God (doesn’t) love Uganda

I remember hearing about David Kato being murdered in 2011 and feeling nothing but sadness about his death. There’s still confusion about the motive behind the slaying. Some officials say it was a robbery gone wrong. Other officials say it was because Kato refused to pay a prostitute for sex. Still, many believe Kato was murdered because he was a gay activist in a country that tends to murder gay activists (Uganda even tried to pass a bill in 2013 that would have made homosexuality a crime punishable by death. Luckily — or not luckily — the bill was amended, and the death provision was replaced by life in prison). Whatever the reason behind Kato’s murder, he has since become the face of the secular movement in Uganda.

I watched a documentary the other day titled God Loves Uganda. Methodologically, it is my favorite kind of documentary. That is, instead of being filled with Michael Moore-ian commentary, the filmmakers allowed everyone to speak for themselves. Evangelical Christians, pro-LGBT Christians, and everyone else are given the opportunity to speak without a narrator analyzing the material. Of course, I think the directors gave preferential treatment to ministerial Christians in Uganda, but then again, that makes the documentary more powerful. The more they speak, the more they give us to scrutinize.

The film follows a group of Christian missionaries from the International House of Prayer in the US as they embark on a mission to spread Christianity in Uganda. We hear tales of their experiences with Christianity, even seeing many writhing on church floors as they experience god firsthand. We hear candid interviews about why they come to Uganda, with direct biblical quotes that make it every Christian’s mission to spread the word of Christ. But we also hear from gay rights activists and others who paint Christianity in a grim light. That is, they explain how the spread of Christianity has created a hostile environment for the LGBT community, an environment that was ripe for murder and other human rights abuses.

The more you listen to the Christian missionaries, the more angry you become. They don’t have any clue about the damages they are inflicting upon the Ugandan people. There’s even a scene where a young Christian married couple is asked what they think about the proposed bill that would give the death penalty to people convicted of homosexuality. The man laughs and evades the question by stating that he doesn’t know anything about the bill, but Christianity is opposed to homosexuality. In a court of law, this man might be classified as a hostile witness.

The evangelical Christians in the film show us that many Christians are more concerned with spreading Christianity than they are with living up to the teachings of Christ. The Jesus in the bible would’ve never condoned the way that the LGBT community is treated in Uganda (or anywhere else in the world). Instead of trying to live by Jesus’ standards and creating an environment of peace and inclusivity, these Christians merely want to push their beliefs on others, even if those beliefs lead to hatred and murder.

God Loves Uganda is well worth watching, even if it leaves a bitter taste in your mouth.

About Rayan Zehn

I'm a political scientist.
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