God Loves Uganda

God Loves Uganda
Directed by Roger Ross Williams
Full Credit Productions/Motto Pictures

Reviewed by Larry Buhl

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It’s been a rough couple of years for anti-gay forces in the U.S. and the western world. But anti-gay western Christian evangelicals have found fertile ground—they admit it freely—to spread their “Jesus hates homosexuality” message in Uganda, the buckle on the African Bible belt.

Roger Ross Williams’ documentary God Loves Uganda is a compelling glimpse into American evangelical “armies”—their term—that claim to spread the Gospel, but have also sparked an LGBT pogrom.

Williams has unprecedented access to a group of wide-eyed, perpetually upbeat young white missionaries who aim to convert Ugandans. These sweetly naïve twenty-somethings—a cheerful married couple fails to make the connection between their outreach and anti-LGBT violence—seem harmless enough. Some scenes are borderline amusing: missionaries parroting scripture to villagers who either don’t understand or care what they’re saying, and Ugandan preachers, trained in America by U.S. evangelicals, preoccupied by “eating poo-poo,” a practice supposedly part of The Homosexual Agenda.

Less amusing is the fact that Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” bill was a direct result of influence by U.S. ex-gay leader and gay hater Scott Lively and Lou Engle, leader of the Kansas City-based International House of Prayer (yes, IHOP).

Then there’s abstinence-only, one of the policy strings President Bush put on HIV/AIDS funding in Africa that has now become a de-facto public policy in Uganda. With western churches reversing the pro-condom messages there, it’s no surprise that the HIV rate has begun to rise.

There are glimmers of hope in God Loves Uganda, but those who value tolerance and justice may come away from the film with unease about America’s biggest export to this nation.

Larry Buhl is a radio news reporter, screenwriter, and novelist living in Los Angeles. His young adult novel, The Genius of Little Things, debuted last year.