Major Christian organizations, including the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the Fellowship Foundation, have together spent close to a quarter of a billion dollars over the past 13 years campaigning against LGBTQ and abortion rights, according to a report by the United Kingdom–based political website openDemocracy. Matt Tracy, Gay City News’s editor in chief, wrote that the October 2020 report exposes “the depth of cash flowing from American Christian anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion groups into dangerous campaigns against reproductive rights and queer rights across the globe.” Even as the LGBTQ community has struggled to achieve equality in the United States, organizations representing the US Christian Right, such as Focus on the Family, have spent millions to promote prejudice against and persecution of LGBTQ people in Latin America, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Europe.
There has also been “an unmistakable focus on Africa, which many Christian groups have eyed in recent decades,” Tracy noted. For example, the Fellowship Foundation is reported to have spent more than three-quarters of its anti-LGBTQ campaign funds in Africa, including support for Ugandan lawmaker David Bahati, the author of a notorious “Kill the Gays” bill from 2014.
Peter Tatchell, a well-known British gay activist, wrote to Gay City News describing this movement as “Christian imperialism,” “menacing the well-being and human rights of millions of LGBTQ people.”
Tracy’s coverage also noted that, since Donald Trump became president in 2016, anti-LGBTQ groups have been “simultaneously juggling those foreign influence projects with efforts to lock up close ties” to Trump, and the report revealed “just how connected the president is to the far-right’s agenda.”
Corporate media coverage of far-right religious organizations funding efforts to promote homophobic, transphobic, and anti-abortion policies has been sparse, despite coverage of the openDemocracy report by the news agency Reuters, from which many establishment news outlets source stories.146 A March 2020 NBC News report covered a study, conducted by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which found that anti-LGBTQ hate groups were on the rise in the United States, but NBC’s report did not address the amount of money invested abroad by religiously-motivated anti-LGBTQ groups. In October 2020, Time magazine published a report based on the same openDemocracy study covered by Matt Tracy for Gay City News. However, Time’s reporting of religious anti-LGBTQ organizations focused more on the connections these groups cultivated with the Trump administration, while making only passing reference to their massive spending on anti-LGBTQ campaigns in other nations.
Matt Tracy, “Report Exposes Trump’s Ties to Religious Right Global Anti-LGBTQ Campaigns,” Gay City News, October 29, 2020.
Student Researcher: Tritan Hai To (Diablo Valley College)
Faculty Evaluator: Mickey Huff (Diablo Valley College)
Illustration by Anson Stevens-Bollen.