Globalizing The Culture Wars

Amie Newman

A new report, released by Political Research Associates, connects the dots between U.S. conservatives, African churches and a growing homophobia - with frightening results.

Uganda’s new anti-homosexuality law currently on the table,
before Parliament, is an especially vicious piece of legislation that seeks to
impose life imprisonment and the death penalty upon those who are involved
in  “homosexual crimes.”. In this
era of growing rights, in the United States, for LGBT individuals, one may be
excused for thinking that laws like the one in Uganda are completely unrelated
to the Christian, religious right in the U.S., responsible in large part for the
onslaught of attacks against LGBT equal rights in this country. However,
according to “Globalizing the Culture
, a new report produced by Political Research Associates and released
today, laws like the one in Uganda can be seen as the direct result of a campaign by United States neoconservative
religious groups to use Africa as another player in the culture wars they have
fomented on American soil for many years.

After a rigorous 16-month research and on-the-ground
investigative period, Zambian Anglican priest Kapya Kaoma, author of the PRA
report, found that U.S. conservatives are working in collusion with African
clerics (specifically, the report focuses on Uganda, Nigeria and Kenya.), in
three denominations (The Episcopal Church, The United Methodist Church and The
Presbyterian Church), to counter any progress mainline U.S. churches are
working towards, around LGBT issues, as well as to stir increased homophobia in Africa.


u.s. evangelicals and african clergy Pictures, Images and Photos

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What “LGBT issues” are we talking about?

According to the report, American conservatives, by
involving African clerics in these three countries, have managed to almost
completely halt recognition by these churches of the full equality of LGBT
individuals in the U.S. including the ordination of LGBT clergy. But, of course,
this crusade by U.S. conservatives is having even more dire consequences on
African soil, leading to a growing and increasingly violent homophobia
throughout Uganda, Nigeria and Kenya; violence that is typified in the Ugandan
bill before Parliament.

The campaign uses many tactics to engage African clerics to
help carry out their anti-gay agenda including presenting churches’ commitments
to human rights as “imperialistic” and reminiscent of colonialism, ie,
homosexuality is purely a Western-imposed phenomenon. One of the leaders in
this fight is the arch-conservative Institute for Religion and Democracy (IRD).
The IRD, maybe unsurprisingly, opposed African liberation struggles, says the
report, and works ceaselessly against
civil rights
for LGBT individuals in the United States. They, along with
other U.S. based religious institutions, have provided financial incentives to
African clergy in return for strong support of their anti-gay agenda.

Of course, the IRD is by far the only player in these global
culture wars. From the report:

Conservative U.S. evangelicals play a strong role in
promoting homophobia in Africa by spreading their views and underwriting the
widespread conservative educational, social service, and financial
infrastructure. Right-wing groups have enticed African religious leaders to
reject funding from mainline denominations – which require documentation of how
the money is spent – and instead to accept funds form conservatives. This money
usually goes to individual bishops without accountability or oversight for how
it is used.

The truth is that Conservative leaders in this country, like
Pastor Rick Warren, have put tremendous effort into cultivating relationships
with African clerics who can help further their strong anti-gay agenda, while
simultaneously contributing to the vicious homophobia in African nations.

Pastor Warren has strong ties to Pastor Martin Ssempa, a conservative, religious
leader in Uganda who has been the recipient of PEPFAR funds (the U.S. AIDS plan
which distributes funding for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment) and is
extremely vocal and active about his homophobic beliefs. There are many
churches in Uganda, and other African nations, that are the direct recipients
of U.S. federal funding via PEPFAR, used to implement clear religious agendas
(vocally supported by Pastor Warren) such as requirements for spending a share of funding on

According to the blog Box Car Bulletin, Pastor Ssempa
played a “prominent role” in the (false) accusations that a Ugandan megachurch
pastor named Robert Kayanja was gay. These accusations led to the kidnap and
torture of one of Kayanja’s personal aides.

In Jeff Sharlet’s book, “The
The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power
(named for a clandestine organization of hard-core U.S.
fundamentalist leaders Sharlet uncovers and infiltrates), this highly secretive
organization calls Ugandan President Museveni, the man under whose watch the
insidious, horrific anti-gay Ugandan legislation has been offered,  “their man in Uganda” and “a good
friend” of The Family.

The blog Truth Wins Out reports
that, “In March [of 2009], American anti-gay activists traveled to Uganda for a
conference that pledged to “wipe out” homosexuality. Seven months later, a draconian bill has
been introduced that pledges to make good on this threat.”

Kaoma implores readers to take action knowing now the clear
connection between American religious leaders and the hateful on-the-ground
results in Africa:

We need to stand up against the U.S. Christian Right
peddling homophobia in Africa," said Kaoma, who in recent weeks asked U.S.
evangelist Rick Warren to denounce the bill and distance himself from its
supporters. "I heard church people in Uganda say they would go door to
door to root out LGBT people and now our brothers and sisters are being
further targeted by proposed legislation criminalizing them and threatening
them with death. The scapegoating must stop.

There is a web of entanglement between U.S. evangelicals,
fundamentalists, conservatives and African clergy that exists to maintain a
power structure and a severe homophobic agenda that serves these hard-core
religious groups. The report ends with a list of recommendations that includes
exposing and confronting U.S. religious conservatives (like Pastor Rick Warren)
who foment homophobia in Africa, exposing the financial ties between African
conservatives and various American institutions (like our very own federal
government), and maybe most importantly supporting African activists and
scholars to lead the struggle for LGBT rights and the study of sexuality in

The U.S. neo-conservative movement is working tirelessly to
push a religious agenda in Africa that serves their own purposes. As we
continue the fight for LGBT rights in our own country, the report reminds us
that it is critical we use our peripheral vision to see the bigger picture if
we are to truly win the war against religious evangelicalism’s homophobia, and
not just individual battles.

News Politics

Former Klan Leader on Senate Run: My Views Are Now the ‘GOP Mainstream’

Teddy Wilson

David Duke has been a fervent support of the Trump campaign, and has posted dozens of messages in support of Trump on Twitter. Duke has often used the hashtag #TrumpWasRight.

David Duke, convicted felon, white supremacist, and former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, announced Friday that he will run for U.S. Senate in Louisiana, Roll Call reported.

Duke said that after a “great outpouring of overwhelming support,” he will campaign for the open Senate seat vacated by former Republican Sen. David Vitter, who lost a bid for Louisiana governor in a runoff election.

Duke’s announcement comes the day after Donald Trump accepted the GOP nomination in the midst of growing tensions over race relations across the country. Trump has been criticized during the campaign for his rhetoric, which, his critics say, mainstreams white nationalism and provokes anxiety and fear among students of color.

His statements about crime and immigration, particularly about immigrants from Mexico and predominantly Muslim countries, have been interpreted by outlets such as the New York Times as speaking to some white supporters’ “deeper and more elaborate bigotry.”

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Duke said in his campaign announcement that he was the first candidate to promote the policy of “America first,” echoing a line from Trump’s nomination acceptance speech on Thursday night.

“The most important difference between our plan and that of our opponents, is that our plan will put America First,” Trump said Thursday night. “As long as we are led by politicians who will not put America First, then we can be assured that other nations will not treat America with respect.”

Duke said his platform has become “the GOP mainstream” and claimed credit for propelling Republicans to control of Congress in 2010. He said he is “overjoyed to see Donald Trump … embrace most of the issues I’ve championed for years.”

Trump in February declined to disavow the support of a white supremacist group and Duke, saying he knew “nothing about David Duke” and knew “nothing about white supremacists.” He later clarified that he rejected their support, and blamed his initial failure to disavow Duke on a “bad earpiece.”

Trump’s candidacy has also brought to light brought many incidents of anti-Semitism, much of which has been directed at journalists and commentators covering the presidential campaign.

Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro wrote in the National Review that Trump’s nomination has “drawn anti-Semites from the woodwork,” and that the Republican nominee has been willing to “channel the support of anti-Semites to his own ends.”

Duke took to Twitter after Trump’s acceptance speech Thursday to express his support for the Republican nominee’s vision for America.

“Great Trump Speech, America First! Stop Wars! Defeat the Corrupt elites! Protect our Borders!, Fair Trade! Couldn’t have said it better!” Duke tweeted.

Duke has been a fervent Trump supporter, and has posted dozens of messages in support of Trump on Twitter. Duke has often used the hashtag #TrumpWasRight.

Duke was elected to the Louisiana house in 1989, serving one term. Duke was the Republican nominee for governor in 1991, and was defeated by Democrat Edwin Edwards.

Duke, who plead guilty in 2002 to mail fraud and tax fraud, has served a year in federal prison.

Analysis Politics

The 2016 Republican Platform Is Riddled With Conservative Abortion Myths

Ally Boguhn

Anti-choice activists and leaders have embraced the Republican platform, which relies on a series of falsehoods about reproductive health care.

Republicans voted to ratify their 2016 platform this week, codifying what many deem one of the most extreme platforms ever accepted by the party.

“Platforms are traditionally written by and for the party faithful and largely ignored by everyone else,” wrote the New York Times‘ editorial board Monday. “But this year, the Republicans are putting out an agenda that demands notice.”

“It is as though, rather than trying to reconcile Mr. Trump’s heretical views with conservative orthodoxy, the writers of the platform simply opted to go with the most extreme version of every position,” it continued. “Tailored to Mr. Trump’s impulsive bluster, this document lays bare just how much the G.O.P. is driven by a regressive, extremist inner core.”

Tucked away in the 66-page document accepted by Republicans as their official guide to “the Party’s principles and policies” are countless resolutions that seem to back up the Times‘ assertion that the platform is “the most extreme” ever put forth by the party, including: rolling back marriage equalitydeclaring pornography a “public health crisis”; and codifying the Hyde Amendment to permanently block federal funding for abortion.

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Anti-choice activists and leaders have embraced the platform, which the Susan B. Anthony List deemed the “Most Pro-life Platform Ever” in a press release upon the GOP’s Monday vote at the convention. “The Republican platform has always been strong when it comes to protecting unborn children, their mothers, and the conscience rights of pro-life Americans,” said the organization’s president, Marjorie Dannenfelser, in a statement. “The platform ratified today takes that stand from good to great.”  

Operation Rescue, an organization known for its radical tactics and links to violence, similarly declared the platform a “victory,” noting its inclusion of so-called personhood language, which could ban abortion and many forms of contraception. “We are celebrating today on the streets of Cleveland. We got everything we have asked for in the party platform,” said Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, in a statement posted to the group’s website.

But what stands out most in the Republicans’ document is the series of falsehoods and myths relied upon to push their conservative agenda. Here are just a few of the most egregious pieces of misinformation about abortion to be found within the pages of the 2016 platform:

Myth #1: Planned Parenthood Profits From Fetal Tissue Donations

Featured in multiple sections of the Republican platform is the tired and repeatedly debunked claim that Planned Parenthood profits from fetal tissue donations. In the subsection on “protecting human life,” the platform says:

We oppose the use of public funds to perform or promote abortion or to fund organizations, like Planned Parenthood, so long as they provide or refer for elective abortions or sell fetal body parts rather than provide healthcare. We urge all states and Congress to make it a crime to acquire, transfer, or sell fetal tissues from elective abortions for research, and we call on Congress to enact a ban on any sale of fetal body parts. In the meantime, we call on Congress to ban the practice of misleading women on so-called fetal harvesting consent forms, a fact revealed by a 2015 investigation. We will not fund or subsidize healthcare that includes abortion coverage.

Later in the document, under a section titled “Preserving Medicare and Medicaid,” the platform again asserts that abortion providers are selling “the body parts of aborted children”—presumably again referring to the controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood:

We respect the states’ authority and flexibility to exclude abortion providers from federal programs such as Medicaid and other healthcare and family planning programs so long as they continue to perform or refer for elective abortions or sell the body parts of aborted children.

The platform appears to reference the widely discredited videos produced by anti-choice organization Center for Medical Progress (CMP) as part of its smear campaign against Planned Parenthood. The videos were deceptively edited, as Rewire has extensively reported. CMP’s leader David Daleiden is currently under federal indictment for tampering with government documents in connection with obtaining the footage. Republicans have nonetheless steadfastly clung to the group’s claims in an effort to block access to reproductive health care.

Since CMP began releasing its videos last year, 13 state and three congressional inquiries into allegations based on the videos have turned up no evidence of wrongdoing on behalf of Planned Parenthood.

Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund—which has endorsed Hillary Clinton—called the Republicans’ inclusion of CMP’s allegation in their platform “despicable” in a statement to the Huffington Post. “This isn’t just an attack on Planned Parenthood health centers,” said Laguens. “It’s an attack on the millions of patients who rely on Planned Parenthood each year for basic health care. It’s an attack on the brave doctors and nurses who have been facing down violent rhetoric and threats just to provide people with cancer screenings, birth control, and well-woman exams.”

Myth #2: The Supreme Court Struck Down “Commonsense” Laws About “Basic Health and Safety” in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt

In the section focusing on the party’s opposition to abortion, the GOP’s platform also reaffirms their commitment to targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) laws. According to the platform:

We salute the many states that now protect women and girls through laws requiring informed consent, parental consent, waiting periods, and clinic regulation. We condemn the Supreme Court’s activist decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt striking down commonsense Texas laws providing for basic health and safety standards in abortion clinics.

The idea that TRAP laws, such as those struck down by the recent Supreme Court decision in Whole Woman’s Health, are solely for protecting women and keeping them safe is just as common among conservatives as it is false. However, as Rewire explained when Paul Ryan agreed with a nearly identical claim last week about Texas’ clinic regulations, “the provisions of the law in question were not about keeping anybody safe”:

As Justice Stephen Breyer noted in the opinion declaring them unconstitutional, “When directly asked at oral argument whether Texas knew of a single instance in which the new requirement would have helped even one woman obtain better treatment, Texas admitted that there was no evidence in the record of such a case.”

All the provisions actually did, according to Breyer on behalf of the Court majority, was put “a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a previability abortion,” and “constitute an undue burden on abortion access.”

Myth #3: 20-Week Abortion Bans Are Justified By “Current Medical Research” Suggesting That Is When a Fetus Can Feel Pain

The platform went on to point to Republicans’ Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, a piece of anti-choice legislation already passed in several states that, if approved in Congress, would create a federal ban on abortion after 20 weeks based on junk science claiming fetuses can feel pain at that point in pregnancy:

Over a dozen states have passed Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Acts prohibiting abortion after twenty weeks, the point at which current medical research shows that unborn babies can feel excruciating pain during abortions, and we call on Congress to enact the federal version.

Major medical groups and experts, however, agree that a fetus has not developed to the point where it can feel pain until the third trimester. According to a 2013 letter from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, “A rigorous 2005 scientific review of evidence published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) concluded that fetal perception of pain is unlikely before the third trimester,” which begins around the 28th week of pregnancy. A 2010 review of the scientific evidence on the issue conducted by the British Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists similarly found “that the fetus cannot experience pain in any sense prior” to 24 weeks’ gestation.

Doctors who testify otherwise often have a history of anti-choice activism. For example, a letter read aloud during a debate over West Virginia’s ultimately failed 20-week abortion ban was drafted by Dr. Byron Calhoun, who was caught lying about the number of abortion-related complications he saw in Charleston.

Myth #4: Abortion “Endangers the Health and Well-being of Women”

In an apparent effort to criticize the Affordable Care Act for promoting “the notion of abortion as healthcare,” the platform baselessly claimed that abortion “endangers the health and well-being” of those who receive care:

Through Obamacare, the current Administration has promoted the notion of abortion as healthcare. We, however, affirm the dignity of women by protecting the sanctity of human life. Numerous studies have shown that abortion endangers the health and well-being of women, and we stand firmly against it.

Scientific evidence overwhelmingly supports the conclusion that abortion is safe. Research shows that a first-trimester abortion carries less than 0.05 percent risk of major complications, according to the Guttmacher Institute, and “pose[s] virtually no long-term risk of problems such as infertility, ectopic pregnancy, spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) or birth defect, and little or no risk of preterm or low-birth-weight deliveries.”

There is similarly no evidence to back up the GOP’s claim that abortion endangers the well-being of women. A 2008 study from the American Psychological Association’s Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion, an expansive analysis on current research regarding the issue, found that while those who have an abortion may experience a variety of feelings, “no evidence sufficient to support the claim that an observed association between abortion history and mental health was caused by the abortion per se, as opposed to other factors.”

As is the case for many of the anti-abortion myths perpetuated within the platform, many of the so-called experts who claim there is a link between abortion and mental illness are discredited anti-choice activists.

Myth #5: Mifepristone, a Drug Used for Medical Abortions, Is “Dangerous”

Both anti-choice activists and conservative Republicans have been vocal opponents of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA’s) March update to the regulations for mifepristone, a drug also known as Mifeprex and RU-486 that is used in medication abortions. However, in this year’s platform, the GOP goes a step further to claim that both the drug and its general approval by the FDA are “dangerous”:

We believe the FDA’s approval of Mifeprex, a dangerous abortifacient formerly known as RU-486, threatens women’s health, as does the agency’s endorsement of over-the-counter sales of powerful contraceptives without a physician’s recommendation. We support cutting federal and state funding for entities that endanger women’s health by performing abortions in a manner inconsistent with federal or state law.

Studies, however, have overwhelmingly found mifepristone to be safe. In fact, the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals says mifepristone “is safer than acetaminophen,” aspirin, and Viagra. When the FDA conducted a 2011 post-market study of those who have used the drug since it was approved by the agency, they found that more than 1.5 million women in the U.S. had used it to end a pregnancy, only 2,200 of whom had experienced an “adverse event” after.

The platform also appears to reference the FDA’s approval of making emergency contraception such as Plan B available over the counter, claiming that it too is a threat to women’s health. However, studies show that emergency contraception is safe and effective at preventing pregnancy. According to the World Health Organization, side effects are “uncommon and generally mild.”