Patricia Nell Warren

Oh, and Rwanda, Nigeria, Kenya, Zimbabwe...

Filed By Patricia Nell Warren | December 18, 2009 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Marriage Equality, Politics, Politics
Tags: anti-gay legislation, casting out demons, Kenya, New Apostolic Reformation, Nigeria, Rick Warren, Rwanda, Saddleback Church, Sarah Palin, The Family, The Fellowship, Thomas Muthee, Uganda, Zimbabwe

Welcome to the new world of globalized homophobia, as invented by the U.S.-based New Apostolic Reformation. No sooner had we mobilized some condemnation of the now-notorious bill in Uganda than another anti-gay bill popped up in Rwanda. And we can expect more such legislation from a lengthening list of African countries.

The fact is -- an anti-gay, anti-anything-that-is-not-NAR movement has been quietly building in Africa for many years. At the moment the missionaries are also targeting Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Kenya, with Burundi, Tanzania and other countries next on the list. The NAR is the ultimate wrinkle on the religious right -- a brain-child of Pentecostal apostolic extremists who are building an African empire of theocratic dictatorships that they call "purpose-driven" (Rick Warren's phrase) -- and who say they plan to build a "kingdom for Jesus" in the U.S.

A look at the map is very revealing. The list of countries I mention are forming a growing bloc in East Africa -- a wedge that will drive its sharp edge deeper into the continent.

How America Is Jesus-ing Africa

Here in the U.S., the perpetrators of that African "purpose-driven" movement are now very surprised and upset at all the negative publicity they've gotten from the bloodthirsty Uganda bill. This includes U.S. government figures -- members of Congress and others -- who are personally committed to that kind of theocratic Christianity.

Now some of them, including Rick Warren, are frantically denying that they have any responsibility for draconian new laws passed by their African converts. They're even condemning the Uganda bill -- which is both ironical and hypocritical, since they've all been flogging their beliefs around Africa for years (including the idea of biblical condemnation of homosexuality).

So far, we've heard a lot about The Family, aka The Fellowship. It's a secretive Beltway lobby group that has tentacled their brand of religion through various branches of government. Rachel Maddow talks about The Family almost every night on her show.

Typical of the Family posse is Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK). Over the years, Inhofe has made dozens of taxpayer-financed trips to Africa, supposedly on missions related to humanitarian issues, like famine, civil war and terrorism, that any sane person would care about. Often he travels in military planes, racking up costs to taxpayers that aren't reported because they're top secret. In Uganda, Inhofe sympathized with the Museveni dictatorship in its struggle with an army of northern rebels who reportedly kidnap southern children to serve as soldiers. In Rwanda, he commiserated with the government on the healing and rebuilding necessary after the genocide.

But all this salubrious humanitarian activity was apparently a front, behind which Inhofe was pushing his personal beliefs and aims, along with those of colleagues in The Family. Inhofe's misconduct and conflict of interest hasn't gone unnoticed. Last year, right in his home state, The Oklahoman printed an unfriendly article pointing out that the Senator was spreading his personal religion with the help of taxpayer money. Inhofe admits candidly, "I'm a Jesus guy." So far Inhofe has escaped more serious criticism.

The Family isn't the only U.S. religious field operation in Africa. This movement is being spread by a multiplicity of NGOs, nonprofits and groups, all of which are more or less coordinated under the umbrella of C. Peter Wagner's New Apostolic Reformation. Indeed, the seemingly diffuse nature of the movement allows it to fly under the public's radar the way it has.

Many ministers have their own missionary church orgs that are out there in the field in Africa. The biggest and most powerful is Warren's Saddleback Church, and he now denies any connection with the Uganda bill. But in fact, Warren has multiple connections to the growth of anti-homosexual hostility in Uganda -- and to the new Rwanda situation as well.

Rwanda


Tiny Republic of Rwanda, a former German and Belgian colony, is best known to the world for the 1994 genocide involving 800,000 victims. For many years, it had been one of the few African nations that didn't criminalize homosexuality. But on December 16, the Rwanda parliament started discussing a proposed law that is similar to the one being debated in Uganda. They're doing this because they're "purpose-driven" by the same Pentecostal religious movement, and will join the nearly 40 African countries that already criminalize homosexuality in some way.

Indeed, Warren visited Rwanda a month ago and spoke at a prayer breakfast there. Surely he must have heard about the anti-gay bill slated for discussion in the parliament. If so, why hasn't he condemned this one as well?

As reported by Talk2Action's Bruce Wilson, "Rwanda's Archbishop Kolini spoke at a 'peace crusade' gathering of participants from Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania at which he was reported in the Rwandan News as 'calling on churches in the East African region to fight against homosexuality for the good of the society.' Rwanda was Rick Warren's first declared 'Purpose Driven Nation' and Kolini serves on the steering committee for Warren's Purpose Driven/P.E.A.C.E. Plan in Rwanda and Saddleback Church's Rwandan HIV/AIDS HealthCare Initiative."

Meanwhile, other NAR-associated organizations are also spreading anti-gay hostility across Rwanda and other countries. For example, the College of Prayer. It's described by a website as a "ministry of the Revival Prayer Institute, Inc. established to mentor Christian leaders who will reach a lost world through a revived church. We are a faith ministry organized exclusively for the purpose of mentoring and encouraging pastors, wives, Christian leaders, missionaries, intercessors -- all who desire to more effectively impact their world through fervent revival prayer, prayer evangelism, intercession, and worship."

That COP mission statement sounds nice -- as conventional and harmless as a Presbyterian picnic -- until you learn that the prayers are chiefly aimed at "casting out demons." The NAR are obsessed with "demon powers." These demons allegedly occupy the geographical and political territory that NAR wants to capture, and must be prayed away and cast out at all costs. This naturally might include killing or jailing, if necessary, the people who are said to be "possessed. Or, at the very least, coercing them or terrorizing them into converting. In Africa, wherever the College of Prayer goes, the familiar package of bible-based beliefs -- including hostility to gays and "witches" -- goes along with it. The College of Prayer is already solidly established in Uganda. There, two of the MPs connected with the anti-gay bill -- namely David Bahati, who wrote it, and co-sponsor Benson Obua-Ogwa -- are associated with the College of Prayer.

Uganda's NAR apostle Julius Oyet describes how the College of Prayer spreads across Africa by fervid networking. Recently Oyet told the press:

"I've just returned from Rwanda and Burundi where I was talking to the members of parliament in Burundi and Rwanda and the VIP Pastors in ( ) Rwanda so that the next year we take College of Prayer into Rwanda and Burundi and, of course, into Tanzania and into Kenya where already people have been attending the College of Prayer."

Kenya

In Kenya too, introduction of these NAR beliefs is definitely arriving in company with prayer compaigns to "cast out demons." In 2006, a new anti-gay bill was passed that changed the penal code only in details. Homosexuality had already been punishable by 14 years in prison, going back to British colonial days.

Meanwhile, the NAR's Bishop Thomas Muthee is building his own mini-empire across Kenya. Right now he is so busy casting out demons and persecuting "witches" that he hasn't had much to say about homosexuals yet. Muthee did get caught in a lie about one alleged witch -- he announced to the world that his prayers and exorcisms had forced her to leave her village, but apparently the woman is still living there defiantly.

According to Bruce Wilson, "Muthee's fame has helped him to build his own Apostolic network in East Africa as well as a megachurch in Kiambu. His website reports a network of over 400 churches in Kenya. Ed Kalnins, pastor of Wasilla Assembly of God (Sarah Palin's church in Alaska for over twenty years), stated in a recent sermon that he has traveled to Africa to visit Muthee three times."

Nigeria

Ever since 2006, Nigeria has been working on a draconian anti-gay bill that provoked its own outcry from human-rights activists when it first appeared. There, homosexual acts had already been decreed punishable by 14 years in prison, another British legacy.

According to a detailed report by political reporter Doug Ireland, the new legislation will slap you with five years behind bars if you dare to do any of the following: belong to a gay group, attend a gay meeting or protest, attend a same-sex wedding, donate money to a gay org, advocate gay equality, host or even visit a gay website, express same-sex love to someone in an letter or email, watch a gay movie, take or even possess a photo of a same-sex couple, and publish or possess or loan a gay-themed book.

House of Rainbow MCC, Lagos, Nigeria, provides this backgrounder: "The bill, which was strongly endorsed by the Anglican Church, was widely expected to pass before the elections in April, but has since been tabled. It is not known whether it will resurface.Currently, both the anti-gay and pro-gay factions from Nigeria are coming to America, seeking to gain allies in their fight for the future of the Anglican Church.The Anglican Primate of Nigeria, Archbishop Peter Akinola, has compared homosexuality to bestiality and slavery, and called movements to create a gay-inclusive church an attack on God. 'What we are talking about is an attack on the Church by some whose aim is to discredit the gospel, pollute the Church, neutralize its power and pull it down,' he wrote in 2003."

In the summer of 2008, when Akinola and other Nigerian Anglican leaders decided to boycott the English Anglicans over the LGBT issue, Akinola was openly supported by Rick Warren. It was the occasion of Warren's now-famous remark that homosexuality is "unnatural" and shouldn't have any rights.

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is different -- a case of NAR "purpose" still trying to get its foot in the door. The country's dictator Robert Mugabe has already carried out a policy of extreme hostility towards LGBT people ever since 1987. Mugage was raised a Catholic, so he was gay-unfriendly without any prodding from missionaries.

But in Zimbabwe's upcoming elections, the country's corruption, inflation and political instability are such hot issues that President Mugabe may or may not be re-elected. Senator Jim Inhofe, always a windsock that indicates which way the NAR wind is blowing, has been openly critical of the Mugabe regime. So the U.S. government and the NAR may be working quietly to see that Mugabe is replaced by a dictator who is more easily directed into Protestant "purpose." But once Mufabe is history, it's a good guess that the anti-gay repressiveness will continue unabated in Zimbabwe.

So...Burundi, Tanzania, and Ethiopia. Senator Inhofe has been visiting Ethiopia a lot, so we'll surely see the "purpose-driven" movement popping up there. The College of Prayer says it also has bases in Burkina Faso, Senegal, Mali, Niger, Congo and Cote d'Ivoire. Look at the map to see it all shaping up.

On the side, we can't forget that Africa's wealth of oil and mineral resources are a silent but massive factor in the struggle for Africans' spirits and bodies that is going on -- not to mention the fact that China has been making huge trade bids in Africa. The NAR are very anxious that "godless" China not capture any major leverage in African politics.

The College of Prayer has even been invited to start a cell in the Canadian parliament. Once started, it will surely launch a war against same-sex marriage in Canada.

Here in the U.S., where it all starts, we're already seeing the start of the big move to "cast out the demons." Big targets: the "demons" of abortion, birth control, feminism, divorce, healthcare reform, atheism, non-Christians in public office, free speech, and of course anything LGBT.

Lou Engle's organization, TheCall, has already targeted the LGBT community for "casting out." In Bruce Wilson's current post, he writes, "Lou Engle's son Jess Engle specializes in casting out gay 'demons' and has established a ministry in San Francisco, which Lou Engle has described as a place 'where the homosexuals boast the dominion of darkness.'" It's clear to me that the NAR will follow up their demon-hunting with campaigns to criminalize homosexuality in the U.S., the same as they've done it in Africa.

It was Kenya's Muthee who "anointed" Sarah Palin in 2005 for her political career in the U.S., and prayed to make her safe from "witchcraft.". (The footage can still be found on YouTube.) Palin is just the kind of Apostolic candidate that the NAR movement hopes to put into the White House in 2012.


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All this, plus that fact that there is a well-established Muslim influence on the continent which tends to champion fundamentalist Islam, too --- most notably in Chad, Sudan, Somalia, and all along the Mediterranean coast of North Africa.

All in all, Africa is not an easy place to be GLBT --- maybe South Africa being the most GLBT-friendly, but even then hardly a mecca.

california panda | December 18, 2009 7:21 PM

It's always the most vulnerable, the uneducated, the illiterate, the desperate, the hopeless that are targeted by people such as the NAR and other extremists. It's not about theology, its about control, power, and developing a subservient mindset in the target population. Theology is just the tool used to enforce conformity and unquestioning obedience through fear and intimidation. I feel sick thinking about all the people whose lives will be destroyed by this.

california panda | December 18, 2009 7:39 PM

It's always the most vulnerable, the uneducated, the illiterate, the desperate, the hopeless that are targeted by people such as the NAR and other extremists. It's not about theology, its about control, power, and developing a subservient mindset in the target population. Theology is just the tool used to enforce conformity and unquestioning obedience through fear and intimidation. I feel sick thinking about all the people whose lives will be destroyed by this.

battybattybats battybattybats | December 18, 2009 9:12 PM

Weren't people saying recently that lobbying doesn't work?

Well here is lobbying working very well.

Maybe we should look into what our enemies do that works and find ethical versions of those tactics.

Wow, I would be a triple bad person, lesbian, trans and witch. My demon must be pretty high up there to be able to do that to a former Southern Baptist.;-)

I think they should outlaw religion instead, that would save more people in the long run than outlawing gays.

One thing Pat, though a very informative and great article, one part of the Ugandan legislation is also calling for people with HIV to be detained. Gays are caught in the web partly because AIDS is a "gay" disease in the eyes of many.

But then what do you expect from bible thumpers, intelligence?

The bill has no clause that calls for detention of anyone with HIV. The Uganda government would have to detain half the country! Including a lot of people who are HIV but are not homosexual. This would not be a popular move by the government.

HIV is mentioned only in the category of "aggravated homosexuality," which is the capital offense.

I will be accused of hyperbole, but this is the Religious ight instituting "Final Solution" in nations where it is possible to do so. Even if the penalty is simply reduced to imprisonment, just how many LGBT's do you suppose will be alive to be released atfer five to ten years incarcerated in countries with less than a fondness for observing human rights conventions and declarations?

Once this becomes old news in Africe, look for a few Eastern European countries to follow suit.

Today I see that "massive demonstrations" of "Christians" are supposedly taking place in Uganda, in fierce support of the bill. Meanwhile, Rick Warren continues to protest that his preaching has not contributed to this toxic atmosphere. He insists that his real intention for Africa is his P.E.A.C.E. program. These demonstrations are definitely not P.E.A.C.E.-ful towards us.

Powerful European and American Christian Extremists?

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | December 20, 2009 4:05 AM

Inhofe and politicians of his ilk need to be taught that they cannot do just anything they like anywhere as long as they appease the gods of Jesus, guns and Nascar.

That is what the good citizens need to learn about their senator in Oklahoma.