Monday, November 26, 2012

The Religious Right Around the Globe: Ugandan President Museveni Delivers National Jubilee Prayer

Back on October, Uganda celebrated its National Jubilee with special events and talks by prominent public figures. Sponsored by several Christian groups in Uganda, the National Jubilee celebrated fifty years of Ugandan independence from the United Kingdom. An October 18th article in New Vision reports that Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni delivered a public prayer at the National Jubilee in Namboole. During the prayer, Museveni repented on behalf of his predecessors, begging God for forgiveness for sin that have "greatly hampered our national cohesion and delayed our political, social and economic transformation."
"We confess sins of idolatry and witchcraft which are rampant in our land. We confess sins of shedding innocent blood, sins of political hypocrisy, dishonesty, intrigue and betrayal.

Forgive us of sins of pride, tribalism and sectarianism; sins of laziness, indifference and irresponsibility; sins of corruption and bribery that have eroded our national resources; sins of sexual immorality, drunkenness and debauchery; sins of unforgiveness, bitterness, hatred and revenge; sins of injustice, oppression and exploitation; sins of rebellion, insubordination, strife and conflict."
Museveni prayed to God for collective deliverance from "ignorance, poverty and disease," beseeching God for national "prosperity and transformation." In language reminiscent of western anti-witchcraft preachers such as Reinhard Bonnke, Museveni cast away "satanic influence" and "witchcraft" covenants over Uganda.
"I renounce all the evil foundations and covenants that were laid in idolatry and witchcraft. I renounce all the satanic influence on this nation. And I hereby covenant Uganda to you, to walk in your ways and experience all your blessings forever."
Museveni's public prayer on behalf of Uganda was praised by Ugandan religious leaders, including Church of Uganda Archbishop elect Stanley Ntagali, Pentecostal leader Alex Mitala, and anti-gay activist Martin Ssempa of Makerere Community Church. However, praise for the prayer was not limited to regional Christian voices. World Net Daily quotes American Religious Right activist Scott Lively as praising Museveni's prayer, calling it "a model for all Christian leaders in the world." Lively insists that western leaders "have declined in proportion to their degree of rejection of God," praising Uganda for embracing the creator.
“Britain was at its height as a world power when it honored God as the Ugandan president has just done. America’s greatness has similarly diminished as we have shifted from a Christian to a secular-humanist country. But watch now for Uganda to be blessed by God for their desire to be His."
On the issue of Uganda's proposed anti-gay bill, Lively pointed to Museveni's prayer as evidence of Uganda's enlightened mindset. “This incident is also important as a contrast to the picture being painted of Uganda by the godless left of a backwards, violent and savage culture intent on murdering homosexuals,” he said.

I find it highly ironic that President Museveni repents for the national sins of injustice and oppression in the face of ongoing international controversy over Uganda's proposed anti-homosexuality bill. The draconian bill would legislate imprisonment for LGBTQ persons in a country where the LGBTQ community already struggles against virulent homophobia. I cannot help but wonder if Museveni's rhetoric about "sexual immorality" and "debauchery" were subtle references to homosexuality.

I also find it disturbing that Museveni speaks so matter-of-factly about witchcraft, a dangerous superstition that needs to be eradicated, not fed. Belief in witchcraft has produced untold suffering in many parts of Africa, with those accused of witchcraft facing violence and persecution, as UNICEF, Stepping Stones, and documentary filmmakers have documented.

Sadly, Uganda's political, economic, and social transformation will not come from prayers, but from the hard work of Ugandans who are building a better future for their country. It will come from respect for human rights, which cannot be realized unless Uganda jettisons the draconian anti-gay bill, addresses homophobia, and eradicates "witchcraft" violence. It will come from hope, knowledge, justice, and the rejection of old hatreds.

For additional commentary, visit the following links.

Bartholomew's Notes on Religion: Museveni Prays About “The Sins of Uganda”, Wins Praise from US Christian Right

Daily Kos: President Museveni's outrageous hypocrisy


  1. disturbing and thought provoking for sure

    1. Roberta -- The hypocrisy of the prayer (amidst the proposed anti-gay bill) was bad enough, but witchcraft!? A head of state in 2012 talking about freakin' WITCHCRAFT? Disturbing indeed.

  2. Somehow, Scott Lively always seems to anger me, it's like a gut reaction, I can't seem to help it whenever he opens his mouth.

    It really is sad to see this type of prayer being given by a national leader in a public setting. It would be one thing if this was stuff he did in private, but to do it in public is problematic. I couldn't help but wonder if he will now wait for god to fix his and his country's problems or if he will get to work doing it.

    I also find the witchcraft and homosexuality treatment problematic. Way to many people have suffered as a result of Christianity on those fronts. It needs to end.

    1. ReasonBeing -- Well, there are countless reasons to be angry at Scott Lively, so you're in good company.

      I agree that the religious bigotry and superstition need to end. Too much human suffering has resulted from these stone age ideas.


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