Editor's Note: Guest blogger Mike Airhart is the founder of exgaywatch.com and a newswire editor and content syndication professional with 20 years of experience in newswire editing, newsroom technology, mobile media, product development, and client support. Mike has written extensively on scandals and deceits of the Christian Right dating back to the 1980s, as well as rape prevention, hate crimes, HIV, immigrant rights, social prejudice, and economic injustice; his work has appeared in Sojourners magazine, Newsweek, and local news publications.
As U.S. religious-rightists' international culture war expands into Russia and central Africa, the need grows for LGBT equality advocates to look beyond the hasty activist clichés that inform "breaking news" headlines, and pause long enough to recall these warriors' long and violent history of persecution against others.
Of the U.S. Christian Rightists who have recently sought to inflame Russian social hatreds, here are three leading candidates for well-deserved scrutiny, along with a quick glance at their histories of combat against human rights and dignity:
Scott Lively, Abiding Truth Ministries, Springfield, Mass.
Brian Brown, National Organization for (Heterosexual-Only) Marriage, Washington, D.C.
Peter LaBarbera, Americans for Truth, Naperville, Illinois
Linda Harvey of Mission America, Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association, and the World Congress of Families (WCF) have added their (im)moral support (PDF press statement) for the antigay pogrom. They publicly pray for God, Uganda, and Russia to increase the persecution of homosexuals.
The WCF, in particular, is a relative newcomer to global activism, drawing protests in 2007, 2009, and 2012 from European officials who opposed the organization's far-right hate and discrimination disguised as family values. But WCF's partner organizations represent a who's-who of veteran far-right U.S. organizations that have lobbied for human-rights violators and South African racist apartheid. (See below: Know the WCF.)
When LGBT equality advocates deride antigay meddlers in Russia and Uganda as merely "bigoted," "antigay," or "wingnuts," the advocates trivialize these Christian Rightists' taxpayer-subsidized militarization of faith and their historical threats to human welfare, individual freedom, and religious liberty.
How might advocates respond differently?
Knowing these activists' histories is a start. Exposing and boycotting their immediate donors logically follows.
But what's most needed, perhaps, is sustained exposure of the donors to the donors -- the denominations and large religious organizations that claim to be Christian or pro-life but in fact associate with sponsors of death, anti-Biblical values, selfish privilege, government control of religious faith, and corruption by political and corporate interests who -- like evangelist Pat Robertson and his charity-fed diamond mines - capitalize on social strife, official repression, and bloodshed in the developing world.
If millions of charitable conservatives were confronted with unrelenting proof of their own religious communities' warfare against their own values, those wars might finally wither on a global scale.
Know the WCF
The World Congress of Families comprises almost 40 Christian Right sponsors, predominantly North American. Of these partners, at least three have been both vocal in promoting the persecution of Russian sexual minorities, and violently opposed to the human rights of other groups.
- Concerned Women for America lobbied aggressively for guerrilla warfare against against liberal Christian and secular aid workers and labor unions (whom the far right deemed "communist," until human-rights groups and mainline churches proved otherwise) in the 1980s. These guerrilla wars in Central America deliberately killed tens of thousands of civilians. (Source: Marsden, Lee, "For God's Sake: The Christian Right and U.S. Foreign Policy" [PDF book], page 41.)
- As recently as 2004, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission's parent denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, derided Archbishop Desmond Tutu's opposition to the "unrestrained capitalism" which was inherent in South Africa's brutal system of apartheid, in which a racist white minority stole black homelands, relocated the black majority into crowded inferior townships, and denied voting rights to the majority -- all in order to preserve the profits of white corporations, investors, and landowners. Tutu is the Anglican bishop who received a Nobel Peace Prize for his role in bringing down this system. Apartheid may be responsible for the deaths of millions from forced poverty and government brutality.
- In 2012, another WCF partner, Tradition Family & Property's student action wing, called Tutu -- who saved the lives of millions -- "someone who doesn't even respect the most basic right to life" and a strident supporter of "Marxist class warfare" -- a common complaint by the far right against people who defend human rights from modern forms of slavery, discrimination, legalized theft, and forced poverty. TFP has historically supported violent right-wing coups against popular governments, often on behalf of foreign companies seeking to acquire property by force.
Russian flag graphic via Scott Wooledge of Memeographs Studio.
Rainbow Bible image by David W. Shelton of Skipping to the Piccolo.