The former General Secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana has berated CNN for its report that suggested that the council and Churches in Ghana have been fighting against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQ+) activities while receiving funds from donor agencies that support these activities.
According to Rev Dr Kwabena Opuni-Frimpong, the report by CNN was not accurate. He said that CNN should have spoken to the Christian Council and the churches cited in their investigative report to get their side of the story.
In an interview with GhanaWeb on Wednesday, December 14, 2022, Rev Opuni-Frimpong said that before any donor organisation supports the activities of the Christian Council and Churches in Ghana, they (the donor) scrutinise the proposal of these entities.
He added that most of the funds received are for targeted social interventions, including refugee and health issues and the issue about the promotion of LGBTQ+ activities in Ghana has never been an issue.
“CNN is a world internationally respected media house, we have known then for that, but on this particular subject, the lady who reported the story has not been fair to Ghanaians Churches. Because even though, she spoke to people, from the video, she did not talk to any church leader on the subject of benefiting from LGBT funds.
“I have been the General Secretary of the Christian Council for five years (2013 to 2018) and we work with both governmental and non-governmental agencies including UNAID, DANIDA, European Union, several of them and their monies are not necessarily for Church people.
“They (the donor agencies) fund your projects that they are interested in. Some of them (the projects) are for all refugees in Ghana, others involve issues of houses, HIV/AIDs, (and) elections. And so, when we want to do any of such social interventions, we send proposals to agencies, governmental and non-governmental. If there are interested in the proposal either they accept it or their review it and then they set up an arrangement for us to implement it,” he told GhanaWeb.
Rev Opuni-Frimpong said that CNN could have called on the religious organisations cited in the report to view some of the proposals they send to these donor organisations to ascertain whether the stance of the Churches in Ghana on LBGT activities has been an issue.
He reiterated that the monies the donor agencies give to Churches are for specific purposes and the churches ensure that they are used for their intended purposes, thus the Churches cannot be accused of any wrong doing because the promotion of gay activities in Ghana has never been a precondition.
The former General Secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana urged the internationally acclaimed media house to engage churches in Ghana to listen to their side of the story.
An exclusive investigation conducted by CNN has cited some Ghanaian churches as having received foreign aid and funding from United States, United Kingdom and European donors who support Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQ+) activities.
These churches, according to the report, despite their strong support for the anti-LGBTQ+ Bill in parliament, have benefitted from funding from intergovernmental organisations that support LGBTQ rights and activities for developmental purposes.
CNN’s findings cited Churches and Christian institutions, including the Christian Council of Ghana (CCG), Evangelical Presbyterian Church (CCG member), Methodist Church (CCG member), Presbyterian Church (CCG member), and the Catholic Church, as having received not less than $5.1 million of monies from donors for development projects by or for the church.
Below are some of the donations as listed by CNN’s report:
1. Citing the Christian Council of Ghana (CCG) for instance, the CNN report said that more than $140,000 of taxpayers’ monies from the UK [which is a co-chair of the international Equal Rights Coalition, an intergovernmental organization that protects LGBTQI+ community members worldwide] was donated to the council between the period of 2018-2020.
2. CNN’s analysis also found that some other members of the Equal Rights Coalition — the US, Germany, and Italy — funded projects by or for some of these churches in Ghana that have opposed LGBTQI+ rights “before, during, and after they benefited from aid money”.
3. In 2018 also, £100,000 (about $130,000) of the UK taxpayers’ money went to the Christian Council with a stated goal of fighting corruption in schools, the report further stated.
4. The report also noted that the US federal government sent more than $13,000 to the Christian Council in January 2020, for a project to provide shelters to refugees at Krisan Camp in southwestern Ghana.
5. 208,000 euros (about $245,000) of German aid money went to the Christian Council between 2014 and 2018, via an intermediary called Brot für die Welt.
6. German as well as Italian aid also went to development projects run by or benefiting some individual Christian Council Ghana member churches including projects of Ghana’s Methodist, Evangelical Presbyterian, and Presbyterian churches who received at least $670,000 from these countries via intermediary religious NGOs between 2016 and 2020.
7. Germany, Italy, and the US have also funded projects by or benefiting the Ghanaian Catholic Church. German Catholic intermediary NGO, Misereor, disclosed spending 2.8 million euros ($3.1 million) of German taxpayers’ money on projects by the Catholic Church’s partner organizations in Ghana between 2016 and 2020. This included $127,000 that was spent on a project with a broad goal of strengthening strategy and management standards for the churches’ development work.
8. Despite pledges to protect the rights of sexual and gender minorities, US and European donors spent at least $5.1 million of taxpayers’ money on projects run by or benefiting Ghanaian religious organizations whose leaders have campaigned against LGBTQI+ rights.
9. Aid benefiting Ghana’s Catholic Church also included $850,000 from the US. Between 2019 and 2020 this money went to Ghanaian and US contractors for a project whose goal was to transition several dioceses of the Church to solar power.