of affection “in public and in private” is particularly egregious. In a supposedly democratic Nigeria, gays and lesbians would be forbidden from advocating on their own behalves. By outlawing protests, the government hopes it will be able to suppress all future dialog or discussions affecting gays and lesbians in that country. Nigeria was expected to take up the bill last spring, but it appears to have stalled once again.

Archbishop Akinola has publicly endorsed this legislation for Nigeria. He has also lead a worldwide revolt of conservative Anglicans against the elevation of the openly gay Rev. Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire. On May 10th of this year, Akinola traveled to Virginia to install Martyn Minns as bishop of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), an organization that Akinola established with conservative American Episcopalians. In doing so, he defied Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, leader of the U.S. Episcopal Church.

The idea that many extremist anti-gay activists in this country would publicly align themselves with someone who has suggested the execution of gays and lesbians isn’t new. It is however new and disturbing to see an entire mainstream church movement move in this direction. But those who are eager to place themselves under the spiritual guidance of bishops like Akinola and Orama need to take a hard look at these men and their public pronouncements.

Update: The Living Church Foundation reports that Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams denounced Orama’s comments and demanded an explanation. Akinola’s spokesman, Archdeacon Akintunde Popoola said the quote was false, and that the reporter apologized and promised a retraction.

I believe the Living Church’s headline, (“Reporter Apologizes for Misquoting Nigerian Bishop”) is misleading. We only have Popoola saying that the reporter apologized; we haven’t heard from the reporter himself. It’s important to keep in mind that Popoola also was the one who made numerous false allegations about Davis Mac-Iyalla, so a grain of salt is in order here absent further confirmation.

Meanwhile, UPI sent an email to the conservative Anglican website Standing Firm, saying that the report, which originated from the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), was pulled solely on Popoola’s statement, adding “You would have to contact NAN as to whether the information about the retraction is true.” Maybe they recognize the problems with Popoola’s credibility also. Like I said, we haven’t heard from the reporter or NAN. By the way, we also haven’t heard from Bishop Orama either. If anyone learns anything more, please include appropriate links in the comments or send them to me directly via e-mail.

Comments

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Doris
September 8th, 2007 | LINK

The reason the report is no longer available is because it has been withdrawn as inaccurate. The Bishop has denied this and when confronted, the reported retracted it.

Lynn David
September 8th, 2007 | LINK

Virtue Online noted this concerning the remarks of Bishop Orama:

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams denounced as unchristian the statement demonizing gays and lesbians by the African bishop. In a statement released by the Anglican Consultative Council’s press office, the archbishop expressed “deep shock” at the remarks made by Bishop Orama.

The Nigerian bishop has denied making the remarks attributed to him. A spokesman for the Church of Nigeria, Archdeacon Akintunde Popoola, said the quote attributed to the bishop was false.

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

That doesn’t excuse the rest of it by Popoola et.al. though.

Jim Burroway
September 8th, 2007 | LINK

Doris,

I just posted an update. The UPI retracted it, but not based on anything the reporter did. Bottom line, we only have Akinola’s spokesman’s word for it that the reporter apologized and that Bishop Orama denied making the statement. We haven’t heard from the reporter himself.

Given Popoola’s past distortions, I’m not willing to give much credence to his statements.

Lynn David,

Virtue Online — those would be the same people who find Paul Cameron’s word credible, no? ;-)

David Roberts
September 8th, 2007 | LINK

The cached version from UPI.

Robguy
September 9th, 2007 | LINK

In Wisconsin you only get 18 months for being married to the same gender. :p

I’ve also noticed how segments of America are identifying with the frightening homophobia in Nigeria.

Robbinsdale radical
September 9th, 2007 | LINK

Jim said:

It is however new and disturbing to see an entire mainstream church movement move in this direction.

The truth is that the self-proclaimed “orthodox Anglicans” at Standing Firm, etc, who are affiliating (and providing resources and talking points to) the African churches are not mainstream. In fact virtually all Episcopalians have not been receptive to the calls from these fringe groups to leave our Church. The so-called “orthodox” (who in reality are quite un-Anglican and un-orthodox) are heavily funded from outside the church by a group called the Institute for Religion and Democracy (IRD). They are loud but not mainstream in any sense.

In my opinion the real goal of IRD’s activism is to weaken the Episcopal Church (and the United Methodists, Presbyterians, and Lutherans, who all are under attack by IRD-funded “reformers”) so they no longer are able to raise those pesky questions about war and economic justice.

The “orthodoxy’s” struggle (which depends on painting rich white straight folk as a persecuted minority) has less to do with the role of women and GLBT folk and more to do with power. GLBT people especially are being used to scare good people with the spectre of change to distract people from the “conservative’s” real, essentially political, agenda.

Fortunately they have been losing in court, and in the pews, as people as their goals, and tactics, have become more well known. And also, that those threatening GLBT folk aren’t really that scary, as we find out that, in fact, they are co-workers, nephews, aunts, and sons, and daughters.

Unfortunately, they have had much more success sowing discord overseas in the worldwide Anglican Communion, which is a terrible shame because it is distracting everyone from the the real problems of war, severe economic injustice, food security, and educational and special health challenges around the world.

toujoursdan
September 10th, 2007 | LINK

The begging question is why someone at the News Agency of Nigeria quoted this in the first place, and why a spokesperson for the Church of Nigeria, rather than the Bishop himself, needed to disclaim it.

Given how homophobic society is there, quoting it couldn’t possibly do much damage to the Bishop’s reputation. So why would a reporter make it up? Or which part of the quote did he get wrong and which part is correct?

According to Reporter’s sans Frontières:

Nigerian journalists yet again lived through an appalling year in 2006. They have had to face police brutality, arrests in certain cases for the least article that annoyed local authorities…They are also routinely the punch bags for the powerful, military figures, governors, ministers and businessmen, who enjoy complete impunity and have no respect for the right to news and information…

It’s pretty easy to envisage why a reporter would retract a story that made the church and nation look bad. It’s a bit harder to envisage why he would post it in the first place.

Music City Bloggers » Blog Archive » Insane eye for the straight guy, or, THIS is what you mean by reconciliation?
September 12th, 2007 | LINK

[…] fairness to the Bishop, his spokesman has now denied that Orama made the statement. Some folks aren’t so sure about the […]

FEMI AYANDOKUN
April 22nd, 2009 | LINK

While it would be biblically out of place to hate the person of homosexuals and lesbians and use abusive language on them it remains to be said that their way of life is the object of God’s hatred and wrath. The bible in no uncertain terms condemns homosexualism, lesbianism and the attendant same sex marriage. It is antithetical to claim to be a christian and yet subscribe to such unbiblical lifestyle. Repent now and be delivered from the coming judgment of God on the children of disobedience! Jesus loves you!!

Priya Lynn
April 22nd, 2009 | LINK

Femi, gays and lesbians harm no one and thus their behavior is moral and they have no need of repenting. It is you who would force your will on harmless people to deny them happeness who needs to repent.

EMMY
October 29th, 2009 | LINK

Hello Priya Lynn, I concur with Femi 100%. If you are one of them, better repent before it’s too late! Jesus loves all Homosexuals and Lesbians that is why he uses such opportunities to call them to repentance.We’re still in the time of grace…..when judgement comes at the end, all these intelligent arguments from guys in the western world,etc will turn to wailings, weepings and gnashing of teeth. Beware!

FEMI AYANDOKUN
January 30th, 2010 | LINK

Lynn’s definition of what is moral as that which harms no one is mind-numbing to say the least. To be specific, man is faced with extinction and the anus misused/abused where all subscribe to such deviant conduct. Enough! We’ll just be praying as it is largely a spiritual matter.

Burr
January 30th, 2010 | LINK

How are we faced with extinction? There’s over 6 billion of us! If anything we’re doing the world a favor..

grantdale
January 30th, 2010 | LINK

God almighty, it always come down to the anus. These people have a one track mind. Are they hatched from eggs?

The last I heard… humans were far from extinction. A plague of locusts consuming the very means of their own survival on this planet would be a better description.

Those last posts don’t frighten me in the least. In fact, I’m left feeling rather grateful. And a little bit anusey.

Sorry, I meant queasy.

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