One of the architects of Arizona’s immigration law, Kris Kobach, has often had to defend himself against accusations of bigotry. One of his most common lines of defense is that he is religious man with Christian values. As proof, Kobach even cited his Christian missionary work in Africa, saying groups like the Anti-Defamation League who have accused him of bigotry “don’t want you to know that in my spare time I do Christian missionary work in Uganda.”
However, Lauri Lebo of Religion Dispatches has revealed some more interesting information on the church that Kobach affiliates himself with. Lebo writes:
However, despite his assertions that his faith prevents him from being a bigot, the church Kobach attends, the Christ Church, Anglican of Overland Park, Kan., has close ties to the anti-homosexuality movement in Africa. Christ Church was part of the Anglican Realignment, one of a group of theologically conservative parishes which aligned themselves with bishops outside the Episcopal Church in the United States following the ordination of Gene Robinson, the church’s first openly gay bishop.
According to its website, Kobach’s church is part of the Anglican Mission of the Americas, which is sponsored by the Anglican Church of Rwanda. Like the Anglican Church of Uganda, the Church of Rwanda is virulently anti-homosexual. Its previous Archbishop Emmanuel Musaba Kolini likened homosexuality to “moral genocide” and his successor Most Rev. Onesphore Rwaje has vowed to carry on his predecessor’s policies.
The Kansas City-based alternative newsweekly The Pitch reports that Kobach continues to visit Africa, working as a missionary with Christ Church in Overland Park. Kobach told the Pitch that he distributes bibles to “people who live in huts, who have no written material whatsoever” and used his university experience to teach men “Christian and universal values.”
In a speech before the Christian Heritage, Kobach himself blasted gay marriage, stating “the institution of marriage is under assault.” Kobach worries about the “normalization” of homosexuality, compares efforts to legalize gay marriage to a frog in boiling water, and advocated for a constitutional amendment to ban it.
Though Kobach’s religious affiliation doesn’t necessarily imply that he is a bigot or a homophobe, it’s probably not the smartest thing to point to when he’s trying to argue that he’s not. Lebo writes, “If Kobach wants to use his faith to argue that the legislation he has been promoting is not rooted in bigotry, perhaps he should choose a church that better embraces a more convincing message of tolerance.”
Finally, Kobach’s “Christian values” don’t account for his crusade against undocumented immigrants and his commitment to making life as miserable as possible for them.