Crowdfunding Hate in the Name of Christ

W.When I ask Heather Wilson and Jacob Wells, the founders of GiveSendGo, the # 1 Free Christian Crowdfunding Site, if they’d be running a fundraiser for the Ku Klux Klan, the call is cut off for a few seconds.

“Some of these campaigns are situational,” Wells finally offered.

“It would depend on what they are raising money for,” Wilson said.

The couple are siblings in their forties, just two in a family of 12 children who grew up in Salem, New Hampshire. Together with her sister Emmalie, they founded GiveSendGo in 2014 because “Gofundme took a stand against Christians in a blog post from 2017 and put down campaigns with which they did not agree. “Wells said the idea was not just to run a profitable business, but to create a community where both givers and recipients could be inspired by the hope of Jesus. On the website’s clear, free interface, the “Share Now” button is complemented by the “Pray Now” button, with which users can offer their devotions with one click.

On GiveSendGo, where “God’s Most Precious Currency is God’s Love,” Kyle Rittenhouse, the alleged murderer of two Black Lives Matter protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, earned nearly $ 600,000 to pay his legal fees. A few months later, a side raised more than $ 113,000 in high-capacity magazines for Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio after his arrest on his way to Washington, DC, two days before the Capitol uprising.

“Money, money greases the wheels for anything you want to do,” Wells told me.

There are few crowdfunding sites specifically geared towards Christians, and GiveSendGo is the top platform that pops up when you google “Christian crowdfunding”. Others, targeting the same audience, like WayGiver and InHisSteps, are smaller and aimed more at ministries and churches than individuals. In comparison, GiveSendGo’s vision is far-reaching. A map on the home page shows fundraiser locations around the world, pinpoints the locations with cartoonish bursts of fire, and encourages you to “add your flame”.

At the same time, GiveSendGo offers a safe haven for right-wing extremists who have long struggled to find a stable place to raise money. GoFundMe, Patreon, Kickstarter and other websites sporadically block individual right-wing extremist figures. Tech companies completed many anti-fascist fundraisers following the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017. In response, far-right groups set up alternative crowdfunding platforms and created websites such as Hatreon and GoyFundMe. (“Goy” is a Hebrew word for “Gentile” that was used as a frequent self-descriptor among the angrier anti-Semitic factions on the far right.) The websites were poor and short-lived, and were quickly banned by payment processors and credit card providers. But on GiveSendGo, hate groups can thrive amid fundraisers for homeless nuns, a church that provides tube socks for the unhoused, or for infants with spinal cord injuries. Any backlash from payment companies runs the risk of arousing the wrath of a complaint-drunk right-wing media ecosystem that seeks to spot traces of anti-Christian prejudice.

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