International Investigation Examines U.S. Evangelicals’ Role in Rising Clout of Latin America’s Religious Right

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and U.S.-based evangelical leader Mario Bramnick (Image detail from Bramnick Facebook photo used by the Latin American Center for Investigative Journalism)

An international collaboration between the Columbia University Journalism School, the Latin American Center for Investigative Journalism, and reporters at 15 media outlets from across the Americas led to the publication this week of a series of stories examining the increasing political clout of the Religious Right in Latin America and the role of U.S. evangelical leaders in pushing leaders to adopt policies that align with a right-wing interpretation of the Bible.

Among the topics covered in the stories published this week are the activities of Capitol Ministries and its leader Ralph Drollinger, whose global expansion and launch of ministries in Honduras and Nicaragua have been covered by Right Wing Watch. Drollinger is committed to evangelizing public officials to his “very conservative” brand of Christianity and “discipling” them to his biblical worldview and the right-wing public policies he believes it calls for.

Among the outlets participating in the project is Univision, the largest provider of Spanish-language content in the United States. Giannina Segnini, director of the data journalism degree at Columbia Journalism School, and Mónica Cordero begin their Univision story at the White House in June 2018, where Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo encouraged Honduras’ President Juan Orlando Hernández to let Drollinger set up a Bible study for Honduran government officials similar to those he runs for members of President Donald Trump’s cabinet and the U.S. Congress.

The journalists note that other Religious Right leaders, such as Mario Bramnick, successfully prompted Hernández to announce that Honduras would move its embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing the ancient city as the capital of Israel—work that Bramnick has also done in Brazil and Guatemala. According to the story, Guatemala’s President Jimmy Morales saw the embassy move as a way to get the U.S. to back him when he expelled representatives of a United Nations anti-corruption body, the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, from the country.

In the coming days, Right Wing Watch will continue to report on the findings of the more than one dozen stories published as part of this international collaborative.