God Loves Uganda | Reflections

SYNOPSIS: “God Loves Uganda explores the role of the American evangelical movement in Uganda, where American missionaries have been credited with both creating schools and hospitals and promoting dangerous religious bigotry. The film follows evangelical leaders in America and Uganda along with politicians and missionaries as they attempt the task of eliminating “sexual sin” and converting Ugandans to fundamentalist Christianity.”

god loves ugandaIt is difficult to know how to reflect upon a film that I know will offend some of my compatriots in evangelicalism, and infuriate others.

The youthful excitement of evangelical and missionary adventure is close to my own personal experience, evoking the positive nostalgia of wanting to do so much good in this world like reaching “lost” people, and “saving” souls from destruction. The fight for justice and tolerance is also very close to my heart as I weep for the victims of hatred and bigotry. The need for a commitment to Jesus is a ministry that I believe could radically change the world, as we seek to “love God,” and “love our neighbor,” the way Jesus (and the Torah) commands. However, the need to condemn religious institutions and fanatics for their irresponsible teaching is also something to which I hold dear.

So, where does that leave me with God Loves Uganda? Conflicted.

To my IHOP friends, I would ask for their reflections and commentary. Is there room for the “rational” in the midst of the “romantic” notions of faith expression? Are you willing to embrace the possibility of psychological manipulation as much as you’re willing to embrace the move of the Holy Spirit? And how are we to distinguish between the two?

To my conservative evangelical friends, I would ask for their conversation and humility. Is truth relevant to the “culture wars?” Are your biases so strong that seeing any other possible way of spreading “the Gospel,” is impossible? Are you willing to reconsider deeply held beliefs if that meant actually doing more and better “good” in this world?

To my non-believing and atheist friends, I would ask for grace, and understanding. Do you recognize that religion is complex, and variegated, and has done a world of good even in spite of its evils? Would you be willing to consider faith, and transcendence, as deeply held humanistic ideals that have the power to truly transform people’s lives? Would you be willing to help redeem religion for its highest values, rather than simply chide it for its lowest moments? Would you partner with us in the spreading of justice, mercy, compassion, and love. Can we link arms?

To all, I suppose I would ask if we could bring the worlds together. Can left-brain logic and right-brain imagination work together? Can the religious partner with the non-religious? Can charisma and rationalism be bed-fellows?

And can we listen deeply, seek first to understand, and leverage our lives for the very best of humanity rather than our own selfish and prideful endeavors, religious or non-religious.

Kapya Kaoma website headshotRev. Dr. Kapya John Kaoma works for the Political Research Advocates. To find out more, visit www.politicalresearch.org.

Description: Since 1981, Political Research Associates (PRA) has produced investigative research and analysis on the U.S. Right to support social justice advocates and defend human rights.

A social justice think tank, PRA holds a unique position in studying the entire spectrum of the U.S. Right–secular, religious, economic, and xenophobic–including its influence both domestically and overseas. Our thirty years of expertise helps journalists, advocates, educators, scholars, and the public to understand and challenge the right-wing.

PRA produces investigative reports, articles, and activist resource kits; publishes the quarterly magazine The Public Eye; advises policy makers and social justice advocates; and offers expert commentary for media outlets. Our core issue areas span reproductive justice, LGBTQ rights, racial/immigrant justice, civil liberties, and economic justice.

While threats to human and civil rights may come from any direction, the most robust opposition over the past few decades has emerged from the U.S. Right, which routinely employs harmful scapegoating and clever slogans that oversimplify complex policy issues. PRA counters with reliable analysis, looking beneath the sound-bites to expose the true agendas of right-wing leaders, institutions, and ideologies.

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