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America’s Dark-Money Bid for Europe’s Soul

In the run-up to next month's European Parliament elections, the bloc's leaders are focusing on preventing or neutralizing Russian interference. Unfortunately, they are turning a blind eye to another outside player that doesn’t mean well for the future of Europe.

LONDON – Russian efforts to influence European elections have received plenty of media attention. But the same cannot be said of interference by conservative Christian groups based in the United States, some with links to President Donald Trump’s administration and his former adviser, Stephen Bannon.

As a recent report by openDemocracy has found, America’s religious right spent at least $50 million on “dark money” campaigns and advocacy in Europe over the past decade. And yet, despite obvious grounds for concern about the integrity of next month’s European Parliament elections, almost all the attention has been on the Kremlin.

The US religious right’s support for campaigns against legal abortion, LGBT rights, sex education, and other causes in Africa and Latin America has been well documented over the years. But the scale of its engagement in Europe is new. In the first analysis of its kind, openDemocracy examined the financial records of leading US Christian organizations and found that several have been increasing their spending in Europe significantly.

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