The Supreme Court’s recent decisions on same-sex marriage were a sound rebuke to religious conservatives who have sought to demonize gay Americans and prevent them from sharing rights that their fellow citizens take for granted. But American evangelical groups, undaunted by their losses in America’s culture wars, have been taking their messages—good and bad—to the multitudes of Africa.
Uganda in particular has been a hotbed of American evangelical activity. The landlocked nation has seen more than its share of sorrow, from genocide to the horrors of AIDS to the guerilla terror of Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army. It has repeatedly ranked among the world’s worst for human rights and freedom of the press. Last year, Foreign Policy and Fund for Peace classified Uganda as a “failed state.”
In recent years, the country has drawn ire for its Anti-Homosexuality Bill, known more ominously as the “kill the gays” bill because, if approved, it would mean the execution of recidivist homosexuals. There are plenty of live-wire personalities, not the least of whom is the Reverend Martin Ssempa, who’s found that there’s nothing like gay fetish porn for stoking a congregation’s bloodlust.
In 2008, the Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone published the names and faces of 100 gay rights supporters under the headline “Hang Them.” Among them was David Kato, an activist who has been called “the father of gay rights” in Uganda. Kato successfully sued the tabloid for endangering his safety (and won about $640) but was bludgeoned to death under mysterious circumstances not long after. His supporters believe anti-gay factions were behind the murder.
But perhaps the biggest actors in Uganda’s gay rights drama are the American evangelicals who travel there every year by the thousands to spread their Gospel from the far pastures of charismatic Christianity. One of the most powerful groups is International House of Prayer (IHOP), a Kansas City-based mega-church with hundreds of outposts, more than 1,000 staffers, and a declared mission to secure a “million new souls and a billion dollars” for Christ by 2020.
[VIA MoJo Blogs and Articles | Mother Jones]