“God Loves Uganda” sheds new light on political problems in Uganda

 It was a normal day for David Kato, a Ugandan gay activist, speaking to people about his love support for homosexuals, a dangerous belief to preach about in Uganda. On a fateful day, a group of anti-gay Ugandans attacked him and battered him to death, trying to spread fear and hate. Davids words were featured in the new documentary “God Loves Uganda,” but unfortunately, so was his funeral.

Ever since the outbreak of AIDS in Africa, the U.S. has been involved in Uganda and its government. During the Bush Administration, Uganda needed help because of the rising number of deaths from AIDS. The Administration agreed to fund the country money but they would not give them condoms. The Ugandan government was told to teach abstinence instead of giving them protection, which didn’t lower the number of deaths from AIDS.

Now, about 10 years later, not only is the U.S. government involved with Uganda but so is the International House of Prayer (IHOP). With no distinction between church and state Uganda has become a perfect storm for the spread of hatred to homosexual people.

“God Loves Uganda” is a documentary directed by Roger Ross Williams. The film opened at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and had only three showings in Oregon on Jan. 17, 18 and 19. It was turned down by several large theaters in Portland but was eventually given to the privately owned Clinton Street Theater. It is a small venue that is known well for it’s habitual playing of “Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

The documentary opens with the introduction of the International House Of Prayer in Kansas Missouri. IHOP is a group of Christian Evangelicals traveling to spread their beliefs. The newest missionaries from the International House of Prayer University, are tasked to go to Uganda.

The film’s dialogue jumps from a Ugandan priest, Kapya Kaoma, living in America, to a few Ugandan pastors living in Uganda, and to the young missionaries. The film touches on how these evangelicals and pastors are spreading the word of God but underneath it all they are spreading a word of hate. The main theme in “God Loves Uganda” is not just that Christian extremists are teaching their beliefs to naive people, but some of these ideas are spreading to the Ugandan government. Their parliament has a bill underway that could make it illegal—  and punishable by death—to be homosexual. Even though it hasn’t passed, some Ugandan citizens have gone to the streets acting out on gay people with violence. A series of unfortunate events caused this bill to be introduced. IHOP took advantage of Ugandans week society while other extremists got into their government to manipulate their beliefs of homosexual people, creating a perfect storm.

Walking out of the theater I wasn’t as upset as I thought I would be. There was only one violent scene and the film stayed pretty neutral, all the people with differing views spoke. Surprisingly, the Evangelical missionaries didn’t upset me as much as the big Ugandan pastors did. Even though the Evangelicals didn’t agree with homosexuality, that’s not what they lead with. They preached to smaller groups that chose to listen. The Ugandan pastors would speak to large groups and open with things like “homosexuality is a sin” and other negative statements toward gay people. They spoke about gay people as if they were less than human. I don’t see how these ministers could think preaching about Christianity, or any other religion, involves hate.

I give “God Loves Uganda” an A. It shed light not only on politics in a deprived country but also on religion. People should take the time to watch an eye-opening documentary by a great filmmaker.

This documentary did what it was meant to do, inform people of the problems in Uganda and inspire them to stand for what they believe in.