Anti-LGBTQ organizations and religious entities have pocketed millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded relief funds intended to help support small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Analysis of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) shows payments totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars — and even into the millions of dollars — for anti-LGBTQ hate groups and at least $1,4 billion for the Roman Catholic Church.
The payments were intended to “provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll,” with the loans forgiven if employers used the funds to keep employees on payroll.
But data released by the Trump administration — which initially tried to withhold information on recipients who received more than $150,000 — shows anti-LGBTQ churches and faith-based organizations receiving taxpayer-funded relief, the Associated Press reports.
The notoriously anti-LGBTQ American Family Association, which regularly decries LGBTQ-supportive businesses and includes the anti-gay outrage group One Million Moms, received a loan worth up to $2 million. (The list does not provide exact amounts, but rather ranges of values.)
Televangelist Robert Jeffress, who sits on Donald Trump’s Evangelical Advisory Board, received a loan of between $2 million and $5 million for his Dallas-based megachurch, LGBTQ Nation reports.
Earlier this year, Jeffress called same-sex marriages “counterfeit,” has described gay people as “filthy” and “miserable,” and once told a lesbian teen who was considering suicide to undergo conversion therapy.
Another organization to receive funding is Liberty Counsel, headed by anti-LGBTQ Matt Staver, which provides legal counsel and support to anti-LGBTQ individuals and lawsuits, and challenges pro-LGBTQ legislation.
The group, which once claimed that the Q in LGBTQ referred to pedophiles, was approved for a loan worth up to $1 million.
Perhaps the biggest beneficiary was the Catholic Church, which continues to reject LGBTQ identities and families, receiving at least 3,500 loans totaling at least $1.4 billion and possibly up to $3.5 billion, AP found.
While most Catholics support LGBTQ equality, Church leaders are more focused on firing gay teachers, refusing to allow same-sex couples to adopt, calling Pride Month “harmful” for children, and urging people to attend church during the COVID-19 pandemic because of an “attack” on human sexuality.
The Associated Press noted that at least $200 million in loans were approved for archdioceses that have spent “hundreds of millions of dollars” paying victims of abuse or for bankruptcy proceedings as a result of sexual abuse cover-ups.
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