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Gospel of Intolerance
January 23, 2013 8:47 AM   Subscribe

Gospel of Intolerance - Excerpts of "God Loves Uganda", a feature documentary directed and produced by filmmaker Roger Ross Williams is having its premiere at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. The film explains how money donated by American evangelicals directly finances the violent antigay movement in Uganda.
posted by Blazecock Pileon (50 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
See also Missionaries of Hate (Part 1/5) by Current TV's Vanguard, which is about 50 minutes total and from just over a year ago.

In a megapost previously
posted by Blasdelb at 8:55 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I honestly believe that watching this film will make me more intolerant of Evangelicals than I already am.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:59 AM on January 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


Radio Boston interview with a Springfield, MA pastor involved with anti-gay activities in Uganda.
posted by backseatpilot at 9:17 AM on January 23, 2013


"I honestly believe that watching this film will make me more intolerant of Evangelicals than I already am."

This is the crazy fringe of Evangelism and doesn't really reflect the whole any more than ALF reflects vegetarians, just because Mefites don't generally know them well enough to see the divisions doesn't mean they aren't there. They only ever seem to get shitty press among liberal circles, which isn't to say that they don't roll in it from a progressive perspective, but its nothing like the uniformly terrible shit show that is usually paraded around. Hell, nearly half of young evangelicals now openly support gay marriage rights, which is more than the entire country did less than a decade ago.
posted by Blasdelb at 9:28 AM on January 23, 2013 [14 favorites]


Is there a term for the importation of the worst parts of Western social policy into other countries whose inevitable failure then acts as justification for seeing those countries as backwards and thus in need of further Western intercession? I mean, aside from the obvious terms like "sad," "tragic," or "colonial."
posted by Panjandrum at 9:29 AM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


any more than ALF reflects vegetarians

He wasn't a vegetarian--he was always trying to eat cats.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 9:37 AM on January 23, 2013 [15 favorites]


Thanks for posting this. I haven't watched yet, but the Christian evangelical movement's involvement in among other things, the Bahati "Kill the Gays" bill and it's subsequent proposed incarnations, has been absolutely sickening. "The Family" have held conferences decrying same sex marriage as a threat to the cohesion of African families and calling for gays with HIV to be executed. Plus, their hatred probably helped incite David Kato's murder.

This story deserves a giant spotlight, and the entire group of people they are vilifying and mistreating deserve some justice and peace.
posted by zarq at 9:39 AM on January 23, 2013


This is the kind of thing that, in the light of yesterday's terrorism-funding mixup FPP, makes me think "these are the people OFAC should be labeling as terrorists and who should have all financial activity suspended."
posted by zombieflanders at 9:43 AM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


zombieflanders, that funding mixup was flagged because the comic book had the same name as a US Christian terrorist organization, so... they're already doing that.
posted by gilrain at 9:51 AM on January 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is the crazy fringe of Evangelism and doesn't really reflect the whole

While I'm entirely prepared to believe that (given that it's a very large group of people without central leadership or intermediary structure of any kind beyond the very local), the problem is that it happens to be a very loud, very well-funded crazy fringe. While I certainly believe that there are Evangelicals out there who are reasonable and decry the homophobic actions of others under their banner, they just don't have the funding, reach or signal strength of a hate group like Focus on the Family.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:56 AM on January 23, 2013


3 years ago and The Family (wiki) who are the organizers of The National Prayer Breakfast attended by many of America´s leading politicians including the President.
So state sponsored evangelical bigotry, nothing new there.
Separation of Church and State excuse me while I throw up.
posted by adamvasco at 10:08 AM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


And Blasdelb is it not really about time that the America got all those religious kooks out of government and positions of power no matter what descriptive denomination they give themselves.
You recently had a President who stated that God told him to invade Iraq. Why are these people not made to keep their delusions in their own homes.
I wonder if the day will ever come that when a person babbles the words ''God told me to'' that almost immediately the men in white coats will remove said person from the scene.
posted by adamvasco at 10:19 AM on January 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


The sideways look that the little kid gives in the very last shot of that trailer on the nytimes link pretty much says it all for me.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:19 AM on January 23, 2013


This is the crazy fringe of Evangelism and doesn't really reflect the whole

Rick Warren's Saddleback Church, a mainstream evangelical Christian outfit, worked hard in Uganda to try to get the death penalty put into place. Warren has since disavowed any involvement by him and his church with this after the PR nightmare it caused, but I still don't think your statement is true in light of basic facts like these.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:24 AM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


> I wonder if the day will ever come that when a person babbles the words ''God told me to'' that almost immediately the men in white coats will remove said person from the scene.

Let's hope the day never comes when someone is locked up solely for their religious beliefs. I'm an atheist too, and frustrated, but let's not fight religious intolerance with religious intolerance.
posted by gilrain at 10:25 AM on January 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


As Blasdelb said, it's unfair to say that all evangelicals are reflected just by the extremists. I then started thinking if there was an extreme atheist view which did not reflect most atheists, but had a hard time thinking of one.

I wonder if the day will ever come that when a person babbles the words ''God told me to'' that almost immediately the men in white coats will remove said person from the scene.

Ah, there we go.
posted by ILuvMath at 10:32 AM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


adamvasco didn't say "solely." The phrase "God told me to" implies that the actions "ordered" by god have already been taken, and if they're illegal/have caused harm, I'm fine with locking them up (as I assume you would be).

That said, I'm seriously over tolerating the intolerant and turning the other cheek in the face of stuff like this. I should turn the other cheek to people who literally want to kill me? I'm not that good a person.
posted by rtha at 10:33 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


adamvasco: " So state sponsored evangelical bigotry, nothing new there.

Strictly speaking, no. A politician's presence at an event may lend the organization running it an air of legitimacy, but that's a far cry from turning it into something that is state-sponsored. Unless the national prayer breakfasts are pay-to-attend events, but I don't think they are?

That said, there are plenty of egregious examples of political dominionism by Christian groups in this country.

Separation of Church and State excuse me while I throw up."

Separation of Church and State is not an absolute in the US, and the laws that govern it are deliberately flexible. Which is why religious groups and religious politicians can and do try regularly to subvert it by slipping public support of religion past the radar.

But American law actually focuses mostly on coercion and forced religious observance in the public sphere.
posted by zarq at 10:35 AM on January 23, 2013


it's unfair to say that all evangelicals are reflected just by the extremists

It is fair to say that mainstream evangelicals have and continue to lend material support and comfort to Uganda, where it concerns criminalizing and murdering minorities.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:41 AM on January 23, 2013


Rick Warren's Saddleback Church, a mainstream evangelical Christian outfit, worked hard in Uganda to try to get the death penalty put into place.

On some admittedly pretty quick Googling I can't find anything to support that claim. All I can find is that A) a Ugandan minister who is a major supporter of the bill spoke at an event at Saddleback Church and B) that Warren was criticized for being slow to condemn the bill, given that he is known to do a great deal of work in Uganda. I'd be interested to see evidence supporting your claim.
posted by yoink at 10:42 AM on January 23, 2013


Rick Warren's Saddleback Church, a mainstream evangelical Christian outfit, worked hard in Uganda to try to get the death penalty put into place.

You could conceivably make the argument that Rick Warren was not sufficiently vocal in his opposition to the death penalty bill, but I have never seen evidence that he actively "worked hard in Uganda" to support the bill.
posted by ILuvMath at 10:42 AM on January 23, 2013


To clarify
the men in white coats will remove said person from the scene..
Nothing about locking up just removing the delusioned.
Any one in any position of power who utters this nonsense should be asked to step down.
You can think what ever you like behind your own front door; not use it as an excuse to push your political agenda.
posted by adamvasco at 10:46 AM on January 23, 2013


Evangelicals own this.

A few lefty evangelical/emergent leaders have spoken against what is happening in Uganda (examples I know of include Brian McLaren and Fred Clark) but what is happening there is being actively supported by major evangelical institutions and has not been widely condemned. I didn't know Saddleback was directly culpable. It's an indication of how far the rot has spread.

Speaking as a semi-Evangelical, I believe North American sponsorship of Ugandan persecution of homosexuals reflects poorly on me personally. I have done nothing to stop this. It is not an excuse that I'm not sure what I could do.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 10:48 AM on January 23, 2013 [9 favorites]


justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow: " A few lefty evangelical/emergent leaders have spoken against what is happening in Uganda (examples I know of include Brian McLaren and Fred Clark) but what is happening there is being actively supported by major evangelical institutions and has not been widely condemned. I didn't know Saddleback was directly culpable. It's an indication of how far the rot has spread."

Perhaps I'm just naive, but I don't understand how any modern-day organization that purports to be Christian and is aggressively pro-life can possibly support a bill that would make genocide legal.
posted by zarq at 10:51 AM on January 23, 2013


Thanks, justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:53 AM on January 23, 2013


A few lefty evangelical/emergent leaders have spoken against what is happening in Uganda
...
I didn't know Saddleback was directly culpable.


So far we have simply the allegation that "Saddleback was directly culpable"--I can't find any evidence to support that claim and I'm hoping that Blazecock Pileon will provide some (or retract it if he was misremembering the basis of the criticisms of Warren.)

What is unquestionably true is that Warren has publicly and on more than one occasion denounced Uganda's attempts to make homosexuality a capital crime.
posted by yoink at 10:55 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


> Any one in any position of power who utters this nonsense should be asked to step down.

To clarify, you believe the religious should not be allowed to run for or hold political office?
posted by gilrain at 10:55 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


zarq, I envy you your naivete.

yoink, I'm glad to hear that Rick Warren has been condemning this publicly for years, saying Ugandan homophobic laws are "unjust, extreme and unchristian toward homosexuals." That's exactly what evangelical leaders need to be doing. Thanks for the link.

adamvasco, it's little comfort to me that you're talking about involuntarily confining all religious people to mental institutions rather than involuntarily confining them to prisons.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:00 AM on January 23, 2013


justsomebody
Please take your god and go home. Read what I wrote.
gilrain If people who have religious beliefs keep them out of their political agenda that´s fine.
Do this because God says so is not.
Of course those who feel persecuted could move to another place....whoops you tried that once before. How´s it going for you?
posted by adamvasco at 11:09 AM on January 23, 2013


adamvasco, I seem to have misread what you wrote. You say religious people "can think what ever you like behind your own front door" but should be removed from the public square if they attempt to discuss their views publicly. That's more like house arrest than imprisonment or involuntary confinement.

Yes, I get that you're not actually opposed to human rights for all including religious people. At this point evangelical institutions do have something of a moral duty to remove themselves from the public sphere until they stop trying to take away the rights of others.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:12 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Saddleback was directly culpable

I don't know if Saddleback is directly culpable or not, but they have played a significant part in getting Uganda where it is today, and that needs to be acknowledged before we can have a good faith discussion. Warren was good friends with Martin Ssempa, a Ugandan pastor who supports death penalty legislation and also received support from Warren and his Saddleback Church. When their relationship became a public relations problem, Warren severed ties with Ssempa but did not denounce the proposed legislation or what was happening in Uganda. When Warren was made part of Obama's first inaugural party two years later, it was almost a year later that that he actually finally made a statement denouncing what was happening. In the meantime, he and his church — among other mainstream evangelical outfits — are still influential:

U.S. evangelicals like California's Rick Warren have turned their attention to Africa as its role in global Christianity has grown. As Warren recently told Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, "If you want to know the future of evangelicalism, it is in [Africa, Asia and Latin America.] To give you an example, in 1900 there were only 10 million Christians in all of Africa – 10% of the population. Today there are 360 million Christians in Africa, over half the population."[4] Warren's numbers are wrong and fewer than half of Africans are Christian. Still, 30 million of the Anglican Communion's 77 million members live in Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya.

Warren is especially influential on the continent, enjoying close ties to African religious and political leaders. They quote him to justify discrimination against LGBT people, and to support their challenge to U.S. mainline Protestants liberalizing their policies around gay ordination. "Homosexuality is not a natural way of life and thus not a human right," Warren said during a March-April 2008 visit with African religious and political leaders in Rwanda, Uganda, and Kenya. That quote has reverberated ever since.[5]

Warren's bestselling book, A Purpose Driven Life is studied across sub-Saharan Africa and his Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California has close ties with leaders across Africa, including, until recently, Martin Ssempa of Uganda's Makerere Community Church. Ssempa is one of the key architects of the antigay bill and persecution of LGBT people in Uganda. He made global news when he published the names of LGBT people in the local press and destroyed condoms to promote abstinence-only programs in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Uganda. Ssempa was a regular visitor to Saddleback until Warren distanced himself from him in 2008.

Within Africa, Warren seems to be progressive when it comes to fighting poverty, illiteracy and HIV/AIDS. These efforts have painted him as a real partner in development. However, his antipoverty and education strategies also promote conservative institutional power and ideologies in Africa, including homophobia.

As Warren's "purpose-driven" projects in Rwanda, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda have grown, so too have levels of active homophobia and proposed laws against LGBT people. And Warren's allies – particularly Anglican Archbishops Henry Orombi of Uganda, Peter Akinola of Nigeria, Emmanuel Kolini of Rwanda and Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya – are in the forefront of advocating for stiffer laws against LGBT persons in their countries.[6]


I get that we need to defend religion at all costs, here, but Blasdelb's comment that this is an extremist phenomenon only is a plainly false and dangerous claim, in light of facts.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:15 AM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think, adamvasco, that you're frustrated by the seemingly continual erosion of the separation of church and state, as I am too. However, you're expressing that frustration in a highly antagonistic, borderline hateful way.

The answer to religion encroaching on our rights is not to strip the religious of theirs.
posted by gilrain at 11:16 AM on January 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


I get that we need to defend religion at all costs, here, but Blasdelb's comment that this is an extremist phenomenon only is a plainly false and dangerous claim, in light of facts.

So in other words you are retracting your initial claim that "Rick Warren's Saddleback Church, a mainstream evangelical Christian outfit, worked hard in Uganda to try to get the death penalty put into place" because you, like me, can find no evidence to support it.
posted by yoink at 11:23 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am not retracting my claim, yoink, having substantiated it with easily verified information that shows the legislation was the product of mainstream evangelical Christianity's efforts in Africa, especially by the Saddleback Church, which has since tried to whitewash its involvement.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:33 AM on January 23, 2013


Oh, come on. Shaping a political culture where bad people can run things is a shitty thing to do, and worth decrying Warren for all on its own, but it's not "work[ing] hard in Uganda to try to get the death penalty put into place," any more than it's "throw[ing] kittens out a twelfth-story window."
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:48 AM on January 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


having substantiated it

No, BP, you have not "substantiated it." You've replaced it with a different claim; that Warren has worked extensively in Uganda and has close ties with people who have championed these laws. That is certainly troubling, but it simply is not the same thing as having "worked hard in Uganda to try to get the death penalty put into place." That claim appears, quite simply, to be a falsehood. You may think that throwing any accusation against people with whom you disagree is justified by the fact that you disagree with them, personally I don't think this is an effective way to mount a critique. Those who side with Warren will simply dismiss any critique you happen to offer (including well-grounded ones) by pointing to these outright falsehoods as proof that you do not deserve to be taken seriously.
posted by yoink at 11:53 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


No, BP, you have not "substantiated it." You've replaced it with a different claim;

You are working very, very hard to deny basic facts about the role that mainstream evangelical groups, especially the Saddleback Church, have played in shaping Uganda's society. If you want to argue in bad faith about what you think I really said, go for it, but I have provided you with easily verifiable information and its up to you to decide whether you truthfully acknowledge it, or if you decide to sweep it under the rug.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:08 PM on January 23, 2013


If you want to argue in bad faith about what you think I really said

It's not what I "think you really said" BP, it's what I'm quoting you as saying--and what anyone can see that you said just by scrolling up this page: "Rick Warren's Saddleback Church, a mainstream evangelical Christian outfit, worked hard in Uganda to try to get the death penalty put into place."

That's a very specific claim. You're saying that Rick Warren and his church consciously adopted the goal of helping Uganda adopt the death penalty for homosexual acts and then actively pursued that goal. That claim remains unsubstantiated.

No one doubted the claim that Warren has associated with unsavory characters (I mentioned it myself in my first post in this thread) who support the death penalty policy. But there is a vast, yawning chasm between that fact and your initial, untruthful, claim.
posted by yoink at 12:42 PM on January 23, 2013


Having been raised Catholic I just assume historic revisionism will paint this lot as champions of LGBT rights.
posted by munchingzombie at 1:11 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's a very specific claim. You're saying that Rick Warren and his church consciously adopted the goal of helping Uganda adopt the death penalty for homosexual acts and then actively pursued that goal. That claim remains unsubstantiated.

Warren doesn't like gay people and doesn't think they deserve human rights accorded to others. At the time he made this public statement, he and his mainstream church have provided substantive material and organizational support to assist and promote the work of a Ugandan pastor who worked very hard to get the death penalty put into place.

You can argue in bad faith by quibbling over what you think I said, but those are facts you can verify for yourself. You asked for substantiation and you were given it, even if you choose not to acknowledge it and call those facts untruthful.

Extremism by mainstream evangelicals, including by the Saddleback Church, has led us to this point, and we deny that fact to our collective danger.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:11 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


The answer to religion encroaching on our rights is not to strip the religious of theirs.

On reflection, I as a semi-Evangelical have a duty to unilaterally disarm as far as that conversation is concerned. There is more or less zero persecution of Christians in North America and rather a lot of persecution of other people by North American Christians. Abstract discussion of the rights of religious people in the public square is academic given that we already have those rights and are in no danger of losing them. It's somewhat obscene to even joke about hypothetical persecution of Christians when gay people and their allies are actually being imprisoned, exiled and killed by Christians in Uganda.

So by all means, make whatever cracks you want to make about how people who believe that an undead Palestinian carpenter is listening to our thoughts should be embarrassed to speak in public about our bizarre and destructive ideas. I'm not in any position to complain. It's not as though Christianity deserves much respect at this point.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:48 PM on January 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


Separation of Church and State excuse me while I throw up.

Secular does not mean a country where the state religion is atheism...

You are working very, very hard to deny basic facts about the role that mainstream evangelical groups, especially the Saddleback Church, have played in shaping Uganda's society.

I dunno, BP, that's a very confident assertion about the influence and role of Saddleback. This is not to gloss over their actions, but I dunno, here at least you've never really demonstrated the kind of knowledge or expertise (or any, really) about Uganda, Evangelicism etc, that would make me think you've really got the knowledge to talk about what's "shaping Uganda's society".

Forgive me, but it sounds a little racist, frankly; stripping Ugandans of all agency, leaving them as helpless tools for persuasive whites/Westerners to manipulate. It's a pretty common trope.

Again, this is not to condone what's happening there, but it's possible for the blame to rest primarily with Ugandans and Ugandan culture.
posted by smoke at 2:04 PM on January 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm a former evangelical, and I do hold them responsible. Most of them won't seek out an organization that advertises "we kill homos!" but neither will they ask if it happens or do anything about it. Inside the churches it will Not Be Talked About, and monies will continue to go to these organizations in the name of spreading God's word because no one is going to make a scene and embarrass the pastor or board on behalf of some dirty homosexual sinners.

I also hold them responsible for the clinic-bombing terrorism and murders of doctors who perform abortions...most of them don't do it, but most of them also either don't care or even think those sluts and babykillers had it coming to them. They sure as hell don't do anything to make it stop because, again, no one wants to be associated with sympathy for babykillers and whores.

And so it continues. Willful indifference of evil is also a choice.
posted by emjaybee at 7:12 PM on January 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


<img src="amnesty_international.jpg">
posted by jeffburdges at 8:07 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


gilrain
I am not an American. I watch these shenanigans from afar.
The answer to religion encroaching on our rights is not to strip the religious of theirs. Disingenius.
It is not the Religion it is the arsehats prosetylizing it as a means to push a political end. Religious organisations are Political entities.
More people have been murdered in the name of God in the course of human history that any other. Many times because they believed in the wrong version of the same god.
If I had wanted to be anagonistic I would have said
''Keep your religion out of my life otherwise I´ll shove it back down your throat so hard it will come out of your arse''. Nothing personal. I do hope you understand.
posted by adamvasco at 2:26 AM on January 24, 2013


I'm a former evangelical, and I do hold them responsible.

I suppose what I'm saying is by all means hold them responsible for turning a blind eye to orgs that encourage hate crime; if you have the evidence, hold them responsible for aiding orgs that encourage hate crime, or even abet it.

But don't hold them responsible for hate crimes committed by Ugandans, against other Ugandans, though. There is a pretty fundamental difference between doing a thing, and tacitly supporting. Ugandans deserve better than to be painted as the simplistic and helpless playthings of rich Westerners.
posted by smoke at 2:37 AM on January 24, 2013


Since we've mentioned the Vanguard series it would be a pity if we didn't link the recent (and brilliant) documentary Call Me Kuchu, which investigates the struggle of gay rights activists in Uganda from their own perspective of members of Uganda's LGBT community.

We can however, probably forget the BBC's The World's Worst Place To Be Gay, where out Radio One DJ Scott Mills visits Uganda for what seems like the sole purpose of tricking David Bahati into being next to a gay person.
posted by _superconductor at 3:50 AM on January 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Naming Names. An earlier NYT article Americans’ Role Seen in Uganda Anti-Gay Push named
Scott Lively
Caleb Lee Brundidge
Don Schmierer

Rick Warren is more than slightly economical with the truth.
It is also three years since this question:
Are American evangelicals complicit in the Uganda anti-gay movement?.
The North American Evangelical movement by not speaking out about the persecution of 3rd world gay black people is culpable by it' s silence.
As these people believe in Hell I hope they enjoy it when they so rightly get there.
posted by adamvasco at 4:05 AM on January 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


More people have been murdered in the name of God in the course of human history that any other. Many times because they believed in the wrong version of the same god.

I think religion has been used to justify horrors. I also think your statement is wrong, or at least debatable. Most of the genocides committed in the last two centuries were primarily over land, racial and ethnic differences. Many of those with the worst body counts had little to do with religion, except incidentally or as a secondary justification. Meaning they would have happened anyway over land or ethnicity, but religious differences were used as an excuse to act.
posted by zarq at 4:13 AM on January 24, 2013


It´s always about land. But the propaganda doesn´t sound so good.
posted by adamvasco at 6:47 AM on January 24, 2013


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