Loving Uganda to Death: The Global Reach of Far-Right Christian Hatred

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While conservative evangelical and Catholic leaders complain loudly about the “persecution” they suffer in the United States, the culture wars they are igniting and supporting around the world subject LGBT people and their allies to very real persecution.

The role that American religious right leaders have played in fomenting anti-gay bigotry in Uganda has been well-documented, but never before with the emotional punch delivered by God Loves Uganda, a new documentary by Academy Award-winning director Roger Ross Williams that premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

“I love Uganda,” says Kapya Koama in the film’s opening words. But, “something frightening is happening that has the potential to destroy Uganda.”

Filmmaker Williams was given remarkable access to leaders and missionaries affiliated with the International House of Prayer (IHOP) movement based in Kansas City, and he makes the most of it. Dominionist Lou Engle describes Africa as a “firepot of spiritual renewal and revival,” and be believes Uganda has a special prophetic destiny. Engle has tried to distance himself somewhat from the infamous “kill the gays” bill that is pending in Uganda’s legislature, but here he is on film, at his TheCall rally in Uganda, standing with speakers calling for passage of the bill.

Engle tells the crowd he was “called” to encourage the Ugandan church for taking a stand for righteousness in the face of pressure from the United Nations and non-governmental aid organizations. Uganda, he says, is “ground zero.” The film also includes footage of Engle’s pro-Prop. 8 rally in California at which he warned that allowing same-sex couples to get married would unleash “sexual insanity” and a spirit “more demonic than Islam.

Written By: Peter Montgomery
continue to source article at religiondispatches.org

23 COMMENTS

  1. It’s not just the fundies from the US; virtually every other TV channel in Uganda is a “God TV” channel. Some of them are wall-to-wall god-stuff (often imported from Nigeria, oddly enough)!

    You can’t take a taxi (mini van) without seeing some quote from the Bible scrolled across its side.

    Some of the biggest and newest buildings in the capital are mega-churches, which seem to grow faster than weeds.

    School play grounds and walls, from pre-school to college, have verses of scripture graffitied all over them — and these are “regular” schools, not to mention the fundie types. In fact, the government seems to have out-sourced, nay abdicated, education to religious schools!

    Politicians of all persuasions not only pay lip-service to the religious; they know that they cannot win without the votes of the religious, who tend to be some of the best grassroots organizers.

    To say Uganda is drowning under a religious tsunami is an understatement.

    Often bankrolled by American fundies and supported by local pastors and believers (who happily donate their hard-to-find cash in the church basket), the church is one of only a few games in town — the others being high unemployment and poverty.

    With a barely functioning and wholly corrupt government, the church has stepped in where the government has failed and NGOs cannot suffice: educator, motivator, cajoler, moralizer, and scapegoater-in-chief — the latter is where the LGBT community gets it in the neck.

    And I haven’t even started with what the Muslims are up to…

    • In reply to #2 by RDfan:

      It’s not just the fundies from the US; virtually every other TV channel in Uganda is a “God TV” channel. Some of them are wall-to-wall god-stuff (often imported from Nigeria, oddly enough)!

      You can’t take a taxi (mini van) without seeing some quote from the Bible scrolled across its side.

      Some of the biggest and newest buildings in the capital are mega-churches, which seem to grow faster than weeds.

      School play grounds and walls, from pre-school to college, have verses of scripture graffitied all over them — and these are “regular” schools, not to mention the fundie types. In fact, the government seems to have out-sourced, nay abdicated, education to religious schools!

      Politicians of all persuasions not only pay lip-service to the religious; they know that they cannot win without the votes of the religious, who tend to be some of the best grassroots organizers.

      To say Uganda is drowning under a religious tsunami is an understatement.

      Thanks for your detailed comment, RDfan. I have posted much of it along with the article on my Facebook page. I hope you don’t mind.

  2. I was listening to ‘World Have Your Say’ on the BBC World Service yesterday, broadcast from Makerere Uni. in Kampala…..it was about the old canard of whether science and religion can co-exist…..virtually of all the comments were from evangelical sounding types (applauded), with a couple of lone voices pointing out what a crock of shit religion is (unapplauded) and one brave man specifically referenced these kind of lunatic firebrands coming in to destabilise their society……depressing.

  3. Sort of makes one wish the Tea Party movement had fielded a charismatic candidate in last year’s general election. Someone who would have challenged and beaten Obama.

    GLBT people in the U.S. might have been denied full marriage rights for a couple more years, but few of them would have had cause to fear for their lives.

    Such a victory would have empowered the Christian right in America. Missionaries in Africa spreading Jesus’s timeless message of hatred of homosexuals would’ve become suddenly homesick; and the “aid from U.S. evangelicals [which] increased threefold when they started attacking homosexuality” would have dried up in an instant when these donors realised that the money they put aside for persecuting gays could be spent on denying rights to homegrown red white and blue faggots, rather than on African fags who they’d probably never even get to meet anyway.

    It’s always the way with charity: is the money you’re sending overseas going to help victimise an actual gay; or are the photographs and letters you receive from the one you’re sponsoring begging you to stop funding his torturers just made up?

    • If the Tea Party had fielded such a candidate and won, the problem of the American Religious Right (surely an oxymoron) and the propaganda campaign in Uganda and other parts of Africa would now be much worse.

      But don’t worry, it doesn’t matter how charismatic the Tea Party candidate is, its the message that the American voters have rejected twice already that will continue to keep them out. The Tea Party is too fanatical, and formed of too many special interest groups to create a coherent platform. Any potential candidate who can appeal to all of them will by their nature be a compromise (and will have the charisma of a damp rag).

      The Republican Party without the Tea Party’s current influence was capable of winning elections, but the Tea Party is too fundamentally opposed to too many of the things that ordinary Americans want or believe to be a benefit to the Republicans. The Tea Party isn’t the solution to the problem, its the cause.

      In reply to #4 by Katy Cordeth:

      Sort of makes one wish the Tea Party movement had fielded a charismatic candidate in last year’s general election. Someone who would have challenged and beaten Obama.

      GLBT people in the U.S. might have been denied full marriage rights for a couple more years, but few of them would have had cause to fear for their lives.

      Such a victory would have empowered the Christian right in America. Missionaries in Africa spreading Jesus’s timeless message of hatred of homosexuals would’ve become suddenly homesick; and the “aid from U.S. evangelicals [which] increased threefold when they started attacking homosexuality” would have dried up in an instant when these donors realised that the money they put aside for persecuting gays could be spent on denying rights to homegrown red white and blue faggots, rather than on African fags who they’d probably never even get to meet anyway.

      It’s always the way with charity: is the money you’re sending overseas going to help victimise an actual gay; or are the photographs and letters you receive from the one you’re sponsoring begging you to stop funding his torturers just made up?

  4. These backward, fundamentally superstitious, people of the Third World and particularly Africa – are ripe victims for swallowing all manner of religious hocus pocus humbug. The continent has not a hope in hell.

    • In reply to #6 by Graham1:

      These backward, fundamentally superstitious, people of the Third World and particularly Africa – are ripe victims for swallowing all manner of religious hocus pocus humbug. The continent has not a hope in hell.

      Calm down, Graham1. Some of us here are Ugandan. There is hope, yet.

      @justinesaracen; sure; go for it!

    • In reply to #6 by Graham1:

      These backward, fundamentally superstitious, people of the Third World and particularly Africa – are ripe victims for swallowing all manner of religious hocus pocus humbug. The continent has not a hope in hell.

      What a load of nonsense.

    • In reply to #6 by Graham1:

      These backward, fundamentally superstitious, people of the Third World and particularly Africa – are ripe victims for swallowing all manner of religious hocus pocus humbug. The continent has not a hope in hell.

      Luckily they won’t be going to hell because they’re so religious and non-gay. :-)

    • In reply to #6 by Graham1:

      These backward, fundamentally superstitious, people of the Third World and particularly Africa – are ripe victims for swallowing all manner of religious hocus pocus humbug. The continent has not a hope in hell.

      Although this isn’t a politically correct statement, I think we all understand what you mean by this, though you’ve garnered plenty of criticism for so doing. My interpretation of your comment is that , though lack of education and exposure to scientific ideas , a large proportion of the populace is at the mercy of superstitious thinking. This leaves the people ( who I might add , are every bit as intelligent as their counterparts in the industrialized countries ) in the unenviable position of being influenced by western missionary types. As long as any backward thinking, such as this, dominates the political/cultural scene, the people are easy prey.

  5. These backward, fundamentally superstitious, people of the Third World and particularly Africa – are ripe victims for swallowing all manner of religious hocus pocus humbug. The continent has not a hope in hell.

    “Backward”??

    I have quite good knowledge of a local Bantu language from eastern Uganda, and I can say that its grammar is more complex than English. So from a linguistic point of view I find it hard to judge that these people are ‘backward’. The Ugandans I know (and I have been to Uganda three times) are multi-lingual, and have to fashion a standard of living in often difficult economic and environmental circumstances. Many Africans display great ingenuity in finding a way to survive, and they put the spoilt and grumbling “slob class” of the western world to shame.

    As for ‘superstition’: well, that sounds to me like you are just trying to score a point against what is vaguely known as ‘religion’. That is a philosophical issue, and perhaps tells us more about you and your own confirmation bias than about the thinking of African people.

    I really think you need to learn more about Africa before coming out with these rash statements.

    • On my part, I don’t want to be condescending or ill-spirited towards the people who come from Africa (or anywhere else, for that matter), and I sincerely hope I’m not. Given the corruption, killings, prejudice, political instability, and high crime rates of many African countries, though, it’s hard to compare them with European, Australasian, or North American countries and think that they come off favourably in terms of the welfare of their citizenry. Given these serious concerns, the complexity of their language seems beside the point.

      As for superstition, dismissing it as a philosophical point says nothing about the harm it’s causing, and the plain fact of the matter is that homophobic crimes in Africa are being perpetuated because of religious attitudes towards homosexuals. Certainly, there are similar crimes committed in Western nations, but nowhere near as frequently or overtly.

      In reply to #9 by inoma_ilala:

      These backward, fundamentally superstitious, people of the Third World and particularly Africa – are ripe victims for swallowing all manner of religious hocus pocus humbug. The continent has not a hope in hell.

      “Backward”??

      I have quite good knowledge of a local Bantu language from eastern Uganda, and I can say that its grammar is more complex than English. So from a linguistic point of view I find it hard to judge that these people are ‘backward’. The Ugandans I know (and I have been to Uganda three times) are multi-lingual, and have to fashion a standard of living in often difficult economic and environmental circumstances. Many Africans display great ingenuity in finding a way to survive, and they put the spoilt and grumbling “slob class” of the western world to shame.

      As for ‘superstition’: well, that sounds to me like you are just trying to score a point against what is vaguely known as ‘religion’. That is a philosophical issue, and perhaps tells us more about you and your own confirmation bias than about the thinking of African people.

      I really think you need to learn more about Africa before coming out with these rash statements.

  6. @OP – The film also includes footage of Engle’s pro-Prop. 8 rally in California at which he warned that allowing same-sex couples to get married would unleash “sexual insanity” and a spirit “more demonic than Islam”.

    I know fundamentalist Islam, is a hard act for the evangies to follow, but he and they, are working at it!
    Those psychological projections through the insanity of theist fundie-blinkers really do paint a very backside-first picture!

  7. inoma_ilala, yes have a dig at we “western” types if you want. I’m quite sure the Africans in the slums of Kampala are better equipped to survive than I am in their environment. Did it ever occur to you that the church is one of the ways of keeping those Africans in exactly that environment. One of poverty, ignorance, disease and a desire for “something better”. Hail Hail Jesus is Lord !

    IMO, anyone who believes in superstition is “backward”.

  8. Zeuglodon:

    Given the corruption, killings, prejudice, political instability, and high crime rates of many African countries, though, it’s hard to compare them with European, Australasian, or North American countries and think that they come off favourably in terms of the welfare of their citizenry. Given these serious concerns, the complexity of their language seems beside the point.

    As for superstition, dismissing it as a philosophical point says nothing about the harm it’s causing, and the plain fact of the matter is that homophobic crimes in Africa are being perpetuated because of religious attitudes towards homosexuals. Certainly, there are similar crimes committed in Western nations, but nowhere near as frequently or overtly.

    But my response was to the extraordinarily simplistic claim that Africans are ‘backward’, which implies that there is something inherently intellectually inferior about these people. I did not suggest that they were not morally responsible, and therefore intelligent people can make wrong choices in terms of governance.

    I certainly believe that certain forms of what is generally regarded (in the West at least) as ‘superstition’ is incredibly harmful. However, given the general tenor and purpose of this site, I assume that all viewpoints that do not conform to the philosophy of naturalism are regarded by most contributors here as ‘superstition’. This is a highly tendentious philosophical judgment, and it is certainly not at all true that, for example, Christianity has been the bane of Africa, given the long history of support in terms of health and education that Christians have rendered to the continent. No amount of criticism of the various mistakes that may have been made in the health and education systems can nullify the real benefits, and to suggest that such help can be airily dismissed, is a case of confirmation bias, and not rigorous and honest analysis.

    • In reply to #18 by inoma_ilala:

      Zeuglodon:

      Given the corruption, killings, prejudice, political instability, and high crime rates of many African countries, though, it’s hard to compare them with European, Australasian, or North American countries and think that they come off favourably in terms of the welfare of their citizenry. Given these serious concerns, the complexity of their language seems beside the point.

      As for superstition, dismissing it as a philosophical point says nothing about the harm it’s causing, and the plain fact of the matter is that homophobic crimes in Africa are being perpetuated because of religious attitudes towards homosexuals. Certainly, there are similar crimes committed in Western nations, but nowhere near as frequently or overtly.

      But my response was to the extraordinarily simplistic claim that Africans are ‘backward’, which implies that there is something inherently intellectually inferior about these people. I did not suggest that they were not morally responsible, and therefore intelligent people can make wrong choices in terms of governance.

      I certainly believe that certain forms of what is generally regarded (in the West at least) as ‘superstition’ is incredibly harmful. However, given the general tenor and purpose of this site, I assume that all viewpoints that do not conform to the philosophy of naturalism are regarded by most contributors here as ‘superstition’. This is a highly tendentious philosophical judgment, and it is certainly not at all true that, for example, Christianity has been the bane of Africa, given the long history of support in terms of health and education that Christians have rendered to the continent. No amount of criticism of the various mistakes that may have been made in the health and education systems can nullify the real benefits, and to suggest that such help can be airily dismissed, is a case of confirmation bias, and not rigorous and honest analysis.

      Correct, Africans are no more backward nor superstitious than any bible (t)humping American, Scientologer, communion wafer chomping Catholic, holy underwear wearing Mormon. However, I would urge you to try not to conflate the undeniable good done by Christian’s (when they’re not criminally sabotaging the fight against AIDS by demonizing condoms and teaching their Jesus as the true and only saviour) support of health and education with the truth of their religious beliefs.

      What you call the viewpoint of philosophy of naturalism with which we’ll charitably assume you mean Science -it would otherwise be an entirely meaningless term- is not a viewpoint nor is it a philosophy. It is fact. People who pretend otherwise really shouldn’t be typing out their comments on an acrylonitrile butadiene styrene keyboard from behind an HD LCD screen but rather inscribing them on a clay tablet in cuneiform.

    • In reply to #18 by inoma_ilala:

      But my response was to the extraordinarily simplistic claim that Africans are ‘backward’, which implies that there is something inherently intellectually inferior about these people. I did not suggest that they were not morally responsible, and therefore intelligent people can make wrong choices in terms of governance.

      In which case, I’m agreeing with you.

      I certainly believe that certain forms of what is generally regarded (in the West at least) as ‘superstition’ is incredibly harmful. However, given the general tenor and purpose of this site, I assume that all viewpoints that do not conform to the philosophy of naturalism are regarded by most contributors here as ‘superstition’. This is a highly tendentious philosophical judgment

      Why is it tendentious? Superstition is a set of beliefs in causes and agency, none of which have been verified but nearly all of which are believed for reasons other than their truthfulness (e.g. on ethical, emotional, and pragmatic grounds). The reasonable assumption is not just that naturalism is true, but that people define supernatural things or superstitions in such a way that they either turn out to be insufficiently analysed natural phenomena or are utterly baseless. It’s not a philosophical judgement; it’s a rational one.

      and it is certainly not at all true that, for example, Christianity has been the bane of Africa, given the long history of support in terms of health and education that Christians have rendered to the continent.

      The trouble with this statement is that the word “Christians” could mean anything from a “Cultural Christian” who likes to think of themselves as a good person, to a full-blooded fundamentalist who takes the bible as literal fact. Many people who claim to be Christian often act despite what their religious beliefs are actually telling them to do. In any case, most of Africa’s problems were caused by Christians and other religions in the first place – and as Christopher Hitchens points out, the more damaging believers usually turn out to be the most devout. In short, the Christian teaching young African kids to read and write is more likely to diverge from their own religion.

      No amount of criticism of the various mistakes that may have been made in the health and education systems can nullify the real benefits, and to suggest that such help can be airily dismissed, is a case of confirmation bias, and not rigorous and honest analysis.

      But then you’re guilty of hypocrisy here, because you claim that “no amount of criticism… can nullify the real benefits.” What is this but an admittance of confirmation bias in favour of religion?

      Just consider what you’re arguing against here. Would you change your mind if you discovered that African kids were being solemnly taught that condoms are evil and that gays are hellspawn who deserve to be stoned? Would you change your mind if you knew of the heavy role Christianity played in delaying the abolition of slavery a couple of centuries ago, and of belittling and stratifying women for millennia, and of subverting perfectly sensible safe-sex measures like contraception? Would you change your mind if you knew that every Christian trying to look after the disenfranchised of the North African countries were also using it as an excuse to propagate their faith uncontested? Would you even change your mind if you knew that several innocent women and men in Africa were being killed for the “crime” of “witchcraft”, non-religious views were being repressed, and that money was being drained from Africa to fund megachurches when it should be going to improving the natives’ living conditions?

      If you insist on stressing the good religion can do, note that there are two answers:

      1. Religion is often utterly irrelevant. People can be good in spite of their religion, just as scientists can claim to be religious but end up indulging in double standards and compartmentalizing their views.

      2. Religion directly makes demands for things which are unethical, and dresses these up as ethical demands by using superstition to make it fit. In these cases, is it any surprise that many of the atrocities committed in Africa were caused by deeply religious people fuelled by a moralistic and utopian vision?

  9. Christianity, either fundamental Christianity or any other form of Christianity, is never Conservative and certainly never Right wing nor Far Right wing but on the contrary very much far Left wing ideologically.

    The vast majority of Christians may well vote Conservative, which could be a representation of their identification with limited government and fiscal responsibility, but probably has much more to do with their identification of freedom of religion.

    However while most Christians may embrace limited, fiscally conservative governments, they also undermine this position by also promoting government social interference, specifically far left wing christian interference.

    So while fanatical Christians may well be right wing fiscally, they are left wing socially, which is to say, socially they are far Left wing, while fiscally they lean to the Right.

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