Regular readers of this web site are well aware of the significant role American anti-gay Evangelicals have played in fomenting Uganda’s political climate against its LGBT citizens, beginning with a March 2009 ex-gay/anti-gay conference held in Kampala. The fruits of their actions flourished over the following weeks with a full-fledged public vigilante campaign and culminated in a bill being introduced last month which provides for the death penalty for LGBT Ugandans under certain circumstances. The bill also criminalizes all free speech and defense of gay people in that country and provides criminal penalties against friends and family members who refuse to report LGBT people to the police.
While we’ve focused our attention on those three American anti-gay activists whose actions are most directly tied to the latest chain of events in that country, the roots of American Evangelical involvement in Uganda run extraordinarily deep. According to the pro-government newspaper New Vision, Dr. Fred Hartley, the president of the College of Prayer International, held a prayer meeting in Kampala, where he instructed several MP’s on the power of prayer over — get this — witchcraft:
“You should not consult witchdoctors for success but instead seek help from God,” Dr. Fred Hartley, the president of the College of Prayer International, said. “I know witchcraft is a big problem in Uganda but as MPs, you should be exemplary,” he said.
…Hartley explained to the MPs that the Kingdom of God involves righteousness, joy, peace and the Holy Spirit. He told the MPs that if they prayed in line with the Kingdom of God they would be able to cast out demons.
The College of Prayer International identifies casting out demons as one of its core missions. They also seek to “train national leaders” with their superstitions:
- Satan Evicting – As Christ’s Kingdom advances, demonic strongholds are exposed and eradicated. Practical teaching is provided to equip leaders with tools to engage the enemy in the gateways of life.
- …Nation Discipling – We are passionate about training national leaders and national churches to reach the final unreached peoples of the earth.
What does all this have to do with the latest Anti-Homosexuality bill that’s been introduced in Uganda’s Parlaiment? Well, it turns out that two pivotal players in that saga have been involved with the COP, which is targeting Uganda’s political leaders for influence.
Uganda Member of Parliament David Bahati, who introduced the Anti-Homosexuality bill into Parliament last month, was part of this prayer meeting, which resulted in his being selected as one of eight MP’s to serve on the Christian “servant leadership team” in Parliament for three years. Also at that meeting and included in that gang of eight was MP Benson Obua-Ogwa, who has been identified as one of the cosponsors who helped Bahati draft the Anti-Homosexuality Bill that is now before Parliament.
The U.S.-based College of Prayer International has extensive ties throughout Africa. After having worked elsewhere in Uganda, COP established a campus in Kampala, Uganda last April, with the specific intent of targeting Uganda government officials for recruitment:
The team consisted of Fred and Sherry Hartley, Mike Plunket, Joel Kangas, Julius Oyett and Rian Seipler. We were all amazed at what God is doing to transform this country. In the wake of civil war and bloodshed is a desire to seek the Lord and rule according to His righteous principles. We had two mornings with members of Parliament and we witnessed their earnest desire to pray and seek God for protection and guidance in their duties as heads of state. Join us in praying for this group of believers who want to establish a College of Prayer among the governmental leaders of Uganda.
The College of Prayer’s Third Quarter 2009 Report (PDF: 540KB/11 pages) identifies the Kampala branch as “one of our most exciting advances as the government open its doors to host the second module of the COP.” Is was that second module that was reported on in last week’s New Vision article. That meeting followed a larger African Prayer Summit held in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire July 21-25, with four more days of additional College of Prayer training. According to the COP’s report, MP Obua-Ogwal was also at that summit, where he heaped praise on the COP gathering:
On Thursday evening following our glorious day of prayer, the Honorable Benson Obua Ogwal, member of Parliament in Uganda declared,”Today was the greatest day of my life.” He explained that with all the demands placed on him as a governing official, this fresh encounter with Christ was the most refreshing and impactful moment in his life.
Later, he is quoted as saying:
It left a very big impact on me and I can assure you all that I am not the same Benson who left Uganda for Abidjan!
[Hat tip: Richard Bartholomew at Talk To Action]