Pat Robertson’s Zimbabwe Incursion

The U.S. religious right's movement to export hate continues growing.

By Kai Wright Aug 03, 2010

Sarah Posner at Religion Dispatches digs into the latest example of the U.S. religious right trying to export its movement to the developing world, and the African diaspora in particular. Posner, who’s one of few journalists to closely cover the religious right’s global ambitions, profiles a Zimbabwean organization that grew out of Pat Robertson’s empire. She explains,

Mpofu, who co-founded the WWW conference with Bourland, is the executive director of the African Centre for Law and Justice, a branch of the American Center for Law and Justice, founded by Pat Robertson in 1990 as a "Christian" answer to the American Civil Liberties Union. Although Robertson remains the organization’s president, its day-to-day operations are run by litigator, activist, and radio and television host Jay Sekulow. The ALCJ portrays itself as the voice of God-fearing, America-loving Christians battling secularism, radical Islam, and what it claims is hostility to religious expression in the public square.

In the political oppression and economic chaos that has defined Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe’s brutal rule (and that has continued since the formation of a "unity government" in 2008) the African Centre for Law and Justice is injecting itself into the political process of drafting a new Constitution that will supposedly pave the way for new elections. The African Centre for Law and Justice is aiming to do in Zimbabwe precisely what the religious right seeks to accomplish in the United States: declare the country a "Christian nation" guided by biblical principles, outlaw abortion, and ostracize and criminalize LGBT people.

Mugabe’s regime hardly needs help with homophobia; it’s been using harassment of LGBT Zimbabweans to distract from its corruption for more than a decade. But we saw how U.S. operatives can throw fuel on a fire in Uganda this winter, when a legislator connected to the U.S. religious right pushed a bill that would have established life imprisonment and, in some cases, a death penalty for homosexuality. A Political Research Associates investigation traced the bill back to a conference supported by U.S. "ex-gay" movement leaders. And blogger Joe.My.God discovered that the Family Research Council spent $25,000 to lobby Congress against condemning the Uganda bill.