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Campus Crusade for Christ harms LGBTs in Ethiopia

In the wake of recent news that anti-gay Ethiopians are seeking passage of a death penalty of homosexuals, the LGBT rights group Truth Wins Out issued this statement about the role that Campus Crusade for Christ played in inciting anti-gay sentiment in Africa, especially Ethiopia:

High-Ranking Campus Crusade Officials Led Conference Where Ethiopian Activist Declared Africa Would Become A ‘Graveyard For Homosexuality’

Seyoum Antonios (Photo courtesy of Rainbow Ethiopia)
Seyoum Antonios (Photo courtesy of Rainbow Ethiopia)

In January of this year, Campus Crusade For Christ sponsored a conference called Pamoja 3, bringing together two thousand students and professionals in Lagos, Nigeria, as part of their mission to evangelize Africa. Far from being a fringe event, the conference was led by two high-ranking vice presidents in the Campus Crusade international organization, Bekele Shanko and Dela Adedevoh.

Featured speaker Dr. Seyoum Antonios, the head of United For Life Ethiopia, and who is the ringleader of a movement seeking to legislate the death penalty for homosexuality in that nation, spread false, fear-mongering rhetoric about LGBT people, serving to create moral panic and outrage among those in the audience.

Pamoja Africa logoAntonios claimed, among other things, that seventy percent of gay men have “fecal sex,” which involves ingesting large amounts of feces; that thirty-three percent of gay men are pedophiles, and that gay couples are coming to Africa to “steal their children” and turn them into homosexuals; that homosexuality has come to Africa “to kill us,” and thus must be eradicated; that gays are fifteen times more likely to be murderers; and that Africans should reject aid from Western organizations that are “trying” to infiltrate their continent with the homosexual agenda. Much of his talk seems to be lifted directly from anti-gay American researchers like Dr. Judith Reisman of Liberty University and the widely discredited Paul Cameron.

Dr. Antonios worked the crowd into a frenzy, shouting that “Africa will become a graveyard for homosexuality!” multiple times.

Evan Hurst, associate director of Truth Wins Out, said:

Evan Hurst (Courtesy of  Truth Wins Out)
Evan Hurst (Courtesy of Truth Wins Out)

“The Religious Right in the United States, having lost the culture war at home, is swimming in dangerous waters abroad, as they cynically play on the fears of people in developing nations, convincing them that their greatest problems lie with infiltration from white, western gay activists.

“Whereas the truth of the matter is that these large, western Christian organizations are playing the same cultural manipulation game they’re projecting onto the gay community. They know they can’t get away with it in the West anymore, so they’ve taken the show on the road, and it could have disastrous results for the health and safety of LGBT individuals in Africa, and for millions of Africans suffering from poverty and lack of economic opportunity.”

Indeed, this is nothing new for Campus Crusade For Christ, as they were the first organization to bring American anti-gay activist Scott Lively to Uganda in 2002, the beginning of the movement which led to Uganda’s infamous “Kill The Gays” bill several years later. [Editor’s note: Comment below from mbdean1 contradicts that statement about Scott Lively.] Lively is being sued by the Center for Constitutional Rights for his alleged his  ”active participation in the conspiracy to strip away fundamental rights from LGBT persons” in Uganda.

According to researcher and co-founder of Talk2Action.org Bruce Wilson:

“Campus Crusade’s Pamoja 3 conference demonstrates that some of the biggest U.S.-based international evangelical ministries are directly promoting eliminationist anti-gay hate speech in Africa. Also implicated are apostles and prophets of C. Peter Wagner’s New Apostolic Reformation, such as The Call head Lou Engle, and some of the biggest American-based Christian international aid organizations receiving USAID funding.”

Scott Lively (Photo courtesy of TowleRoad.com)
Scott Lively (Photo courtesy of TowleRoad.com)

Grove City College Professor Warren Throckmorton has pointed out that American-led anti-gay groups in Africa “use rhetoric that is disturbingly akin to rhetoric used by Nazis regarding homosexuality,” but these efforts aren’t being led by rogues on the evangelical fringe such as Scott Lively. They represent a significant minority of global evangelicalism, as well as countless U.S. based ministries, large and small, that work closely together in Africa because of a shared ideological vision that includes eliminating homosexuality or, at least, driving LGBT citizens back into the closet.

It’s imperative that evangelicals who want to lay claim to being in the Christian mainstream forcefully repudiate these American and Western instigated efforts to defame and even legislatively annihilate an entire segment of humanity.

Campus Crusades for Christ logoWhile activists like Scott Lively and Paul Cameron are considered fringe among American anti-gay Evangelical activists, Campus Crusade For Christ works within the mainstream, with a budget of half a billion dollars, a presence on 1,600 college campuses, as well as extensive outreach within the U.S. Military.

However, it has become apparent that their message has become increasingly radicalized, especially outside the United States, following the lead of other American entities like Pat Robertson’s ACLJ, which export homophobia to Africa under the guise evangelism and mission work.

United States Secretary Of State John Kerry is in Ethiopia now for the 21st African Union Summit, and it has been reported recently that USAID money may be benefiting African organizations like Dr. Antonios’ United For Life Ethiopia, which are responsible for spreading falsehoods about and fomenting hatred against LGBT people in Africa.

Truth Wins Out strongly encourages Secretary Kerry to use his platform to condemn the actions of these American and African organizations which are working in concert to demonize LGBT people and distract citizens of Africa’s nations from finding solutions to the real problems they face.

Furthermore, Truth Wins Out demands that Campus Crusade For Christ come clean with the American public about their activities abroad, and immediately cease fomenting hatred against LGBT people in Africa, as people’s lives, quite literally, depend on it.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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