A global network of ultraconservative groups is working to undermine democracy and human rights, particularly in the EU and Eastern countries like Georgia. These groups, backed by wealthy financiers from the US, Europe, and Russia, have connections with politicians like Viktor Orbán, Donald Trump, and Jaroslaw Kaczyński. They focus on issues such as sexual and reproductive health, LGBTQ rights, gender definition, children’s rights, and religious freedom.
The violence in Tbilisi, Georgia, which targeted the LGBTQ community and led to dozens of injuries, is a stark example of the influence of these international ultraconservative networks. The 2016 Tbilisi-hosted World Congress of Families event connected Georgian religious conservatives with leading Russian and US advocates. The anti-gender movement has successfully changed political discourse and rolled back liberal momentum in some Eastern European countries.
Far-right groups in Georgia have not targeted the Istanbul Convention, focusing on LGBTQ rights instead, with the support of the Georgian Orthodox Church. The Georgian government has not prosecuted any organizers of the 2021 violence against the LGBTQ community.
Right-wing extremism often exploits religion, with groups like the “Soldiers of Odin,” “Phineas Priests,” and “Holy Warriors” using Christianity and other religions to justify violence. White supremacists, sovereign citizens, militia extremists, and violent anti-abortionists use religious concepts and scripture to justify criminal activity and violence.
Racist religious movements, such as Christian Identity and Nordic mythology, play a role in the radicalization of right-wing extremists. Militia extremists may be motivated by apocalyptic biblical prophecies, leading to stockpiling of food, ammunition, and weapons. Sovereign citizen extremists believe their doctrine is inspired and sanctioned by God.
Violent anti-abortion extremists use Christian religious beliefs and biblical scripture to justify their actions, aiming to rid the country of abortion practices. The Army of God (AOG) views its members as soldiers in God’s Army and uses religious symbolism in its name and logo.
The exploitation of religious concepts plays a vital role in the recruitment, radicalization, and mobilization of violent right-wing extremists worldwide. It is crucial to address this intersection between religion and extremism in order to protect human rights, democracy, and the safety of marginalized communities.