We are deeply concerned that Invisible Children (IC), the non-profit made famous by its recent KONY 2012 viral video, shares profound ties with The Family (aka The Fellowship), the secretive fundamentalist organization widely believed to be behind Uganda’s infamous ‘Kill the Gays’ bill, which if passed would harshly punish LGBT people for the “crime” of homosexuality.
An exhaustive report released today by researcher Bruce Wilson reveals alarming social and professional associations between the two groups. This includes a network of elite evangelical indoctrination centers in Uganda, which groom Christian youth for future leadership roles in the country. The new report comes at a critical time, one day before Invisible Children releases its much-anticipated video sequel to KONY 2012.
Invisible Children has portrayed itself as a group of idealists, but this new evidence suggests that they may be ideologues who are engaging in stealth evangelism. Their profound ties to a notorious group like The Family raise alarming questions about the group’s genuine motives, actual goals, and real intentions.
The Family/Fellowship is a secretive U.S.-based brotherhood of international political and business leaders. Founded in 1935, its growing political clout was brought to widespread public notice with a 2002 Los Angeles Times report by Lisa Getter, then exposed in subsequent articles and two books by journalist Jeff Sharlet: The Family and C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy.
At least two of Invisible Children’s programs have involved collaboration with The Fellowship and its members. By 2007, Invisible Children was described by both Fellowship and Invisible Children staffers as having partially merged its developing school and mentoring programs in Uganda with The Fellowship’s Ugandan educational and leadership training system, which works to raise up a cadre of elite Jesus-centered leaders who will transform their nation along “Biblical” lines – with one apparent objective being the categorical elimination of homosexuality.
The stated philosophy of Invisible Children’s Ugandan educational programs closely mirrors the stated philosophy behind The Fellowship’s Cornerstone Leadership academies. Neither program seeks to maximize educational opportunities for large numbers of Ugandans. Rather, both programs foster small numbers of exceptionally talented students selected from at-risk populations; both programs also state explicitly that their goal is to raise up a generation of Ugandan leaders who will transform their nation.
Toward that end, both programs employ mentors who are paired with individual students and provide a crucial quasi-parental support system. Further, both mentoring programs have been supervised by Ugandan Fellowship member Paul Lukwiya, now Education Director for The Fellowship’s Ugandan leadership training schools.
In Spring 2007 – little more than a year and a half after the Invisible Children nonprofit was launched – Paul Lukwiya is reported to have traveled with IC members to the United States, where he spoke before an April 28, 2007 Invisible Children Seattle rally.
“Invisible Children’s connection to The Fellowship’s network provides an explanation of IC’s early access to internationally powerful politicians; less than a year after the nonprofit was launched in 2005, Invisible Children had already gained political backing, from U.S. Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) and Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni, both important Fellowship members,” according to Wilson’s research.
Jason Russell (pictured above) and other top Invisible Children leaders also work with Raan and Shea Parton, the co-founders of Apolis Global, a California for-profit boutique-clothing brand. The Apolis Global co-founders are alumni of The Fellowship’s Africa Youth Leadership Forum.
Given the incestuous ties, it is sometimes difficult to tell where Invisible Children ends and The Family begins. What is vexing is that both groups rightfully despise the murderous actions of Joseph Kony, but appear to be comfortably in the pocket of Uganda’s oppressive fundamentalist Christian dictator Yoweri Museveni. If these groups truly stand for freedom and liberty, it is difficult to understand their cozy relationship with the Ugandan strong man.
To connect the dots linking The Family and Invisible Children, please read Wilson’s report in its entirety.