Sunday, December 28, 2008

Considering The Genesis Of Anti-Religious Hostility

Have a read over Obama's new buddy Rick Warren's fawning praise of Nigerian Anglican Bishop Peter Akinola:

On April 30, 2006, pastor Rick Warren wrote an op-ed, for Time Magazine, which lavished praise on Akinola, likening the cleric to Nelson Mandela:

"Akinola personifies the epochal change in the Christian church, namely that the leadership, influence, growth and center of gravity in Christianity is shifting from the northern hemisphere to the southern. New African, Asian and Latin American church leaders like Akinola, 61, are bright, biblical, courageous and willing to point out the inconsistencies, weaknesses and theological drift in Western churches."

"...Akinola has the strength of a lion, useful in confronting Third World fundamentalism and First World relativism."

"...I believe he, like Mandela, is a man of peace and his leadership is a model for Christians around the world."

Then, consider what Akinola hath wrought in Nigeria:

Peter Akinola, who earlier that year had thrown his substantial political weight and religious authority behind draconian Nigerian anti-gay legislation to, among other strictures, "make it illegal for gay men and lesbians to form organizations, read gay literature or eat together in a restaurant."

Although I missed it at the time, the proposed legislation was apparently denounced, according to the current Wikipedia writeup on Akinola, by the US State Department: "The proposed legislation was formally challenged by the United States State Department as a breach of Nigeria's obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights."

That law, incidentally, is even worse than the Nazi's initial 1935 anti-gay law, known as Paragraph 175. (The documentary by the same name is a riveting and traumatizing look at the sheer inhumane brutality of the Nazi regime and its enablers.)

Consider that a large number of Anglican parishes are breaking away from the US Episcopal Church to join up with Akinola as one of their top leaders. Consider that the only people who have taken either (or both) Warren and Akinola to task have either been in the media, or international human rights activists based in London like Peter Tatchell or my friend Brett Lock.

Then consider the religious angle to this. As long as the dominant religious voices of the age remain silent over these sorts of brutal violations of human rights, those who are victimized by such predation tend to connect the brutality to religion itself and walk away. If organized religion wants to save others, it needs to start to save itself by taking decisive steps to address these sorts of situations -- and not leave the tough work exclusively to activists and HuffPo bloggers.

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