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  • Robert L. Giron

Issue 66 — Karen Brau, Cinder Cooper, Loraine Hutchins, Dan Jenkins, M. Bess Vincent, R.R. Williams

Pastor Karen Brau

The following comments by The Rev. Karen Brau, Prof. Cinder Cooper, Dr. Loraine Hutchins, Prof. Dan Jenkins, and Dr. M. Bess Vincent were presented during a panel discussion which followed the screening of God Loves Uganda directed by Roger Ross Williams on April 11, 2014 at Montgomery College-Takoma Park/Silver Spring, Maryland.

The panel discussion was moderated by Robert L. Giron. Below the comments by Dr. Vincent, you will find a synopsis of the film prepared by Robert L. Giron.

God Loves Uganda : Panel Reflections

by The Rev. Karen Brau, Senior Pastor

Luther Pace Memorial Church

1226 Vermont Ave. NW

Washington, DC 20005

I am grateful to have the chance to share today as an ally of the GLBTQ community. I serve as the Senior Pastor of a downtown DC congregation that is part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. I am in my 24th year of ordained ministry serving as a Pastor, all in the urban setting.

The frame for my comments today includes three interconnected areas—Scripture, Baptism and Biology. And then I will offer a brief run through the 6 Scriptures that are most challenging when it comes to considering GLBTQ life for Christians.

And before I continue, my first reaction to the film is that it does not portray the Jesus that I know. The film disturbs me because it shows how effectively Jesus can be used to divide people and destroy lives. According to me, Jesus is not a hater.

There are many ways to consider Scripture, and I describe the Bible as a story of the relationships — relationships between God and people, between all manner of people and between a person and themselves. The Bible is a love story. It informs through the story of ancestors in their struggles and their triumphs. It shares God's teaching about life together. And as a Lutheran I believe that this Word of God in Scripture is a living word, meaning in part that the stories continue to come to life among us, even now.

I do not take the Scripture literally word for word. Scripture does not tell the what or how of creation, rather scripture teaches us about the Who (God) and the Why (Love) of creation. A literal reading of Scripture boxes God into our human categories. There is mystery around God who is vast and beyond our human understanding.

At the same time, I do have faith that we humans are made in the image of God (imago dei). So if you even look around the room today, this means that God loves diversity. And I also settle with one of the early church fathers, Ireneaus, that preached—God's delight is humanity fully alive. God wants us to be who we truly are , in all ways.

Baptism is a response to the call that God has for each of us—God loves us before we can know or comprehend love. So that means I baptize babies. I also baptize adults, but think for a moment about a baby. The child through water and the word receives the gift of unconditional love, and the child is marked by God's love, through the cross of Jesus Christ, forever.

As a response to the gift of Baptism, the child is invited to join with God as God seeks to love and bless the world. This includes working for peace and justice in the world.

In baptism, each baptized child gets a new name, beloved child of God. Through baptism, God creates a community, and in this community, all are loved and all are gifted in some way to participate. And in this Christ centered community, we are all connected as one.

In terms of Biology and Science, there are more and more discoveries that indicate that all of creation is connected. All the parts belong. That means all is valuable—from the human to the creature and all of creation. This has implications for how we share the earth and how we honor each other— we all belong.

Now, there are 6 main Scriptures that we will consider very briefly. The conversation is longer and more complicated, yet I just want you to hear that there are expansive ways of considering these scriptures.

Old Testament:

Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13.

These refer to a prohibition of men having sex together. It results from the situation of male priests having sex, imitating the ritual sex of pagans. This part of Leviticus is influenced by the Holiness Codes hat sought to define Israel in contrast to their neighbor. If they do it, then we don't. So these scriptures have more to do with ethnic purity than with morality.

Genesis, 19.

The story of Sodom and Gomorrah portrays the threat of gang rape, not consensual sex. This story has to do with hospitality, and a community where there is injustice towards the vulnerable.

New Testament:

1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1: 10.

Both offer obscure Greek words that could be translated in ways that appear to condemn homosexuality. However, what is in mind is "pederasty," where a heterosexual man takes a pubescent boy as a tool for the man's sexual pleasure. This relationship of domination is a mismatch of the writer's vision of life in Christ where all are members of the body of Christ, without power distinctions. The passages are in favor of right relationship.

Romans 1: 26-27.

Finally, some scholars will give up all the other 5 Scriptures. but not this one. The word here that describes 'unnatural relationships" can take on divergent interpretations.

In Romans 1, the writer declares the sinfulness of the Gentiles (non-Jews). Romans 2, the writer declares the sinfulness of the Jews. The writer, who is keenly aware of their own sin, writes in Romans 3 of God's grace (forgiveness) for all. Given this frame, one cannot use Romans one against any one group because all are sinful and fall short of the Law of God's love.

So again, this discussion can continue from here. Yet I want you to know, that there are Christians who see Jesus as one who loves us all, just as we are. A Jesus who is about compassion and who calls us to join God in the works towards peace and justice, for all.

Copyright © 2014 by Karen Brau.


Pastor Karen Brau has served as the Senior Pastor of Luther Place since December of 2008. She is a graduate of Hamilton College and received her Masters of Divinity in 1988 from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. She was ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in 1990 and served for 18 years as Pastor in the inner city of Baltimore where she was instrumental in forming Amazing Grace Lutheran Church and the Amazing Port Street Project. She is curious about the ways God is moving in the world and eager to engage around the deep spiritual hunger of our day.

Cinder Cooper

By This You Will Be Known

“An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.... An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself. This is difference made legal. By the same token, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal” (Martin Luther King Jr., April, 1963).

In Uganda homosexual activity was criminalized, and members of the LGBTQ community are being persecuted and threatened with imprisonment from five years to life. This is difference made legal. Allies can face up to seven years in prison. This is difference made legal.

Again, “any law that uplifts the human personality is just...Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.” Which will we be? —A people who support, through silence and inertia, injustice; or a people who will, through our voices and actions, support justice and a just world? I choose to be on the side of justice. I choose to be an ally. I choose to be an ally because, as a people, we’ve seen the damage that making one group a scapegoat for all that is wrong in the world can do. We’ve seen what allowing injustice to flourish anywhere can do.

Throughout human history, we’ve seen religious ideology morph and become twisted in the hands of zealots turning into a tool for hate mongering, war mongering, colonialism, and extreme jingoism. We’ve seen this before. We saw it when the first Europeans set foot in the Americas and Africa and brought with Christianity to indoctrinate, assimilate or annihilate, and then conquer. We saw it in Salem, Massachusetts with the accusations and persecutions of witches” who were servants of the devil. We saw Christians trade in human flesh in the slave ports of the Carolinas claiming that God condoned their actions. And in the segregation of Selma, Birmingham, and Memphis, the Old Testament justified separate but equal... In Nazi Germany, in Rwanda and Bosnia—we’ve seen it. In the aftermath of 9/11 we’ve seen it—a stew of vitriol and violence against groups of people and individuals because of perceived race, ethnicity, or religion. And now we see it again—us versus them mentality, codified by religious ideology and extremism.

But some of us want to live by the new commandment set out by Jesus in the New Testament: “Love each other. As I have loved you, so you must love each other. By this everyone will know you are my disciples” (John 13:34-35).

Marginalization and persecution is not the answer, but neither is silence and complacency.

As Martin Niemoller wrote:

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

(Martin Niemoller, 1892-1984)

Before they come for you, speak up and add your voice.

Copyright © 2014 by Cinder Cooper.


Cinder Cooper is Associate Professor of English at Montgomery College-Takoma Park/Silver Spring, where she teaches composition and literature. In addition, she is currently the English Credit Coordinator for the campus English discipline. She has had the Safe Zone Training and is a member of MC Pride and Allies. She holds a BA from University of South Carolina and an MA from Northern Illinois University.

Loraine Hutchins

We Can Be Killed At Any Time

I was really inspired to see so many people come out for this event and heartened by the enthusiastic discussion that followed the film.

To me, it is less important that we all agree and more important that we keep talking and listening to each other, especially at a school like MC where we come from so many different backgrounds and cultures and are all working together to understand each other and find points of common ground.

It was the first time, at this college, that I really felt the support and strength of Allies who were/are willing to stand up for the rights of LGBT people, especially when those people cannot risk standing up for themselves, and it felt wonderful to have that support. Each one of us on the panel added an important dimension to the discussion of the film. I would love to do a follow-up event in Fall 2014 which explores some of the issues of international LGBT rights in more detail.

David Kato was a gay Ugandan who's already given his life as a martyr for human rights. Not willingly. He was beaten to death a few years ago in Uganda as part of a horrific hate crime directed against him because of his organizing for the rights of gay people as an out gay man. The line from the film that struck me most in my heart, mind, and gut, is this line from the woman at David Kato's funeral: "We could be killed at any time."


"We need to talk about colonialism before we criticize international anti-LGBT legislation. We need to talk about the history of white supremacy that brought homophobic and anti-LGBT legislation to various countries ." And not only the history of colonialism, etc. but present practices of the World Bank, the IMF, AID, etc.

We need to talk about the "White Saviour complex" that ignores any Western culpability in anti-LGBT policies internationally and how ignoring this is not helpful to this discussion.

Inside, and related to these dynamics, as seen in a raid of an HIV clinic in Kampala (where the staff was arrested for supposedly "recruiting" clients into homosexuality), there is a huge cultural clash going on:

—One group sees offensive porn (shown at the HIV clinic in Kampala) that portrays people in ways they find uncomfortable and fear their children will be negatively affected by.

—Another group sees life-saving information that teaches men-who-have-sex-with-men, and women, how to have sex safely, being interfered with being taught.

Loving one's own sex/gender is not a sin, not a weakness, not a crime, not a sickness. It is a blessing, a blessing to celebrate, and re-create. Loving one's own is perfectly natural and healthy. People have been loving each other this way since the beginning of time.

Contrary to what the International House of Prayer (known as IHOP) and some American evangelicals say, LGBT sensibilities were not brought from elsewhere to Uganda. The English word, and term "LGBT" (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender), yes. But the sense of loving and connection in many different ways—that has always been a part of human nature, whether allowed or suppressed, whether hidden or expressed. Understanding "why" and "how" these experiences of human sexuality are expressed, or not, is what we students and scholars need to be about.

Uganda, and every country, has a right to resist outside intervention. This is the sad and insulting legacy of colonialism. The reality that more powerful nations think it is their privilege and their right to intervene in the affairs of other nations without their consent is how colonialism works, and we need to understand what is going on in Uganda today firmly in that context.

But there is a big difference between standing up for international human rights, versus when an outside group seeks to promote its own agenda and interests at the expense of those most affected, those who must live together and work things out on their own.

Here is a true story from Uganda's Colonial History. Ugandans have a particularly painful shared experience, a story that happened during the late 1800s, when European and Islamic forces were vying for control over what was then called Buganda. Back then there was a young king - a mere 16 years old, who'd inherited the Bugandan throne when his father, the King, died. The French Catholic missionary order, The White Fathers, were competing with the Anglican missionaries from England and the Islamic traders from Zanzibar for control over the beautiful, rich and fertile land that none of them were native to.

[These groups were all trying to wrest control of Buganda's resources from Buganda's people into their own greedy hands, for their own aims—the essence of colonialism—cultural assault and economic exploitation masquerading as religious conversion, a phenomena we have seen reproduced over and over again around the world.]

Meanwhile, as was tradition, the young king had a royal court of young men from the finest families in the land. It was customary for him to have sex with them. (He had dozens of wives too, but that's another story.)

There was a horrible clash that occurred - a power struggle between the missionaries and the young king, during most of his young male followers converted to Christianity and renounced their former sexual ways as heathen, as Un-Christian. When the young king flew into a jealous rage at this betrayal and slaughtered his former friends (He left them no choice: Choose loyalty to me or die.). Thereafter, these young men eventually became known as "The Martyrs of Uganda," and were ultimately the first Africans to be canonized as saints by the Roman Catholic Church. It was, and is, a big deal to have that honor. However, the sexual aspects of the story were considered shameful and embarrassing. That part of the story was suppressed. But Martyr's Day is a national Ugandan holiday. Everyone observes it. It's just that the sexual aspects of the story are almost never discussed, unless they are discussed in whispers, as evidence of sin and un-Christian behavior that is to be avoided and condemned at all costs. Given how much collective shame there is about this hidden story, the details have only come to light recently when a number of scholars have begun to uncover and re-interpret/reclaim the history, especially in light of the situation with HIV and gay rights in Uganda today.

And, as I said, things just got scarier in Kampala, the capital city, where an HIV clinic was shut down and charges filed against its staff for supposedly "training its clients to be homosexual." This is the crux: The belief that gays recruit/train (in a way heterosexuals don't or in a way that is evil, while reproduction/promotion of heterosexuality is not).

This whole story raises many issues for discussion:

  • sexual orientation, gender roles

  • the history of colonialism and occupation in Africa

  • dynamics of race, culture and politics

  • concerns about religious influences

  • the topics of God, ethical values, morality, and family

  • how we all love each other, or don't.

How all of this intersects in our everyday lives, in many places, in many ways, today and every day, that is why we are here today to better understand.

How can we come from our different places and find common ground—perhaps agree to disagree, but learn from each other in the process?

Copyright © 2014 by Loraine Hutchins.


Loraine Hutchins, who holds a PhD, teaches inter-disciplinary courses about human sexuality, health, and women and gender studies. She has co-edited several books on bisexuality and spirituality, and she is one of the founders of the LGBT movement in this country.

Dan Jenkins


After taking in Roger Ross Williams’ documentary film God Loves Uganda, many startling images compete for the attention of the viewer; when viewed from the perspective of the academe, in which egalitarianism is among the chief values that guides one’s work, so much of what Williams depicts is not just surprising, but otherworldly.

How alien, indeed, that Evangelical Christians from the United States– from the Midwest, the South– could scheme to export a version of that venerated faith that few Christians the world over would find recognizable. There is the working up to tears, yes, as a matter of routine; the hymn that leads to loss of control—to ecstasy? Terror in the face of the salvation that is at once perceived to be completely necessary and utterly undeserved?—but what is most alien is the emphasis on homosexuality, as if the New Testament were little more than a guide for identifying and dealing with the non-heteronormative.

The image that comes to me, again and again, with force, is of the vast Evangelical prayer hall in Uganda, where the worshippers pace up and down discontentedly, sharing the same space yet fixed on looking past one another into the great beyond, as their prayers, uttered feverishly in Swahili or Tongues, help them to reach an altered state. Thus disengaged with the world, they ask God to give them strength to stop degraded homosexual conspirators from bringing unredeemable sex to Uganda.

I view this image as an ethicist and as a faculty member who routinely teaches a course in the philosophy of religion. Ethics is the search for rational rules of conduct, and there is nothing rational about discrimination; certainly nothing rational about exporting discrimination, as a condition of material aid, to a war-torn, still-developing nation when the predictable end-result of doing so is the murder of children. The murderers, of course, are never brought to justice. They kill to prevent children who are thought to prepubescently exhibit homosexual traits from becoming gay adults.

In this way, the moral story of this film is unambiguous: the cultural exportation of hatred is morally wrong, period. It has no redeeming value. The thoughtful person, the compassionate and moral person should denounce it, along with the legislation in Uganda that made homosexuality illegal. The policy question, as opposed to the moral question, is more complex. Christian missionaries from the United States appear to be helping Ugandans meet a deep spiritual need, and thus Ugandan laws and cultural attitudes are unlikely to change in the absence of competitive missionary work that refocuses Christianity away from persecution of homosexuals.

As a faculty member who teaches philosophy of religion, I view with optimism the possibility that Ugandans will encounter such positive versions of Christianity. There are encouraging, liberalizing trends in many major faiths, not just Christianity, that might serve as a model. Even Catholicism, which historically has been characterized by conservatism, is taking on a different cast under the leadership of Pope Francis. Although the Pope has not changed Church doctrine, he has focused conversation on creating a hospitable religious environment for everyone, working under the supposition that religion is, after all, meant to be a balm for human suffering.

As a human being, I hope that Ugandans will both receive and be receptive to similar messages.

Copyright © 2014 by Daniel G. Jenkins.


Daniel G. Jenkins is Philosophy Coordinator and Associate Professor of Philosophy at Montgomery College-Takoma Park/Silver Spring. He coaches the Montgomery College Ethics Bowl debate team, which won third place in the National Ethics Bowl in March of 2014. In July of 2012, he was an NEH Fellow at the University of Arizona Summer Institute on Experimental Philosophy.

M. Bess Vincent

The Choice Between Poverty and Prejudice: A Reflection on Montgomery College’s Screening of Roger Ross Williams’ Documentary God Loves Uganda

On April 11, 2014, the Takoma Park/Silver Spring campus of Montgomery College aired the documentary film God Loves Uganda directed and produced by Roger Ross Williams. The film chronicles the impacts of missionary efforts on behalf of Evangelical Christian churches such as the International House of Prayer (IHOP), especially with regard to its support of an anti-LGBTQ agenda. Such groups have been instrumental in the passing of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2014, which imposes prison sentences for those who engage in homosexual acts, those who fail to report homosexuals, and those who ally with the LGBTQ community. As the Women’s and Gender Studies Coordinator for the Takoma Park/Silver Spring campus, I participated in a panel discussion of the film after it aired. As I reflect on the film and the insightful discussion that followed, one key question continues to surface: Is it ever acceptable for one group to impose its beliefs on others? Whether we reflect on the cultural, the religious, or the political aspects of this film, we must grapple with this question and its global importance.

When considering the patterns of interaction between cultures, we must recognize that it is nearly impossible to view another culture without making some comparisons with one’s own culture. Since each individual is born into a particular set of norms, values, and beliefs, it is natural that when encountering something new that we would search for similarities and differences. The issue lies in how we do this. Some individuals tend toward ethnocentrism, or the tendency to judge other cultures and to view them as odd or inferior to one’s own culture (Witt 2014). A person who is ethnocentric would look at a different cultural practice and say, “that’s weird,— or —why don’t they do it the way we do it?” While some ethnocentrism can be healthy for a society since it can promote cultural pride, we must also be cautious of such thinking because if taken to an extreme, it can be used as a justification for forced assimilation, war, or even genocide. Social scientists encourage individuals to practice cultural relativism, or the tendency to look at other cultures and try to understand their norms, values, and beliefs and the functions they provide for the culture, while reserving judgment (Witt 2014). A person who is culturally relativistic would look at other cultures and say, “That’s interesting. That practice works for them.” or “In some ways that practice is similar to our own cultural forms.” From this viewpoint, we must recognize that no culture is inherently better than another; they are simply different. At their core, these ideas are simple to understand and few people that I have encountered wish to be ethnocentric. But things grow very complicated when we look at social issues across cultures. For instance, should cultures practice female genital mutilation? Should cultures tolerate faith systems based in magic and witchcraft? What measures should a culture take to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS? As one might imagine, when considering problems affecting other parts of the world, it is hard for us to proffer solutions that do not germinate from a Western way of thinking. We must challenge ourselves to consider whether our way of thinking is best.

Let’s consider the issues in Uganda. It is a country with approximately 35 million citizens (Index Mundi 2014). By and large, this is a rural society, with nearly 85% of the population living outside of urban areas. The average Ugandan female becomes a mother by the age of 19 and will have 6 children during her lifetime. Not all of these children will live into adulthood; 62 out of every 1000 infants will die during their first year of life. Those who do survive will face other health threats, including HIV/AIDS. In 2009, it was estimated that 6.5% of Ugandan adults lived with HIV/AIDS, totaling approximately 1.2 million people. These health issues, coupled with political conflict and poverty, have led to a nation where half of the population is under the age of 15. This means that the Ugandan population is very young, very impressionable, and very vulnerable to manipulation.

The issues in Uganda have been framed largely through a lens focused on sexuality. For instance, the spread of HIV/AIDS has been attributed to irresponsible heterosexual practices, such as unprotected premarital and extramarital sex. The United States has offered assistance to help in the efforts to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. In 2003, George W. Bush created the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which distributed at least $15 billion for HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment in heavily affected regions of the world, including Uganda (Feldman 2014). Such efforts are very generous, but we must consider the terms and conditions for use. As described by PEPFAR Watch, an information clearinghouse on this legislation, “The original 2003 PEPFAR law contained a requirement that 33 percent of all funding for prevention activities be spent on abstinence-until-marriage and faithfulness programs.” When Bush reauthorized PEPFAR in 2008 this mandate was removed from the legislation, but it remained a cornerstone of prevention programs. In many ways then, these assistance programs are ethnocentric, since they frame the spread of HIV/AIDS as a moral issue instead of a health concern. We must consider whether our Western perspectives on marriage and monogamy should be imposed upon other cultures. Furthermore, it is problematic for our government—one predicated upon the separation of church and state—to provide assistance contingent on the acceptance of religious principles concerning abstinence. Stated differently, political leaders who promote abstinence-only programming as a solution are not only ethnocentric but they are also using our government as a tool to promote a religious agenda that many in our own country do not ascribe to, much less individuals raised in other cultures.

Other aid-based groups have framed the threats to Uganda in terms of homosexuality. This is the main focus of Williams’ documentary, which documents the efforts of evangelical missionaries and politicians in their efforts to deter—sexual sin— and to convert the Ugandan people to a Christian belief system (God Loves Uganda 2013). Again, this is where the complexity enters the picture. These American missionaries are doing great things in Uganda, such as helping to build schools and hospitals, but this aid is contingent upon acceptance of their belief system, which views many expressions of sexuality as not only wrong, but advocates for their criminalization. This raises many layers of issues. As was mentioned above, we must consider whether fundamentalist Christian views on sexuality are superior to any others. Even biosocial theorists who argue that sexual identities are rooted in biology acknowledge that some extent of sexual identity is socially created. If sexual identities are cultural products, then is it appropriate to promote one social system over another? Furthermore, should financial assistance be predicated on the acceptance of these views? For Uganda’s young, impressionable population, financial assistance and aid to infrastructure could disappear if they challenge the beliefs of these missionary groups. People should never be expected to choose between poverty and prejudice.

Furthermore, sexual identities do not always align neatly with sexual acts. Countless studies, including the infamous Kinsey Reports, indicate that many people who have engaged in same-sex sexual acts do not self-identify as homosexual. A recent nationally-representative survey conducted by the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics indicates that while 4.1% of Americans surveyed self-identify as homosexual or bisexual, 11.2% of the women and 6% of the men surveyed had engaged in at least one same-sex sexual act during their lifetime (Cherlin 2010). If America passed an Anti-Homosexuality Act equivalent to Uganda’s, this would mean that at least 12% of our population would be subject to life imprisonment by sexual behavior alone. The point is that while many of us separate sexual acts from sexual identities, acts such as the one passed in Uganda do not do so; instead they criminalize what many of us would consider a normal expression of human behavior and experimentation.

Perhaps the most concerning aspect of America’s involvement in Uganda’s social problems stems from our government’s response to the passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2014. Upon reports that the President of Uganda intended to sign this bill into effect, the World Bank (an organization disproportionately supported by the United States) announced that it would suspend payment of $90 million in loans to Uganda. As described by A Paper Bird (2014), these monies were “earmarked to combat maternal mortality: aimed at maternal health, newborn care and family through improving human resources for health, physical health infrastructure, and management, leadership and accountability for health service delivery.” It entailed funding to expand and train medical staff, to professionalize and strengthen management, for obstetric equipment and medicines including contraceptives, and for renovating hospitals. Many Americans, including Democratic leaders such as Nancy Pelosi, saw this withholding of funds as a victory for LGBTQ rights. But does such an action benefit the people of Uganda, the mothers and children who will suffer without this aid, or the Ugandan people who will continue to suffer from the health issues, political conflict and poverty that were cause for concern in the first place? Since the American government is involved in these matters, we are all implicated by these actions; it is our responsibility to hold our government accountable for its ethnocentric views and to consider solutions that will not only benefit the Ugandan people, but also represent the voice of the American populace, not just the beliefs of Evangelical Christians or the wishes of the political power elite.


A Paper Bird. March 10, 2014. “Uganda, the World Ban, and LGBT Rights: Winners and

Losers.” Retrieved April 10, 2014. (

Feldman, Douglas. 2003.“Problems with the Uganda Model for HIV/AIDS Prevention.” American Anthropological Association’s Anthropology News. Retrieved June 11, 2014.


God Loves Uganda. 2013. Retrieved June 10, 2014. (

Index Mundi. 2014. “Uganda Demographics Profile 2013.” Retrieved June 10, 2014.


PEPFAR Watch. 2014. “Abstinence and Fidelity.” Retrieved June 11, 2014.


U.S. National Center for Health Statistics. 2005. Sexual Behavior and Selected Health Measures: Men and Women 15-44 years of Age, United States, 2002. Advance Data from Vital and Health Statistics, no. 362. Retrieved December 3, 2005. (

Witt, Jon. 2014. SOC. New York: McGraw Hill.


M. Bess Vincent is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Montgomery College-Takoma Park/Silver Spring. Originally from Louisiana, she received her MA and PhD degrees from Tulane University in New Orleans. At MC, she teaches Introduction to Sociology, Criminology, and Sociology of Family. In addition, she is the Women’s and Gender Studies Program Coordinator for the Takoma Park campus and she serves as advisor for the Women’s Studies Student Club.

Featured about Williams' film

God Loves Uganda

A film directed and produced by Roger Ross Williams.

MC Pride and Allies: Consortium Screening of God Loves Uganda

Initially on April 11, 2014 and most recently on June 20, 2014.

God Loves Uganda (2013) Directed and produced by Roger Ross Williams.

Background information on the film and recent developments

Prepared by Prof. Robert L. Giron

Narrator in the film: Rev. Kapya Kaoma:

-Anglican priest from Zambia, who now lives in Boston and has not returned to Uganda, narrates the film.

Background Info about Uganda:

-50% of the population is under 15 years of age.

-85% are Christian / 12% Muslims.

-Once Idi Amin left Uganda in 1979 (Amin died in 2002), the country was in need of financial support.

-In 1985, Uganda had one of the highest rates of AIDS; relief came from the USA in 2003 at the expense of not allowing health professionals to dispense condoms per the Bush Administration and instead needed to advocate abstinence.

The USA Connections to Uganda:

Pastor Scott Lively’s perspective:

-that Gays are responsible for the Nazis in Germany.

-that Gays are taking over the United Nations, the USA, and are destroying human society.

-that gays are recruiting Ugandan children.

-that Uganda needs to be the first nation to stop the gays.

Pastor Lively was instrumental in helping get the Anti-LGBTQ law passed in Uganda;

has been sued in USA Federal Court by the Center for Constitutional Rights on behalf of Sexual Minorities of Uganda and charged with crime against humanity for his active role to deprive LGBTQI persons in Uganda of fundamental human rights.

International House of Prayer = IHOP:

-Goal: to spread the gospel

-IHOP has financed the spiritual development in Uganda and has fed the anti-LGBTQ agenda.

IHOP Leader: Lou Engle (Confessed ex-porn addict)

Engle: IHOP has a mandate to rule the world.

IHOP’s Position:

-“All acts of sex are evil.”

-Sexuality is a choice: One can say NO to sex.

-Righteous need to rule per Biblical law.

IHOP missionaries in Uganda

Jess & Rachelle Digges (married couple)

Joanna Watson (Admits to being attracted to women but says she is healed.)

Leaders in Uganda Sympathetic to LGBTQI:

Bishop Christopher Senyonjo

-Entered the religious order after his first wife died of a snake bite.

-Church of Uganda stripped him of his religious position due to his support for LGBTQ communities in Uganda; has been excommunicated because he will not condemn gays, etc.

-He received the 2013 Clinton Global Citizen Award.

Bishop Senyonjo’s Position:

- “Abstinence policy is not realistic” most people won’t abstain before marriage.

-Ugandans have been influenced by USA Christian fundamentalists and their values.

Community Activist in Uganda:

David Kato

-Worked with LGBTQI communities until he was beaten to death.

Anti-LGBTQI Movement in Uganda:

Rev. Martin Ssempa

-Is one of the wealthiest Ugandans; lives in Kampala and Las Vegas.

-Promotes the position that gays are recruiting children; that the righteous need to rule; is against the use of condoms; helped move the anti-LGBTQ bill through parliament.

MP David Bahati:

-Blessed by Pastor Ssempa.

-Sponsored the Anti-LGBTQ bill.

-Chair of Uganda Boy Scouts.

-In the film he is shown to promote anti LGBTQI rhetoric.

{World reaction to anti-gay law:

Seattle Gay News (Feb. 28, 2014):

“Al Jazeera news service reported on February 24 that the Netherlands, Norway, and Denmark would redirect money formerly given to Museveni's government.

The Netherlands froze a $9.6 million subsidy to Uganda's legal system, saying that 'if the judiciary is to enforce such laws, we do not wish to assist that process.'

Denmark and Norway, each of which gives Uganda $8.5 million in aid, said they would redirect money towards private sector initiatives, aid agencies, and human rights organizations.”

The Washington Blade (March 14, 2014):

“The Washington Blade has confirmed the U.S. has not renewed a program with the Ugandan Ministry of Health that helps fund the country’s HIV/AIDS response after an anti-gay bill became law.

. . .

Uganda receives nearly $300 million each year through President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the East African country. The Ugandan government in 2013 received more than $485 million in aid from the U.S.”

David Bahati, “the author of Uganda’s anti-gay law, says the decision of several western countries to halt foreign aid donations is a small price to pay for protecting the nation’s moral values.”}

Robert Kayanja:

-1 of 5 of the wealthiest people in Uganda; lives in Kampala and Dallas.

-Founder and Senior Pastor of the Miracle Centre Cathedral.

-One of the most powerful people in Uganda.

Yoweri Museveni:

-President of Uganda

-Signed the Anti-LGBTQI Law on April 2, 2014.

-Outlawed: same sex relations; such actions can lead to life in prison, with serial offenders to be put to death.

Copyright © 2014 by Robert L. Giron.


Robert L. Giron is Professor of English at Montgomery College-Takoma Park / Silver Spring and is the past coordinator of the campus MC Pride and Allies.

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