I remember how shocked I was when I heard about the Lord’s Resistance Army for the first time. This Christian militia wants to introduce a theocracy in Uganda based on the Ten Commandments, and the pathway to this goal is death and destruction. The LRA is infamous for cutting off people’s lips, hands or ears if they betray them, arguing that they’re following the Biblical command in Lev 2419-20: “Anyone who injures their neighbor is to be injured in the same manner: fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth.”
The fact that Jesus abolished violence and said “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also” (Mt 5:38-39) was something they didn’t like to mention.
The LRA is completely mad, and many are eager to point out that they aren’t very Christian at all but practice pagan, occult worship, and the Ten Commandments Theocracy is probably not their real goal at all. In later years, they have been very marginalized and are not even in Uganda any more. However, when I hear about the new anti-gay laws in Uganda, which put LGBT people in prison for life and which requires all citizens to “report” homosexuals, I wonder if the crazy LRA ideology hasn’t won a small victory after all.
84 % of Uganda’s population is Christian. 40 % are Catholics, 35 % are Anglican. The Catholic and Anglican churches both have a history of Constantinianism, where the church utilizes political and military power. According to the Constantinian ideology, the church should control the state and use violence and punishment to spread the Gospel and Christian values. This thinking is contrary to the teachings of Jesus (Mt 20:25-26) and the practices of the pre-Constantinian church, which was a pacifist and apolitical movement. Just as Anabaptism is today.
In the secular age Constantinianism has been very uncommon in Europe, its birthplace, so that Anglican, Catholic and Lutheran churches have to become more Anabaptist in their thinking to survive. It’s very sad to see that this heresy now is spreading to the former colonies. If 75 % of Ugandians had been passionate Anabaptists instead of Catholics and Anglicans, this anti-gay law had been an impossibility.
What we’re seeing today in Uganda is pure homophobia and hate towards LGBT people. Ugandian tabloids and newspapers print names and faces of homosexuals and order their readers to kill them. The persecution is almost Rwandian. It is the responsibility of the whole church, the Catholic and Anglican church in particular, to condemn this horrible rhetoric and violence. We are not under the Old Covenant, which is “obsolete and outdated will soon disappear” (Hebr 8:13), but we’re supposed to spread the New Covenant of love, forgiveness and healing.
Lonnie Frisbee was gay, but a much better Christian than these hateful violent people that dishonor the name of Christ. The church has to free itself from all Constantian bondage, refusing to shape society through courts and violence, and instead invite all people to become Christ-like through the power of the Holy Spirit.