Preaching prejudice

Prayer mountainSundays in Kazo start noisily.

Angry yelling pastor and his clapping wailing fainting congregation start before 6am and they don’t let up till late morning – or maybe it’s later; by 11am I’ve usually hit my limit and gone to find somewhere quieter in central Kampala.

There are other distractions: rain battering our corrugated iron roof, the radio fizzling in and out of reception, someone’s phone playing crackly music, kids chanting over and over at the school opposite: LETTA A, LETTA B! TODAY IS TUESDAY! WE ARE FINE THANK YOU TEACHER MAURINE! SCHOOL FEES, SCHOOL FEES! But none of it, not even Dad’s occasional late-night liquor-induced grumbling, drives me to curse the way the shouting born-agains do.

Of course, it was us Westerners who first brought Christianity to these parts. More recently, American evangelicals have been associated with the increase in born-again converts – and more worryingly, with the growing homophobia that could lead to one of the most extreme policies in the world becoming law (including life imprisonment for grave ‘offences’, and three years in jail for not informing authorities that someone you know is gay).

One positive outcome of the ‘Kill the Gays’ bill (when first introduced, it proposed the death penalty) is the international attention it has provoked. Some foreign donors have threatened to cut aid if the bill is passed, and two recent documentaries (God loves Uganda, Call me Kuchu) have drawn attention to the sometimes fatal struggle of the targeted minority.

On a local level, though, it’s hard to see how a more tolerant attitude might be promoted when it is so closely entwined with religion. Especially when the most vigorous proponents of anti-homosexuality are also, most likely, the noisiest in the village.

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