Saturday, May 04, 2013

American Christian Zealots Are Fighting Back Against Gay Rights—Abroad

Despite their best efforts and expenditure of millions of dollars in America, the ever growing support for gay rights and gay marriage in particular indicates that American Christofascists are losing the cultural war.  And their loses will only get worse as more of their aging, angry white power base literally dies off.  So what do do you do if you are a gay hating religious fanatic?   You export hatred abroad to places where your message of hate is an easier sell.  No place better represents such fertile ground than Africa where there are large ignorant populations and corrupt and dysfunctional governments only too happy to accept Christofascist money and use the supposed threat of gays as a distraction from the utter hell hole status of their respective countries.  Uganda is perhaps most often mentioned of these countries, but pretty much all of sub-Sahara Africa qualifies with the exception of South Africa.   For example, Ethiopia is reportedly considering instituting a death penalty for homosexuality:
An anti-gay organisation says it is hopeful a death penalty for homosexuals will soon be introduced in Ethiopia.  United For Life Ethiopia, a Western Evangelical Christian organisation which receives funding from the UK and the US, last week held a workshop to discuss the social “evils” and “disastrous” effects of homosexuality in the country, Egypt-based Bikya News reported.

Gay Star News reports the presence of a member of the Ethiopian Inter-Religious Council Against Homosexuality (EICAH), who apparently told participants homosexuality “is a result of inappropriate upbringing, identity crisis and moral decay.”

It adds: “At the conclusion of the workshop, the EICAH representative stated that the council is ‘making progress’ in convincing the government to be stricter on homosexuality and introduce the death penalty to punish ‘such acts’.”
A lengthy article in The Economist looks at the large picture of the efforts of the American Christofascists to export anti-gay hate and violence.  And parts of the former Soviet Union and Central America have likewise been targeted fro the exporting of anti-gay hate.   It's ugly, but then conservative Christianity is an ugly religion separated from Islamic extremism only by a matter of degrees.  Both are hate and fear based at their core.  Here are article highlights:

As gay rights advance in the West—France and New Zealand are the latest countries to legalise same-sex marriage—homophobia is on the rise elsewhere. But these apparently contradictory trends may be related. Confounded at home, a crusading squad of American conservative Christians are taking the fight abroad.

In an unusual case, brought under the Alien Tort Statute, a judge in Massachusetts is pondering a claim by Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), a gay-rights group, against Scott Lively, a preacher and co-author of “The Pink Swastika” (which argues that Nazism was fuelled by homosexuality). Mr Lively visited Uganda in 2009, meeting politicians, appearing on television, and sharing his theories about homosexuals’ recruitment of youngsters.

Shortly afterwards a Ugandan MP introduced a parliamentary bill that would stiffen existing penalties for homosexual behaviour; among other drastic measures it mandated the death sentence for “aggravated” homosexuality.

This episode is part of a wider campaign. Other preachers, such as Lou Engle, a fundamentalist pastor at a megachurch in Kansas, have also been to Uganda. A new documentary, “God Loves Uganda”, depicts co-ordination between the visitors, resident missionaries and American-trained Ugandan priests. Offshoots of the American Centre for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a group founded by the televangelist Pat Robertson, in Kenya and Zimbabwe, are said to have resisted gay-friendly changes to their constitutions. (The ACLJ insists it “does not export an agenda”.)

In Africa campaigners adopt the language of anti-colonialism, portraying gay rights, and even homosexuality itself, as Western impositions; opponents counter that the criminalisation of gay sex is itself largely a legacy of empire.

Two bills trundling through Ukraine’s parliament, for example, would criminalise gay “propaganda” (a similar bill is on the stocks in Russia’s Duma). To be sure, indigenous hostility (sometimes violent) towards homosexuality abounds. But Jim Mulcahy, a retired priest now ministering to gays in Ukraine, thinks the anti-gay lobby’s resources and multimedia techniques bespeak American involvement.

Both Paul Cameron, an American psychologist who likens homosexuality to drug use, and Mr Lively, have toured eastern Europe. Gay activists in Moldova say that outsiders’ influence helped to reduce the prominence of sexuality in a recent anti-discrimination law. In Latvia Mr Lively fraternised with a church whose members have harassed gay-pride marches.

A third front is the Caribbean and Central America. Caleb Orozco of UNIBAM, a gay-rights group in Belize, is arguing in court that its criminalisation of homosexual sex violates the constitution. According to Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Centre, an American civil-rights watchdog, a coalition of churches resisting the move is supported by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), another American outfit. (The ADF, like Mr Engle, could not be reached for comment.) Belize’s most prominent anti-gay cleric is American;

The American fundamentalists see themselves as defending biblical values and stemming degeneracy. Abroad, the policies they advance in that cause are often more extreme than those they espouse at home (though Mr Lively would like to “re-criminalise adultery, fornication and homosexuality” in America, too, albeit as minor misdemeanours). Several would like to usher in a global theocracy.

In America exponents of such ideas are liable to be dismissed as cranks and bigots; for their part they regard their own country as morally lost. But on their travels abroad they receive a respectful hearing, addressing parliaments and appearing on mainstream television..

That sort of reception boosts morale, but can offer practical benefits, too. Influence, visibility and access, in countries where (as the faithful see it) righteousness remains unvanquished, all help with fund-raising. The activists often traverse the same circuit, in what could be seen as a kind of competition.

The suffering of homosexuals in such places, he says, is “collateral damage” in America’s culture wars.
Fundamentalist religion - especially those seeking theocracy - need to be stamped out.  They are a pervasive evil and their fruits are hate, bigotry and the dehumanizing of others.  Western governments need to do much more to limit the ability of American Christofascists to take their poison overseas.

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