Canadian funding to anti-gay faith based organization in Uganda links to hate speech

The Pitfalls of funding Faith Based Organizations without doing your research first

By Cathy Kristofferson, February 12, 2013.

Screen Shot 2013-02-12 at 12.38.07 PMIt has come to light that the Canadian government, through its Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) spearheaded by Minister Julian Fantino, has been funding an anti-gay Evangelical organization – Crossroads Christian Communications – to the tune of over half a million dollars ($544, 813) to dig wells and such in Uganda.

Up until the revelation, Crossroads’ website had messages like:

“..sexual sins” deemed to be “perversion”: “Turning from the true and/or proper purpose of sexual intercourse; misusing or abusing it, such as in pedophilia, homosexuality and lesbianism, sadism, masochism, transvestism, and bestiality,”

“God cares too much for you (and all of His children) to leave such tampering and spiritual abuse unpunished,”

Since this news became public, the hateful posts are gone. Yet what reverberate are the months and months where those posts were allowed to stand and that funding by the Canadians served to endorse the message of retribution against gays. We are left to ponder what these delightful representations of Christianity would hold to be feasible punishment –  we are all too familiar with the ‘Kill The Gays Bill,’ pending on the Ugandan Parliamentary agenda, after holiday recess, for debate this week.

This denotes the extreme lack of responsibility by the Canadians, to be funding a group well know to have been fighting against gay and lesbian rights in Canada for many, many years. And to add insult to injury, while it is curious that the Canadians are funding hate mongers in Uganda, it was also the Canadians who triggered the recent tirade by Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, who promised to deliver the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, as a Christmas gift to Ugandans, after Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird publicly condemned the Bill, upsetting the Ugandan Speaker.

Minister for International Cooperation Julian Fantino

Minister for International Cooperation Julian Fantino

Sunday the Minister  announced that the funding had been suspended while the organization is investigated, then today he defended the funding saying “We fund results-based projects, not organizations. And religion has nothing to do with any of that.”  But who knows what they have been doing with this funding in a place that has now become known as “the World’s worst place to be gay,’ besides helping to dig those wells.

When a website screams ‘repent’ ‘perversions’ and ‘sin’ when describing homosexuality one can only imagine that those wells are not being dug to the tune “Love They Neighbor” or “God Is Love.” And perhaps what has happened instead is the empowering of “homosexuality is an abomination, lets kill the gays.”

Bev Carrick, the executive director of Cause Canada:

“Our inspiration may be from the Bible, but we build roads, wells, schools, and irrigation ditches,” she said. “We’ve never used $1 to build a church or distribute a Bible.”

So they don’t use grant money to build churches and distribute Bibles while they are there but they don’t deny doing those and other proselytising activities while there on a free ride from grant money. And why would an evangelical group that produces television programming and whose mission statement reads:  “Our motivation: To communicate a visible expression of God’s love, and contribute to the transformation of lives around the world.” get funding to ‘help dig wells, build latrines and promote hygiene awareness’ if they aren’t looking to impact the lives of Ugandans while there?

When asked what she thought about the funding, human rights advocate, Melanie Nathan, noted:

“I smell a rat and have often wondered if churches and organizations in Uganda have received funding used for anti-gay activities and promotion, under the guise of some good purpose, such as digging wells or building libraries. Were the well digging funds used to dig wells? Even if they were, then to what extent did the funding also support the promotion of the Kill the Gays doctrine, whether inadvertent or otherwise? Surely with such overt anti-gay statements as appeared on their site we can assume any funding for any designated purpose must nonetheless be perceived as funding the anti gay agenda.  Their very words clearly make that link to the promotion of the anti-gay agenda.”

Further research into projects that the CIDA has awarded Crossroads in the past, show multiple HIV/AIDs projects in several countries. Sandra Chu, a senior policy analyst at the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, voiced our exact concerns when she said “When you have a group that has homophobic statements, you’re going to deter people from accessing health care, you’re going to deter them from accessing harm reduction services, from seeking HIV testing, treatment, “All those things that we know are good for public health and for individual health.”

Laverdiere

NDP MP Hélène Laverdière

Canada’s MPs now want a full audit on all organizations that get CIDA funding as they are skeptical that the funding to Crossroads will actually be put on hold.

Shifting funding away from the private sector to religious NGOs is on the rise in Canada as a study by the Canadian Research Institute on Humanitarian Crisis and Aid showed funding for religious non-government organizations increased 42 percent between 2005 and 2010. Secular groups saw an increase of only 5 percent.

For us in the United States we are reminded of George W. Bush’s White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (OFBCI) where he re-directed funding for competitive social service grants to religious NGOs.  Although these FBOs are not supposed to discriminate on the basis of religion they are known to implode HIV/AIDs programming by moving away from condoms towards abstinence only programs, an example is Uganda where following an inspirational decline in HIV rates saw them rise again after FBOs support abstinence-only programs and homeless youth programs by not serving queer youth, parents or employees, an example is Catholic Charities who pulls out of state after state refusing to allow gay foster or adoptive parents.  The FBOs are also well known to not hire LGBT employees and to fire them when found out.  Funding for FBOs has not only continued but expanded under President Obama.

So for both Canada and the United States we wonder what has happened to separation of Church and State?

Crossroads has now released a statement saying they are not ‘anti-gay’ – a standard defense – and welcome a CIDA review.  This is rich coming from a group that has already scrubbed their website last Tuesday and undoubtedly their video library (they are “Loonie for TV” after all), but one wonders how they can make that claim when pre-scrubbing they grouped homosexuality and lesbianism with bestiality and pedophilia in the sin pile requiring repentance on their website? And go on to suggest that “if you still experience temptations, you need the help of a spirit-filled minister, counsellor, one of our Crossroads prayer partners.”

Sources:

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