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Evangelizing the world for LGBTQIA+ activism

The State Department joins forces with liberal religious leaders to export progressive culture war ideals

President Joe Biden speaks at the Summit for Democracy in December as Secretary of State Antony Blinken (right) looks on. Associated Press/Photo by Susan Walsh

Evangelizing the world for LGBTQIA+ activism

The U.S. State Department is accepting applications from LGBTQIA+ advocacy groups for grants totaling $2.5 million. The deadline is Feb. 4 for funding from the new Global LGBTQI+ Inclusive Democracy and Empowerment Fund. This project showcases the further embedding of liberal culture war promotion into U.S. foreign policy.

Our foreign policy should promote U.S. national interests, which include democracy and historic human rights, not transgenderism, LGBTQI+ advocacy, and abortion. Americans share a consensus about the promotion of democracy, but not about the exporting of a progressive culture war that undermines U.S. national interests.

In October, the White House released its National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality, which includes defending “safe and legal abortion in the United States, established in Roe v. Wade, and [promoting] access to sexual and reproductive health and rights both at home and abroad.” 

It also pledges to “combat discrimination and harmful gender norms that affect people of all genders: women and girls—including transgender women and girls—gender nonbinary and gender nonconforming people, as well as men and boys.” And it cites the “transgender athlete who dreams of the chance to compete free from discrimination.” So, there was no surprise when the State Department tweeted in support of International Pronouns Day on Oct. 20. And it no longer requires medical documentation to change the gender on passports.

Unsurprisingly, these themes emerged amid the Summit for Democracy, hosted by the State Department in December. The event was ostensibly organized to counter increasing authoritarianism around the world. The White House promoted a pre-summit event hosted by the ultra-liberal Union Seminary in New York on “LGBTQIA+ rights and international faith communities,” which included White House Principle Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. “As faith leaders, we are called to protect LGBTQIA+ rights around the globe” Union Seminary tweeted. “We’re working with the White House to get it done.”

This conversation included only liberal religious sexual revisionists who assert that the redefinition of marriage and gender self-identification are intrinsic human rights the United States must promote. No religious traditionalists or conservatives were included. Instead, traditional religion was portrayed as the adversary.

“Our task … is to stand against the demeaning of sexual minorities through weaponizing Scripture,” explained Fred Davie, a Presbyterian Church (USA) minister who serves on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. “It is our job … to dismantle the cis-gender hetero hierarchy.” He didn’t explain how dismantling heterosexuality helps democracy.

No U.S. national interest advances via LGBTQIA+ ideology, which is endlessly evolving.

Naturally, there were apologies for Western imperialism without admitting that exporting LGBTQIA+ ideology is itself a form of contemporary colonialism. “I do think it is important … to apologize that the British church at the heart of colonizing spread [homophobia to colonies],” offered liberal British Baptist minister Steve Chalke. “Bad theology … costs lots of lives,” he continued, stressing the danger of traditional religion. Adding to this theme Kenyan activist Essy Adhiambo complained, “Religion has become more dangerous than our governments … we fear our religious leaders.”

U.S. Agency for International Development official Adam Phillips, an Oregon church planter who cut ties to the mother church over “LGBTQ inclusion,” declared, “This is a priority for the Biden-Harris administration … we are ensuring that our policies focus on LGBTQIA+ rights.” Jay Gilliam, USAID’s LGBTQIA+ coordinator, added, “For LGBTQIA+ people around the world it is too hard to find accepting faith members … today you are showing good partnership and allyship.”

In a USAID interview published in early December, Gilliam cited a Presidential Memorandum issued in February 2021 mandating that all U.S. foreign aid agencies prioritize LGBTQI+ initiatives. But the work began, he said, with President Barack Obama’s December 2011 directive for LGBT issues. Gilliam recalled “growing up in religiously conservative Texas and not seeing black queer people recognized and applauded for being their full, authentic selves.”

Must U.S. foreign policy affirm non-traditional sexualities and applaud people for actualizing into their supposedly “full, authentic selves?” As the world’s most influential democracy, America’s self-understanding requires the affirmation of human rights for all.

But no U.S. national interest advances via LGBTQIA+ ideology, which is endlessly evolving. It is needlessly provocative in traditional cultures globally. Its promotion by U.S. agencies tells the world, especially countries in the Global South where most of humanity lives, that America disdains their religion and culture. It implies that America is permissive and militantly secular.

U.S. diplomacy and international aid should promote the interests of the American people and our historic commitment to constitutional democracy with equal rights for all, especially freedom of speech and freedom of religion. It is self-destructive and dishonest for U.S. foreign policy to tout current culture war stances representing only part of contemporary U.S. opinion.

America’s foreign policy must extoll the majesty of our timeless democratic principles originating in the Declaration of Independence. Gender ideology is today’s fad. But the right to life and liberty, without fear of despotism, is timeless.

Mark Tooley

Mark Tooley is president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy and editor of IRD’s foreign policy and national security journal, Providence. Prior to joining the IRD in 1994, Mark worked eight years for the Central Intelligence Agency. A lifelong United Methodist, he has been active in United Methodist renewal since 1988. He is the author of Taking Back The United Methodist Church, Methodism and Politics in the 20th Century, and The Peace That Almost Was: The Forgotten Story of the 1861 Washington Peace Conference and the Final Attempt to Avert the Civil War. He attends a United Methodist church in Alexandria, Va.

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