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Saturday, 12 October 2013

‘God Loves Uganda’–New Film Exposes the NAR Movement


‘God Loves Uganda’–New Film Exposes the NAR Movement

God Loves Uganda–a documentary that has won numerous awards at film festivals, including the 2013 Sundance Film Festival Audience Award–opens Friday, Oct. 11 in theaters in New York City.

Directed by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Roger Ross Williams, this film profiles New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) leaders and organizations–such as prophet Lou Engle and the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri–and their efforts to support anti-homosexuality legislation in Uganda.
Criticism of NAR leaders’ involvement in Ugandan politics is nothing new. Secular watchdog groups, such as Right Wing Watch and People for the American Way Foundation, have been sounding the alarm about the NAR movement for years. They fear that its dominionist agenda could lead to the suppression of the civil rights of homosexuals and others who don’t share the values of the NAR movement–in Uganda and the United States.

So, what’s my problem with the NAR efforts in Uganda? Of course, I–along with all biblically faithful evangelicals–believe homosexual practices are sinful. But my concern is that the NAR movement has shifted the historical evangelical focus on preaching the gospel (or “good news”) of salvation from sin to preaching a gospel of taking sociopolitical control. Even the documentary makers obviously picked up on this shifted focus, as is made evident by the film’s sarcastic tag line, “Have you heard the good news?”

In other words, the good news being preached by NAR leaders in Uganda is not the same good news that, historically, has been preached by Christians.

And another problem I have with the NAR efforts in Uganda is the same problem I have with the movement everywhere–its aberrant teachings. These include the teachings that, in order for the church to take sociopolitical control, Christians should submit to the extraordinary authority of present-day apostles and prophets, such as Lou Engle, who claim to reveal new divine revelation or “strategies” for taking dominion.
Those are things that disturb me about NAR activities in Uganda. But what disturbs me about this documentary is that it appears its creators have lumped together all U.S. evangelicals with the NAR movement. Several statements on the official Web site are guilty of this failure to make a crucial distinction between mainstream, orthodox evangelicals and participants in this heterodox movement.
See what I mean here.

The feature-length documentary God Loves Uganda is a powerful exploration of the evangelical campaign to change African culture with values imported from America’s Christian Right.
And here.
God Loves Uganda explores the role of the American evangelical movement in Uganda, where American missionaries have been credited with both creating schools and hospitals and promoting dangerous religious bigotry. The film follows evangelical leaders in America and Uganda along with politicians and missionaries as they attempt the task of eliminating “sexual sin” and converting Ugandans to fundamentalist Christianity.
And here is another statement that lumps together the efforts of all Christian missionaries in Uganda with the NAR movement.
Filmmaker Roger Ross Williams exposes the missionary movement in Uganda as an outgrowth of Africa’s colonialist past and a twenty-first century crusade to recreate a continent of people in the image and likeness of America’s most extreme fundamentalists.
I do hope the documentary itself does a better job than the Web site of distinguishing between mainstream evangelicals and NAR adherents. If you get a chance to see it, let me know what you your reaction is.
– By Holly Pivec