Dr Williams defends Akinola on anti-Muslim riots
By Rachel Harden
Source: Church Times
The Archbishop of Canterbury has attempted to explain a speech made by the Primate of Nigeria, the Most Revd Peter Akinola, about Muslim violence against Christians, which was followed by attacks in which 80 people died.
In a long interview in The Guardian on Tuesday, Dr Williams summarised Archbishop Akinola’s comments as “Don’t be provocative because in an unstable situation, it’s as likely the Christians will resort to violence as Muslims will,” and said that he did not mean to stir up violence.
“He’s a man who will speak very directly and immediately into crises. I think he meant to issue a warning, which certainly has been taken as a threat, an act of provocation. Others in the Nigerian Church have, I think, found other ways of saying that which have been more measured. “
Archbishop Akinola, writing as president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), had warned Muslims that “they do not have the monopoly of violence in this nation. . . CAN may no longer be able to contain our restive youths should this ugly trend continue.” He was speaking after the first wave of riots protesting against the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad (News, 24 February).
In the interview with the editor of The Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, Dr Williams also said that Creationism should not be taught in schools, as it was not just another theory. He explained that the belief that everything depends on the creative act of God is compatible with a degree of uncertainty about how precisely that unfolds. But, he said: “That’s different from saying - different from discussing, teaching about what creation means. For that matter, it’s not even the same as saying that Darwinism is - is the only thing that ought to be taught. My worry is Creationism can end up reducing the doctrine of creation rather than enhancing it.”
He spoke of how he was in favour of church schools, setting out how most of newly opened ones were in areas of deprivation, with clear commitments to their communities. Criticisms of indoctrination became less plausible when you considered the facts on the ground, he argued.
Dr Williams also defended his approach to homosexuality in the Church, saying he had been given a responsibility to care for the Church as a whole. “It really is wrong for an archbishop to be the leader of a party; in a polarised and deeply divided Church it’s particularly important, I think, not to be someone pursuing an agenda that isn’t the agenda of the whole. “
Mr Rusbridger asked him about his being criticised for not being true to his beliefs. “Yes, I understand that and hear it repeatedly.” He said that moral leadership did not always equate with pronouncing strongly on one issue or another.
“I just wonder a bit whether, you know, when an archbishop condemns something, suddenly in . . . the cells of al-Qaeda, somebody says, ‘Goodness, terrorism’s wrong: the Archbishop says so. I never thought of that.’ I’m not sure that’s how it is.”
Dr Williams was asked whether he had been burnt by exposure to the media. He replied: ” Singed maybe, from time to time.” He was also uncomfortable with the ” fascination of our culture with personal-ity”.
He repeated his insistence from an earlier interview that parts of the internet are “the preserve of bigots and maniacs”, but that was not the same as saying that he personally wanted to police the internet - as some sections of the media had reported at the time.
He also thought the Church was not in a bad state, and praised the work of Fresh Expressions and various parishes, including those near his homes in Lambeth and Canterbury, that had a central place in the community