I was aware of strong anti-homosexuality prejudice in Uganda from discussions with friends and some news coverage I saw on the internet. However, I was unaware of the influence of U. S. evangelical missionaries until I saw the documentary God Loves Uganda. The film’s director, Roger Ross Williams, illuminates how American missionaries in Uganda campaign to condemn homosexuality and ban condoms as part of their abstinence only education. Missionaries in the film hail from the International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Kansas City, Missouri.
They take direction from the charismatic Lou Engle, who is a prominent leader of the evangelical Christian right. Throughout the documentary, these missionaries speak candidly about their core religious beliefs without coercion or the trickery of film editing. The American pastor behind the anti-gay vitriol spread by these “well-meaning” IHOP missionaries is Scott Lively. It is important to note that Scott Lively is quite the conspiracy theorist and anything he says should be taken with a grain of salt.
He co-founded the anti-gay group Watchmen on the Walls and authored books such as The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party, 7 Steps to Recruit-Proof Your Child, and The Poisoned Stream: “Gay” Influence in Human History (Scherr). Lively has forged relationships with Ugandan religious leaders, who preach his toxic message to their congregations. Two of the biggest myths that Lively and IHOP missionaries teach in Uganda are that homosexuality is a Western import trying to recruit children and that homosexuals can choose to be heterosexual.
In Uganda, Same-sex relations have been deemed “unnatural” and laws against it have been in place forever. However, in 2009, anti-gay fervor reached new heights when the Ugandan Anti- Homosexuality Act was introduced to parliament. The bill criminalizes homosexual relations, which are punishable by life in prison or even death for serial offenders. Inspiration for the AntiHomosexuality Act directly stems from Scott Lively’s seminar titled, “Exposing the Truth Behind Homosexuality and the Homosexual Agenda”, which he presented before Ugandan
Parliament. (Lapin) In conjunction with anti-homosexual propaganda, the missionaries preach that condoms should be banned, as abstinence is the key to lowering the HIV rate. The Ugandan government supports this flawed abstinence only policy. As a result, both hetero and homo sexual relations are stigmatized and condoms are not used. Therefore, disease continues to spread and wreak havoc on Ugandan society. Race and colonialism are not explicitly mentioned in the film but they are undeniable factors.
Race has been beneficial to the missionaries. As ex-communicated, Bishop Christopher Senyonjo says of Ugandan’s relationship to the missionaries, “Because they are white, people believe them. ” Colonizing of values is certainly happening. Africa has always been a place in which colonial aspirations come to fruition. Rather than exporting a way of governing to the colonies, missionaries are exporting religious governance. In addition to building orphanages and other good works, IHOP missionaries have exacerbated the anti-gay climate in Uganda.
These people infiltrate Uganda in the name of God, demonize homosexuality as part of Biblical law, and then leave citizens to take the real law into their own hands. Consequently, LGBT people in Uganda fear for their lives. Now I must ask, is this what Jesus would want? Bibliography Lapin, Andrew. “God Loves Uganda. ” The Dissolve. The Dissolve, 9 Oct. 2013. Web. 24 Oct. 2013. Scherr, Sonia. “U. S. Anti-Gay Activists Under Fire for Role in Uganda. ” Souther Poverty Law Center. Intelligence Report, Apr. -May 2010. Web. 23 Oct. 2013.