Last week on NPR’s Fresh Air, Jeff Sharlet reported that The Fellowship Foundation (aka The Family) supports an organization in Uganda called Cornerstone Development which, according to Sharlet, is linked with the main government officials behind the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009. Is this accurate?
According to their IRS 990 tax forms, the Fellowship Foundation indeed does support Cornerstone Foundation in Uganda. Less clear is what, if any, relationship exists between Cornerstone and the authors and supporters of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. On the recent NPR program, author Sharlet linked Cornerstone with the prime sponsor of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, David Bahati and Minister of Ethics and Integrity Nsaba Buturo. However, a review of the Cornerstone website finds no references to either David Bahati or Nsaba Buturo. There is one 2007 news report which links Bahati to the Ugandan prayer breakfast (held in October of each year) and is ambiguous about a relationship to the African Youth Leadership Forum. The AYLF is a program conducted by Cornerstone.
Even though Mr. Sharlet did not say the Family was behind the bill, some blame the Fellowship Foundation and Cornerstone for the bill. In contrast, as the result of my investigation thus far, I do not believe that Cornerstone Development is behind the bill or supports it. And I am aware of one prominent associate of the Fellowship Foundation who opposes the bill. More on that in a later post.
To explore these issues, I spoke via email with the Director of Cornerstone Development, Tim Kreutter. Mr. Kreutter has lived in Africa most of his life and oversees a staff of about 150 people.
When asked about the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2009, he told me that Cornerstone “had zero input on that bill.” Furthermore, Mr. Kreutter pointed out that Cornerstone has intervened in death penalty situations, saying:
In particular, we are opposed to the death penalty under all circumstances and have played a part in working to stay all executions here for the last 10 years or so.
Kreutter also explained that the sponsor of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, David Bahati and the outspoken government minister who supports it, Nsaba Buturo, currently have no involvement in Cornerstone programs. As noted, a review of their website confirms this statement.
Regarding Bahati’s involvement in the Africa Youth Leadership Forum, Mr. Kreutter pointed out that the forum that day included three Ugandan politicians: Cecilia Ogwal, Mugisha Muntu and David Bahati. Ogwal is involved in the Uganda People’s Congress Party of former Pres. Milton Obote, Muntu is a major opposition leader of the Forum for Democratic Change Party and a likely Presidential candidate in the next elections and then Bahati is a loyal ruling party member. I should also point out that the Deputy Secretary for International and Regional Affairs of the Forum for Democratic Change, Anne Mugisha (no relation to Muntu), opposes the bill.
As Mr. Sharlet noted, it seems clear that the Fellowship Foundation is quite active in Uganda (as are many other Western interests) in several ways. However, it seems to me that the Cornerstone Development organization is doing some good things with youth and does not appear to be behind the recent Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Rather, Kreutter advocates a different policy, saying:
I believe that means loving them [gays] just as we are called to do for all ‘our neighbors’ and for me personally that means seeing them as my brother…or my sister – created in the image of God our father – despite their sexual orientation.
There are US influences to be found, however, and I will report more on those in future posts. I have already reported on one American influence which I will discuss more in an upcoming post. Also, there are internal factors at work independent of Western influence. See Anne Mugisha’s post today for one such possibility.
One thought on “Is The Family behind the Anti-Homosexuality Bill?”
I doubt there was much of any direct American influence concerning the Bahati bill. However, what I see is that the main American influences that have been at work in Uganda concerning this whole ‘affair,’ the Family, Scott Lively, Brundidge/IHF, Schmierer/Exodus, & others(?), have been anti-gay, almost virulently so, and presented or represent non-truthful ideas concerning gays and lesbians. But even Anne Mugishu says that “rights activists need to focus harder and higher on the real source of his [Bahati’s] inspiration and not just on the Ugandan President but also the fundamentalist interests in the US that sponsor radical right wing idealism in our country.”
After reading Anne Mugishu’s post, my former opinion that putting any sort of pressure on Uganda would only steel their resistance and inflate homophobic bigotry in that country has returned. That such feelings would only be used by someone like Museveni or his party for electioneering is not unheard of – even in the United States. It pains me to think that the only way to diffuse the situation might be through religious intervention from groups in America like Exodus, mainly because I see them as one of the unwitting instigators, or other church groups. But the trouble here is that even those groups are seen as ungodly in that respect by many Ugandan Christians (One wonders if Ugandans believe that you can really ever trust a ‘former homosexual.’).
Let’s face it. Homosexuality isn’t a wedge issue in Uganda, it is a damnable stone wall. Whether Americans or Europeans spoke out against it or not, Museveni would use the issue as a forminable tool to cement his backing to that stone wall.
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