Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice with 2012 Republican president candidate Mitt Romney in 2007, consulting during GOP meetings around 2008 presidential nominations.. — Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.
After his unsuccessful 1988 presidential bid mobilized Christian Right voters, televangelist Pat Robertson channeled his campaign’s energy into forming two influential right-wing organizations. One was the voter mobilization powerhouse the Christian Coalition of America; the other was the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ).
Make no mistake, the similarity of the American Center for Law and Justice’s name and acronym–ACLJ– to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is no accident. Robertson declared that he founded the group to “stop the ACLU in court.”1 The group claims that “activist judges” and liberal attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Department of Justice have made the judicial branch antagonistic to the rights of Christians, purporting to serve supposedly persecuted Christians by representing them in the courtroom, drafting proposed laws, and promoting a right-wing interpretation of the Constitution. Read More →
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon with Zambian first President Kenneth Kaunda on February 25, 2012 in Lusaka, Zambia. During the visit, Ban urged African countries to respect gay rights. Joseph Mwenda/AFP/Getty Images
On a visit to Zambia in February 2012, the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on African countries to stop treating LGBT people as less than human or as second class citizens. He explicitly asked Zambian lawmakers to stop discriminating against people on the basis of sexual orientation.
Zambia had just emerged from a heated election where politicians promoting anti-LGBT laws were defeated at the polls. But Ban’s words backfired and the speech fanned the anti-gay embers back into flame. Politicians and religious leaders rose up with anti-gay invective. The U.S. Christian Right-trained pastor and opposition leader Nevers Mumba challenged the newly elected Patriotic Front government to make clear its position on homosexuality. Member of Parliament Felix Mutati argued in the Lusaka Times that “the country must be allowed to be guided by biblical principles and the existing law against homosexuality…. Zambia is a Christian nation and Christianity is against homosexuality.” Elias Chipimo, Jr., the president of Zambia’s National Restoration Party, blamed Western countries and called on them to stop promoting homosexuality. “The insistence of foreign nations donating aid conditioned upon the active promotion of gay rights is nothing other than the battle for the soul of our nation and our way of life,” he said.1
In March 2009, Scott Lively traveled more than 8,000 miles from his home in Springfield, Massachusetts, to talk to a small audience at the Triangle Hotel in Kampala, Uganda, about homosexuality. “My name is Scott Lively,” he began. “I’m married. I have four children. I am 51 years old, and I have been studying this issue for twenty years, and I want to tell you why I’m doing that.”[i]
Presenting his educational background, he explained that he is both a pastor who has studied scripture and an attorney “trained in secular reasoning.” He graduated magna cum laude with a doctorate from Trinity Law School in Santa Anna, California, and has a doctor of theology from the Pentecostal Assemblies of God.
In addition, he said, he holds “a certificate in human rights from the International Institute of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.” “I stand before you a world traveler, having spoken on this topic in almost forty countries,” he said. “I’ve written several books.”
In August 2010, more than 400 African Anglican Bishops gathered in Entebbe, Uganda, for their second All-Africa Bishops Conference, which attracted global media attention because of the debates on LGBT rights. Bishops from Rwanda, Nigeria, Uganda, and Kenya used the conference as an opportunity to speak out in favor of criminalizing homosexuality. Their anti-gay statements gave new life to Uganda’s notorious Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which would mandate the imprisoning and in some cases the execution of homosexuals. The bill was introduced into the Ugandan Parliament in 2009 after a seminar in March of that year in Kampala called Exposing the Homosexual Agenda, led by U.S. religious conservatives such as Scott Lively, a Holocaust revisionist who argues that LGBT-rights movements are inherently fascistic, and Don Schmierer, the director of the Exodus Institute, which claims to convert lesbians and gay men to heterosexuality. Henry Orombi, a friend of Rick Warren, the well-known pastor of the Saddleback megachurch in Orange County, California, is reported to have told the conference, “Homosexuality is evil, abnormal, and unnatural as per the Bible. It is a culturally unacceptable practice. Although there is a lot of pressure [from the West], we cannot turn our hands to support it.”1 Nevertheless, two African provinces, or districts, at the conference distanced themselves from such attacks: the Anglican Church of Southern Africa and the Church of the Province of Central Africa. They issued a counterstatement saying, “The majority of the provinces at this conference are being ambushed by an agenda that is contrary to the beliefs and practices of our various provinces.”2 Downplaying the counterstatement, the Ugandan media, which often presents Africans as united in their denunciation of LGBT people, predicted that the bishops’ voices would help pass the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.3
Students rally at a State Board of Education meeting, Austin, Texas,March 10, 2010
On May 21, Texas School Board member Cynthia Dunbar opened the board’s meeting with an invocation: “Whether we look to the first charter of Virginia, or the charter of New England, or the charter of Massachusetts Bay, or the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, the same objective is present—a Christian land governed by Christian principles.”1 The board then voted nine to five, along party lines, to adopt new standards that will be used to teach the state’s 4.8 million students—resisting the pleas of educators, historians, and even Rod Paige, a former U.S. secretary of education under President George W. Bush. The new standards emphasize the role of Christianity in U.S. history and promote conservative values. A New York Times editorial pointed out that the Texas board did back down on a few of its “most outrageous efforts”—such as renaming the slave trade, the “Atlantic triangular trade”—but it nevertheless managed “to justify injecting more religion into government.” According to the Times, the curriculum differentiates between the Founders’ protection of religious freedom and “separation of church and state,”2 which it deplores.