God Loves Uganda
Directed by Roger Ross Williams
A powerful exploration of the evangelical campaign to infuse African culture with values imported from America's Christian Right. The film follows American and Ugandan religious leaders fighting sexual immorality and missionaries trying to convince Ugandans to follow biblical law.
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★★★½ review by Steven Sheehan on Letterboxd
An interesting look at the American Christian Right and their evangelical missions into Uganda, the 'Pearl of Africa'. The Book of Mormon may have satirised the missionaries that head into the country spreading the word of the Gospel but as this documentary shows, the negative impact of their work on the continent appears to be worryingly real.
Anti-gay and homophobic rhetoric appears to be the headline act under which they are delivering their message, pressurising the Government into proposing an anti-homosexual bill in the country, making same sex relationships illegal. David Kato, who was the subject of the 2012 documentary Call Me Kuchu, was a high profile victim of the dangerous ignorance being spread across Uganda, hammered to death by those who took the law into their own hands.
Roger Ross Williams' film takes a look at this troubling combination of politics and religion, how the funding from the Bush administration dictated the moral guidelines being taught in a country with one of the highest rates of HIV on the continent. Promote the use of condoms and the money reduced, preach abstinence along with the beliefs taught by the Christian Right and the funds remained in place.
We watch young missionaries from the Missouri-based International House of Prayer doing their work in the community. The forceful approach being used feels like it is taking advantage of people who are looking for some hope, already overexposed to the dominant American culture imported into their daily lives. Many of these young white men and woman no doubt arrive with the best of intentions, the problem being that they have already been brainwashed back home in America, so they themselves are naively spreading ignorance through God.
There is very little narration across the film, the camera capturing enough footage of these enforcers of God's word to speak loudly and clearly enough for itself. Some of the sermons delivered would be absurdly funny if who they were being delivered to weren't so readily accepting of what they were hearing. Targeting a sexuality that is still culturally misunderstood in Africa is a particularly underhand method being used by many.
Almost 50% of Uganda's 33 million population is under the age of 15, a quite staggering statistic in itself. It is the perfect hunting ground for the mega-churches that are appearing across the country to seize control of these young minds. Many countries on the continent are being targeted in this way suggesting that outsiders will always interfere with the progression of the region, never allowing it to flourish in its own right and find its true potential.
★★★★★ review by Michael Offerosky on Letterboxd
Powerful documentary in the JESUS CAMP mold about how missionaries from the West are exporting hateful values along with their religion to Uganda amongst other places around the world. Ultimately, this leads to Uganda's controversial "Kill The Gays" bill which at the time of this documentary had not yet become law. Not all Christians get a bad rap in this film. A notable Christian who was run out of Uganda for fear of his and his family's lives because he supported the LGBTQ community. Another notable religious figure still living in Uganda was excommunicated from his church for not condemning homosexuality and is also supportive of the LGTBQ community received a medal from President Clinton for his support of human rights. Fascinating watch. This film is a must see as it shows people on both sides and doesn't judge them but lets the audience do that. This is a must see.
★★★★ review by Dave Jackson on Letterboxd
God Loves Uganda is a distressing account of the shocking influence American evangelical conservatives have imposed upon Uganda. Their brainwashing preaching, given the stamp of approval by George W. Bush, has fostered a culture of homophobia, hatred, and a political system trapped by right-wing agendas. Director Roger Ross Williams takes the smart approach of allowing the misguided missionary minions of Lou Engle to speak for themselves, exposing the fraud and terror of their campaign. LGBT rights supporter and clergyman Bishop Christopher Senyonjo is a relieving voice of sanity throughout the film, and Reverend Kapya Kaoma, who has fled to America fearing for his life after speaking out against the Christian right-wing, acts as the film's narrator, setting the scene and laying out the troubling reality of what America has brought to Uganda.
★★★★★ review by Dan Gaertner on Letterboxd
Roger Ross Williams' "God Loves Uganda" is an infuriating film that will drive you crazy with anger. It details how American Christian Evangelicals use the country of Uganda as a dumping ground for bigotry and ignorance. Devastating work that deserves to be seen.
★★★★ review by Ken Rudolph on Letterboxd
This documentary recounts how the Kansas City based evangelical Christian church (the International House of Prayer) is compensating for losing the culture wars in the U.S. by exporting its young missionaries and hateful doctrine against LGBT people to the fertile territory of Christian Uganda. Ultimately this is having the effect of seeding prejudice and promulgating laws against homosexuality which amount to life in prison or even death sentences for Ugandan gays.
This is a tale of the Great White Hope as the squeaky clean Caucasian missionaries spread their gospel of hate to the cities and villages of one of the world's poorest countries. That the IHOP allowed full access both in Uganda and the U.S. is likely a tribute to the stealthy intent of the film makers to make an exposé in the guise of a fund raiser for the church. But even as straightforward documentary, this is frightening and horrifying stuff for anyone who has a smidgeon of regard for human rights.
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