Lutheran Communion’s Prayers Urged for Churches and People of Nigeria
LWI Council Press Release No. 08/2012 | BOGOTÁ, Colombia/GENEVA, 20 June 2012 (LWI) – At its meeting in Bogotá, The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Council joined Nigeria’s Lutherans and other Christian and Muslim religious leaders in condemning “in the strongest terms” the violence and killings targeting Christian places of worship, and reprisals against Muslims in the West African country.
The LWF Council offered its prayers for the victims and their families, and called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.
Adopting a public statement presented by the Committee for Advocacy and Public Voice, the LWF governing body affirmed and encouraged “ongoing efforts of Christian and Muslim leaders in Nigeria to reach out to each other to work for peace.” It especially encouraged “the religious leaders to value and include women and young people as peacemakers.”
In its report to the Council, the committee noted that in recent months many people had been killed and more injured in almost weekly attacks on Christian churches in Nigeria, including during worship, for which the militant Islamic Boko Haram had claimed responsibility. There have also been some revenge attacks against mosques and individual Muslims.
The Council urged Nigerian authorities to respect the human rights of Christians and Muslims, saying this “includes the freedom of religion—to be able to worship in safety without fear, and to be able to build houses of worship.” It denounced the recent attacks as “direct violations of the internationally recognized right to freedom of religion or belief.”
“Those who bravely continue to go to church to worship—do so in fear,” the Council noted as it underlined government and society’s responsibility in addressing these issues “squarely, with clarity, specificity, and urgency.”
The Council committee heard that the causes of the violence in Nigeria were complex, and included the migration of people into areas traditionally occupied by other groups, the growth of fundamentalism and intolerance, and the lack of opportunities for education and employment.
The LWF church representatives gave thanks for the recent international solidarity visit of Muslims and Christians to Nigeria, including the LWF Vice-President for Africa Presiding Bishop Alex G. Malasusa, under the auspices of the World Council of Churches and the Royal Jordanian Aal Al Bayt Institute.
The Council affirmed the LWF’s commitment to peacemaking by building bridges among people, communities, societies and religions. It called on Lutherans around the world to pray for all the people of the West African country, especially for the Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria and the Lutheran Church of Nigeria, both LWF member churches.
“To be Lutheran is to be liberated by God’s grace to love and serve the neighbor,” the Council added. (456 words)