Outsourcing theocracy to Uganda: This is what bad fruit looks like

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits.

Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?” Then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.”

Matthew 7:15-23

Roger Ross Williams introduces the video above at The New York Times.

Uganda is 85-percent Christian. The U.S. is 70-percent Christian.

This is not about missions or missionaries or the gospel, this is about outsourcing theocracy.

And what these purported Christians are promoting in Uganda is evil. This is a tree bearing bad fruit.

We are not told to ignore such bearing of deadly bad fruit. We are not told to overlook it, to dismiss or to downplay the bad fruit borne by these groups because, after all, they say “Lord, Lord” and do many deeds of power in Jesus’ name.

We are told that we can know them and that we will know them. And we do know them. Look. See. This is what bad fruit looks like. No good tree can produce such poison.

Do what Christ told us to do and look past their outward show of piety and godliness to know them by the fruits of their work and to see them for what they really are. Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.


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  • Equal parts heartbreaking and horrifying.

  • reynard61

    One would think that, given their disastrous experience under Idi Amin, the Ugandan people would be a bit more wary about letting ravenous wolves in sheep’s clothing assume positions of power again. But I suppose that when those wolves are wearing an American flag and carrying a Bible and a cross and spreading American dollars around, it’s easy to ignore when they start taking over the government and preaching hate against a “sinful” minority.

  • Fusina

    My Mom was complaining about how the Liberals are going to allow Islamic Sharia law to become the law of America… The Conservaties  seem to be working very hard to bring about much the same thing vis a vis Christianity not just here but apparently in Uganda as well–it doesn’t matter to me who is behind it, anything more than my favorite law* is too much.

    *Don’t be a dick. AKA, the Golden rule.

  • The reason that some of these guys hate Sharia law so much is because it’s a competing product. It’s like Macs vs. PCs; neither side really ‘hates’ the ideas of computers — they just like theirs better. It does lead to some silly side-effects though; the reason Christian extremists here are better than Islamic extremists in the Middle East isn’t because the Christians are better people — it’s actually because the secular liberal-democratic framework of the US doesn’t permit them to be as abusive as the Islamic extremists can be in their own countries. 

    Our fundamentalists can’t actually ban contraception and criminalize homosexuality, at least not outright. They settle for smaller human rights violations not because they don’t want to do worse but because they legally can’t get away with doing more. That’s probably with they fight same-sex marriage so heavily — it’s one of the few legal avenues they have left to discriminate against people. They can’t make gay people pay a special tax or wear armbands to identify themselves or order the police to capture them and commit them involuntarily to reeducation camps, so they put all the energy that homophobes in other countries spend on all those other things into this one fight.

  • Darakou

    About the evangelicals in that video, I have a mind to ask- if you want to live under a lifestyle purity code, why don’t you just convert to Judaism? Did we Christians set aside the kosher laws just to adopt a new set? Did God let us start eating pork just because it tastes so good? Did we trade one set of set of religious tyrants for another?

  • For a year or two I orbited around an organization that was a step or two removed from IHOP.  I didn’t realize, at the time, that this kind of thing was happening.  Nevertheless, I feel gross and terrible that any of my efforts may have bolstered this kind of atrocity.  I’m an atheist, but I apologized to God after reading this, just in case, because I really am sorry that I allowed myself to be hoodwinked by far-right religious nuts into an organization that supports vigilantism and persecuting people for how they were born.

  • Fusina

     Two words. Oscar Wilde. Yeah he was in England, but we nicked a lot of our legal stuff from them.

  • P J Evans

    Since Uganda is 85% Christian, shouldn’t they be the ones sending out missionaries?

  • ReverendRef

     Since Uganda is 85% Christian, shouldn’t they be the ones sending out missionaries?

    They are.  They are part of a group known as AMiA (Anglican Missions in America).  They are supported, both theologically and financially, by angry, conservative (former) Episcopalians who are convinced that the Episcopal church (TEC) is going to hell for allowing women and gays into their ranks. 

    AMiA and ACNA (Anglican Church in North America) are doing their level-headed best to destroy TEC and reshape it in their own, exclusive and hateful image.  It’s a mess that we in TEC, and the rest of the Anglican Communion, have been dealing with for a decade or more.  And while these two groups claim membership in the Anglican Communion, there’s really never been any formalized inclusion.  Instead, there’s been a whole lot of capitulation and trying to keep the peace by our (now former) Archbishop.

    So, besides being exclusive and hateful, and besides claiming to be orthodox but freely revising that term to fit their own agenda, people who support them are often outright liars.  For instance, in 2006 when TEC was electing a new Presiding Bishop, one of the people nominated was Katharine Jefferts Schori.  I didn’t think she’d be elected because she was the first woman ever nominated.  She won.

    I was told from a reliable source that the hard-line conservatives got together and voted for her as a bloc, helping to ensure her election.  Afterwards, they used her election as “proof” that TEC was “falling away from the faith once delivered” because they elected a WOMAN of all things.

    I’m not very fond of the so-called “conservative orthodox” in TEC or Anglican-land, nor am I very fond of “missionaries” sent to reclaim the U.S. for traditional Christianity.


  • I start wondering if we need to send more missionaries to Uganda, with a mission to get them to calm down and accept a less asshole-centric view of Christ.  

  • ReverendRef

     Part of the problem here isn’t just religion, although that seems to be the presenting issue.  What seems to really be going on is a backlash against the Western world (in general) and colonialism (in particular). 

    The people who colonized us are evil; westerners are evil; this is shown by how they allow abominations as homosexuality to be normalized; they are normalizing it their churches; therefore we will fight the good fight.  It’s all a piece of one, big ugly ball of string.

    I’m not sure sending less “asshole-centric” missionaries would actually work right now.

  • jamesprobis

     I really strongly disagree with the argument that presents this as being about Westrern Colonialism. They are doing this in the name of Western religion.

    No, more missionaries isn’t the solution, but let’s not pretend it isn’t the problem. Violent homophobia is an embracing of Western imperialist ideas, not a rejection of them.

  • Madhabmatics

     actually the hilarious thing is that both the people who end up being jealous of sharia and the people who are terrified of “sharia law becoming the law of the land” both share the same concept that is really weird and not at all compared to actual sharia jurisprudence, which makes it even funnier

    i’ll write something up explaining it once I get downtown, b r b

  • They don’t want to live under a lifestyle purity code themselves. They want to force other people to do so. Especially women, of course — these so-called “purity” codes always come down exponentially harder on women. Men can’t eat pork; women can’t have any power whatsoever in the public sphere, for a start.

  • I was told from a reliable source that the hard-line conservatives got together and voted for her as a bloc, helping to ensure her election.

    If hard-line conservatives keep doing things like this, the world will become a far better place. Next, they should prove the world is going to hell by electing a female president of the U.S., increasing funding to Planned Parenthood, passing single-payer health care, making sure every school has an excellent sex education program, voting for rational gun laws…

  • WalterC

    No, they definitely shouldn’t do that. Me and my Communist friends would be horrified if they did that. Absolutely devastated. 

  • Hth

    Sharia law vs. Christian dominionism:  your free choice of oppressive desert monotheisms!

  • vsm

    Why do people always specify the desert? Would an oppressive tundra monotheism be preferable?

  • EllieMurasaki

    No, but the oppressive monotheisms do tend to come from desert. In fact all the monotheisms I can think of offhand come from desert.

    We are by and large no longer the desert nomads that a lot of those rules were written for.

  • vsm

    I guess there’s Sikhism and certain interpretations of Hinduism and Greek paganism. Anyway, the emphasis on the desert seems to imply backwardness, which I find difficult to accept. The desert in question was home to several ancient civilizations and remained one of the most advanced regions in the world for thousands of years. Sure, they’ve had a few rough centuries, but it’s still hardly the worst place one could live in.

  •  “I have it in me so much nearer home to scare myself with my own desert places.”

  • sketchesbyboze

    “I have words that would be howl’d out in the desert air
    Where hearing should not latch them.”

  • Fusina

     My Mom belongs to one of the Virginia breakaway congregations, now in the ACNA. The church I belonged to before I moved also, and the priest who married us is now a bishop in the ACNA. I had a lot of respect for him but not so much anymore. They are both under the authority of the church of Uganda. I did ask my Mom about the bishop of Uganda supporting the legislation regarding capital punishment for homosexual behavior. Her answer involved going along with it to keep the peace. My question was, “what else will he go along with?”

  • Quite a bit I’d have to imagine – going along with murder there isn’t really a lot of steps further than that to take.

  •  I prefer an unoppressive dessert polytheism myself <_< PIE FOR THE PIE GOD!

  • VMink

    “Steak for dinner sometime soon.  So speaks the Kumquat Haagendaaz.”

  • ReverendRef

     Sorry to hear you got caught up in the middle of all that; that’s just not fun.

    I did ask my Mom about the bishop of Uganda supporting the legislation
    regarding capital punishment for homosexual behavior. Her answer
    involved going along with it to keep the peace.

    Funny how they’re willing to go along with agendas of hatred and support of death-to-the-people-we-don’t-like in order to keep the peace, but they weren’t willing to do the same when it involved inclusion and equality.

  • Kirakata

    And, as a Mississippi Episcopalian, I am appalled by this./Ironically, my sister’s Episcopal church rector is from Uganda.

  • Fusina

     It makes it very hard for me to have a relationship with her, knowing that the inclusion and equality that I hold sacred are things she is okay with people dying because they don’t have it, so long as they are the evil sinners she thinks they are. I am also sorry that I see her relationship with my children fraying, as they learn what she says and does. My daughter asked about this, in part because her best friend is gay. It is something we don’t talk about anymore (not daughter, Mom and I) along with a host of other topics. We are pretty much left with the weather as a topic we can still discuss… Even my children are a minefield of hot button issues in her world… I got my daughter vaccinated for HPV, and somehow that was a bad thing.

  • ReverendRef

     fwiw . . . you have my prayers.

  • Tapetum

     Get OUT of the kitchen. It will be ready when it’s ready!

  • Madhabmatics

    Okay, so I didn’t write this yesterday but I’ll do it now. Before I start, I’m gonna drop a lil’ history to kind of give the flavor behind why the Sharia system works as it does.

    Okay, so early on in Islamic history there was a culturally traumatic incident when Ali and Mu’awiyah got into a row over who would get to take over the position of Caliph, which was basically a kinda new position and people were still arguing over whether it was secular or religious. So the two meet up for a big fight and Mu’awiyah was losing and decided to have a negotiation, which Ali agreed to. Long story short, some of Ali’s troops didn’t think negotiating over what they viewed as God’s Plan was acceptable and turned on both armies for denying the will of God. In the eyes of these rejectors, by accepting arbitration about who should be the ruler, Ali and Mu’awiyah had ceased to be Muslims.

    We call declaring someone who tries to practice Islam non-Muslim “takfir.” It’s generally considered a bad thing that only idiots like the Kharijites mentioned above do, because who can know who is a Muslim but God? After all, we don’t actually KNOW what God wants outside of a few specific things…

    …and outside of those specific things is where “Sharia Jurisprudence” comes in. The Quran has some commands, but even for those commands, it generally doesn’t illustrate context or actual practice for them – for those, we look to Hadiths, which are basically lines of quotes from people that were like “I heard from this guy, who heard from this guy, who hung out with the Prophet, that when a person came and said they committed adultery the Prophet turned around and covered his ears because the point was to get people to keep their mouths shut instead of telling everyone that you slept with a married person.”*

    Now there are like a billion hadith and we have ways to tell which ones are more accurate than others (Abu Hurrairah has a cool kitten related name but even people who like the dude admit he made up some stuff) but we can’t know for sure, so there has to be room for disagreement – if one narrator says “Yeah the Prophet liked this musical show” and another says “The Prophet would have never listened to a musical show” and both transmitters are reliable, well, declaring someone not a muslim for picking one over the other would be takfir and dumb and maybe we better just accept that people are going to disagree.

    So basically what the Sharia system involves is scholars getting questions about utterly mundane how do we live stuff (because “Don’t kill people you aren’t at war with” and “Don’t lie unless it’ll save someones life, including yours” and the obvious big stuff are in the Quran) and looking at these contradictory hadith and picking out ones they think are legit and giving their completely non-binding opinions that you can accept or reject based on whether you think their argument is dumb or not. Outside of wanna-be Kharijites there aren’t even recommendations for punishments. (Although there are Sharia rulings on whether certain punishments are okay for secular states to use, but there is a ton of disagreement on that like there is on any issue.)

    My name is a reference to this – Madhabs are schools of Sharia jurisprudence that have a broad theme, but lots of disagreement by people inside the school. Two good examples are seafood (One school says never, another says ‘bless it first’, a third says ‘you don’t even have to bless it because God has blessed the sea already, nerd’) and music (The Maliki madhab is majority against music, which is why AQIM is trying to ban it in north Mali, but there have been Maliki scholars that said music is okay and you don’t suddenly become not-Muslim or even not-Maliki for listening to music.)

    If you ever actually pick up a book of Sharia rulings, basically they are just books where dudes wrote or asked the author “Hey can I have a nose ring” or “is Oral Sex with my wife okay” and the author goes “HELL YEAH” or “NO DON’T” and constantly ends every question with “But, I could be wrong, God knows best.”

    Ironically, for Christians who really want some Sharia, they’ve had that since the 1980s:


    Anyone can write to James Dobson and be like “yo James D tell me about drinking non-alcoholic beer” and he will totally give you a non-binding ruling that you can accept or not based on his argument and then he will put it in a book where other people can read it. Functionally this is the same as when I emailed a famous practitioner of Sharia jurisprudence to ask whether or not it was okay to make fun of people on internet forums.

    The only way it could be more like Sharia is if nearly everyone agreed that accepting rulings from Mark Driscoll or Rob Bell are equally valid.

    *this is a real hadith that is often used in arguments about whether or not big punishments are actually ever appropriate, b t dubbs.

  •  Interesting stuff Madhabmatics Never knew any of that until now.  *feels more educated*

  • Consumer Unit 5012

     I’d argue that once you’ve agreed to go along with promoting government-sponsored mass murder, you’ve given up all pretenses to HAVING morals, much less any right to preach about morals to others.

  • Functionally this is the same as when I emailed a famous practitioner of Sharia jurisprudence to ask whether or not it was okay to make fun of people on internet forums.

    Now I am curious to hear the response to this quandary  (if you want to share it.)  It reminds me of when John Stewart had to consult the Comedy Ethics Bible to figure out if it was morally permissible to make jokes poking fun at a high school teenager (the answer was yes, but only if you were their sibling or classmate.)  

  • mattepntr

     “Anyway, the emphasis on the desert seems to imply backwardness, which I find difficult to accept.”

    As a resident of Arizona, I don’t find it difficult at all.

  • EllieMurasaki

    There is no Arizona / no Painted Desert, no Sedona / if there were a Grand Canyon / she could fill it up with the lies he’s told her


  • Ttricksterson

    The twistedly amusing part is just how similar sharia, or at least the Islamofascist version of it, is to the Christofascist version of Mosaic law.  They’re a lot closer than any Mac is to any PC ever made.

  • EllieMurasaki

    IBM PC vs Dell PC?

  • Ttricksterson

    So basically when they come for the gays he will say nothing because he’s not gay?  And when they come for the Jews…

  • Lori


    Anyway, the emphasis on the desert seems to imply backwardness, which I find difficult to accept.   

    I don’t think it implies backwardness so much as harshness. Having a lot of rules and strictly enforcing them makes a kind of sense when your environment could be the death of you at any time and tightly bound communities are necessary for survival. Such rules appear much less natural and necessary in places where the environment more forgiving.

  • Fusina

     Ah, but the thinking I believe they are thinking is that they will, of course, Definitively NOT come for them, as they are right thinking believers of Jeeeesuhs Christ, and therefore untouchable due to being surrounded by angels. Or some such.

    I came to believe that there is no them, there is only us, and that cooperation and tolerance are the best ways to live. Which brings me into opposition. Still, as Jesus said,

    “34 ‘Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.

    35 For I have come to set a man against his father,
    and a daughter against her mother,
    and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;

    36 and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.”

    It doesn’t have to be that way, I suppose, but I don’t know how to change things–only my daughter and I get along very well. And I could get along much better with my Mom if I could be intolerant of those who are different the way she seems to want me to be, but somewhere along the way I stopped using the bible as a rulebook and started using it as a resource book. And I just can’t see how a loving person  (or God) can persecute/punish people who are the same as everyone else, they just want to marry the love of their life, only they both are the same sex. And my mom can’t see how I can feel that way since god is “holy”.

    And I’ve been doing the read through the bible in a year, and I am in Exodus, and what I am finding I am doing is figuring out how the miracles could have happened naturally (or been staged by charlatans), and I am a christian, but I don’t know if I like some of the stuff in the bible at all.

  • Ttricksterson

    Yeah but then you’ll get all sorts of schisms:  Apple vs Cherry vs Blueberry vs Rhubarb.  It’ll be madness, I tell you, Madness!!

  • Ttricksterson

    Add my prayers and good wishes to ReverendRef’s.

  • Tricksterson

    Would you be insulted if I said that hadith sounds an awful lot like what little I know of the Talmud?

  •  Ah, but we’re an inclusive religion, all flavors are welcome /waves rainbow pie flag

  • Maniraptor


  • Sir Quaffler

    This is… horrifying. I was taught to spread God’s love to those who need it. This is not spreading love. This is spreading hate. Homosexual acts may be wrong, but this is NOT how we as Christians should operate. We need to show these oppressed people God’s love, NOT throw them in jail, torture, and kill them. That’s NOT how you win them over to God’s will.

  • FWIW, I totally endorse people who share that attitude devoting their energies to ending the imprisonment, torture, and killing of queer folk, and putting off trying to convince those of us who are happily queer how wrong we are until after that’s taken care of.