Thursday, November 19, 2009

Investigation exposes influence of Religious Right on homophobia in Africa - Ekklesia

Sexual minorities in Africa have become 'collateral damage' in church conflicts as US conservative evangelicals and those opposing gay priests, ministers and bishops within mainline Protestant denominations woo Africans, a groundbreaking investigation by Political Research Associates (PRA) has suggested.

Globalising the Culture Wars: US Conservatives, African Churches, and Homophobia, a new report by PRA Project Director Reverend Kapya Kaoma, examines the US Right’s promotion of an agenda in Africa which aims to criminalise homosexuality and infringe upon the human rights of LGBT people while also mobilising African clerics in US 'culture war' battles. Photo

The report comes as Christian church leaders in the UK are also being criticised for not speaking out about a proposed new law in Uganda which would introduce the death penalty for certain homosexual activity between consenting adults.

US social conservatives, who are in the minority in mainline churches, depend on African religious leaders to legitimise their positions as their growing numbers make African Christians more influential globally. The report says these partnerships have succeeded in slowing the mainline Protestant churches’ recognition of the full equality of LGBT people.

In the United States, Kaoma focuses on “renewal” groups in The Episcopal Church, United Methodist Church USA, and Presbyterian Church USA; US 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 the ties which US 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.

Kaoma argues that the US Right – once isolated in Africa for supporting pro-apartheid, white supremacist regimes – has successfully reinvented itself as the mainstream of US evangelicalism. Through their extensive communications networks in Africa, social welfare projects, Bible schools, and educational materials, US religious conservatives warn of the dangers of homosexuals and present themselves as the true representatives of US evangelicalism, so helping to marginalise Africans’ relationships with mainline Protestant churches. Read complete article - Ekklesia

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