Schismatic VA Episcopalians OK With Anti-Gay Laws Worse Than Pre-WW2 Nazi Anti-Gay Legislation ?
Yesterday, seven Virginia Episcopal churches including two of the largest and wealthiest in the American Episcopal Communion voted to break away and, as a New York Times story
written prior to the vote put it, "report to the powerful archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, an outspoken opponent of homosexuality who supports legislation in his country that would make it illegal for gay men and lesbians to form organizations, read gay literature or eat together in a restaurant."
Jim Naughton, former Washington Post and NYT reporter and author of a study on how covert right wing agencies
are undermining the Episcopal Church, noted "this no longer seems to be a debate about the proper role of gay and lesbians Christians in the Church, but about the moral legitimacy of rolling back human rights for minorities"
; in fact, the Virginia Episcopal Churches had voted to put themselves under an Archbishop, Peter Akinola, who supports Nigerian anti-gay legislation even more extreme than the pre-WW2 anti-gay laws of Hitler's Nazi Party, including the notorious 1935 revisions to Paragraph 175
, that preceded the Gay Holocaust
( see Nazi Persecution Of Homosexuals 1933 To 1945
from the US Holocaust Museum, and the extensive Wikipedia entry
on the subject. )
The Nazis took power in January 1933 on a platform of law and order, "traditional values," and an ideology of racial purity that included virulent antisemitism and the persecution of unwanted social groups. Among its first steps to create the "New Order," the regime shut down homosexual gathering places, organizations, and publications in a broad attack on "public indecency." The Nazi assault on homosexuality had begun. - From "The Nazi Persecution Of Homosexuals 1933-1945"
Recently, a Mid-Atlantic US AM talk radio host Jerry Klein provoked a minor scandal with a hoax show in which Klein suggested American Muslim citizens should be forced to wear "identifying markers" such as armbands with crescent moon shapes or even branded with crescent moon tattoos on their hands or foreheads [ mp3 recording of the show ] ; Klein's show was flooded with calls from listeners, many of whom agreed with his proposals or suggested Klein's suggestions did not go nearly far enough. But the tacit endorsement, by the renegade Virginia Episcopal churches, of draconian anti-gay legislation worse than that of pre-WW2 Nazi laws, goes farther than individual expressions of bigotry ; it gives hateful anti-minority views institutional and religious sanction and lends support to Archbishop Akinola's claims that homosexuality represents a "satanic attack on the church of God".
A Comparison Of Nazi-Era Anti-Gay Legislation, Paragraph 175, vs. The "Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition)" bill Supported by Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola
Matthew Thompson has perhaps given the most extensive coverage to be found concerning the proposed bill, at his blog Political Spaghetti and writes:
"Sections 1-5 of the Nigerian bill would formalize restrictions on gay marriage that are similar to what are found in many states in the US. Twenty-one states still have sodomy laws on their books, and most ban gay marriage or civil unions either constitutionally or by statute. If the Nigerian bill had stopped here, it would have imposed a situation no different than that found throughout the US.
But this bill goes much further. Sections 6-8 above restrict the right to free speech, free press, free assembly, and the free exercise of religion, and enforces that restriction with a [ 5 year ] jail sentence." but, adds Thompson, "When reading the bill, it is important to keep in mind that sodomy is already illegal in Nigeria. Chapter 24, Section 214 of Nigeria's criminal code penalizes consensual homosexual conduct between adults with fourteen years’ imprisonment (Human Rights Watch). Sharia, as practiced in northern Nigeria since 1999, calls for death by stoning for "sodomy" violations."
By contrast, 1935 revisions to Paragraph 175 of the German penal code that applied to homosexuality established penalties for homosexual acts ranging from three months to 10 years. These could include any "lewd act" that involved no physical contact such as two men masturbating next to one another:
Indecency between Men
1. §175 of the Penal Code contains the following wording:
A man who commits indecency with another man, or allows himself to be misused indecently, will be punished with prison.
In especially minor cases the court can refrain from punishment of a participant, who was not yet twenty–one years old at the time of the time of the criminal act.
2. The following rule shall be added after §175 of the Penal Code as §175a:
[The following] will be punished with a penitentiary sentence of up to ten years, or under extenuating circumstances with a prison sentence of no less than three months:
* A man who compels another man to commit indecency with him, or to let himself be misused indecently, by force or by threat of imminent danger to life and limb;
* A man who induces another man to commit indecency with him, or to let himself be misused indecently, by means of the abuse of an official or professional relationship, or one of seniority;
* A man over twenty–one who seduces a male person under twenty–one to commit indecency with him, or to let himself be misused indecently;
* A man who on a professional basis commits indecency with men, or allows himself be misused indecently by men, or offers himself for such purposes.
As indicated in the previously cited quote above from the US Holocaust Museum, Nazi repression of ""homosexual gathering places, organizations, and publications" were quite real but sanctions against free speech, free press, and free assembly on the part of gays were unofficial and not actually written into law as the Akinola supported legislation would do .
So, together with already existing Nigerian laws against homosexual acts, the proposed Nigerian anti-gay marriage bill would add to cumulative Nigerian legal sanctions against homosexuality more severe than comparable legislation promulgated prior to World War Two by the Nazi Party.
By affiliating with Akinola, The Falls Church, in Falls Church Virginia, and Truro Church in Fairfax City, Virginia have chosen a leader who proposes the criminalization of sexual identity and so raised the profile of hate speech in contemporary America to what may be an unprecedented new level. How many members of these two churches that have aligned themselves with Akinola are aware that the archbishop Akinola supports laws more severe even than the pre-WW2 Nazi laws targetting gays or that Akinola supported Nigerian anti gay marriage legislation would establish criminal penalties for gays who simply ate meals together ?
The spectacle of these unfortunate schisms should go on for quite some time : The Falls Church and the Truro Church, reports Laurie Goodstein for the New York Times previously cited, are "large, historic congregations that minister to the Washington elite and occupy real estate worth a combined $27 million, which could result in a legal battle over who keeps the property".
For extended discussion on the VA schisms see Truro and Falls Church Vote in Favor of Bigotry from Father Jake Stops The World
For extensive background coverage, see the following Talk To Action story: Orthodox Anglicans' Akinola: 'Five Years in Jail if You are Gay in Nigeria' that begins with the following paragraphs:
In late February, 2006, John Bryson Chane, the Episcopal Bishop of Washington, DC, wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post. In it, he revealed to the WaPo's readership one of the many awful consequences that decades of conflict have brought to the Anglican Communion over the issue of homosexuality. Just days before, one of Chane's fellow bishops in the Anglican Communion, the Primate of All Nigeria and leader of the Anglican Communion's largest Province, Archbishop Peter Akinola, endorsed legislation that would ban most basic civil rights for gay and lesbian Nigerians, and enforce that ban with a 5 year prison sentence.
The Anglican Communion is in crisis mode, struggling to salvage a broad though loosely affiliated organization from self-destruction under the pull of two strong forces. On the one hand, northern Anglicans in the US, Canada, and the UK are committed to a liberal stand on homosexuality, and to a Gospel of Inclusion (i.e., "The Episcopal Church Welcomes You"). On the other hand, the Provinces of the Global South, along with splinter organizations in the North (see the American Anglican Council, or AAC, and the Anglican Communion Network, or Network) are "orthodox" on the issue of homosexuality, and consider their purpose to be far more evangelical than that of the Episcopal Church, USA (ECUSA), or of other Northern Anglicans. The Provinces of the Global South claim moral authority because of their great and increasing numbers, while parish registries in ECUSA and elsewhere are stable or in decline.
For yet more background, see this November 2003 Atlantic article:
Defender of the Faith: Why all Anglican eyes in London are nervously fixed on a powerful African archbishop
....An uncompromising traditionalist, Akinola presides over the most vibrant and almost certainly the largest Anglican community in the world—at a time when the Anglican world's true center of gravity has shifted to Africa.
....Commenting on the decision of the Canadian diocese of New Westminster to approve the blessing of gay unions, Akinola declared that the diocese had in practice seceded from the Anglican world.
....Akinola thundered, "This is an attack on the Church of God —a Satanic attack on God's Church." And during the buildup to the U.S. Episcopal Church's controversial ordination of Gene Robinson as the bishop of New Hampshire, he announced, "I cannot think of how a man in his senses would be having a sexual relationship with another man. Even in the world of animals, dogs, cows, lions, we don't hear of such things."