A diverse group of 50 people, organized by The Gay Liberation Network, gathered on Sun., Sept. 23, at Wheaton College to protest the appearance of Nigerian Episcopal Archbishop Peter Akinola at the Emanuel Memorial Chapel.
Since Akinola was enthroned, he has led a crusade to oppose lesbian and gay clergy and to support laws proposed in Nigeria to ban freedom of assembly, freedom of press and speech from all same-gender-loving people in Nigeria. Among those protesting Akinola's presence were The Rev. Elizabeth Stedman, chaplain of Canterbury Northwestern University Episcopal ministry; The Rainbow Alliance; Gini Lester of The Green Party; and Soulforce, a group that has challenged anti-gay conservative Christians in nationwide tours. Rev. Deborah Lake of the nondenominational Sankofa Way organization in Chicago said, 'Akinola has called for the imprisonment of gays,' and that the proposed law he supports would even 'bar the distribution of food,' to gays in need, including those living with HIV.
There was general agreement in the group of protestors that Archbishop Peter Akinola's views were shaped by British colonial control of Nigeria. His approach is to oppose speaking with those who disagree with him: Akinola has allied himself with Episcopals in Virginia, who treat his as a monarch and want him to replace the Archbishop of Canterbury as the leader of the Anglican Church.
Protest signs included those saying, 'End Religious Oppression Worldwide' and 'Nigerian Human Rights Abuses Ignored by Akinola.' A dozen Nigerian men recently arrested in a hotel raid on a gay party face a possible death penalty execution by stoning under Sharia law in a northern Nigerian state for the 'offense' of cross-dressing. This type of persecution in the predominantly Muslim section of the country did not begin until after Akinola started his anti-gay campaign.