Christians ‘demonised’ in scary documentary

Christians ‘demonised’ in scary documentary

AMONG many activities that will take place around the world to mark World Humanist Day on June 21, Swiss freethinkers are screening a documentary that has enraged evangelical Christians, particularly in the United States, where God Loves Uganda was released to critical acclaim last year.

Described here as “the most terrifying film of the year”, God Loves Uganda premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, and was shown nationwide on PBS channels in the US last month. It has also just been released on DVD.

Directed by Academy Award winner Roger Ross Williams, the documentary examines the relationship between American evangelical churches, their missionaries and anti-gay laws in Africa, like Uganda’s so-called “kill the gays” bill.

John G Stackhouse, Jr, writing for Christianity Today, accused Williams, who is gay, of “demonising” conservative Christians.

Roger Ross Williams

Roger Ross Williams

The film in fact largely fails to give us a proper explanation for why these evangelicals do what they do. There is no attempt to explain to the audience the Biblical basis for a conservative Christian understanding of sexual ethics, and only a few statements of their more general missionary mandate.

What we do get is lots of footage of their worship, especially in its more extreme modes. There is something unsettling, even creepy, about a black filmmaker depicting white (and black) charismatic Christians speaking in tongues, writhing on the floor, and otherwise acting in strange ways with no explanation at all.

If a white filmmaker had shown scenes of black Africans in similar modes but dressed in native costumes, we might well accuse him of racism, or at least of failing in the primary job of the documentary filmmaker: to make his subjects intelligible, let alone sympathetic.

In fact, these people seem unfathomable ­ – even actually mad. To depict them thus is the functional equivalent of demonizing them … but ‘demonizing’ is precisely the crime of which they are repeatedly accused in this film in regard to homosexuals.

But the simple truth, Mr Stackouse, is that many, if not all, of these American evangelicals who travel to Africa are indeed as crazy as shithouse rats and their behaviour cannot in anyway be rationalised.

Take Scott Lively, for example, whose insane book The Pink Swastika blames the rise of Nazism on gays, and Lou Engle, one of the founders of the International House of Prayer (IHOP), a charismatic Christian clown whose ravings have earned him an entry in the Encylopedia of American Loons.

Christian crazies Lively and Engle

Christian lunatics Lively, left, and Engle

After the release of the film, Engle who was at the forefront of calls for Uganda to enact draconian anti-gay legislation (which it has since done) laughably declared:

Our primary mandate as an organization is prayer and humanitarian action; it is not political. We are not involved in US politics, let alone politics in another nation.

This from a man who is shown in God Loves Uganda at an anti-gay rally in California where he warned that allowing same-sex couples to get married would unleash “sexual insanity” and a spirit “more demonic than Islam”.

In 2011, he organised an event in Detroit that was pitched to local pastors as a unity event for people of faith to pray for Detroit’s economy when its actual purpose was to “invade Dearborn” and convert followers of “demonic” Islam to Christianity.

Said Andre Banks, Executive Director and co-founder of All Out:

The world has never had an up-close look at how anti-gay animus is exported from the United States to places like Uganda. God Loves Uganda shows us how the US culture war is being shipped wholesale to Africa, sometimes unknowingly, but always with disastrous consequences. The film should be required viewing.

He added:

The film also raises urgent questions for American people of faith who care about justice and human rights. The large majority of churches in the US raise money to do good in their communities and abroad. But this film makes clear that we must each be certain that our contributions at the collection plate are not going, directly or indirectly, toward supporting laws that call for the death of gays and lesbians.

Roger Ross Williams won the 2010 Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject) with his film Music by Prudence and is the first African American to win an Oscar for directing and producing a film. God Loves Uganda was produced by Julie Goldman and Motto Pictures.

Since the film was released in 2013, Williams has continued his advocacy for justice for LGBT people in Uganda. He served as grand marshal at last year’s San Francisco’s Pride.

In March, he appeared in Los Angeles with Ugandan activist Clare Byarugaba.  During that appearance, Williams described Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni as

A dictator using the LGBT community as a scapegoat.

The President’s goal, he said:

Is to distract the public from the real issues, corruption and survival, and turn them against a vulnerable population on which they can take out their frustration.

22 responses to “Christians ‘demonised’ in scary documentary”

  1. Broga says:

    I note that the bible, a mess of contradictions, cruelties and general mayhem visited on all and sundry by their tyrant God, is the basis for these Christians behaviour. They have, of course, become victims of their superstition and, except for the religious aegis which gives a dispensation, would be regarded as clinically insane.

  2. Norman Paterson says:

    “The film in fact largely fails to give us a proper explanation for why these evangelicals do what they do. There is no attempt to explain to the audience the Biblical basis for a conservative Christian understanding of sexual ethics, and only a few statements of their more general missionary mandate.”

    Surely the Biblical basis is (a) well understood by most people, and (b) irrelevant. Plenty of people cause harm for religious reasons, but their motivation does not assuage the harm, nor does it result in more lenient sentencing. The only effect that I could imagine motivation having on the legal process is that it might result in a person being detained in a mental institution rather than a prison.

  3. Mike Hunt says:

    The Christianity Today review is hilarious, it’s as if he’s saying “quit making our ridiculous worship seem so ridiculous!” without an ounce of self reflection.

  4. Bubba T Flubba says:


  5. Angela_K says:

    “…conservative Christian understanding of sexual ethics” Christians do not understand sexual ethics, only their very narrow view and interpretation as seen through their bible. They grasp for any morsel of information that can be twisted and used to prop up their preposterous beliefs. Africa was a nice country until the christians arrived, just like the catholics in south America.

  6. Ton_Chrysoprase says:

    I’d pay good money to see a ethnographic documentary about evangelical Christanity, for preference made by somebody from a different culture with no prior exposure to western culture. It would be so great to hear the deadpan narration that tries but ultimately fails to understand the arbitrary cultural conventions of other cultures that is so characteristic of the genre.

  7. L.Long says:

    The only way they can show that their beliefs are not ridiculous as they are, is to simple never show them to any one not as crazy as they are.

  8. Trevor Blake says:

    Leviticus 20:13 states quite plainly: “if a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” Because these US Christians only indirectly contribute to the murder of homosexuals they are liberals. The true Christians are the Africans who murder homosexuals. Which says something unflattering about Christianity, doesn’t it? Unflattering and factual.

  9. Broga says:

    I think a new saint is on the way. He is Saint Steven of Gerrard. His apotheosis began in the “Radio Times” with the most turgid and glutinously reverential prose you will ever have the misfortune to read. I skipped most of it. Saint Steven must be headed for a spot on Thought for the Day.

  10. bear47 says:

    ROFL, it’s not “biblical” to be confused, just read the buy-bull……LOLMAO!

  11. JohnMWhite says:

    They have interesting ideas about sexual ethics, certainly. They know for sure two men having sex causes hurricanes, but having sex with children they’re not so clear on. Is it a crime? Can’t remember…

  12. Robster says:

    What they really need is the new Nutri Jesus! It’s electric, makes super foods and as a bonus, it’s a vibrator! What a winner, a multi tasker. Nutri jesus has a 600 watt motor and is easy to clean. It’ll whip up a wine and cracker milkshake in under a minute with a priestly blessing and when not in use can be hung on the wall to fill the needed “dead bloke on a stick” role so beloved by the church. Nutri jesus, call now, tithe free!

  13. JohnMWhite says:

    This is perfect, and such behaviour frankly sickens me. The apologetic gymnastics are obnoxiously transparent and futile, but not quite so futile as trying to point that out to somebody who has sold their soul to their god. They will rationalise and excuse anything in order to remain on god’s team, and in order to keep to the cherry-picked faith they’ve created for themselves. It’s kind of sad to watch as well, because what usually drives them away from the hateful parts of their book is their conscience, and they don’t realise that’s all they ever needed.

  14. JohnMWhite says:

    It is spectacular. There’s something creepy about a black filmmaker filming people doing what they do? The editor certainly didn’t reflect on how creepy that passage looked. Not to mention precious. How dare he make Christians look bad by showing what they are actually like! The nerve of some people…

    The review’s main point seems to be a limp No True Scotsman argument, which is just pitiful and I am beyond sick of hearing it from cowardly Christians who cannot own up to what their own faith stands for and what they and their peers prop up. Any given individual might not be a homophobic bigot, but they got their idea of Jesus from a book that tells them gay people (among others) should be murdered. The only thing stopping marriage equality in many countries around the world is religious resistance on an enormous scale. Spare me the pearl-clutching cries of “they are demonising us by show that we’re generally not nice to gay people”!

  15. barriejohn says:

    Someone linked to this the other day, It’s even more appropriate here!

  16. barriejohn says:

    Exactly. It’s the “fallen world that mankind had created” that’s at fault, and poor old God has to “[work] within the fallen system to bring about His will”. What a lot of twaddle!

  17. tony e says:

    Is anyone else having difficulty logging in?

  18. Matt Westwood says:

    If you pick out the sensible and nice bits of the Bible, and follow those, and look at the silly and nasty bits, and decide not to follow those, hey presto! you have become a conscientious humanist. Congratulations, and welcome to the human race.

  19. barriejohn says:

    I have said this before: many of the great humanists of the past were religious for historic reasons – eg Erasmus, Sir Thomas More, and the people who wrote many of the things that Jesus was supposed to have said. “The sabbath was made for man; not man for the sabbath” is pure humanism, but did not come from the person who said that neither a jot nor a tittle of the law would be abrogated!

  20. Rob Andrews says:

    Here’s a website the tells about the strange things in the bible. it has sections cataloged by subject, Such as homosexuality, slavery etc.
    It’s called: The Skeptics Annotated Bible.


  21. Rob Andrews says:

    I got the URL wrong. And the hypertext didi’t come through. let’s try again.

    The Skeptics Annotated bible at