Christopher Senyonjo says he was
excommunicated from the Anglican church in the early 2000s, but
continues his ministry and activism.
Four years ago, a bill was introduced in Uganda's parliament that
would criminalize same-sex relations. The Anti-Homosexuality Bill has
not yet become law, but it has drawn international attention to the
animosity against gays in the African nation.
In the director Roger Ross Williams traces the bill's origins to the American evangelical missions in Uganda.
"American evangelicals have done a lot of great work," Williams tells All Things Considered weekend
host Arun Rath. "But it's a certain type of fundamentalist evangelical
ideology that came in there and basically instilled in a lot of the
young people in Uganda this message that biblical law is above any other
Director Roger Ross Williams won an Academy Award in 2010 for his documentary short Music by Prudence.
The film traces the missionary efforts of the International House
of Prayer (IHOP) and follows a group of young people on a trip to
"I think that the young missionaries in the film are
really innocent and well meaning. They are just the foot soldiers, as I
like to call them," Williams says.
He believes that powerful evangelical leaders have a larger agenda:
I've talked to in my film has said, 'You know, look: America's lost.'
As marriage equality has passed, America is lost to them, but they are
winning the war in Uganda.
"And they believe that this war will
be won by eradicating what they believe is sexual sin, and that means
homosexuality. And that message gets translated very differently in an
Bishop Christopher Senyonjo became an
advocate for LGBT rights, when he began counseling young homosexual men
who were being persecuted by their churches and families. "When I talked
to these young people, they were so worried," he says. "And they didn't
know really what they were, actually, because of the way they were
being treated in our community. And I said, 'Accept yourselves as you
Senyonjo says his church urged him to condemn the men but that he refused.
believe this is the call, which God has called me to bring the good
news to LGBTQ people," he says. "That they also were created by God,
made in the image of God, which a number of our churches don't like to
Senyonjo was excommunicated by the archbishop of Uganda
in the early 2000s, but has continued his ministry and activism. He says
there are times when he's been fearful for his life. In 2001, he stayed
in the U.S. for six months.
"But I felt God wanted me to go
back," Senyonjo says. "I've been harassed, but people are coming to know
that what I'm trying to do is not really something which should make
someone regarded as an enemy of our nation."
Anti-Homosexuality Bill has stirred up major controversy, many activists
and observers believe that it will not be brought before parliament for
a vote. Senyonjo says the legislation has been a "blessing in
"This bill, I think, has helped us to understand
that we are not all heterosexuals," he says. "There are different human
sexualities which should be respected."