On the surface, the hate in America in the 80s and 90s and what’s going on in Africa and Russia now don’t seem to be related. But underneath, it is the same players and the same beliefs still at work. Many Christian leaders are still just as furious about any kind of tolerance or acceptance for people who are not straight.
There is of course, Scott Lively, of Uganda-hate fame, who has said that he takes some credit for Russia’s anti-gay laws and considers it one of his ‘proudest achievements’. Lively, who is being sued for his part in Uganda’s laws, is being defended by Liberty Counsel, which is very close with Liberty University, founded of course, by Jerry Falwell.
(This pdf is a great detailed look at Africa and American Christians – Globalizing the Culture Wars.)
Two of the main names related to Liberty Counsel are Matt Barber and Mat Staver, who both support anti-gay laws in Russia, Uganda and elsewhere. The Falwell hate of the 80s is alive and present and seeking worldwide status.
In addition to Liberty Counsel’s support of Russian laws, many other Christian evangelicals are involved. Franklin Graham, who we’ve already looked at in relation to AIDS and Africa, has praised Putin because of Russia’s anti-gay laws.
Here is an incredible PDF that details who exactly is behind the laws in Russia, and how they are going about getting it done. What is striking to me is that they claim Mark Regnerus’ study on children of gay and lesbian parents as being very influential in Russia’s anti-gay laws. This study is of course bunk, and has been widely reported as such. But what is striking is that Regenerus was recently a speaker at the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) conference, held up by very prominent leaders in the Evangelical Christian Complex as an expert.
Everyone is connected to each other here. A main player behind this global push for anti-gay laws is the World Congress for Families (WCF). Some of the sponsors of the WCF include Focus on the Family (FOTF), Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), Concerned Women for America (CWA), Family Research Council (FRC), ERLC, and the American Family Association (AFA). They are well-funded, have meetings and conferences across the world, working with organizations and lobbying politicians to get their laws passed.
There was going to be a conference this fall in Ukraine, which has gotten cancelled because of the political unrest. But at that conference, Focus on the Family president Jim Daly was going to talk, as was a Duggar, and Michael Farris, of the HSLDA. FOTF is even more inter-connected here, because the founder of FOTF was Dr. Dobson, who also helped found the ADF, along with Alan Sears, current president of the ADF. Out of the ADF came Don Wildmon, who founded the AFA, and of course a former California state director of the AFA was Scott Lively.
The Family Research Council involves people such as Tony Perkins, Gary Bauer, and Josh Duggar. Tony Perkins also hosts a radio program, and a fellow FRC worker was on it the other day, blaming the massacre in Santa Barbara on gay marriage. The FRC has also recently started an organization for pastors, Watchmen on the Wall. Last month they had a conference, and it included speakers such as Joyce Meyer, various politicians, the co-founder of Liberty University Elmer Towns, and Franklin Graham (again), who this time said pastors might one day get their heads chopped off for saying being gay is a sin.
The ERLC is going to have a conference this fall on ‘homosexuality’, and if you look at the sponsors of it, they include some familiar names. CWA. FOTF. ADF.
It is one thing to laugh off the AFA’s attempt at rejecting mail with Harvey Milk stamps. It’s another thing to realize they are cozily in bed with all sorts of legitimate, respected Christian organizations and politicians.
People can say the Regenerus study is shoddy and not true, but when you have nationally respected people supporting him, then it doesn’t matter what is true. What matters is the harm being done.
What matters is how none of these people are being held accountable, held responsible by the people who turned them into the leaders in the first place.
And it’s easy to say ‘well so-and-so hasn’t said anything about gays’, ‘my church doesn’t agree with that’– but the organizations involved, the money given in support does. And people’s silence speaks volumes. The motto that was true in the U.S. in the 80s is still true now. Silence = Death.
These organizations legitimize each other with their interactions. They show up at the same events together. They appear on each other’s radio programs and in the press. They appear at each other’s conferences. The Duggars are a beloved national family. Focus on the Family raised many of us. Everyone is inter-connected, and they all have the same ‘biblical’ goals.
These same names and organizations consistently show up in Evangelicalism and Republicanism. If you want to have conservative beliefs, that’s fine. But stop getting in bed with the government and making that inequality and deadly prejudice law.
When the Evangelical Christian Complex does speak up on these issues, it is not to speak out against these people and organizations. It is not to disagree with the prejudice and the hateful laws being spread. It is to speak up so that a well-known Christian publisher leaves their organization because they published a book that tells people to study the Bible. It is to speak up and stop sponsoring children.
Churches, pastors, and people look up to these organizations for guidance. The media turns to them to see what Christians think. These are not isolated incidents or fringe people like Lively. This is the heart of evangelicalism and conservative politics. We are way past ‘hate the sin, love the sinner’ here. This ‘homosexual issue’ is such a fundamental one because fundamentalists are trying their damndest to codify bigotry and prejudice across this terrestrial ball.
When Christian leaders and Christian organizations are known for speaking up and out on issues; when they are known for their support of each other; when pastors and congregations propel books onto the best-seller list simply because it has a particular pastor’s name on it – there is no excuse for the silence that occurs when people’s lives are on the line.
Christians can bitch and moan all they want about how they are represented in the media, and how they are not really intolerant, but until they stop supporting and start speaking out against the hate being done in Jesus’ name, they deserve the reputation they have.
Gays, AIDS, and the Church
My Story: Part 1
Fear and Silence: Part 2
The Religious Right: Part 3
Oh, the Humanity: Part 4
Modern-Day Colonialism: Part 5
Africa, Russia, the Past, and Now: Part 6
The ‘Gay Agenda’: Part 7
The Rest of My Story: Part 8
Resources: Part 9