Nigeria’s Bishop Orama: Gays “Are Not Fit To Live”
September 8th, 2007
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.