LAGOS, Nigeria, Oct 27, 2004 (PANA) — Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo Wednesday slammed same sex marriage and homosexuality as "unbiblical, unnatural and definitely unAfrican".
|From (L-R) Bishop Emmanuel Ronin of Rwanda, Bishop Bernard Malango of Central African Republic and Bishop Joseph Marona of Sudan attend the opening ceremony of the first-ever All African Anglican bishops’ conference in Lagos, October 27, 2004. Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo backed African bishops in rejecting homosexuality on Wednesday, calling gay tendencies ’unbiblical, unnatural and definitely un-African.|
"Surely the good Lord who created us male and female knew exactly what he was doing," he said, adding, "Any other form of sexual relationship is a perversion of the divine order, and sin."
Obasanjo was speaking when he opened the first conference of
African Anglican bishops in Nigeria’s economic capital city of Lagos, where the issue of homosexuality is expected to dominate discussions among the 300 bishops from the 12 Anglican African provinces attending the meeting.
The Nigerian leader was apparently delving into the controversy surrounding the U.S. Episcopal Church’s controversial ordination of a gay priest as bishop of New Hampshire, an act that has threatened to tear apart the 77-million strong Anglican Dominion.
Obasanjo, a self-declared born-again Christian of the Baptist
stock, urged the African bishops to always oppose the "new
teaching" approved in the Western Anglican Churches.
"Please be steadfast and maintain this path of righteousness. Do not succumb to intimidation, blackmail, isolation or even barefaced persecution. Stand firm for the gospel and the word of God once delivered to the saints," he admonished the bishops, as well as church leaders from Asia, Latin America and the Middle East who are also attending the six-day summit.
The meeting, being hosted by the Anglican Primate of Nigeria,
Archbishop Peter Akinola, is also expected to discuss the issues of poverty alleviation, diseases such as HIV/AIDS, Anglican identity, Church and State/Justice/Peace and reconciliation, ecumenical interfaith concern, theological education and women, children and youths.
The Nigerian President appealed to the bishops to stand against the evils of corruption, discrimination and poverty.
"The terrible effects of corruption are so manifestly devastating that all leaders with the fear of God must resolve to wage war against it. Together we should seek to shatter the chains of injustice, cleanse the cobwebs of ignorance and illuminate the citadels of darkness," the Nigerian leader said.
Obasanjo also appealed to the bishops to join African governments in their campaign for debt relief, "if not outright debt cancellation".
He described the debt burden as "a new form of slavery", adding: "Even when we have some funds to pay off specific amounts, the so-called creditors gang up and refuse to allow us do so...they prefer to reschedule the debts over long periods such that we pay the same amount two or three times over."
Earlier, Akinola, who is also the Chairman of the Council of
Anglican Provinces of Africa, said the African church must
develop its own theology and consider training ministers locally, rather than the old practice of sending them to the West.
"You now have on campus men and men cohabiting, which is against the Africa way of life... The Western world is embroiled in a new religion which we cannot associate ourselves with," said Bishop Akinola, who was trained in the US.
He did not however say if the African Anglican churches planned to break away from the global church.
Nigeria’s 17 million Anglican faithful are the biggest
congregation outside England, where the church originated.