Today, Political Research Associates (PRA) released its new report, Colonizing African Values: How the U.S. Christian Right is Transforming Sexual Politics in Africa (pdf), which exposes the U.S. Christian Right’s growing infrastructure for promoting attacks on LGBT and reproductive rights across Africa.
The result of a months-long on-the-ground investigation, the report by PRA religion and sexuality researcher Rev. Canon Dr. Kapya Kaoma, an Anglican priest from Zambia who authored PRA’s 2009 Globalizing the Culture Wars, investigates American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) – founded by televangelist Pat Robertson– the Roman Catholic Human Life International, Mormon Sharon Slater’s Family Watch International, and the growing network of charismatic and dominionist Christians known as the Transformation movement or New Apostolic Reformation.
These groups frame their agendas as authentically African, in an effort to brand human rights advocacy as a new colonialism bent on destroying cultural traditions and values. “Yet it is the U.S. Christian Right that is using African religious and political leaders to remake African values, pushing for stiffer laws through misinformation and lies,” commented Rev. Dr. Kaoma. “This is the new form of colonialism that Africans human rights supporters and their allies should stand up against.”
Prominent rights activists in Africa voiced hope that the report’s revelations will result in strong condemnation of the U.S. Christian Right’s dangerous advocacy in Africa. Frank Mugisha, executive director of Sexual Minorities in Uganda (SMUG), stated, “I’m grateful for the documentation in the report that confirms that it is homophobia (not homosexuality) that is exported from the West. I hope this report serves as a wake up call for faith communities in Uganda and the West alike, to realize that the American culture wars imposed on us by the Christian Right threaten not only African culture, but the very lives of LGBTI Africans like me.”
Colonizing African Values comes in the aftermath of Uganda’s infamous 2009 Anti-Homosexuality (“Kill the Gays”) Bill, which is described as part of a larger coordinated assault on sexual rights in Africa. Though the bill previously failed to pass, its reintroduction in February coincides with a rise in anti-gay legislation in several other African nations.
The report further describes the threat to opponents of such draconian policies. Joyce Banda, the new president of Malawi, has publicly refused to enforce such discriminatory laws, but faces significant opposition from her leading challenger in 2014, a born-again Christian with significant ties to U.S. groups. Banda recently explained part of the rationale for her principled stance: “As leaders in this part of the world [Africa], which is the epicenter of the HIV and AIDS pandemic, we need to harness our efforts in confronting antiquated beliefs based on fear and misinformation, that are codified in our laws and engraved in our cultures.”
The report includes profiles by experts [also available for interview] on the U.S. right wing describing the featured Christian Right actors in detail. Among these is ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, who shares a close association with Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and would reportedly inform judicial appointments for a potential Romney Administration, as well as Sharon Slater, who uses her United Nations access to undermine that body’s sexual and human rights agenda. “Groups and individuals profiled in this report will have to answer to the American public for their actions abroad,” stated PRA Executive Director Tarso Luis Ramos.
The report is available for download at politicalresearch.org.