Connect with us

Scott Lively And Rick Warren’s PR Campaign To Whitewash The Right’s Anti-Gay Uganda History

Published

on

As a communications person myself, I can really appreciate a good PR campaign, and the best I’ve seen in a long time is the new effort by U.S. right-wing evangelicals to completely whitewash their own history of involvement with Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality law.

For the last five years, human rights advocates around the world been discussing how U.S. conservative figures were integrally involved in the creation of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill (originally called the “Kill the Gays Bill”). Vast amounts of research have been produced on the involvement of conservatives such as Rick Warren (who posted a YouTube video supporting California’s Prop 8 only to later take it down and deny it ever happened), and hours of undercover footage were taken of Scott Lively (famous for claiming the Nazi Party was really a gay club in his book The Pink Swastika) in Kampala, Uganda, advocating the bill’s creation with local political and religious leaders.

As evidence of their involvement has spread throughout the U.S., the public’s sentiment on these characters’ involvement has soured considerably. This was exacerbated when, last month, Uganda President Yoweri Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law, ascribing life-in-prison sentences to LGBTQ people in the African nation, criminalizing advocacy of homosexuality, and requiring authority figures (parents, teachers, doctors, etc.) to report LGBTQ people to the government.

The American public is finally taking notice. Story after story in major media outlets (The Guardian, Real News Network, The Rachel Maddow Show, and the National Journal in just the last few weeks) is running about these right-wing evangelicals’ involvement, and the millions of dollars they’ve poured into Uganda, Nigeria, Russia, and elsewhere in carefully crafted campaigns to train local pastors and political leaders how to use culture wars-talking points for an all-out attack on LGBTQ people.

So if you were a right-wing public figure, and all of a sudden found yourself standing alone, staring down the barrel of public anger over your past work, what would you do?

For most public figures, it would be a career-ending disaster. But when you’ve got the money, the personnel, and a stellar PR team, you just might be able to convince the rest of us of a simple little lie: They were against the law in the first place.

The process of turning someone who claims “gay = Nazi” and that “equal rights = condoning pedophilia” into a “moderate” is quite the sight to behold.

Step 1: Float the New Idea 

In an interview on NPR’s “Tell Me More” program, Scott Lively wasted no time distancing himself from the criminalization measures in the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Almost before host Michel Martin could finish introducing him, Lively jumped in with, “I have mixed feelings about the bill. I support the provisions that increase penalties for homosexual abuse of children and intentional spreading of AIDS through sodomy. But I think the other provisions are too harsh, and I don’t support those and I wish they’d gone in a different direction.”

Quite the change from the Scott Lively of 2009, who wrote a blog post while in Uganda where he admitted meeting with local lawmakers, warning Ugandans “how bad things would be” if it was not illegal to be an LGBTQ person, and that his campaign to enact legislation further persecuting sexual minorities was “a nuclear bomb against the ‘gay’ agenda in Uganda.” He concluded, “I pray that this, and the predictions, are true.”

Step 2: Create a New Image

For the last several years, Pastor Rick Warren has been successfully advancing his media blitz to get people talking about anything other than his stance on homosexuality. In December of last year, he was featured in TIME Magazine talking about his new weight-loss plan. This same story has been pushed hard by Warren’s PR team, resulting in features in Parade Magazine and NPR—none of which mentioned his flip-flop on Prop 8, or his involvement with the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda.

Step 3: Strategically Place Reinforcements of your Talking Points

Following the NPR story with Lively, a new article surfaced on the Religious News Service, expertly titled “U.S. evangelicals on the defense over Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act.”

Staging the piece as a journalistic interview, author Sarah Pulliam Bailey basically transcribes a press release from Scott Lively and Rick Warren, disavowing themselves of their involvement:

California megachurch pastor Rick Warren, too, posted on his Facebook page on Sunday (March 2) denying allegations that he ever supported the Uganda bill…

Scott Lively, a Massachusetts pastor and head of Abiding Truth Ministries, said that he is not responsible for the bill.

“It’s a very insulting argument, that somehow an American evangelical pastor is so powerful that I’ve overwhelmed the intelligence of an entire government and turned them out to do my will,” Lively said. “The Ugandans knew what they wanted to hear.”

He said he does not support the bill in its final form.

Never mind that Lively himself has admitted on several occasions that he had seen and reviewed the original “Kill the Gays Bill” before it had been released to the public. Despite the ample evidence of Lively and Warren’s involvement in Uganda, none of it is mentioned. There isn’t even a hint at what pro-human rights groups have found in their research.

Step 4: Spread the Word

Now that they’ve gotten their press release printed as if it were an accredited journalistic account, the right-wing PR campaign can push to get mainstream outlets to reprint. The whitewashed article has been republished not only on small sites like Spokane Faith & Values, but on major outlets like The Washington Post.

As is typical with controversial and nuanced stories, the simple talking points are much easier to publish. Why bother researching what these right-wing evangelicals have said and done beyond U.S. borders, when they’re willing to tell American media a completely different—and significantly more palatable—story on camera?

The Fatal Flaw

This massive PR campaign has only made one mistake so far, but it’s a big one. Rick Warren has, by far, been the most successful at misleading the public into thinking he’s a moderate. He’s been at it for years. If the campaign had aimed to only wash Warren’s hands of Ugandan LGBTQ blood, it would probably succeed with flying colors. But the efforts have been ambitious than that.

The inclusion of Scott Lively throws the door wide open for the public to see this PR stunt for what it is. While few people other than researchers on the ground have seen Warren at work in Africa—partnering with local anti-gay clergy and feeding them the funds necessary to push through the Anti-Homosexuality Bill—plenty of people have heard Scott Lively on air or in his writings comparing LGBTQ people to rapists and pedophiles. Plenty of people have seen the undercover videos from Rev. Dr. Kapya Kaoma of Scott Lively in Uganda explaining that if they don’t enact anti-gay legislation then gays from America will come and recruit their children. And plenty of people have seen the videos of Scott Lively on Ugandan TV with the vehemently anti-gay Pastor Martin Ssempa, saying that Uganda needed to enact the Anti-Homosexuality law and criminalize LGBTQ people in order to save children from being “recruited

There’s no question of right-wing evangelical involvement in Uganda’s anti-gay legislation. The work has been verified and fact-checked by researchers around the globe, organizations like Amnesty International, and outlets such as the New York Times. There’s a reason a court refused to throw out the case against Scott Lively for crimes against humanity.

It’s not just human rights advocates who are shocked by the turnabout from these conservatives. The anti-gay clergy in Uganda they’ve spent years training are shocked as well. Pastor Martin Ssempa was so surprised he published a letter addressed to Rick Warren, asking why he is now changing his story.

When you came to Uganda on Thursday, 27 March 2008, and expressed support to  the Church of Uganda’s boycott of the pro-homosexual church of England, you stated; “The Church of England is wrong, and I support the Church of Uganda”.

You are further remembered to say, “homosexuality is not a natural  way of life and thus (its) not a human right. We shall not tolerate this  apect at all”.

Good PR work has a tendency to override facts. Tell people that something didn’t happen enough times, and eventually they’ll start to believe it. It’s up to us to tell the truth louder and more often.

 

**This article is cross-posted from Political Research Associates. Republished with Permission

Follow Eric Ethington on Twitter @EricEthington

Eric Ethington NCRMEric Ethington has been specializing in political messaging, communications strategy, and public relations for more than a decade. Originally hailing from Salt Lake City, he now works in Boston for a social justice think tank. Eric’s writing, advocacy work, and research have been featured on MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, CNBC, the New York Times, The Telegraph, and The Public Eye magazine. He’s worked as a radio host, pundit, blogger, activist and electoral campaign strategist. He also writes at NuanceStillMatters.com

Continue Reading
Click to comment
 
 

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. The New Civil Rights Movement depends on readers like you to meet our ongoing expenses and continue producing quality progressive journalism. Three Silicon Valley giants consume 70 percent of all online advertising dollars, so we need your help to continue doing what we do.

NCRM is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. From unflinching coverage of religious extremism, to spotlighting efforts to roll back our rights, NCRM continues to speak truth to power. America needs independent voices like NCRM to be sure no one is forgotten.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure NCRM remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to NCRM, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

'PRETTY TERRIFYING'

‘Bleakest Scenario’: Advisor to 4 Presidents Warns ‘All Hell Breaks Lose’ After 2024 Election

Published

on

One of the most experienced former White House staffers in America warned of the unraveling of America during a Saturday appearance on CNN.

David Gergen served as director of speechwriting for President Richard Nixon, communications director for Presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan, and counselor to the president under Bill Clinton.

CNN’s Pamela Brown said, “as someone who has advised so many presidents, who cares so much about American democracy, how concerned are you about the future U.S. elections with this backdrop of the ‘Big Lie’?”

“I’m very concerned,” Gergen replied.

“I think that we’re in more, we’re in potentially more danger than we were six months ago, a year ago. Listen, the bleakest scenario is that all the efforts that are being made now between Democrats and Republicans on where we’re going to go on the economy and pandemic, you know, that all these talks may collapse and we in government may be seen as dysfunctional,” he explained.

“The Republicans then use this in 2022 to take back the House and set themselves up for 2024. Trump could go on as crazy as he is now, he gets crazier as it goes along. You can see all this coming together at an outcome in 2024,” he continued.

“If Trump were to be re-elected, all hell is going to break loose in this country. On the other hand, if his supporters think it’s been stolen from him after 2024, all hell could break loose on that side, too. So I think we’re in pretty treacherous territory right now,” Gergen warned.

“Those are not very good options you just laid out there, David Gergen,” Brown said. “Pretty terrifying.”

 

 

Continue Reading

RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

Steve Schmidt Warns on GOP Authoritarian Threat: ‘Democracy Cannot Survive’ When ‘The Lie and the Truth Stand Equally’

Published

on

Steve Schmidt, Lincoln Project co-founder and Republican strategist-turned-Democrat, expressed concern about the latest authoritarian attack leveled on the United States’ democracy as he urged Americans to push back against their threats.

Speaking to MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, Schmidt laid out the main issue with former President Donald Trump’s “Big Lie.”

“The front of that fight is a space where the lie is confronted with the truth. That is the battleground. And it plays out in 1 million ways,” Schmidt said. “But a democracy cannot survive in a world where the lie and the truth stand equally. The system that we have is based on a compact that requires faith in belief and trust. It’s how we share power with people that we disagree with. We acknowledge that we live in a complex world where people have different perspectives.”

He continued, “And we have to accommodate those views. In the 21st century, I believe that there was a consensus that has unraveled in start really short period of time, that you can trace all the way back to the beginning of the country, in the name of political power — also, the same people claiming that they’re doing it in the name of freedom are seeing that that preservation of freedom means maintaining our power. Not necessarily abiding the results of the election. And when you get into that territory, you’re in a scary space.”

 

Continue Reading

News

Marjorie Taylor Green’s Chief of Staff Quits — Hours After Her Very Public Meltdown on the Capitol Steps

Published

on

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) lost her most senior staffer on Friday after she made a scene on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.

NBC News reported Greene “instigated a shouting match with a group of House Democrats who were holding an event outside the U.S. Capitol on Friday.”

Greene screamed that Democrats support “murder” for supporting abortion rights.

Following the incident, Greene announced that her chief of staff had “advised” her that he would no longer be working in her office.

“I want to thank my Chief of Staff, Patrick Parsons, for helping me take the fight to the Socialist Democrats as I’ve transitioned into Congress. He’s advised me he will be moving back into the political arena to help elect America First conservatives who can fight alongside me,” she posted to Twitter.

 

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2020 AlterNet Media.