Ugandans oppose U.S. Christian Right interference in Africa’s sexual politics

Efforts to mobilize Ugandans to hunt down and imprison Ugandan gays and lesbians received worldwide attention during a three-day Family Life Network conference held March 3-5 in Kampala. But the media haven’t caught up with the rest of the story: challenges against this “hate campaign” by the local group Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG).


Sexual Minorities Uganda Letter to Parliament Protesting Anti-Gay Witchhunt.

A Growing Threat to Basic Human Rights

While gender-based discrimination and oppression are nothing new abroad, for the past decade the U.S. Christian Right has been aggressively exporting its campaigns against reproductive rights and gay rights to countries around the world. Recently, exporting homophobia and discrimination against the LGBTQ communities in Africa has entered a new phase, especially with a homophobic conference in Uganda held March 5-8, 2009 sponsored by Family Life Network (see box). Meanwhile, there are continued battles over access to abortion, not only in Africa, but in Europe, South and Central America, Asia, and South Asia.

In 2003, conservative Christians successfully shifted the foreign aid policy of the United States so that it promotes abstinence-only education abroad through HIV/AIDS relief grants channeled to the Christian Right base of the George W. Bush Administration. An Institute of Medicine report confirms that these programs are one of the biggest obstacles to challenging the global HIV/AIDs epidemic, which sees five million new cases of HIV each year. The Obama administration has shown interest in changing the policy, which was renewed by the Democratic Congress in 2008 with some of its controversial elements intact.

Christian conservatives in the United States have always been concerned with gender roles, the importance of male domination, the special role of heterosexual families in civilized society, and sexuality. In the 1960s, there was a movement by Christian conservatives to block the spread of rock music because of its dangerous sexualizing orgiastic roots in "primitive" African music.

The role of the U.S. Christian Right in Africa today is ironic since its resurgence in 1970s America was fueled by those seeking to block the integration of hundreds of all-White Christian academies. The U.S. federal government had warned that the segregated schools—from kindergarten through high school in some states—would lose their tax exempt status unless they allowed Black students to attend.

When Christian conservatives from the United States fund and support Christian groups around the world, it is a form of neocolonialism. Anticipating this criticism, the Christian Right attempts to portray access to contraception, the availability of a full range of reproductive health services, and basic human rights for gay people as the "real" colonialism. This is nonsense.

The new campaigns around the world by the U.S. Christian Right are part of a larger project to control the lives and health choices of women, return men to their prior status of holding unfair superior powers and privileges in society, and police the acceptable boundaries of sexual expression—and even love itself.

Resources provided by Canon Jim Naughton Episcopal Diocese of Washington (D.C.)

Planned Parenthood

Catholics for Choice

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC)

Background on the Religious Right

Reproductive Health Reality Check (RH Reality Check)
About the Right

Other Key Players

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Media Transparency

Use the Media Transparency Funding database to research grantees and funders. For example:

Browse a Selected Bibliography

The Christian Right's Values Voter Summit
Insurgent Anglican on Podium

The Rev. Martyn Minns, a leader of the right-wing faction that split off from the Episcopal Church (USA) to join the Anglican Church of Nigeria, spoke about the cleavage to a major gathering of the Christian Right at the Values Voters Summit on September 12 in Washington, D.C. Mainline churches are set to destroy timeless values that formed U.S. churches, he said, and conservative teachings on homosexuality and life are "core values" that are "universal, timeless, and non-negotiable."

An audio of his speech is here.

It should be noted that Minns was not a bishop in the U.S. Episcopal Church before leaving. He was ordained a "missionary" bishop by the Anglican Church of Nigeria to oversee the Nigerian churches in the United States. It should also be noted that the Church in Nigeria, under whose authority Minns holds his position, does not ordain women. This discrimination is a "value" Minns chose not to mention in Washington. - Katherine H. Ragsdale

For Faith and Family:
Christian Right Advocacy at the United Nations

The Public Eye, Summer/Fall 2000

Editorial Overview:

An important ingredient in the Right’s for- midable political success over the past two decades has been the emergence of the Christian Right as a social movement, and its increasing importance as a player in national and state politics. The conservative Protestant evangelicals, Pentecostals, Charismatics, and fundamentalists of the Christian Right have been criticized for crossing the line between church and state and for a religious chauvinism that leads them to claim that their literal reading of the Bible is the only valid Christian reading. Protestants who are not sufficiently conservative have been put on the defensive and what has been called a culture war between Christians and secularists has been widened to include disagreement between conservative and more liberal Protestants.

The Catholic Church has evolved on a parallel track, developing an increasingly strong conservative wing, but playing a political role primarily in the areas of abortion and the death penalty. In the Right’s secular leadership there are many Catholics, but they have not been able to mobilize Catholics to support the Right to the extent that conservative Protestants have been able to mobilize conservative evangelicals. Journalists and analysts have noted the similarity of agendas among the ultra-conservative wings of most religions, but collaboration across religious boundaries has always been difficult at best.

Each religion in a coalition is based on its own established principles, and in the case of the con- servative wings of each religion the belief in these principles is particularly unyielding. Nevertheless, we may be seeing a moment when the leaders of each religion’s right wing see more in common on certain issues with the conservative leaders of other religions than with their own religion’s mainstream. In this case, collaboration has a new appeal. Certainly, it has impressive potential as a vehicle for pushing the pro-family agenda to new political success.

Read the Article by Butler...

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