The film God Loves Uganda by director Roger Ross Williams premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah and examines the role of American Christian fundamentalists in fueling anti-LGBTQ animus in Uganda. One of the results of this animus is the frequent reintroduction of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda’s parliament, a bill that includes death penalty provisions.
“God Loves Uganda pulls back the curtain on the dangerous flow of homophobia by the religious right to Uganda which threatens the very lives of LGBTI Ugandans and their families,” writes Dr. Michael Adee, the Global Faith and Justice Project Director at the Horizons Foundation and former Executive Director of More Light Presbyterians. “Those of us who are people of faith must become aware of the religious forces in our own country who are exporting a distorted form of Christianity that denies God’s creation of all persons. Those of us who believe in international human rights and civil society must understand the influence of religion, good and bad, in this country and around the world. I’m working to get as many people to see this film as possible. Together we can share the truth about God’s creation and support the human dignity of LGBTI persons all around the world.”
Peter Montgomery reviewed God Loves Uganda at Religion Dispatches. He writes that, “Getting American evangelicals to consider the impact of their words and deeds is a major goal for director Williams. Williams says he is encouraged by the kinds of conversations that God Loves Uganda is provoking…He believes that seeing and hearing these stories can change people’s hearts.”
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…
It’s clear that much of the power American culture warriors have in Uganda comes from the money their ministries pour into the country along with their missionaries. At the massive Miracle Center Cathedral, the biggest megachurch in Uganda, the high-living pastor is quite frank that “American money helped us build this church,” adding, “whatever you see here is the fruit of American labor.” In another clip, a pastor marvels that aid from U.S. evangelicals increased threefold when they started attacking homosexuality. Churches’ financial success brings added clout to anti-gay pastors like Martin Ssempa—who drives his congregation into a frenzy by showing explicit and extreme gay pornography—and the politicians allied with them, like David Bahati, the sponsor of the kill-the-gays bill…
One loving religious voice in the film belongs to Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, whose public support for LGBT people cost him his position in the Church of Uganda. Ugandan gay rights activist David Kato was murdered while the film was being made; at Kato’s funeral, when the presiding pastor began denouncing homosexuality and causing a commotion, Senyonjo went to Kato’s graveside with the activist’s friends and assured them that God knew and loved David, and knows and loves them.
Read the full review at Religious Dispatches.
See the Film Yourself