NPR interviews Bob Hunter; repeats the Fellowship Foundation’s (aka The Family) opposition to Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Today, NPR’s Fresh Air featured an interview with former Ford and Carter administration official, Bob Hunter.聽An interview with Mr. Hunter was recently featured on this blog via a guest post by Jeff Sharlet.

The transcript is here聽and is interesting reading to say the least. Here is a little bit:

GROSS: Uganda now has anti-gay legislation before parliament that is really draconian. It would call for the death penalty for anyone who is gay who had HIV-AIDS, the death penalty for adults who have gay sex with minors, jail for anyone who fails to report a gay person within 24 hours if there’s been gay activity, life sentences for people in same-sex marriages, and this bill also calls for extraditing gay Ugandans living abroad so that they can be brought back to Uganda and be prosecuted.

What’s your opinion of that bill, being so close to the country of Uganda?

Mr. HUNTER: Well, my opinion is it’s a terrible bill and shouldn’t be adopted, and I believe no one that I know, in America particularly, and my close friends in Uganda, I know of no one who supports it in the Fellowship.

GROSS: Since you have so many connections in Uganda and since you know President Museveni and helped bring him to the National Prayer Breakfast in 1997, which is organized by the Fellowship – the Family – did you – have you spoken out to your connections in Uganda?

Mr. HUNTER: Oh yes. Definitely. In fact, when I first called them, and well, first was an email contact, they said, look, the guy who introduced the bill came to one of our prayer breakfasts and afterwards, in a private meeting he told us about the bill and we told him it was a bad idea. So even before the bill was introduced, members of the Fellowship had said you should reach out to other people before you do this. It’s, you know, be cautious. This is not a good idea. They did it in a very polite Ugandan way but the fact is they spoke out even before it was introduced.

Mr. Hunter then mentions Jeff Sharlet’s guest post and seems very keen to emphasize the Fellowship’s position on Uganda.

GROSS: Now, so these are statements that have been made in the United States. What about statements to Ugandans like calling up connections or calling up people who they have prayed with?

Mr. HUNTER: My understanding is there has been some connections. I know I have done it personally and talked to people who would be close to people in the decision-making process about our concerns, which is very unusual. You know, we never involve ourselves in these political things. That’s not our role. But this one became so, you know, hot that we decided – I decided that I should speak out, and then I found out they were already speaking out in Uganda.

I would say that, one other thing…

GROSS: Mm-hmm.

Mr. HUNTER: …and that is that Mr. Sharlet now recognizes that we had nothing to do with the anti-homosexual bill and has so said so in post by Warren Throckmorton.

You can listen to the entire interview here.

Author links sponsors of Anti-Homosexuality Bill to The Family

Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power was on NPR’s Fresh Air program yesterday. The main theme of the interview was to discuss The Family, a secretive Christian group who moves in political circles worldwide. For more on this group, see Sharlet’s book, and this investigative report by World magazine.

For our purpose, his investigation into the influences on the sponsors of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill are interesting and provocative. You can listen below or read the transcript here.

GROSS: This legislation has just been proposed. It hasn’t been signed into law. So it’s not in effect and it might never be in effect. But it’s on the table. It’s before parliament. So is there a direct connection between The Family and this proposed Anti-Homosexual Legislation in Uganda?

Mr. SHARLET: Well, the legislator that introduces the bill, a guy named David Bahati, is a member of The Family. He appears to be a core member of The Family. He works, he organizes their Uganda National Prayer Breakfast and oversees a African sort of student leadership program designed to create future leaders for Africa, into which The Family has poured millions of dollars working through a very convoluted chain of linkages passing the money over to Uganda.

GROSS: So you’re reporting the story for the first time today, and you found this story – this direct connection between The Family and the proposed legislation by following the money?

Mr. SHARLET: Yes, it’s – I always say that the family is secretive, but not secret. You can go and look at 990s, tax forms and follow the money through these organizations that The Family describe as invisible. But you go and you look. You follow that money. You look at their archives. You do interviews where you can. It’s not so invisible anymore. So that’s how working with some research colleagues we discovered that David Bahati, the man behind this legislation, is really deeply, deeply involved in The Family’s work in Uganda, that the ethics minister of Uganda, Museveni’s kind of right hand man, a guy named Nsaba Buturo, is also helping to organize The Family’s National Prayer Breakfast. And here’s a guy who has been the main force for this Anti-Homosexuality Act in Uganda’s executive office and has been very vocal about what he’s doing, and in a rather extreme and hateful way. But these guys are not so much under the influence of The Family. They are, in Uganda, The Family.

GROSS: So how did you find out that Bahati is directly connected to The Family? You’ve described him as a core member of The Family. And this is the person who introduced the anti-gay legislation in Uganda that calls for the death penalty for some gay people.

Mr. SHARLET: Looking at the, The Family’s 990s, where they’re moving their money to – into this African leadership academy called Cornerstone, which runs two programs: Youth Corps, which has described its in the past as an international quote, invisible family binding together world leaders, and also, an alumni organization designed to place Cornerstone grads – graduates of this sort of very elite educational program and politics and NGO’s through something called the African Youth Leadership Forum, which is run by -according to Ugandan media – which is run by David Bahati, this same legislator who introduced the Anti-Homosexuality Act.

The player sometimes doesn’t load so if it doesn’t, you can listen here:

Monday, I noted American influence via the College of Prayer and their three year partnership with the Ugandan parliament. There seem to be multiple lines of influence tied to those who have introduced the bill. What is not clear is how much, if any, the Americans directly suggested the bill.

More to come on that point…