THE BLOG

Cru, Formerly Campus Crusade for Christ, Loudly Trumpeting Troubling Anti-Gay Message Overseas

07/28/2014 05:41 pm ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016

A flyer commonly seen on college and university bulletin boards is a flyer for Campus Crusade for Christ, recently rebranded as "Cru." Cru's mission is to "[w]in, build, and send Christ-centered multiplying disciples who launch spiritual movements." The mission has found itself on 1,740 campuses around the globe and received more than half a billion dollars in donations in 2013.

Generally, in the United States, Cru has not come out strongly against gay rights; in fact, the issue is only mentioned twice in the hundreds of pages on its website. Within its campus affiliate structure, though, an anti-homosexuality approach is more apparent; many campus Cru websites discuss homosexuality negatively and offer anecdotes about people getting "free from the homosexual lifestyle."

While the idea of "freeing" individuals from homosexuality is offensive to many, this work is happening overseas in the name of Cru. According to The Daily Beast's Jay Michaelson, a Cru-supported attended by 300 college students had Cru's Vice President of Global Church Movements, Bekele Shanko, introduce Dr. Seyoum Antonios, the head of United for Life Ethiopia. Michaelson's article reveals that Antonios "spewed a toxic blend of U.S. anti-gay talking points," stating that "[t]hirty-three percent of homosexuals are pedophiles, gay couples are coming to Africa to steal children and turn them homosexual, homosexuality is a Western plot to kill Africans, and gay people are 15 times more likely to be murderers than straight people." The speech be currently viewed on YouTube.

While there are a number of U.S. organizations that have begun work in Africa on issues relating to homosexuality and abortion, including Pat Robertson's American Center for Law and Justice, which has offices in Kenya and Zimbabwe, and the Alliance Defending Freedom, which, according to Michaelson, "has led numerous programs and conferences in Africa to warn unsuspecting Africans about the 'homosexual agenda,'" Cru has largely been unaffiliated with these efforts and has stayed away from these public debates.

With its budget significantly dwarfing the above groups and many others in the evangelical Christian world, and because Cru "does not reveal how much of its budget is spent on overseas activities," according to Michaelson, Cru's international activities may force it to to become more public about its views on homosexuality and how anti-gay its effort might be.