The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, an anti-LGBT activist group, announced a merger with CONELA, its counterpart in Latin America. Together the new organization will now reach out to a combined 527,000 churches throughout the hemisphere. US evangelical activists see the merger as an opportunity to bring their anti-gay and anti-women messages which polls in the US show are decreasing in popularity to other audiences.
Matt Barber, a spokesperson for the Liberty Council who has made anti-gay statements in the past, has said the following about the merger: "And so NHCLC," Barber said, "is really putting up a firewall to protect Latin America from, unfortunately, this cancerous invasion of immorality and [this] exporting [of] radical homosexual activism and radical pro-abortion activism, ultimately a culture of death."
As reported in the past, already groups have been holding meetings and events in Mexico and Peru to spread discredited ideas about harmful conversion therapies that are increasingly being banned in the US.
Recently, Newsweek online shared information about changing attitudes amongst religious Latinos.
Esther Baruja, soon to graduate with a master's degree in theology, recounts her story about how she reconciled her love for another woman with her spiritual beliefs. She says "For me it was important that the Bible be a part of my life as it had always been, so I looked for hope in the Bible. Thanks to God I found other perspectives, other points of view. What I found there was not new. It's what had always been there, that God loves all of humanity regardless of race, sex, sexual orientation, gender, social status."
It will be up to LGBTQ activists in the North and South to stay informed and connected to counteract negative and hurtful interpretations of evangelical beliefs now that the two organizations have merged across borders.