Director Roger Ross Williams’s emotionally charged polemic, God Loves Uganda, chronicles how an American evangelical Christian group has fostered virulent anti-gay hatred in contemporary Uganda. Bouncing between talking-head interviews and fervent church services, it’s a chilling portrait of religious zealotry run amok.
Lou Engle, one of the founders of the 15-year-old Missouri ministry International House of Prayer, describes Uganda – where Christianity is the dominant religion and 50 per cent of the population is under 15 – as a first battleground in a war against secular liberalism and homosexuality.
On the other side, Zambian-born clergyman Kapya Kaoma (an Anglican minister and postdoc researcher at Boston University) and excommunicated Ugandan Anglican bishop Christopher Senyonjo, discuss how American evangelists jumped into the post-Idi Amin ideological vacuum to influence Ugandan politics and religion.
Williams’s documentary would be a more balanced piece of journalism if he had provided perspective about where the International House of Prayer stands in the evangelical spectrum (other Christian groups have described it as a cult). Or, perhaps, focused a little less on the missionaries’ absurd tales of rescue from sexual sin.
But there’s no doubt that the impact of this under-reported hate campaign is real and devastating: the beating death of Ugandan gay activist David Kato in 2011, during the filming; a rise in HIV rates with the promotion of abstinence instead of condoms; and most alarming, a bill before the Ugandan parliament that could put homosexuals to death.