Exporting Homophobia: Pastor Scott Lively and the Anti-Gay Crusaders of the US

Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Weekend Contributor

Scott Lively, the head of Abiding Truth Ministries, is a resident of Springfield, Massachusetts. Lively is a controversial evangelical pastor known for having a homophobic agenda. He “specializes in stirring up anti-gay feeling around the globe.” When he was a young man, Lively said he had a “live and let live” attitude toward gays. Once a liberal, he admits that he was an alcoholic and a drug addict until he “got saved” in 1986. He says that since then his “focus has been to restore a biblical focus with regards to marriage and sexuality.”

Jack Rodolico (Latitude News) says that after coming to Christ, Lively began to view social issues “from God’s perspective”—and his “faith began to fuel the fire of his activism.” According to a report in the National Journal, “Lively became a lawyer, author, and advocate in pursuit of the cause.” In 1992, Lively got involved in Oregon’s Ballot Measure 9. That measure “would have amended the Oregon Constitution to summarily recognize ‘homosexuality, pedophilia, sadism and masochism as abnormal, wrong, unnatural and perverse.’” Rodico reported that Oregon voters denied Lively and his anti-gay colleagues a victory—but only after “an ugly political battle ensued.” Rodico said that the defeat left a lasting impression on Lively.


About a decade ago, Lively gave up on the United States “when one of his cases (challenging an antidiscrimination law) failed.” Lively said, “I began shifting my emphasis, which is going to the other countries in the world that are still culturally conservative to warn them about how the Left has advanced its agenda in the U.S., Canada, and Europe—and to help put barriers in place. And the goal is to build a consensus of moral countries to actually roll back the leftist agenda in my country.”

According to Mariah Blake (Mother Jones), Lively first visited the country of Uganda in 2002. Blake said that Lively “has cultivated ties to influential politicians and religious leaders at the forefront of the nation’s anti-gay crusade.”

Just before the first draft of Uganda’s anti-gay bill began circulating in April 2009, Lively traveled to Kampala and gave lengthy presentations to members of Uganda’s parliament and cabinet, which laid out the argument that the nation’s president and lawmakers would later use to justify Uganda’s draconian anti-gay crackdown—namely that Western agitators were trying to unravel Uganda’s social fabric by spreading “the disease” of homosexuality to children. “They’re looking for other people to be able to prey upon,” Lively said, according to video footage. “When they see a child that’s from a broken home it’s like they have a flashing neon sign over their head.”

Alex Seitz-Wald (National Journal) said that Lively and a small band of “incredibly influential” American activists “spend their time crisscrossing the globe to meet with foreign lawmakers, deliver speeches, make allies, cut checks, and otherwise foment a backlash against the so-called international gay-rights agenda…” Seitz-Wald says that—in a large part of the world—they’re winning. Seitz-Wald wrote that in the month of December 2013 alone India’s Supreme Court “re-criminalized homosexuality, Nigeria outlawed LGBT advocacy (gay sex was already punishable by up to 14 years in prison), and Uganda passed a watered-down version of its infamous ‘kill the gays’ bill, which allows for life prison terms—if not the death penalty—for ‘aggravated homosexuality.’”

Mariah Blake wrote that when Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed the new harsh anti-gay bill into law in late February, he said that the measure had been “provoked by arrogant and careless western groups that are fond of coming into our schools and recruiting young children into homosexuality.” She said that what Museveni “failed to mention” was that the legislation itself was “largely due to Western interlopers, chief among them a radical American pastor named Scott Lively.”

Blake—like Seitz-Wald—reports that Scott Lively isn’t the only US evangelical “who has fanned the flames of anti-gay sentiment in Uganda.” She says that as the anti-gay groups continue to lose ground at home, religious conservatives are increasingly turning “their attention to Africa. And Uganda, with its large Christian population, has been particularly fertile ground for their crusade.”

In The Uganda Anti-Gay Bill’s U.S. Roots, Michelle Goldberg writes about Uganda being an African country “where American-style evangelical Christianity is exploding.” Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, has reported that the sponsor of the country’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill is David Bahati—the secretary of the Uganda branch of The Family…and that the bill’s champion C. Martin Ssempa “was a protégé of Rick Warren.” Goldberg added that Stephen Langa, a major anti-gay activist, is the head of Uganda’s Family Life Network, which happens to be “an affiliate of the Phoenix-based group Disciple Nations Alliance.” Note: The Family, a secretive American evangelical organization, has a number of powerful and influential members—including “Sens. James Inhofe, Jim DeMint, and Tom Coburn.”

Goldberg says that American Christians never urged their counterparts in Uganda “to try to institute the death penalty for homosexuality.” Still, she notes that the “ideology underlying the bill comes from American conservatives.” She adds, “It is Americans who have elaborated a vision of homosexuality as a satanic global conspiracy bent on destroying society’s foundations, akin to the Jewish octopus in classic anti-Semitic narratives.” Goldberg also reports that according to Warren Throckmorton—“an evangelical psychology professor once associated with the ex-gay movement”—anti-gay activists in Uganda “cite materials by Scott Lively and Paul Cameron, two of the fiercest American opponents of the so-called homosexual agenda.”

Scott Lively on how homosexuals supposedly prey on children


Meet the American Pastor Behind Uganda’s Anti-Gay Crackdown: Scott Lively has stirred up hate from Moscow to Kampala. Watch him in action. (Mother Jones)

Barney Frank: ‘Repudiated’ U.S. ‘hatemongers’ are promoting anti-gay laws in Uganda (Raw Story)

The painful case of Pastor Scott Lively, homophobe to the world (Washington Post)

Evangelicals Are Winning the Gay Marriage Fight–in Africa and Russia: Evangelical advocates, having failed here, are finding friendlier audiences all over the world. (National Journal)

The Crusader (Boston Magazine)

Uganda’s anti-gay bill refocuses attention on US evangelical influence: Uganda’s President Museveni signed into law Monday a bill that criminalizes homosexuality with life sentences and punishes efforts to raise or discuss gay issues. (Christian Science Monitor)

U.S. exporting homophobia to Uganda: And debate in Uganda divides evangelicals back in U.S. (Latitude News)

Ugandan tabloid prints list of ‘top 200 homosexuals’: Red Pepper publishes names under headline of ‘Exposed’ day after president signs anti-gay bill (The Guardian)

Scott Lively & Rick Warren: The PR Campaign to Whitewash the Right’s Anti-Gay Uganda History (Political Research Associates)

The Uganda Anti-Gay Bill’s U.S. Roots (The Daily Beast)

U.S. evangelicals on the defense over Uganda’s new Anti-Homosexuality Act (Religion News Service)

~ Submitted by Elaine Magliaro

The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.


183 thoughts on “Exporting Homophobia: Pastor Scott Lively and the Anti-Gay Crusaders of the US”

  1. I’m looking for my buddies Lumpy and Nick, Has anyone seen them lately?

  2. How Uganda was seduced by anti-gay conservative evangelicals
    Tim Walker

    Last month, the Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni finally signed his country’s controversial anti-gay bill into law, outlawing homosexuality and threatening offenders with up to 14 years in prison.

    Mr Museveni claimed the measure was “provoked by arrogant and careless western groups that are fond of coming into our schools and recruiting young children into homosexuality.”

    Critics of the legislation say it is not homosexuality that has been imported from the West, but homophobia. Roger Ross Williams, the director of God Loves Uganda, a documentary about the influence of conservative US Christians in the East African nation, said, “The anti-homosexuality bill would never have come about without the involvement of American fundamentalist evangelicals.”

    One of the first to investigate links between American conservatives and the African anti-gay movement was Kipya Kaoma, a Zambian clergyman living in Boston. Homosexuality was illegal in Uganda under existing colonial laws, he explained, “But nobody was ever arrested or prosecuted based on those old laws. People turned a blind eye to it. Homosexuality was not a political issue.”

    That changed in 2009, Rev Kaoma said, when a group of American evangelicals led by Pastor Scott Lively, a self-proclaimed expert on the “gay movement”, held a series of talks in Uganda. Mr Lively warned audiences that the “evil institution” of homosexuality sought to “prey upon” and recruit Ugandan children in a bid to “defeat the marriage-based society”.

    Dr Frank Mugisha, director of the LGBT rights organisation, Sexual Minorities Uganda (Smug), recently told The Independent on Sunday, “[The idea] of a gay agenda, of recruiting people to homosexuality – that language wasn’t used in Uganda pre-2009. [Lively] made my work very difficult and was conspiring with my legislators, but [to Ugandans] he was like God himself. People were worshipping him as if he was from heaven.”

    American conservatives first arrived in Uganda in significant numbers following the fall, in 1979, of Idi Amin, the Muslim dictator who had banned evangelical Christianity. Among them was Mike Bickle, founder of the Kansas City-based International House of Prayer (IHOP). According to Mr Williams, “Bickle was there on the ground on the day Amin fell… with a group of American Christian leaders, to take the country as a Christian nation.”

    US Christian groups have since spent millions on schools, hospitals and orphanages in Uganda. They have also found fertile ground for their religious values. Rev Kaoma said American conservatives may have lost the culture wars on the home-front, but they believe they can win in the developing world. “The battle has been fought on American soil, and then exported to the African continent,” he said.

  3. I believe that this is what Christian Fundamentalists have in mind for this country, heads up. Gay people probably already know this all too well, but those of us with gay friends and relatives who love and cherish them, know that this could happen here if they had their way.

  4. ‘The rainbow belongs to God’: Anti-gay US pastor sets sights on Sochi Olympics
    By Tony Dokoupil, Senior Writer, NBC News

    When President Vladimir Putin recently banned “homosexual propaganda” in Russia, he joined sides in a new global culture war: a struggle to stop the march of gay rights abroad even as advocates wave rainbow flags in America. Now, as the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics approach, both sides are bracing for unrest — and an American pastor is taking credit for the law that started it all.

    Scott Lively is a hero to some, a demon to others and a joke to still more. From his home in Springfield, Mass., he runs Abiding Truth Ministries, a church dedicated to combating “the homosexual agenda,” and Holy Grounds Coffee Shop, where the faithful gather for java and Jesus. Lively also sermonizes overseas, promoting his books — most notably The Pink Swastika, which traces the Nazi Party to a gay bar — and portraying gay love as a “dark force” in human history responsible for the Inquisition, American slavery and the Holocaust.

    Last month a federal judge allowed a first-of-its-kind lawsuit to proceed against Lively that alleges the pastor persecuted gays in Uganda and committed a potential “crime against humanity” — one that contributed to a bill that would have made homosexuality an act punishable by death. And yet the grey-haired 57-year-old has refused to quiet down.

    On his blog this month, Lively praised Putin as “the defender of Christian civilization” for signing this summer a ban on information that treats being gay as valid or attractive — and traced the idea to his own tour of Russia in 2006-7. Last week, Lively suggested Russian officials foil gay activists planning to rainbow-bomb the Olympics by flying a rainbow banner over the games so “the global homosexual movement” would be reminded that “the rainbow belongs to God!”

  5. OP-ED
    How anti-gay Christians evangelize hate abroad
    In the countries where American evangelicals market their culture wars, persecution follows.
    By Kapya Kaoma
    March 23, 2014

    If you live in the United States, it’s easy to be lulled into thinking that the battle for broader civil rights for gay people is nearly over. The last few years have brought important victories in courts, legislatures and at the ballot box, and momentum is firmly on the side of increased equality.

    That’s not true, however, in other parts of the world. The vitriol that has fueled U.S. culture wars for so long is now being exported, and some of our most ardent culture warriors are finding a far more receptive audience abroad.

    In nations such as Uganda, Russia, Nigeria and Belize, an insidious homophobia engineered in America is taking root. I have seen this hate being spread with my own eyes.

    In March 2009, while in Kampala, Uganda, researching reports of U.S. right-wing evangelical involvement in attacks on LGBTQ equality and reproductive justice, I was invited to a three-day conference on homosexuality hosted by the Family Life Network, which is based in New York. The keynote speaker was Scott Lively from Springfield, Mass., who introduced himself as a leading expert on the “international homosexual agenda.” I filmed Lively over the course of two days as he instructed religious and political leaders about how gays were coming to Uganda from the West to “recruit children into homosexuality.”

    Some of his assertions would have been laughable had he not been so deadly serious. He claimed that a gay clique that included Adolf Hitler was behind the Holocaust, and he insinuated that gay people fueled the Rwandan genocide.

    In the United States, Lively is widely dismissed as an anti-gay firebrand and Holocaust revisionist. But in Uganda, he was presented — and accepted — as a leading international authority. The public persecution of LGBTQ people escalated after Lively’s conference, with one local newspaper publishing the pictures and addresses of activists under the headline, “Hang Them.”

    Lively was also invited to private briefings with political and religious leaders, and to address the Ugandan parliament during his 2009 visit. The next month, Ugandan lawmaker David Bahati unveiled his Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which in its original form called for the death penalty as punishment for a new crime of “aggravated homosexuality.”

    In recent years, millions of dollars have been funneled from anti-LGBTQ evangelical conservatives to Uganda, funding local pastors and training them to adopt and mirror the culture-war language of the U.S. Christian right. Bahati and a notorious anti-gay pastor, Martin Ssempa, were personally mentored by U.S. conservatives. And powerful Christian right organizations such as the Family Research Council lobbied Congress to change a resolution denouncing the Uganda legislation.

    Other prominent right-wing evangelicals have also made Uganda appearances, including California’s Rick Warren and Lou Engle, who founded TheCall ministry. They met with politicians, hosted rallies and public meetings, and used their influence and credibility to contribute to a culture war in Uganda much more intense and explosive than anything seen in the United States; Lively himself described the work as a “nuclear bomb” in Uganda. These conservative evangelicals later distanced themselves from the law, saying they didn’t think homosexuality should be criminalized, but it was too late.

  6. Ugandan group sues anti-gay pastor in US
    Sexual Minorities Uganda says Scott Lively promoted violence against gay people there, contravening international law
    David Smith in Johannesburg
    The Guardian
    Thursday 15 March 2012

    A Ugandan gay rights group is suing an American Christian evangelist it accuses of waging a campaign of homophobia in the east African country.

    Sexual Minorities Uganda filed the lawsuit against minister Scott Lively on Wednesday in Springfield, Massachusetts, under a statute that the group says allows non-citizens to launch US court actions for violations of international law.

    Frank Mugisha, who heads the pressure group, said it was targeting Lively for “helping spread propaganda and violence” against gay people in Uganda.

    “We hope that he will be held accountable for what he did in Uganda,” Mugisha, who won the Robert F Kennedy human rights award last year, was quoted as saying by the Associated Press. “We want to send out a clear message to him and to others.”

    The complaint claims Lively issued a call in Uganda to fight against a “genocidal” and “paedophilic” gay movement which he “likened to the Nazis and Rwandan murderers”. It seeks a judgment that Lively’s actions violate international law and human rights.

    Lively, of Abiding Truth Ministries, is one of three American pastors who visited Uganda in 2009 and whom gay activists accuse of helping draft the original version of its anti-homosexuality bill. Lively denies this.

    The bill demanded the death penalty for certain homosexual acts such as gay people with Aids having sex. It has since been revamped to replace the death penalty with life imprisonment as a maximum sentence.

  7. Anti-gay pastor Scott Lively of Springfield makes his presence known at Boston gubernatorial forum; other candidates cite support for gay rights
    By Shira Schoenberg

    BOSTON – Most of the candidates for governor speaking at a gay rights forum Tuesday night supported LGBTQ issues. But not Scott Lively.

    The Springfield pastor, anti-gay rights activist and independent candidate railed against “LGBT propaganda,” arguing homosexuality is an acquired condition and not a “normal” form of sexuality, promoting reparative therapy, and saying AIDS can be stopped by ending “homosexual sodomy.”

    The other Democratic and independent candidates for governor largely ignored Lively and talked about their own positions supporting transgender and gay rights.

    Venture capitalist Jeff McCormick, who was seated next to Lively and frequently answered questions after Lively acknowledged the difficulty. “I should win an award after this. Someone owes me a martini,” McCormick said at one point.

    The forum on issues affecting the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) community was sponsored by MassEquality, a gay rights advocacy group, and by WGBH. It was held at Boston Public Library and moderated by WGBH’s Peter Kadzis.

    Eight gubernatorial candidates participated, including all five Democrats and three independents running for the office. The Democrats included state Treasurer Steve Grossman, Attorney General Martha Coakley, former Medicare and Medicaid administrator Don Berwick, former Homeland Security official Juliette Kayyem and biotech executive Joe Avellone. The independents included McCormick, health care executive Evan Falchuk and Lively. Republican Charlie Baker, a former health care executive and 2010 gubernatorial nominee, declined to attend, citing a scheduling conflict.

    Lively, of Springfield, has made his name as an anti-gay activist. He wrote a book arguing that gays were the foundation of the Nazi party and delivered an anti-gay lecture in Uganda that contributed to the passage of a bill criminalizing homosexuality, according to detractors.

  8. Paul Schulte
    annie – if you followed the discussion carefully you would not be asking those questions. Hmmmmmmmmmmm

    Ho hummm.

    That was funny

  9. Paul,

    This explains it all…. You proved that you are an idiot….. You’re not attacking the ideals you feel as justified as Nick does in attacking the person….. Worked out real well for Lee Atwater….

    1. AY – you can dish it out, but you can’t take it, can you pilgrim?

  10. Elaine,

    The reason so many folks spell inacurately is because of in attention, auto spell check and marketing a product…… Plus this time I was funning the circus clown…..

    AUE: FAQ excerpt: “Enquiring minds want to know.”
    [This is a fast-access FAQ excerpt.] This originated as a slogan used in TV ads in the 1980s by the National Enquirer.


    You got it…

    1. AY – that explains so much. I always wondered your source of information.

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