FaithWorld

Survey finds worldwide split over stands on gays, religiosity plays big role

(Same-sex couple plastic figurines are displayed during a gay wedding fair (salon du mariage gay) in Paris April 27, 2013. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes)

A survey on Tuesday shows a world divided over the acceptance of gays, with countries in Africa and the Middle East strongly opposed even as tolerance grows in Europe, the United States, Canada and parts of Latin America.

People in predominately Muslim countries such as Jordan, Egypt, Indonesia and Pakistan along with Nigeria, Senegal and other African nations overwhelming said gay men and lesbians should be rejected from society at large, the Pew Research Center survey of nearly 40 countries found.

At the same time, acceptance of homosexuality continued to grow in North America and most of Europe, according to the survey, which polled nearly 38,000 people in 39 countries.

Some nations, such as Israel, Poland and Bolivia, were split.

“Acceptance of homosexuality is particularly widespread in countries where religion is less central in people’s lives. These are also among the richest countries in the world,” Pew said in its summary of the findings.

Nigeria passes anti-gay bill with penalties up to 14 years in jail

(Nigerian legislators in session in the capital Abuja, October 10, 2012.  REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde)

Nigeria’s House of Representatives passed a bill on Thursday to criminalise gay marriage, same-sex “amorous relationships” and even membership of a gay rights group, defying pressure from Western powers to respect gay and lesbian rights.

The bill, which contains penalties of up to 14 years in prison, passed Nigeria’s Senate in late-2011 but President Goodluck Jonathan must approve it before it becomes law.

Guestview – How faith leaders can be our greatest allies against polio

(A local health worker carries vaccination kits into a vehicle at a distribution centre ahead of the start of a nationwide polio immunization campaign  in Lagos February 21, 2011. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye)

The following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the authors’ alone. Mercy Ahun is Special Representative to Eligible Countries for GAVI, a public-private partnership that works with governments, vaccine producers, civil society organizations and others to expand access to vaccines and immunization in the developing world.

By Mercy Ahun

Attacks on polio immunization workers in Pakistan have drowned out the celebrations of so much recent success in immunization work. Pakistan remains one of only three countries in the world where polio still exists, but efforts to bring vaccines to all corners of the country have been politicized to a tragic extent.

Nigeria failing to tackle religious violence in its “Middle Belt” – U.S. agency

(Security officials assess the scene of a bomb blast in Nigeria’s northern city of Kaduna April 8, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer )

Nigeria’s government is not doing enough to tackle religious violence in central Nigeria, where more than 100 people have been killed since March, a U.S. government agency said on Monday.

Plateau state and other parts of the “Middle Belt” have suffered for decades from violence linked to land disputes between the semi-nomadic, cattle-herding Muslim Fulani and settled Christian Berom farmers.

Spoof campaign poster for Cardinal Turkson appears in pre-conclave Rome

(A woman strolls past a poster supporting Cardinal Peter Turkson in front of the Papal Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome March 1, 2013.  REUTERS/ Max Rossi)

Spoof  “vote for Turkson” posters have popped up in Rome along walls still plastered with campaign posters from Italy’s general election on Sunday and Monday. Campaigning for the papacy is officially forbidden and even suggesting one is a candidate is usually enough to end any cardinal’s chances of ascending to the throne of Saint Peter.

Ghana’s Cardinal Peter Turkson is the Irish bookmakers’ favorite to replace Pope Benedict, putting a non-European in pole position to lead the 1.2 billion-member Roman Catholic Church for the first time in more than a millennium.

Ghana’s Cardinal Peter Turkson is Irish bookmakers’ favorite for new pope

(Cardinal Peter Turkson (2nd L) during the Ash Wednesday mass at the Vatican February 13, 2013. REUTERS/ Alessandro Bianchi )

Ghana’s Peter Turkson is the Irish bookmakers’ favorite to replace Pope Benedict, putting a non-European in pole position to lead the 1.2 billion-member Roman Catholic Church for the first time in more than a millennium.

Irish bookmaker Paddy Power offered odds of 11/4 against for Turkson, meaning successful punters would win 11 pounds for every four staked, while Britain’s second largest bookmaker Ladbrokes offered odds of 5/2 against.

Leading African Anglicans denounce Church of England’s gay bishop rule

(Kenyan worshipers arrive at the All Saints Cathedral Church for a evening mass at the capital Nairobi, November 3, 2003. REUTERS/Anthony Niguna)

Senior African Anglican leaders have lined up to denounce the Church of England’s decision to allow celibate gay bishops, warning it would only widen the divisions within the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Archbishop Nicholas Okoh of Nigeria, effectively the largest province in the Communion, said such reforms “could very well shatter whatever hopes we had for healing and reconciliation within our beloved Communion.”

from John Lloyd:

A church divided against itself cannot stand

The Church of England voted not to ordain female bishops last week, a move widely seen as defying the modern world. Much justification was given for this view.

Both the retiring and the incoming archbishops of Canterbury deplored the vote. The former, the scholarly (and “greatly saddened”) Rowan Williams, said, “It seems as if we are willfully blind to some of the trends and priorities of … wider society.” The incoming Justin Welby took a more upbeat view, one appropriate for a former senior oil executive. “There is a lot to be done,” he said, “but I am absolutely confident that at some point I will consecrate a woman bishop.” Still, Welby conceded that the vote was “a pretty grim day for the whole church.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron, pausing in the midst of his battle to reduce European Union spending, snapped that the church needed to “get with the program” and that his task was, while respecting its autonomy, to give it a “sharp prod.” A succession of clergy, men and women, lamented the decision, some crying demonstratively on the street outside the hall where the synod – the church’s parliament – met.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Pakistan and Egypt: between pragmatism and dogma

Both Pakistan and Egypt had much to learn from each other this week.

On the foreign policy front, if Pakistan ever had aspirations to play the central role as the leader of Muslim unity, it had a salutary lesson in the way Egypt played its cards. Barely a week ago, Pakistan was looking forward to hosting Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, who was to be given the rare honour of addressing a joint session of parliament.

Mursi – the first president to emerge from the Muslim Brotherhood - was due in Islamabad for a summit meeting of the Developing-8 Islamic countries, which also includes Iran, Turkey and Nigeria among others.  The Jamaat-e-Islami (which sees itself as the ideological sibling of the Brotherhood - both were founded in the first half of the 20th century as anti-imperial Islamist  movements in British India and Egypt) proclaimed on its Twitter feed about how much it looked forward to greeting Mursi in Pakistan.

And then Mursi cancelled, his office saying he wanted to stay at home to monitor the ceasefire he had just brokered in Gaza.

New Anglican head Welby mixes conflict resolution role with business skills

The Bishop of Durham, and the newly appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, smiles during a news conference at Lambeth Palace in London November 9, 2012.  REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

Rowan Williams once said the next Archbishop of Canterbury, spiritual leader of the fractious Anglican wing of world Christianity, needs “the constitution of an ox and the skin of a rhinoceros”.

He overlooked the calm and patient negotiating skills that probably helped his successor Justin Welby clinch the job.