Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Give Me Liberty . . . .

Two large and historic Episcopal parishes are leaving PECUSA to join the Church of Nigeria. Truro Church and Falls Church, both in Virginia, have voted to deep-six their ongoing discussions with the denomination, and instead submit themselves to the authority of Peter Akinola, the Nigerian archbishop who has been a loud conservative voice in the Anglican wars over sexuality.

Now consider the irony. George Washington served on the vestry of the Falls Church, and Francis Scott Key later led services there. (Although, nota bene, Key was a lawyer and not a priest.)

In contrast to these two heroes of freedom, Archbishop Akinola has led a movement in his country to criminalize not only homosexual behavior, but any advocacy for the civil or human rights of gay people. He has supported laws that make it illegal to publish editorials or take part in demonstrations supporting these rights. Such is Akinola's contempt for gay people that, rather than hear them argue for their place in society, he would abrogate the freedoms of speech and assembly for which George Washington and others like him were willing to die.

The two parishes may imagine that they are "traditionalist" and "conservative," but then, the advocates of oppression often do.

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