“The Promised Land For Christian Fundamentalism”

Andrew O’Hehir watched God Loves Uganda:

[Murdered Ugandan LGBT activist] David Kato and other victimized and persecuted LGBT people in Uganda and other heavily evangelized African nations seem to be paying the price for the fact that [preacher] Lou Engle and people like him are gradually losing the culture wars at home. Uganda is their biggest success so far, but the long-term vision involves a wave of Christian revival that will sweep out of Africa into the first world, driving back the apparently victorious forces of secularism. But even Engle and his movement, although they strongly oppose gay-rights legislation, did not propose the death penalty for homosexuals. Credit for that belongs in large part to Scott Lively, an unhinged American “ex-gay” leader whose extended rants about how gays had caused the Nazi holocaust (exactly how I do not know) and now sought the destruction of traditional African family life found an enormous audience among Ugandan officials, politicians and teachers.

In May, John G. Stackhouse, Jr. criticized this argument:

From first to last, the anti-homosexuality campaign in Uganda is attributed to the imposition of Western values. But anti-homosexuality is clearly not a distinctive Western value. It is rife in tribal cultures in Africa and already in the outlook of Ugandans when the recent wave of American evangelical extremists arrived. Only such facts can explain the receptivity given to such people as Scott Lively (who apparently spoke for five hours with the Ugandan Parliament) and the resulting widespread and violent anti-homosexuality in government and popular media. By comparison, when evangelicals did dominate North American societies in the nineteenth century, sodomy was illegal, but was not punished by anything approaching life imprisonment, let alone the death penalty. So the tired trope of imperialistic foreigners corrupting the noble savages rears its head again and must once again be dispatched by a little careful thought.

In an interview earlier this year with Queerty, Williams discussed what inspired him to make the film:

I have a strong religious background, and grew up singing in the choir of my family church.  I have always been interested in the power of religion as a force for both good and evil.  My last film [Music by Prudence] took place in Zimbabwe and, while I was shooting there, I was struck by how popular conservative Christianity is in sub-Saharan Africa. After I read about Uganda’s now famous “Kill the Gays” bill, I wanted to explore the religious forces behind it.  I’m not interested in films that preach to the converted— I always wanted to make a film that starts a dialogue within the religious community.

Previous Dish coverage of gay persecution in Uganda here, here and here.