Appeals from prominent Christian leaders all over the world to their Ugandan brethren to denounce the controversial Anti-Homosexuality Bill have largely fallen on deaf ears. The problem might be that those Christian leaders, while they may be significant overseas, seem to carry very little weight in the minds of Ugandan Christians – especially among the Pentecostals (whose influence extends right up to the First Lady of Uganda, whose own daughter is a pastor). So forget Rick Warren. Forget Archbishop Rowan Williams. Forget the Pope. In Uganda the Superstar Men/Women of ‘God’ are Joyce Meyer, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Joel Osteen, T.D. Jakes, Creflo Dollar, Rod Parsely, Paul Crouch and other TBN (Trinity Braodcasting Network) regulars.
For over a decade these televangelists’ programmes have been beaming straight into millions of Ugandan households on a daily basis through Lighthouse Television (LTV), the local TBN affiliate. Ugandans absolutely love these guys – especially Meyer and Hinn, whose Kampala crusades are always filled to capacity.
The radicalised politicisation of Christianity that Uganda is experiencing today is largely thanks to the efforts of the conservative Evangelical (born-again) movement which boasts as members very highly influential people who wish to more or less turn Uganda into a theocracy. (In fact, they are the ones who gave birth to the anti-homosexuality bill.) The aforementioned televangelists wield an immense amount of influence over this community of believers, and have fairly easy access to Uganda’s Head-of-State and First Lady. In fact, Uganda’s First Lady is known to have personally invited Benny Hinn to Uganda to stage a crusade in May 2007.
Soulforce, an American social justice and civil rights organization that ‘resists religious and political oppression’ of LGBT people, seem to have latched on this very interesting fact and have written an open letter to these very televangelists, telling them that…
It is very possible that your silence on this matter will convince the people of Uganda that it is God’s will to condemn homosexuals to life imprisonment or even death by hanging. Your powerful media voices have made you superstars to Ugandans. We implore you to use your power to denounce this bill. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this time you and the Christian community behaved in the manner of love and justice rather than fulfilling the stereotype of the “liberal media” as ‘hate-filled bigots?
These superstars have power. These superstars have influence. Soulforce are therefore right. These superstar televangelists do have a responsibility to use their power and influence to encourage their flock in Uganda, especially political leaders and legislators whose respect they command, to end discrimination and violence against LGBT people.
The question remains as to whether or not they will care enough to do so.