The TYT Network reports that the homophobic, secretive conservative group The Family is still at work behind the scenes in Uganda, encouraging the supporters of the nation’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
Excerpts from the TYT article ” ‘The Family’ Tied — Again — to Anti-LGBTQ+ Death Penalty Bill” appear below. The article was also republished in Salon.com.
When Pres. Joe Biden greeted his virtual guests at this year’s National Prayer Breakfast [NPB] – and told them, “I’m grateful you’re able to be joining us in prayer this morning and lift up one another” – the people he was welcoming included government officials from a country now poised to enact the death penalty for some LGBTQ people.
Although he was speaking on Capitol Hill, he also addressed, remotely, the NPB Gathering a few miles away at the Hilton. Both of the Feb. 2 events were being run by insiders at The Family (a secretive Christian group formally known as the Fellowship Foundation), including some who were around in 2009, the first time Uganda pursued what came to be known as “Kill the Gays” legislation.
This time, after Uganda’s parliament last month passed what’s officially called the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, there is much less global uproar.
Family insiders, however, are still involved with and supporting the Ugandans behind the bill, TYT has learned. And this time, Family leaders have yet to publicly condemn the legislation or those behind it.
Instead, The Family invited Uganda’s first lady, a friend of The Family’s point man in Uganda, to the NPB Gathering that Biden greeted on video. The Family also invited a Ugandan member of Parliament who appears not to have taken a public position on the bill, which is almost universally supported by Ugandans; only two members of Parliament voted against it.
And the Family’s Ugandan point man, Tim Kreutter, is still a key player in the Ugandan National Prayer Breakfast, which is chaired by [David Bahati], the bill’s original father, and has been a central rallying event for Ugandan anti-LGBTQ sentiment. Kreutter has also stayed involved with the Ugandan parliamentary prayer group, some members of which have led the push for the bill.
Its provisions include the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality,” including not just criminal sex acts against minors but also “serial offenders.” The law also criminalizes “promotion” of homosexuality.
Reporting out of Uganda has obscured the bill’s provenance. Media accounts identified the bill’s sponsor as a Muslim member of the opposition party, but parliamentary records show that the bill actually originated with a ruling-party Christian clergyman backed by at least one leader of the Family’s Ugandan offshoot, who was instrumental in pushing the 2009 bill.
There’s no indication that any Family insiders support the bill now, but neither have any leaders of The Family’s U.S. breakfasts publicly condemned the bill this time around. The Family this year split the U.S. National Prayer Breakfast into two events – including a new one on Capitol Hill ostensibly just for Congress, the president, and top government officials – but both events are controlled by longtime Family insiders with a history of involvement in the U.S. breakfast and, in some cases, its Ugandan relationships. (Former Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) has suggested to TYT that he hopes to include new blood on the board of the Capitol Hill prayer breakfast.)
Family insiders who did not respond to TYT’s requests for comment include spokesman Larry Ross; former Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN), who’s involved in both of The Family’s breakfast events; and Grace Nelson, wife of NASA Administrator and former Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL).
The first time Uganda’s David Bahati, then a member of Parliament, introduced an anti-LGBTQ+ death-penalty bill, it sparked global outrage and protests – leading both Pres. Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to raise the issue at the 2010 U.S. National Prayer Breakfast (which they nevertheless attended despite the pleas of LGBTQ protesters).
At the time, Family leaders said they told Bahati they opposed the bill. Bahati insisted otherwise. The truth may be something in between – that The Family relayed its sentiments by relaying the widespread criticism, which Bahati may have interpreted as The Family explaining that it was politically constrained against supporting the bill. …
As journalist Jeff Sharlet put it in his book, “C Street,” assessing culpability for Bahati’s 2009 bill, “The Family didn’t pull the trigger; they provided the gun.” The predictable outcome is one America’s founders sought to avoid by barring Congress from embracing religion and one The Family has seen for itself over and over as a result of its covert efforts around the world: Division, despite The Family’s unshakeable faith in the unifying power of prayer.
Whatever the truth about the 2009 bill, Bahati continued his crusade, getting Pres. Yoweri Museveni to sign the bill several years later. When a court killed it soon after, Uganda’s LGBTQ+ population breathed a sigh of relief, and advocates may have thought the fight was over.
But that law was killed on a technicality, lack of quorum, not on the substance. And in the intervening years, Uganda’s religious and political leaders, as well as Ugandan media, maintained a drumbeat of anti-LGBTQ+ narratives: Grooming; recruitment; child molestation; the canard that homosexuality is instilled via indoctrination.
When Member of Parliament Fox Odoi-Oywelowo, one of only two MPs to vote against the bill last month, spoke publicly about its origins, he told openDemocracy, “radical Pentecostal communities from the US were sponsoring the introduction of anti-LGBTQ laws throughout Africa.” Odoi-Oywelowo continued:
There are still a few US pastors – I call them hate-mongers because that’s all they excel in – vending hatred in Uganda. Their initial point of entry was the [Ugandan] National Prayer Breakfast, a collection of religious and radical people here who introduced that ideology of hate. They sit over breakfast and pray and make radical hate speeches. They also introduced some money.
Speaking with TYT, Odoi-Oywelowo went further, naming individual Ugandan politicians who support the bill and are currently embedded in The Family’s Ugandan offshoot and the parliamentary prayer groups.
And Kreutter, The Family’s point man in Uganda, who Sharlet said never explicitly condemned the bill, appears never to have left Bahati’s side despite his crusade.
In the past, Kreutter’s operations in Uganda were subsidized by The Family, millionaire Republican donors, or both. Whether that continues today is unknown, as The Family’s tax returns no longer identify individual recipients. …
A new ‘Kill the Gays Bill’
In September of last year, the possibility of another “Kill the Gays Bill” resurfaced. And the following month, as TYT reported, the 2022 Ugandan NPB served as a rally against western pressure for LGBTQ+ tolerance. Kreutter can be seen in cutaway shots of the audience.
Museveni told the gathered worshipers, “We have been having pressures from some of these groups who say that there are two ways of life…the normal way and the parallel way of the homosexuals… But this is not our interpretation.”
He also cited earlier remarks at the breakfast by Prof. Christiaan Alting, who said, “[D]on’t allow other countries outside Africa and certain NGOs [non-governmental organizations] and international organizations to dictate to you how you should run your families, schools, and communities.”
A Ugandan MP blames the Prayer Breakfast
Just days after the bill passed last month, openDemocracy published an interview with Odoi-Oywelowo. “There are still a few US pastors – I call them hate-mongers because that’s all they excel in, vending hatred in Uganda. Their initial point of entry was the [Ugandan] National Prayer Breakfast, a collection of religious and radical people here who introduced that ideology of hate,” Odoi-Oywelowo said.
Speaking with TYT over the weekend, Odoi-Oywelowo said, “We all know that the Bahati bill was crafted, sponsored, drafted by the radical Pentecostal movement,” and identified Bahati as Pentecostal. “We know one of the vehicles that they use for preaching their radical agenda is the National Prayer Breakfast in Uganda.”
And, according to Odoi-Oywelowo, the true genesis of the  bill has been obscured. While the sponsor has been identified by international media – including even the Associated Press – as Member of Parliament Asuman Basalirwa, a Muslim in the opposition party, Odoi-Oywelowo says they’ve got it wrong. And parliamentary transcripts back him up. …
Odoi-Oywelowo told TYT, “[Dr. James Nsaba Buturo, Uganda’s minister of ethics and integrity] and Bahati, they’re the driving brain.”
Buturo himself told Sharlet that the bill began in the parliamentary Fellowship group.
And when asked about Buturo’s and Bahati’s ties to the Ugandan National Prayer Breakfast, Odoi-Oywelowo says, “They’re not even gold card members … they’re higher.” … Another MP who publicly backed Bahati’s bill (reading it into the record in Parliament) was Robina Rwakoojo, chair of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee. She, too, Odoi-Oywelowo says, is part of Bahati’s Thursday parliamentary prayer group, modeled on the weekly prayer breakfasts in the U.S. Congress.
In fact, Odoi-Oywelowo says, “She’s been encouraging the members of the committee to attend the Thursday meeting of the [Ugandan Parliamentary] Fellowship. She keeps on telling us, ‘First of all, you will grow with Christ; secondly, we plan to travel to Israel. Last year they were in Israel, that group of the prayer breakfast.”
According to Odoi-Oywelowo, “The Thursday morning meeting is run by the [Ugandan] National Prayer Breakfast. I have attended one such meeting… When I walked in they were having those prayers and… I remember Bahati making comments that the lord Jesus had dragged me to salvation.
That same group, Odoi-Oywelowo says, “also came to the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee headed by the chaplain and made representations. They quoted Leviticus that the Bible commands to stone to death all homosexuals.” …
Several right-wing Christian members of Congress have also been engaged with The Family’s Uganda efforts.
Speaking with Sharlet after introducing the original bill, Bahati said, “We have talked to a number of conservatives in America who believe what we are doing is right, and that if we do not close the door to homosexuality at this time, it would be too late for us to breathe.” Bahati added, “They wish that homosexuality was confronted and fought severely in America.”
Bahati refused to name them. But Sharlet did identify some of the American Christian politicians with whom Bahati was involved.
Nelson, the wife of NASA’s administrator, now sits on the board of the new National Prayer Breakfast Foundation that hosted Biden in February, and she was on the board of The Family from 2001 through 2003, during which Family funding for Cornerstone, Kreutter’s Ugandan schools, ran into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The Family stopped disclosing its Ugandan beneficiaries, but its tax filings indicate that millions of dollars have gone to a school or schools in Uganda in the years since. While some reporting has implied that The Family’s funding is directly backing anti-LGBTQ+ activism in the country, there’s no evidence of that.
Instead, the funding appears to have paid for nurturing and educating thousands of young Ugandans – while simultaneously instilling The Family’s views of Jesus and creating the network now doing what the Bible commands; Leviticus, specifically. The Family also subsidized Kreutter’s life in Uganda as a crucial go-between, elevating like-minded Ugandans, including Cornerstone alumni, by connecting them with U.S. politicians.
For instance, internal Family documents obtained by TYT show that Kreutter was able to bring to the U.S. National Prayer Breakfast a number of Ugandans connected to Cornerstone and other affiliated organizations, including the Africa Youth Leadership Forum, which Kreutter cofounded and which Bahati reportedly ran.
A group called Youth Corps, another Cornerstone offshoot, is listed in Family documents obtained by TYT as submitting guest names for NPB attendance, as well.
In 2015, The Family’s DC prayer breakfast guest list included six Ugandans. One was Pastor Christine Ondoa, reportedly part of a ministry the leader of which once said LGBTQ people “should be killed.” The Family documents don’t reveal who invited the 2015 guests, but indicate that Ondoa shared a table with Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT), an opponent of LGBTQ+ rights. A Cornerstone guest was seated with Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), an active player in The Family’s efforts to aid anti-LGBTQ+ Guatemalan Pres. Jimmy Morales.
… Museveni has until April 20 to veto the Anti-Homosexuality Bill or recommend revisions. Otherwise it will become law.