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Rwanda | Uganda
Politics | Society

US fundamentalists "fight proxy war" in Uganda, Rwanda

Human rights advocate Kapya Kaoma

© Govt of Sweden/afrol News
afrol News, 22 September
- Fundamentalist "evangelical" Christian congregations in the US have plaid a strong role in radicalising Anglican and Protestant communities in Africa, in particular Uganda and Rwanda. New reports document their real motives as imperialistic.

A three-day seminar held in Kampala in March 2009 by the US extremist Scott Lively called "Exposing the Truth behind Homosexuality and the Homosexual Agenda" was to have a great impact on politics in Uganda.

Attended by leading Ugandan politicians and religious leaders, the seminar laid the foundations for Uganda's controversial - now stalled - anti-gay legislation that foresaw the widespread use of the death penalty for sexual minorities. It also led to a great public witch hunt against homosexuals in Uganda and the public acceptance of calls to kill gays and lesbians.

Mr Lively, author of the Holocaust denying book "The Pink Swastika", only provided the well-orchestrated last drop in a decades-long radicalisation of Christian communities in Africa. Conservative "family values", elitism and foremost the fight against homosexuality are cultural values being exported to Africa.

Kapya Kaoma in his 49-page report "Globalising the Culture Wars" has demonstrated how this cultural export is not a product of US benevolence. Rather, it is a new form of cultural imperialism with the only aims of winning the conservative-liberal cultural war in the US through a proxy war in Africa.

"This campaign is part of a long-term deliberate and successful strategy to weaken and split US mainline denominations, block their powerful progressive social witness promoting social and economic justice, and promote political and social conservatism in the United States. Using African leaders as a wedge in US conflicts is only its latest and perhaps most effective tactic," Mr Kaoma writes.

Fundamentalist Christians in the US, dreaming of family ideals of the 1950s, had seen their global position weakened over decades, with modern liberal ideals winning in Europe, Asia and even in Catholic Latin America. A new external ally was in need, and Africa provided the cheapest option.

Evangelical populist preachers were sent to Africa, engaging large crowds and influencing local preachers. Church societies received conservative funding in change for more conservative preaching and money-making evangelists were placed as "advisors" to church and political leaders. The campaign proved especially successful in Uganda and Rwanda, but also in Nigeria and Kenya.

In 2003, when the openly gay man Gene Robinson was elected Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire, US, America's conservative Christians were ready to globalise their war against "liberalism". African Anglican churches were urged to start the protests against Bishop Robinson.

The trick to have the anti-Robinson rebellion started in Africa was elegant. The Archbishops in Uganda and Nigeria were given the opportunity to stand out as proud and autochthonous. In statements, they claimed the moral upper hand, even willing to reject further funding from the Anglican central. The Archbishops were able to glow as they offered protesting US Christians to join African congregations.

And indeed, so

Kapya Kaoma's report "Globalising the Culture Wars", featuring Nigeria's Archbishop Peter Akinola embracing US evangelist Martyn Minns

© Facsimile/afrol News
on after there were headlines about one US conservative group after the other joining the Anglican Church of Uganda or the Episcopal Churches of Nigeria and Rwanda. It looked as if Africa had the upper hand; as if African imperialism hat hit North America. It looked as a proud moment for Ugandans, Rwandans and Nigerians.

Of course, it was not. The African churches severing ties with the liberal American Episcopal Church were not heroically saying "no" to foreign funding, but instead saw their funding increase rapidly. Only the source had changed, and the new source - fundamentalist Christian US congregations and organisations - proved to be more demanding than the old one. They demanded influence.

The same was the case about US congregations joining African churches. This did not mean African Archbishops got real power over their new US members. Mostly, it was the other way round, with "advisors", preachers and fund-raisers got decisive control over their African bishops. A new form of cultural imperialism beautifully disguised as the opposite.

"US conservatives are often invisible hands behind African religious leaders," also Mr Kaoma concludes in his report. Their influence is steadily growing as the networks shaped since the 1980s are getting tighter.

Also, US funds for African congregations promoting fundamentalist messages are getting more available. US author Jeff Sharlet told the magazine 'Boise Weekly' that, when US pastors come to Uganda, said is "big money to be made."

"Competition is fierce to attract American pastors to come to their church or revivals. Often providing huge offerings, Ugandan pastors gain access to the money-making American Christian speaking circuit," Mr Sharlet told the magazine. Competition for funds was now so fierce that smear campaigns against competitors have been launched.

Meanwhile, not only African church societies are infiltrated by US fundamentalists fighting their proxy war. US conservatives in practical terms have taken over the leadership of the Ugandan Christian University, 'Boise Weekly' reveals. Also, the conservative organisation 'Advocates International' is spinning its network of fundamentalist lawyers in Uganda, preparing to take control of the judiciary.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, both strong admirers of the US, for years have given American evangelists direct access to their presidencies and fellow politicians. Both are believed to be privately influenced by US evangelical ideology.

Mr Kaoma, promoting a more liberal Christianity, warns against the abuse by US fundamentalists, saying they are lying to Africans about their true intentions. He recommends liberal church communities to "expose and isolate US religious conservatives" in Africa, and to start the long process of building relationships with the next generation of Africa's religious leaders.

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