The Prime Minister’s Office and the office of the international development minister got about 170 letters and emails after The Canadian Press reported earlier this year on the $544,813 contract to Christian Crossroads Communications for humanitarian work in Uganda.
The criticism of homosexuality on the organization’s website raised concern about its operations in an African country where gays face persistent threats of physical violence and where notorious anti-gay legislation is before parliament.
The Harper government briefly announced a freeze in funds but later revised its position. Crossroads’ project is linked to the construction of latrines and wells, in addition to hygiene awareness, in Uganda.
In the days after the news broke, the government received 120 letters and emails from people opposed to funding Crossroads. About 50 others expressed support for continued funding.
I mentioned past anti-gay lobbying by Crossroads founder David Mainse here, when news surfaced in February that Crossroads Christian Communications had not updated their website, or apparently their thinking.
Other religious groups in Canada, experienced and well equipped to dig wells in Africa have had their funding cut by the federal conservatives.
About four months before Canadians found out about Crossroads CIDA funding and the stance against gays, the organization hired a controversial Southern Baptist minister Jerry Johnston from Kansas, known for among other things, his involvement in same sex marriage politics. Jerry Johnston is the Executive Director of Crossroads USA.
He announced a few days ago that he is nearly ready to move Crossroads into the US market.
This is what Johnston has basically offered up so far – sermons out of the Crossroads Burlington studios. He has also been essentially re-cycling his past material from Jerry Johnston Ministries through Crossroads (for a price). Johnston is also a co-host on 100 Huntley Street, he’s like a fish out of water, despite the warmth and assistance shown him by the Canadian hosts.
When news of Crossroads official beliefs regarding homosexuality surfaced in February, the CEO and CCSO went on air to attempt damage control, and released a statement saying the broadcast organization was not anti-gay. Starts at 2:06:
I doubt some Crossroads employees believe homosexuality is a perversion, or accept employers linking SSA and orientation to criminal activity, or believe in praying away the gay. The core viewership of 100 Huntley is now elderly, mostly pentecostal and charismatic and some of those viewers frame their support as elitist/ us/them/enemy:
“Please do not take the polical (sic) agenda of the gay movement targeted at the Christian faith to withhold aid to the needy, deprived and desperate people of the third-world countries.”
I doubt Crossroads was ever in danger of losing the rest of the CIDA funding, even with protests by Canadians, the broadcasters ties to the current government run deep.
The reality is Crossroads is a very conservative evangelical organization, and as they move their programming into the US with Johnston at the helm, I suspect it will become more so.
It’s refreshing to know that on a 3 to 1 ratio, Canadians let the federal government know we don’t appreciate our tax dollars going to this organization, even though CIDA says the team in Uganda digging wells doesn’t discriminate.
Federal documents reveal that a representative of the Canadian International Development Agency visited the Crossroads project on Feb. 14-15 to monitor for discriminatory practices.
In her report, Wassala Nimaga said the access to water and latrines was being delivered as promised. The nine-page document did not delve into treatment of homosexuals but, from a more general standpoint, said Crossroads did not discriminate.
I doubt any GLBT Ugandan would dare mention their sexual orientation to Crossroads, the on-going day to day threat to their lives and well-being is all too real, and if the Crossroads Uganda well-digging team is proselytising or discriminating, they aren’t going to let a CIDA observer see. Hopefully Canadians speaking up will give the federal government pause, and tax payer funding for overseas water projects will be restored to competent, ethical, non-discriminatory Canadian organizations.