I was dismayed and appalled to read on Andrew Sullivan's blog about recent events in Nigeria, and the reaction of the Anglican Primate there, Peter Akinola. It seems that as a horrible echo of the recent anti-cartoon turned anti-Danish turned anti-Western and anti-Christian violence, there has been an outbreak of violence in Nigeria with Muslims attacking Christians, and in reprisal, Christians attacking Muslims. It seems that over 100 people may have died in this pointless medieval exercise of rivaling fundamentalists. That was the part that dismayed me. The part that appalled me was the response of Archbishop Akinola, who said "may we at this stage remind our Muslim brothers that they do not have the monopoly of violence in this nation". Yes, that is a quote. Here we have the Archbishop of Nigeria threatening violent retaliation. It seems in Akinola's theology, the Christian thing to do is not to turn the other cheek, but to start beating ploughshares into swords.
To those of us who are gay and who follow church politics, Archbishop Akinola is infamous for his fundamentalist positions on sexual orientation, and for his advocacy of criminalizing homosexual acts and even pro-homosexual speech in Nigeria, as well as his active support for renegade Episcopal congregations in the US who share his views. But this latest, threatening violence for violence, is a whole new level of reprehensible. How, exactly, does this man have any Christian moral standing whatsoever? The contrast between this African Archbishop and his famous fellow Archbishop, Desmond Tutu, is literally like night and day. Rowan Williams (the Archbishop of Canterbury) is surely a saint to continue communion with and to hope for a change of heart from Akinola, when any lesser mortal would surely have succumbed to the temptation to say "You want a schism? Good riddance, you so-called Christian who gives true Christians a bad name!" (But then that would be un-Christian.) Let us all pray to God/Allah to save Nigeria from His followers.