Sexual minorities in Africa have become collateral damage to our domestic conflicts and culture wars as U.S. conservative evangelicals and those opposing gay pastors and bishops within mainline Protestant denominations woo Africans in their American fight, a groundbreaking investigation by Political Research Associates (PRA) discovered.
Globalizing the Culture Wars: U.S. Conservatives, African Churches, and Homophobia, a new report by PRA Project Director Reverend Kapya Kaoma, exposes the U.S. Right’s promotion of an agenda in Africa that aims to criminalize homosexuality and otherwise infringe upon the human rights of LGBT people while also mobilizing African clerics in U.S. culture war battles. U.S. social conservatives who are in the minority in mainline churches depend on African religious leaders to legitimize their positions as their growing numbers makes African Christians more influential globally. These partnerships have succeeded in slowing the mainline Protestant churches’ recognition of the full equality of LGBT people. It’s working despite the real movement toward full equality within deonominations because of the sensitivity of liberals to the question of colonialism. Are we being insensitive to the realities of Africa? But, Kaoma argues, although U.S. conservatives have organized African religious leaders as a visible force opposing LGBT equality, it is not true that all of Africa takes this stand.
In the United States, Kaoma focuses on “renewal” groups in The Episcopal Church, United Methodist Church USA, and Presbyterian Church USA; U.S conservative evangelicals; and the Institute on Religion and Democracy, a neoconservative think tank that has sought to undermine Protestant denominations’ tradition of progressive social justice work for decades.
In Africa, Kaoma investigates ties U.S. conservatives have established with religious leaders in Nigeria, Uganda, and Kenya and the impact of homophobia exported from the United States to these Anglophone countries.
As Kaoma argues, the U.S. Right – once isolated in Africa for supporting pro-apartheid, White supremacist regimes – has successfully reinvented itself as the mainstream of U.S. evangelicalism. Through their extensive communications networks in Africa, social welfare projects, Bible schools, and educational materials, U.S. religious conservatives warn of the dangers of homosexuals and present themselves as the true representatives of U.S. evangelicalism, so helping to marginalize Africans’ relationships with mainline Protestant churches.
The investigation’s release could not be timelier, as the Ugandan parliament considers the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009. Language in that bill echoes the false and malicious charges made in Uganda by U.S antigay activist and Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively that western gays are conspiring to take over Uganda and even the world.
Full disclosure: Cafe editor Jim Naughton was a member of the advisory panel for this report.
Among its interesting findings: that an organization run by Diane Stanton, wife of the Rt. Rev. James Stanton, Bishop of Dallas, is among the primary funders of Uganda Christian University, which is led by the Rev. Stephen Noll, who advocates the expulsion of the Episcopal Church from the Anglican Communion, and owned by the Church of Uganda, which has claimed ownership of Episcopal parishes in the United States.