Today the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom wraps up its three-day conference. The state-sponsored event, led by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, says its stated aim is to find “concrete ways to combat religious persecution and discrimination.” And yet, the Ministerial features members from several anti-LGBT hate groups. Worse, one of the main aims of the event is to secure federal funding for their efforts, despite current laws making it illegal for the government to fund groups that discriminate.
The Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom is the first group of its kind “to advance religious freedom around the world.” Though the official page says that the Ministerial will bring together “members of civil society groups, including religious leaders and survivors of religious persecution,” several of the groups are designated as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center, including the Liberty Counsel, the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and the Family Research Council (FRC).
These groups are three of the biggest mainstream anti-LGBTQ hate groups. They’re frequently interviewed by news outlets, and are often connected to members of the Trump administration (including Trump himself). Tony Perkins of the FRC is even on an official U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
If you’re unfamiliar with the groups by name, you certainly know their hateful work. The Liberty Counsel represented Kim Davis, the clerk who refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses. The ADF provided legal support to Masterpiece Cakeshop, the Colorado baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. And the FRC has so many “greatest hits of hate” to choose from, we’ll just point out that the group worked to protect Wes Goodman, an anti-gay Ohio representative accused of fondling a teen boy.
The fact that the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom aims to help groups like Liberty Council, the ADF and the FRC find federal funding is galling — especially as legally, organizations who receive federal assistance cannot discriminate while taking public funds. But then, we know how much the Trump administration cares about non-discrimination.