Bishop Josiah Atkins Idowu-Fearon
The global Anglican Communion has been slammed for selecting an anti-gay Nigerian bishop as its new secretary general.
The church announced earlier this month that Josiah Atkins Idowu-Fearon, Bishop of Kaduna in Nigeria, has been appointed as the next Secretary General of the Anglican Communion.
He was selected from a field of other applicants from Oceania, Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas.
Idowu-Fearon is the first African to be appointed to the influential position, a fact that was welcomed by many in Africa.
Disappointingly, however, the conservative cleric has been accused of making anti-gay statements, including supporting the jailing of gays and lesbians.
In March 2014, he reportedly said that he backed the Nigerian government’s oppressive stance against homosexuality and same-sex marriage.
“The government has criminalised homosexuality which is good, our battle is not against human beings, it is against the devil,” Idowu-Fearon was quoted as saying by the New Telegraph.
The Bishop has, however, now insisted that his views were “misrepresented” and “distorted” in the article. In an April 4 statement he claims that, “I have never supported the law in Nigeria that criminalises this community and I will never support it.”
He added that, “The Church is called to love and protect everyone without discrimination, ‘love the person but hate the sin’, whatever the sin may be, corruption, sexual sins of all kinds, misuse of power or anything else.”
British LGBT activist Peter Tatchell is not convinced, and wrote on his foundation’s Facebook page on Monday that the appointment “is more proof of the homophobic contempt and disrespect of the Anglican leadership. They claim to be liberal and gay-sympathetic but collude with people who want to see us jailed.”
The Anglican Consultative Council, which appointed Idowu-Fearon, has admitted that “Bishop Josiah holds a conservative view on sexual relations outside of traditional marriage and holds to the commitments” expressed in a 1998 church position document “rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture.”
The global Anglican Communion remains under pressure over conflicting views on the acceptance of gay marriage and homosexuality, with African branches backing anti-gay legislation and threatening to split from the more liberal English parent church over the issues.