- Open Democracy exposes ‘alarming’ dark money around the world.
US Christian groups have spent at least $280million in ‘dark money’ to fuel campaigns against women and LGBT+ people around the world.
Moreover, many of the organizations have close ties to President Donald Trump.
That’s according to Open Democracy which has published a breakdown of the organizations and their spend.
But they warn the $280million may be the tip of the iceberg, as many US Christian conservative organisations are registered as church organisations that do not have to disclose any of this information.
The organization has charted the ‘dark money’ from 2007 to 2018.
The biggest spender is the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, spending over $96million. However, Open Democracy says it doesn’t have figures for every year for that group.
The anti-LGBT+ faith organization supports ‘conversion therapy’. It’s headed by Trump’s favorite preacher, Franklin Graham. This year alone he used coronavirus to promote his anti-same-sex marriage stance and told presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg to ‘repent’ for being gay.
Veteran LGBT+ activist Peter Tatchell, who helped expose the ‘dark money’ said the organizations are ‘exporting homophobia around the world’.
Alongside the US, they have channeled millions of dollars into Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Open Democracy says the organisations funding hate include ‘some of Trump’s most vocal allies and supporters’. It says they try to influence foreign laws and ‘stir a backlash’ in public opinion against sexual and reproductive rights.
This reflects claims from LGBT+ campaigners around the world over many years. They often report that US fundamentalist Christians channel huge amounts of money into stirring up hate in their country. This allows haters to vastly outspend under-financed LGBT+ rights groups.
The report highlights the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) which has spent close to $18million. Trump’s personal lawyer Jay Sekulow runs the organization and has vocally supported Trump’s administration and his Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.
Sekulow will be joining Rudy Giuliani in coordinating legal challenges by Trump’s campaign if he doesn’t get the US election result he wants on 3 November.
The ACLJ’s European branch has defended the ban on same-sex marriage in Italy and Poland’s conservative polices against divorce and abortion.
Meanwhile Alliance Defending Freedom has spent $21million. It also has close links to the Trump administration through former staffers and frequent meetings.
In another example, Family Watch International has spent years training African politicians, religious and civil society leaders on how to oppose sex education and LGBT+ rights.
‘Hate groups’ disguised as religion
Tatchell said: ‘Trump-linked US evangelicals, funded by secret donors, are exporting homophobia around the world.
‘This Christian imperialism is menacing the well-being and human rights of millions of LGBT+ people.
‘It echoes the way Christian missionaries in the 19th century imposed their faith and homophobic attitudes on colonised peoples.
‘They are financing opposition to LGBT+ equality legislation and legal action to subvert existing laws that protect LGBTs.
‘When they say they are defending religious freedom what they are really defending is the right of religious people to discriminate against LGBTs.
‘These are basically hate groups who use religion to hide and excuse their attacks on human rights.’