Analysing The Political Economy

American Christians Spending Millions To Push Religious Conservatism In The UK

Humanists UK has raised alarms over the growing influence of ‘dark money’ and other funding from American Christian sources in UK politics, particularly influencing debates on abortion, LGBT rights, assisted dying, and faith schools. 

Following the overturning of Roe v Wade in the United States, the shift of American capital for Christian fundamentalist campaigning to the United Kingdom is intended to import the highly divisive and polarising political tactics of the American religious right into UK political discourse.

Due to the US laws governing not-for-profit organisations, American donors can send millions anonymously to outfits which can then spend this money internationally in their own names. Due to the lack of transparency, it is difficult or impossible to challenge their influence or hold political actors accountable. In 2020, openDemocracy reported that a variety of American evangelical groups had spent over $280 million on European advocacy. Their total spending is understood to have increased considerably since.

More recent investigations have highlighted the activities of the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a US-based Christian advocacy group, which has doubled its spending in the UK to focus more on undermining abortion rights.

In November, Humanists UK reported on an unprecedented ‘triple assault’ on abortion rights in Parliament. In a Lords debate on one of these bills, Baroness Kennedy linked the uptick in anti-abortion activism in the UK since Roe v Wade to the influence of foreign dark money. She commented:


It is quite clear that the purpose of the Bill is to seek to roll back advances that have been made in relation to abortion, and to try to reduce the time limits we currently have…

‘We are seeing, I am afraid, an effort to weaponise the issue of abortion and women’s freedom in order to create divisions in our society.’


At the weekend, the Observer reported that Fiona Bruce MP, the UK’s Prime Minister’s Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief had some of her expenses covered by the ADF. She also spoke at an ADF event in March focused on ‘religious freedom’, a phrase which is different from the standard human rights wording of ‘freedom of religion or belief’ and is being increasingly twisted in modern political discourse to undermine the human rights of children, of women, especially in relation to their reproductive freedom, and of LGBT people.

Commenting in the Observer, Humanists UK Chief Executive Andrew Copson said:

The Christian nationalist movement is increasingly investing in the UK on a number of fronts, and all supporters of freedom and choice should take seriously the threat to human rights that this represents.’


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