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Their Finest Hour

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jan 08, 2006

Bigotry being a distemper specific to orthodox Christians, gay and lesbian Anglicans in Nigeria are victims of injustice, right? Right? Well, dammit, they oughta be.

The Church of England News reports, diffidently, on a supremely amusing variation of the Nigerian E-Mail Solicitation Scam. In this case, the "marks" were Western progressives and the bait was not a Swiss bank account but a gay morality play. And it worked!

Tricksters seeking to take financial advantage of the divisions within the Anglican Communion through false tales of persecution and woe are at work in Nigeria, the Church of Nigeria reports. The British pressure group, Changing Attitude, the Church of Nigeria notes, was a victim of one such scam.

Note the oh-so-delicate choice of the word "tricksters"; the poor journalist is tip-toeing through a minefield here. Changing Attitude, as its name might lead you to expect, promotes a better class of buggery among all God's chillun. It was a "victim." Back to the article:

In a statement released on December 31, the Church of Nigeria's Press Office warned of "fraudulent personalities" seeking to fool unsuspecting foreigners. The Church had received "dozens of emails" concerning fraudulent schemes and advised donors to "to verify identities of people before sending money to fraudsters who have not the slightest belief in God, but are only trying to use Church sentiments to lure people." Church of Nigeria spokesman, Canon AkinTunde Popoola, cited the case of Changing Attitude and Davis Mac Ayalla.

Well, "unsuspecting foreigners" is an equivocal term here. The foreigners were easily duped by the gay-bashing line, true, but that means they were reflexively suspicious of the Christian convictions of the Nigerian Anglican Church. They clearly wanted to find some newsworthy hypocrisy among the homophobes.

Claiming to be a school teacher "sacked and victimised for his homosexuality" by the Church of Nigeria, Mac Ayalla approached Changing Attitude, seeking their assistance to start a Nigerian chapter of the organisation.

Nice pitch, Mac. Now there's a fisherman who knows which fly will get the trout to hit. I wonder, by the way, what kind of "assistance" he was asking from the brethren at Changing Attitude -- a spiritual bouquet, perhaps?

Mac Ayalla's "Changing Attitudes Nigeria" allegedly held the first conference for gay and lesbian Nigerian Anglicans in Abuja on Nov 25-27, organised with the assistance of Changing Attitude in the UK. Nigerian tabloid reports, uncritically picked up by the Western media, reported that upwards of 800 people attended the gathering. Canon Popoola stated that he went to the Conference Hall and found no evidence of the Changing Attitudes Nigeria gathering. "I asked around. Nobody seemed to know. I had two different people call from different phones to indicate interest in attending."

"Nigerian tabloid reports, uncritically picked up by the Western media"? Sorry, doesn't wash. Reuters does not monitor the classified ads in African tabloids, and the whole point is that there were no reports at all, because nothing took place to report on. We do have, on the other hand, the gushing press release that Our Man Mac sent to Changing Attitude. So let's try this hypothesis: the crew at Changing Attitude contacted their chums in the UK media and fed them Mac's fiction as a hot news story: "800 Nigerian pillow-biters rally for justice." If it didn't happen, it should have. Run with it.

Amazingly, Changing Attitude is still trying to bluff it out. Maybe Popoola's two inquirers -- using different phones! -- encouraged them.

The Rev Colin Coward, director of Changing Attitude, told The Church of England Newspaper he had put "each allegation" to Davis Mac Ayalla and had consulted "people and records that would verify account of events and of his personality and life history". Mr Coward noted that while "there are many questions I would like to know the answer to", he remained "confident in Davis and his commitment to work on behalf of lesbian and gay Anglicans in Nigeria."

"Confident in Davis and his commitment." Reverend Coward, sir, if you would kindly send Uncle Di your Barclay's account number and PIN code, he will give you in exchange the names of the tabloid reporters assigned to the Abuja Alternative Sexualities metro desk who can vouch for Sad Sacked Mac's bona fides. Hey, come to Nigeria and they'll show you the sack.

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