The Role Of American Evangelical Christians In Spreading Anti-Gay Hate And Violence In Africa
A story that merits wide public attention is the role of American conservative evangelical groups in promoting brutal homophobia in Africa.
A symbol of this homophobia in Africa is an anti-gay bill in Uganda that if passed could have lead to death sentences for some gays. While the death penalty provisions of the legislation are no longer part of the bill, a bill remains on the table in Uganda that would do great harm to gays in that country and do great harm to the cause of human rights everywhere.
Some argue that the African rows over homosexuality are really a proxy skirmish in an American cultural dispute, with both evangelicals and gay rights groups in the US pouring in money and support.In Uganda, attention has focused on a visit by three US evangelicals, Scott Lively, Caleb Lee Brundidge and Don Schmierer, just before the anti-homosexuality bill was introduced. They held seminars for MPs and officials where homosexuality was described as a disease that could be healed, although they have subsequently disclaimed any responsibility for the bill. Lively, the president of Defend the Family International, told Ugandans that legalising homosexuality would mean legalising “the molestation of children and having sex with animals”.
These folks say being gay is a disease that can be treated. A disease is something you go after and seek to eliminate.
Here are additional links to articles on this subject—
The Economist magazine writes about steps backward for the rights of gays in Africa, and suggests that some American “Christians” may play a part in these attacks.
From The Economist—
“In many former colonies, denouncing homosexuality as an “unAfrican” Western import has become an easy way for politicians to boost both their popularity and their nationalist credentials. But Peter Tatchell, a veteran gay-rights campaigner, says the real import into Africa is not homosexuality but politicised homophobia…. This has, he argues, coincided with an influx of conservative Christians, mainly from America, who are eager to engage African clergy in their own domestic battle against homosexuality. David Bahati, the Ugandan MP who proposed its horrid bill, is a member of the Fellowship, a conservative American religious and political organisation. “Africa must seem an exciting place for evangelical Christians from places like America,” says Marc Epprecht, a Canadian academic who studies homosexuality in Africa. “They can make much bigger gains in their culture wars there than they can in their own countries.”
Here is a Nightline report about the Uganda bill. The report runs just under 8 minutes.
Political Research Associates has published an article by Kapya Kaoma of Zambia that discusses research Mr. Kaoma has done about the link between the American Christian right and anti-gay actions in Africa.
From Mr. Kaoma’s work–
“If they had faced strong opposition, U.S. conservatives might not have been so successful in promoting their homophobic politics. Traditionally, evangelical African churches have been biblically and doctrinally orthodox but socially progressive on such issues as national liberation and poverty, making them natural partners of the politically liberal western churches. But their religious orthodoxy also provides the U.S. Right with an opportunity. Africans resonate with the denunciation of homosexuality as a postcolonial plot; their homophobia is as much an expression of resistance to the West as it is a statement about human sexuality. Similarly campaigns for “family values” in Africa rest on rich indigenous notions of the importance of family and procreation. In Africa, “family” expresses the idea that to be human is to be embedded in community, a concept called ubuntu. African traditional values also value procreation, making those hindering this virtue an enemy of life.”
Given the brutality of the social and economic positions of the American evangelical right, any vicious viewpoint or act is possible from this element. These groups should be monitored by international human rights groups and by the U.S. government. We know from hard experience in the U.S that religiously motivated hate can spread across international borders.