Earlier this week, Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Jonathan, signed into law draconian measures designed to combat homosexuality in the country. Two days ago, 12 men – 11 Muslims and 1 Christian – were arrested for being gay and could face up to 10 years imprisonment and maybe even the death penalty. The 11 Muslim men will be tried by an Islamic court and could be stoned to death if found guilty – which looks to be a forgone conclusion. Richard Branson and the secretary general of the UN have both protested.
Guess who hasn’t?
The Church of England has a significant presence in Nigeria, its largest ‘province’ outside the UK. It has protested neither the new law nor the arrest of the twelve men. Former Archbishop George Carey, who regularly complains that Christians are ‘marginalised’ and even persecuted in the UK (when they’ve been mildly slighted or offended) hasn’t said a word about the Nigerian situation. The two current Archbishops in the UK, John Sentamu of York and Justin Welby of Canterbury have remained similarly quiet, while the Anglican Church in Nigeria has itself been conspicuously silent.
It all brings to mind Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan. You know, the one where church leaders see a man in need by the side of the road and pass by swiftly on the other side.