Rt. Rev. Musonda Mwamba, Bishop of Botswana, has a fascinating take on why Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola is campaigning so outrageously to imprison LGBTs: American secessionists are paying him so they can steal Episcopal churches.
Just a few days after the Episcopal House of Bishops came out with 3 powerful statements rejecting schism and inviting the Archbishop of Canterbury to finally have the decency to come to America to meet with them—some of the most positive developments in years—I begin to despair whether even the most progressive Episcopalians have any idea WTF is going on.
They prefer instead to argue theology for hours, months, years on end, while our Church is being raped and pillaged by warmongering neocons.
The Institute for Religion and Democracy, which funds and fuels the secessionists, is a relic of the Cold War that found itself without an enemy when the Soviet Union collapsed; “Where did all the Communists go?” So IRD reinvented itself to undermine and split “liberal” Protestant churches, who got alarmed and occasionally spoke up when George W. Bush invaded Iraq on his supposed quest to “promote democracy” everywhere but Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the Episcopal Church.
IRD and its theocon allies launched a secret plot years ago to split conservative Episcopal dioceses and parishes from the mainline Church, setting up a parallel governing body under foreign bishops in the Anglican Communion, claiming “orthodox” (anti-Gay) beliefs against the “apostate” (Gay-inclusive) majority of Episcopalians—buying off the Archbishop of Nigeria, according to the Bishop of Botswana; see here—thus circumventing Episcopal Church laws that church buildings and other assets belong to TEC.
The Rt. Rev. Musonda Mwamba, Bishop of Botswana, sees it this way:
These factors can be seen to influence – and at times bring pressure to bear, or even manipulate the situation. Where does ‘power’ lie in the present debate? The provinces in Nigeria have collectively the largest number of Anglican members in the world – more than the Church of England and ECUSA combined! America has long been generous in its hospitality and support for African church projects and its leaders, however, in the current situation, the almighty dollar has been used to strengthen the voice and position of some African bishops who have been invited to the States and given generous incentives. Very tempting indeed for a bishop from a poor African diocese to be feted and offered funds by his American hosts, if he endorses the party line!
One of the things that amazes me in this whole debate is the manner in which lobbying, very peculiar to America, has been used to influence opinion, decisions, and relationships, which results in the creation of a culture of ‘them’ and ‘us’, ‘in’ and ‘out’, and never shall the twain meet. The success of this lobyying has been assisted mainly by the dissemination of information on the internet.
Not only would the IRD-funded secessionists get to steal church property, they could try to drown out TEC voices opposing Bush’s disastrous Civil War in Iraq. That was the master plan.
But TEC’s House of Bishops fought back. And now the secessionists suddenly find themselves in confusion, even retreat. The Archbishop of Canterbury is not a pope; he can’t declare the Episcopal Church in or out of the Anglican Communion, and neither can any group of foreign bishops. The Communion is a loose federation of independent national churches without any power to impose its views on its members. The foreign bishops tried imposing an ultimatum on the Americans—”Toe the line on Gay bishops and same-sex unions by September 30, or else!”—and the House of Bishops refused. Even many conservatives refused, because they’re finally starting to grasp what they’re up against: our own civil war.
Gay rights are almost secondary to all this; they’re simply the means by which to rile up bigots in the pews. Parishioners with fundamentalist, secessionist clergy read the (translated) Bible literally and oppose all forms of Gay rights. When good old Father rails against LGBT people, parishioners get all bent out of shape. They don’t see themselves as “good Germans” mesmerized by Hitler, but as “good Christians” opposing the “Gay agenda.” So if Father says to leave the Episcopal Church, they’re with him all the way.
This is how wars get mongered: by creating an atmosphere of fear.
Bush did it; Bishop Duncan of Pittsburgh does it; the Institute for Religion and Democracy (except in the Episcopal Church!) does it; and the two worst Anglican bishops in the world do it: the Bishop of Harare, a thieving toady of Zimbabwe’s murderous president Robert Mugabe; and Peter Akinola, the Archbishop of All Nigeria, who has endorsed a government bill that would make all mention of Gay rights a crime punishable by five years’ imprisonment.
It doesn’t matter to Akinola that the bill has been denounced by the UN, the European Parliament and the U.S. State Department; it’s image that matters here. He’s gone out of his way to tell reporters in New York and London that he won’t even be in the same room with a Gay person.
Even that’s a lie; but the reporters write it up, liberals wring their hands and conservatives cheer him like the Second Coming.
These right-wing bishops are educated men; they know what they’re doing. They may or may not be opposed to Gay rights themselves, but they know for certain that any talk of Gay rights or freedoms (speech, press, assembly, association) gets some people frothing at the mouth. Pat Robertson doesn’t mind employing Gay people as long as he can raise money by spouting off anti-Gay hatred.
So, Mwamba suggests, the American wingnuts bishops and their Bush-sucking IRD backers got together with Akinola and made him a deal: financial support to make a loud, vociferous, international, even ridiculous campaign against Gay people, to increase his power to dominate the Anglican Communion, thus enabling U.S. secessionist churches to steal their buildings from Episcopal dioceses and win the resulting lawsuits because, after all, they’re now considered the “real” Anglicans in the U.S.
If they win, TEC gets marginalized and George Bush is ever freer to set off World War III.
If they lose, well, so what? They don’t get to keep their buildings, but no one’s faith has changed; the Church never has been a building, but a congregation. Still, it’s nicer to have money, much nicer.
One by-product of all this is that Nigeria’s lone Gay Anglican activist, named Davis Mac-Iyalla, has been the target of death threats inspired by Peter Akinola, his own archbishop. Davis represents Akinola’s worst nightmare; a dissenting voice in his own Church.
Akinola’s bill hasn’t yet passed the Nigerian Parliament, which has petrodollar scandals and presidential campaign uproars to deal with, but it almost doesn’t matter to the theo-neocons whether the bill passes or not; what matters is the intimidation campaign, where U.S. churches get their buildings, their endowments and their purported legitimacy.
The poor Archbishop of Canterbury, who himself supports Gay Christians, is paralyzed with fear.
Anyone can see this has nothing to do with theology. Why then do Episcopal bloggers (including a large number of LGBT ones) spend all their hours arguing theology? Because we’ve become comfortable, even flabby, a Church of Ostriches. Bombs are flying overhead, but they don’t even realize they’re at war.
Nor do they do anything to rescue Davis Mac-Iyalla, the spokesman for 5 million LGBT Nigerian Anglicans, who lives in fear and hiding from Akinola’s cheap thugs. Instead, progressive Episcopalians wring their hands for a minute or two, then go back to arguing angels on pinheads, with suitable reference to the original Greek.
So screw these ostriches. I’m doing my best to get Davis out alive so he can tell the truth about what’s going on in Nigeria and America, and why American billionaires will stop at nothing to obtain Iraqi and Nigerian oil.++