Rick Warren Allies Mass Distribute Anti-Jewish Comic To School Kids
Bruce Wilson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri Jan 16, 2009 at 10:09:17 AM EST
In late March 2008, as announced by Rick Warren's publicist A. Larry Ross, Uganda became the second official "Purpose Driven" nation on Earth, following Rwanda. Sometime during the year Uganda also gained the dubious distinction as a nation that distributes state-sanctioned anti-Jewish propaganda to school children. Up to one million copies of Manga Messiah, which features a basic mis-representation of Biblical scripture giving readers the impression that the Jewish Pharisees were in league with Beelzebub, will be distributed in Uganda with the apparent blessings of the Ugandan Ministry of Education and Uganda's First Lady Janet Museveni, who has participated in Rick and Kay Warren's HIV/AIDS conferences.

Following a March 2008 meeting with Janet Museveni, Rick Warren announced his plan to make Uganda the world's 2nd "Purpose Driven" nation and enthused, to an audience at Uganda's elite Makerere University, "The future of Christianity is not Europe or North America, but Africa, Asia and Latin America." Warren's declaration was followed up by Uganda's Archbishop, Henry Orombi, under whose aegis the Church of Uganda intends to distribute ten million anti-Jewish comic books; "Someday we will have a purpose driven continent!"

As I wrote late last May 2008 at the Huffington Post, "For several years now, I have been tracking and studying the covert aspects of Christian Zionism... [the publication of Manga Messiah] suggests the historically covert anti-Semitism within American Christian Zionist culture is mutating, changing and entering a new phase: the anti-Semitism is becoming overt."

Typically, accusations concerning the distribution of anti-Semitic material and the spread of anti-Jewish attitudes have tended to focus on the propagation of such material and attitudes by Muslims. But Christianity arguably harbors a much older historic anti-Jewish animus than Islam and although the distribution of anti-Jewish material Christians has barely been assessed even in a cursory manner, preliminary indications suggest that Christian fundamentalist groups have for years been distributing literature with anti-Jewish content on a scale that in some cases, such as in Uganda, is both astonishing and horrific.

From one perspective, Uganda is not a surprising country in which to find a concerted effort to spread anti-Jewish animosity. The former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, a Muslim, successfully forced nearly the entire population of Jewish Ugandans out of the country, mainly to Israel. But the torrent of Manga Messiah comics flowing to the central African authoritarian nation is not an organic expression of upwelling anti-Jewish attitudes among common Ugandans; anti-Semitic attitudes are being incited by the Ugandan government and the Ugandan Anglican Church.

Manga Messiah is being distributed through the official apparatus of the Ugandan state, which is slated to provide Uganda's school children with one million copies of the Manga comic, apparently as an adjunct of Uganda's literacy program.

The ( Anglican ) Church of Uganda appears to be entering the anti-Semitic literature distribution business on an even larger scale, with NEXT, Inc., which distributes Manga Messiah, reporting that the Church of Uganda has requested ten million copies of the comic: enough to provide, along with the Ugandan state distribution to school children, to almost fifty percent of Uganda's entire population.

I initially wrote on "Manga Messiah" in May 2008, noting that the comic was been published for the American market by Tyndale House, an American fundamentalist publishing house that established its current prominence in large part due to the breakthrough success of Tim Lahaye's and Jerry Jenkins' Left Behind books.

When I brought the comic to the attention of Political Research Associates' senior analyst Chip Berlet, Berlet categorized Manga Messiah as "[a] colorful comic training manual for motivating young leaders of the next pogrom against Jews. Not just offensive -- ghastly and horrific in content with a clear enemy scapegoat identified for venting apocalyptic religious bigotry." In researching Manga Messiah for my earlier story, I found little mention of the comic on the Internet. Now, less than a year later, Internet references to Manga Messiah seem to have proliferated almost exponentially.

Chip Berlet is not alone in his assessment that Manga Messiah betrays an ugly anti-Jewish slant. As a story by journalist Tom Baker, published  June 28, 2008 in central California's Modesto Bee, quoted Japanese popular culture scholar Prof. Deborah Shamoon of Notre Dame University, "I think the representation of Jews is appalling."

The visual depiction of characters in Manga Messiah seems to fall into two basic categories. 'Sympathetic' characters, shown with traditionally tiny, triangular Manga-style noses and light complexion, and the Pharisees, shown with large hooked and bulbous noses and swarthy complexions, typically depicted as angry, vindictive or violent. In Manga Messiah, Jesus Christ is drawn in the 'sympathetic' style, thus giving readers of the comic the impression that he not related to the Pharisees or ethnically semitic.

That treatment of Jesus appears to fall within an anti-Semitic historical revisionist tendency which has attempted to rewrite Christianity, stripping away its Jewish origin and even claiming Jesus had an 'aryan" ethnic background. In The Aryan Jesus: Christian Theologians and The Bible in Nazi Germany, scholar Susannah Heschel examines the work of the "Institute For The Study and Eradication of Jewish Influence On German Church Life". Heschel describes, in the introduction to her book, that institute's work:

The Institute's goals were both political and theological. Seeking to create a dejudaized church for a Germany that was in process of ridding Europe of all Jews, it developed a new biblical interpretation and liturgical materials. In the six years of its existence, as the Nazi regime carried out its genocide of the Jews, the Institute redefined Christianity as a Germanic religion whose founder, Jesus, has fought valiantly to destroy Judaism, falling victim to that struggle. Germans were now called on to be the victors in Jesus's own struggle against the Jews, who were said to be seeking Germany's destruction."

Manga Messiah both presents an ugly caricature of Jewish ethnicity and and depicts Jesus as non-semitic. But the comic also twists Biblical scripture in a highly deceptive manner which associates the Jewish Pharisees with the devil, represented in Manga Messiah by Beelzebub.

The association of Jews with the devil, and the depiction of Jews as human-devil hybrids with demonic features such as horns, is one of the oldest and most enduring forms of anti-Jewish attacks. It may be the earliest of anti-Jewish memes and traces back to at least to the second century A.D., predating even one of the most outspoken early Christian purveyors of anti-Jewish invective, St. John Chrysostom.

After the Holocaust, Christian theologians made a concerted effort to avoid the sort of Biblical exegesis that associated Jews with Satan. Part of the earlier approach was to conflate the Pharisees, who at the time were one particular religious tendency within Judaism, with Jews generally. Manga Messiah appears to be a reversion to that earlier, distorted presentation.

According to analyst Chip Berlet, "Manga Messiah," currently sold at Barnes and Noble bookstores,

Portrays a version of reading Biblical text about the crucifixion of Christ rejected by most Christians for decades--especially since the Nazi genocide of Jews.

Many readers of the Bible's New Testament will recognize the jibes from the jeering crowd as coming from Jewish chief priests, elders, scribes, and Pharisees. If readers don't know the references, the Bible verses cited below the images can be consulted to make clear the Jewish identity of the bloodthirsty crowd taunting Jesus.

These images of Jews as the Christ killers make Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" hideous snuff movie seem tame in comparison."

In 1996, a press release from the Jewish Anti-Defamation League stated,

"After the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) raised concerns about what appeared to be horns on a porcelain figurine of Moses, the manufacturer apologized "for any misunderstanding" and told ADL it now has "a new Moses figurine" in the 1996 brochure. The League praised the Spanish company, LLADRO, for its prompt, responsive action."

The ADL had complained about a 16 inch ceramic porcelain figurine of Moses that appeared to have horns. As the ADL explained,

"As you may know, for centuries the archetypal anti-Semitic image was that of a Jew depicted as a demonic creature complete with horns. Lladro's apparent portrayal of Moses perpetuates this pernicious image."

In the New Testament Book of Matthew, 12:24, Matthew describes the Pharisees as accusing Jesus, who was healing people by casting out, exorcising that is, their demons, of performing this exorcisms with the aid of Beelzebub, commonly taken to represent Satan.

But Manga Messiah's depiction presents to readers a wildly different pictorial narrative, by showing a glowering Pharisee, with a towering Beelzebub behind him as if a personal bodyguard, telling Jesus that he cannot possibly cast out demons without Beelzebub's aid. The difference is crucial. The visual import clearly tells readers the Pharisee is in league with the Beelzebub and it is reasonable also to infer from the presentation that the Pharisee himself relies on Beelzebub for help in casting out demons.

As Tyndale House, producer of the Manga-style comic states, Manga Messiah,

Has become a huge hit with American teens and tweens. Manga has emerged as the most popular comics category and is one of the fastest growing genres in American publishing. Appealing to kids and adults, readers will find this edgy rendition of the Gospel accounts both compelling and highly engaging. This authentic, cutting-edge art style is combined with fast-paced storytelling to deliver biblical truths to an ever-changing culture that is often a challenge to penetrate.

In terms of Manga Messiah's penetration of the American market, Tyndale's assessment is probably hyperbolic but an international effort has spring up to promote the anti-Jewish comic book. As described on a slick, flash driven website created by NEXT, Inc., 400,000 copies of Manga Messiah have been distributed free of charge to Ugandan school children, with another 400,000 in the pipeline. As NEXT, Inc. details the staggering scale of the anti-Jewish tract,

The first 400,000 copies of Manga Messiah have been printed for distribution to school children in Uganda free of charge. 800,000 books total will be delivered by the end of 2008. Books are a scarce commodity in Uganda, where 85% of the population earns less than $1/day and a Bible costs $8.

The distribution of Manga Messiah, as described on the NEXT, Inc. site and also covered by Christian Comics International, seems to have the enthusiastic endorsement of top Ugandan government officials including Ugandan First Lady Janet Museveni:

On their trip to Uganda, NEXT representatives met with church and government officials including the Minister of Education, the Minister of Ethics and Integrity, and the First Lady. Everywhere, state officials celebrated the work the NEXT team had done on Manga Messiah and expressed excitement over the educational and spiritual value these books could bring to the youth of Uganda.

As a story on Manga Messiah put out by the Queensland, Australia Queensland Uniting Church describes, in Manga Bible series goes global, the comic seems to have been first conceived of as an evangelizing tool for reaching Japanese citizens but was not well received in Japan:

Roald Lidal, general director of New Life League, a non-denominational publishing venture based in Kumai, Saitama, north of Tokyo, told  Ecumenical News International, "It all started many years ago with a desire to reach out to Japanese."...

Originally published in Japanese and then translated into English, more than 1 million copies of its first volume, Manga Messiah, have now been printed in 9 languages. They include Tagalog, Indonesian, Norwegian, Danish, Portuguese, Spanish and French in addition to Japanese and English. It is planned to publish the Manga Messiah in a further 10 languages...

...Lidal said, however, that the series is "not as hot an item in Japan as it is in other countries".

New Life League, Japan, was founded in 1954 by the American missionary Fred Jarvis, as a "non-denominational literature ministry", near Tokyo, which focuses on the mass distribution of Bibles. According to Adventive Cross Cultural Initiatives, a ministry effort that grew out of New Life League, Japan (NLLJ), NLLJ produces "more than three hundred tons of Christian literature a month."

So far, per NEXT, Inc.'s own reporting, by far the biggest source of sales of Manga Messiah has been through its partnership with the Church of Uganda which has requested in total a staggering 10 million copies of the 64 page comic book that Political Research Associate Senior Analyst Chip Berlet, considered a world authority on right wing ideology and conspiracy theory, has called a "training manual for the next pogrom against Jews."

A Spanish version of Manga Messiah has been printed by the American Bible Society and many of the reported 50,000 copies of that version are being distributed, according to Christian Comics International, in Guatemala and Ecuador.

Manga Messiah has received somewhat mixed reviews. As a one writer Manga Life concludes,

its audience will probably be limited to Christian teens who like seeing the Bible stories they hear in church illustrated in the style of popular manga (B+). Anyone else will probably not be too interested

However, the Christian teen demographic that Manga Messiah might reach ranges in magnitude from between tens of millions upwards to hundreds of millions globally and although its likely that only a small fraction of that group will be exposed to Manga Messiah they will be exposed to one of the most enduring accusations in the cannon of anti-Jewish invective since the birth of Christianity: the claim that Jews are plotting, in league with the devil, to destroy the Christian faith. (see image below)

The distribution of Manga Messiah in Uganda is an especially notable  attempt to flood a country with anti-Semitic literature but by some reports Manga Messiah has also been distributed in mass quantity in Guatemala and the Philippines.

from wikipedia,

concerning the famous sculpture by Michelangelo, probably the most famous depiction in fine arts:

(The sculpture) depicts Moses with horns on his head. This is believed to be because of the mistranslation of Exodus 34:29-35 by St Jerome. Moses is actually described as having "rays of the skin of his face", which Jerome in the Vulgate had translated as "horns" (See Halo). The mistake in translation is possible because the word "keren" in the Hebrew language can mean either "radiated (light)" or "grew horns".

I looked - in the Vulgate, the word is "cornuta" - this Latin translation was the only translation widely used in the West (non-Orthodox) until the early 1500s, by which time an iconography had been established. The horns are depicted as ram's horns, short and curled.

by NancyP on Fri Jan 16, 2009 at 05:01:30 PM EST


From Sir Thomas Browne, Pseudodoxia Epidemica (Vulgar Errors), 1646, with some commentary by an editor of the website.

by NancyP on Fri Jan 16, 2009 at 05:12:52 PM EST

One has to wonder about the original mis-translation: the political uses of textual manipulation.

by Bruce Wilson on Sat Jan 17, 2009 at 12:29:34 AM EST
Manga heroes' and heroines' facial proportions are neotenic - immature - childlike. In cultures that consider young children innocent, the appearance of youthfulness is seen as an indicator of goodness. Mature facial features convey a more ambiguous meaning - individual with those features could be bad or good, depending on other visual cues.While long/large noses have been used as anti-Semitic caricatures, even in other contexts they also indicate a loss of childlike innocence - adulthood, and the capacity to choose to commit evil.

by NancyP on Mon Jan 19, 2009 at 12:38:02 AM EST
And, Manga Messiah also depicts characters with more stereotypically "Nordic" features as morally superior. Dark skin / big, bulbous or hooked noses, and traditional Judaic dress and hairstyles are associated with characters almost exclusively depicted as villains. The only Pharisee in Manga Messiah not disparaged or demonized is Nicodemus, who is drawn with more classically European features, not semitic at all. Two unnamed Pharisees shown as sympathetic to Jesus are depicted more or less favorably but in the end prove unwilling to follow him.

by Bruce Wilson on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 05:28:31 PM EST

It seems that now the left has become the new African-bashers. So many experts on the evil of darkest black Africa from reading newspapers, magazines and websites, as well as an occasional jaunt to a five-star hotel in an African capital for a few days.

One, remember that anti-semitism is and has been a primarily White European problem. I have found most African Christians to be extremely pro-Israel, in my opinion too much so, ignoring the injustices committed against the Palestinian people. I'd call this a rather big non-issue. If the Messiah Manga was created by White Americans, I'd be more concerned. However, since it does come from Japan, I imagine it follows the typical Manga style much more than White European anti-semitism. From the few pictures in the article, I can see its appeal in Uganda, where most happenings would be understood as the result of activity in the spiritual world. The logic would be, "If someone opposed Jesus and wanted to kill him, then quite naturally an evil spirit had influenced that person." It is simply a part of daily life, and has nothing to do with being Jewish.

With the poverty that exists in most African countries, groups are always distributing free books of dubious quality. I see theology students get free books from conservative Christian groups that make me want to cry. Blame poverty, not Africa. And maybe blame liberal Christians for not contributing more books of better quality to the African church.

The discourse on African (or Ugandan) anti-gay climate is also more of the same. Of course, homosexuality has always been present in Africa. But a gay man, or lesbian woman, still married and produced descendants, they increased the 'life-force' of the community. What is happening now with openly gay activism is a refusal, if you will, to contribute to the life-force of the community.

But I don't expect many people to try to understand from the viewpoint of the Other. So much of this sounds to me, once more, of White people believing that they have established the standards of what it means to be civilized and condemning the Other in their 'primitiveness'.

by chipmunk on Fri Jan 16, 2009 at 05:51:35 PM EST

"But I don't expect many people to try to understand from the viewpoint of the Other. So much of this sounds to me, once more, of White people believing that they have established the standards of what it means to be civilized and condemning the Other in their 'primitiveness'. "

Don't speak to me of the "Other" unless (1) you've been thrown out of a church strictly because of race, (2) been threatened with death because of race, (3) refused service because of race, (4) told to use the weeds out back for a bathroom (again because of race), (5) lost jobs because of race (while enduring all sorts of nasty comments and abuse), (6) been told you have to choose between your tribe and your job (and forced to quit), and (7) been told you had to assimilate and essentially every injustice you'd been put through was deserved because you WEREN'T assimilated (BY A CHURCH LEADER!!!!!!!!)

I've had ALL of those things happen to me.

I agree with what they've said, because I see this sort of CRAP going on among Native Americans, my own people.  The constant pressure to turn people against people.  The attempts to proselytize and turn the people against their own culture and ancestral ways.

The turncoats who accept and lead in these efforts (as is happening in Africa), and who are lifted up as standards for everyone else.

And I might add- the attempts by the turncoats to turn their own people against those who stand up against them or who even just disagree with them or who value the ways of their ancestors.

The people in this blog are not the ones that deserve your ire- the people we are trying to expose ARE!!!

by ArchaeoBob on Fri Jan 16, 2009 at 07:15:08 PM EST

One. I am sorry that you have had these experiences, especially at the hands of church leaders. They were wrong, and if I had been there, I would have defended you and been thrown out also.

Two. Basically, it is those sorts of experiences that I am addressing. While certainly the writer of this article is not about to persecute anyone, I have noticed a tendency in articles about anti-gay movements in Africa to vilify those 'ignorant Africans'. African people are portrayed as passive recipients of whatever right-wing American Christians do in Africa - as if Africans had no capacity to interact intelligently and critically with this information and propaganda.

Three. Are you saying that anyone who changes their religion is a turncoat? I'm not certain I understand.

Four. I've seen so much bad Christian Right literature come into Africa, that I want to explode. If all of these Manga Messiah books were to go up in flames it would be a blessing. But give the people of Africa some credit. Don't assume them to be passive, empty containers being filled with Euro-American anti-semitism. My prediction, for what is worth, is that these books will have little to no impact in Africa.

by chipmunk on Sat Jan 17, 2009 at 03:08:08 PM EST

First, I get false commiseration from people all the time, who think to themselves "Oh, but MY CHURCH doesn't do things like that!!!  I wouldn't do something like that and would not tolerate it!"

WRONG!!!!   WRONG!!!! WRONG!!!!

Every church group has been part of the problem, and all are guilty of attempted ethnocide and genocide.  Some are better than others- and you can tell by how liberal they were/are.  The Episcopal Church is considered one of the best for treating native peoples decently- and some of my experiences were connected with that church.  I can also name several of the bad things the Episcopal Church has done.  At least the (liberal part) of that church has had the decency to confess to being part of the genocide and ethnocide that has happened on this continent, and is trying to change their behavior.  (The worst- in order, The Assemblies of God and related "churches" and "denominations", followed by the Southern Baptists, and then upwards from there.  The more "Evangelical", the worse the reputation!)

I don't think you realize just how much I DO know about the situation in Africa.  You're forgetting the power of colonialism and how it impacts the colonized people.  I've studied it to a fair amount (and have seen it among my own family and people!)  I see the effects of that everywhere- and I will not blame the Africans for the effects of colonialism on their culture and decisions.  I've seen how it impacts their political systems, their cultures, and even their environment and economic structures.  I've seen how the superpowers have misused the African peoples and brought destruction and misery to them.  To give a couple of examples- the "abstinence only" movement (which is strictly driven by groups outside of Africa- by so-called "Christians", although there are turncoats there who support it) is MURDERING people, by denying them the information that could save their lives.  I've also studied the ecological and economic impact of a "market economy" on some of the regions- in at least one country, they went from exporting food to importing it, while the supermajority of people were impoverished (and American and other megacorporations and investors profited).  I might add that in those same areas, there is ecological disaster, while areas that DO NOT allow the "Market Economy" in do not have the same problems at all!

I refuse to blame the African people for what is being done to them.  I blame those who are truly responsible- and most of the "Christian" churches have as much responsibility as the most greedy investor or corporation.

(I also know that Africans are people like everyone else, and have their strengths, weaknesses, good times, and evil actions like everyone else!  However, what we see here isn't that!!!)

I also say that whenever someone accepts fundamentalist/dominionist/"Evangelical" Christianity, and leaving their ancestor's religion, they are very likely to become a turncoat.   Such people are a real problem for their own.   Not only have I seen it firsthand, it has also been a real problem throughout Native history.  Indeed, I would say that it is 100%- you accept those forms of "Christianity", you become an enemy of your own people and kin- and because your goals are now to harm and not help or heal!!!

Now, regarding those comic books.  You're not realizing the power of brainwashing, nor it's subtle effects.  The dominionists are FAR more adept at brainwashing than the communists (and capitalists) and even the Nazis ever were.  Believe me, crap like those comic books WILL have an impact on the people.  The less they know of the Jewish people (and the less Jews they know), the greater the impact.  

Allowing that "stuff" to go there is evil and wrong- and the churches who support it are thus declaring themselves to be evil and wrong.

Warren is guilty.  And as I have recently learned, he's been guilty of helping to destroy other churches (from other denominations) as well (by supporting their corruption and turn from Christ to dominionist ideology).  He is not a "nice" person, although I am certain that he thinks he is a "Good Christian".  His actions are EVIL.

by ArchaeoBob on Sat Jan 17, 2009 at 07:18:03 PM EST

I think that our views on this are not so far apart, though I'd disagree with the 'all' statements that you make. I do understand that some people have run into churches that have had very authoritarian structures. Dogemperor has often discussed such systems on this website. I have never personally seen, nor experienced the extremes of these systems that you and Dogemperor describe. I've seem some smaller less intense examples - and I have stood up for some who have been put down by a church leader for being different. I've never been thrown out of a church - usually the situation has been resolved.

I do understand the power of colonialism to effect people, even in our post-colonial era. I see it everyday. I teach African theological students, and I often find myself the most Afrocentric person in the classroom, though I am a White American. I wonder at times if the school will ask me to leave, as it is sponsored by a conservative American group. But I will not compromise who I am.

I'd suggest for reading, books or articles by a Nigerian Pentecostal scholar, Ogbu Kalu. He argues very convincingly that African Christians have not been so easily influenced by North American conservatives. A common example is how American missionaries and some African Evangelical leaders will decry traditional practices, labeling them as witchcraft. People agree and say that yes this is wrong, and then continue to practice tradition along with Christianity.

I have never met and talked with an African who thought that wearing a condom was a good thing. Some concede that it can help prevent HIV/AIDS, but still find it to be a strange practice. The abstinence only programs being brought into Africa are designed in America and they are un-African and potentially dangerous. However, they seem to hit a chord with most African people. I've seen small, poorly funded and poorly run abstinence-only programs picked up by schools and governments because it was understood as being more moral, and being more in line with the tradition. The West is often denounced for bringing in decadence and immorality, but rarely if ever denounced for promoting abstinence.

by chipmunk on Sun Jan 18, 2009 at 02:23:06 PM EST

if disease prevention or pregnancy prevention aren't concerns at the time.  This isn't a "African" or "American" or "Asian" or whatever attitude - it's a male attitude. And of course it is a strange practice, and stranger the more patriarchal the society or subculture is.

There's a line between cultural sensitivity and sheer stupidity. Should Westerners agree with Mbeki about HIV? Does prudery, self-deception, and hypocrisy really help reduce HIV transmission? Certainly it is more comfortable for the currently well populace to deny that HIV could affect them personally. Of course, abstinence-only approaches will be popular among the pious who don't want to think that their husbands could be visiting prostitutes or the neighborhood women. Certainly it is more popular for a politician to flatter his audience as moral, rather than make them assume responsibility for actual behavior. Why should Westerners promote failed policies that kill people?

The majority of African public health doctors and other public health personnel are pretty much on the same page as Western public health doctors - stop shrouding the virus and disease in mystery, start talking about sex and other factors in transmission, and promote many different options for many different types of people. These doctors acknowledge that not all people will be celibate or have one and only one sexual partner at a time and whose partner likewise has one and only one sexual partner at a time).  Being doctors, they address people as they are, not as they should be, and go for all reasonable risk reduction strategies including condoms.

Neither Africa nor the West invented sexual straying from a single spouse, or for that matter, rape. Humans never were monogamous pure beings. Polygamy, organized or informal, has existed in most societies, albeit among small subsets of the male population able to control and afford multiple females.

by NancyP on Mon Jan 19, 2009 at 12:22:26 AM EST

The West has vilified Mbeki. He has never said that HIV and AIDS were not linked. He has said that in the poverty of Africa, HIV is not the only cause. Why is AIDS so prevalent in Africa? Is it because they are sex-animals who can't control their desires? Poverty is one of the principle reasons for the prevalence of AIDS. That is what Mbeki said.

See the book, As They See It by Ray Downing.

Perhaps you should visit Africa and stay for a while and really get to know people. Your reasoning is so non-African. Many Africans, of course, want to promote condom use to prevent AIDS. I want to promote condom use to prevent AIDS. But it's not so simple as you seem to think.

by chipmunk on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 01:44:16 PM EST

I have heard interviews of pro-Mbeki-HIV/AIDS-ppolicy and anti-policy South Africans. The university-trained public health experts and physicians weren't too happy with the Mbeki policy. Occasional pastors and politicians thought the Mbeki policy was good.

The science is pretty clear. The HIV virus is the proximate cause of AIDS, and transmission is blood-borne for all practical purposes. All sorts of acts can result in transmission, and some of the acts are  classified as failure to use appropriate decontamination/ sterilization (needle sharing, medical or drug abuse-related), some of the acts are sexual, some are cultural (tattooing, genital modification), and poverty may be a driving force behind certain acts (prostitution) or increase transmissibility while performing some acts (poor nutrition contributing to poorly healing open sores from other STDs or after minor trauma).

I am sure that there are plenty of psychological/ cultural issues involved in educating various subsets of the public, and community activists, teachers, media workers, and such all have an important role in planning the most effective means to modify community members' behavior and identifying practical obstacles and requirements for distributing information, condoms, bleach, and a matter-of-fact attitude to combat shame, silence, myth.

by NancyP on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 08:29:56 PM EST

In my experience, there is no such thing as a "Pentecostal Scholar".  That is an inherent contradiction.  Their whole theology is based upon a literal and inerrant interpretation of scriptures- when the scriptures have been demonstrated to be full of factual errors.  Since they ignore science, they cannot be a scholar.  PERIOD.

Thanks for revealing your true colors.  I've read that we should expect dominionists trying to astroturf Warren, and I suspected you were such a person.

by ArchaeoBob on Sun Jan 18, 2009 at 03:55:25 PM EST

You don't me know at all!!  How can you judge me, or Ogbu Kalu for that matter simply on your prejudiced ideas. Kalu is an excellent scholar of African Christianity. What arrogance you expressed in your post!

I joined this site sometime ago, because I dislike the religious right and these theocrats. Yet, I find so much prejudice on this site. If someone like Rick Warren were to give a million dollars to help the poor, blogs would come up about how terrible this was. I'd never even seen a picture of the man until he prayed at the inauguration. Don't have much feeling or thinking one way or the other about him.

It seem that discussion is not wanted - simply a cheering section for how wonderful you are in your prejudices. What a shame!

by chipmunk on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 12:23:11 PM EST

that you have so many defenses for a man about whom you acknowlege you have never heard until the flap about Warren and the inauguration.

And yet you attack people aggressively for their views and accuse them of prejudice while maintaining a radical ignorance of your own. In fact, you have no idea whether people's views of Rick Warren are well founded or not.

Judge not.

by Frederick Clarkson on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 03:08:29 PM EST

According to the Ugandan government, in the first two years of the new "abstinence-only" approach, the Ugandan HIV infection rate almost doubled, from 70,000 to 130,000 per year.

by Bruce Wilson on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 05:32:30 PM EST

...passive consumers of information but I do assume that African children, like all children, are.

It's not a coincidence that Rick Warren and others like him are focused on Africa. Christian evangelicals are focused on Africa because they know that they have unfettered access to millions of impressionable youths there. Like you, I blame the poverty.


by xDARKxENERGYx on Sat Jan 17, 2009 at 09:15:50 PM EST

What's so wrong about calling out African politicians? Why should they be any better than other politicians?

It is a risky thing to promote the concept of "spiritual warfare" in communities who have a history of making "witchcraft" punishable by mob violence. Belief in demonic possession promotes fear of those considered to be possessed, and fear makes people more likely to commit violent acts. I don't buy the claim that syncretization would help wean individuals from violence toward prayer when they have fear based on superstitious beliefs. It would seem more sensible to leave the "warfare" psychology and language out and promote a more rational worldview and a more compassionate faith - to ratchet the fear down a few levels.

It is perfectly possible to be anti-Semitic and pro-Israel. End-times enthusiasts do so all the time.

by NancyP on Fri Jan 16, 2009 at 09:53:12 PM EST

African politicians are not above criticism. However, when the Western media writes or broadcasts about Africa it is nearly always to criticize and show poor, helpless and/or ignorant Africans. Africa remains a stereotype.

For example, on the issue of gay rights there is much disagreement in Africa. However, both sides (pro and against) agree about their dislike of the Western media's portrayal of atavistic African homophobia.

You wrote, "It would seem more sensible to leave the "warfare" psychology and language out and promote a more rational worldview and a more compassionate faith."

I'd like to point out that when you say "promote a more rational worldview", you imply that an African worldview is somehow less rational than a post-Enlightenment, Euro-American one. To be honest, I cringe at that statement.

I hope that all Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Atheists, etc. will promote a more compassionate faith in every square meter of this world. That is not an African-specific phenomena.

by chipmunk on Sat Jan 17, 2009 at 03:20:23 PM EST

but there are practices and tendencies that are common among the non-elite, and scapegoating people by calling them witches or possessed or evidence of curses on parents or whatever - those are worldviews which don't deserve to be upheld by sensible believers (and atheists). I am not talking about Oxford-, London SOEconomics, or MIT-educated African scientists, politicians, or engineers - I am talking about a subgroup of undereducated or illiterate Africans that go along with lynchings or beatings of accused witches and of albinos, giving children as domestic slaves to animist priests, all to ward off bad luck or curses. And before you cry - Imperialist! - yes, similar things were done by Europeans and Americans as members of communities (Salem witch trials, etc). But why should outsider American missionaries try to stir up the sort of trouble that results in witch-hunting and "fag-bashing" and gang-raping of suspected lesbians in Africa and "fag-bashing", Jew-bashing, and black/brown-bashing in the former USSR?

As for portrayal of certain African countries' homophobia, just looking at the legal code and reading some of the on-line versions of newspapers gives enough of a picture. A good many laws were chucked when nations gained independence, but severe penalties against same-gender sexual (implied sexual) activity were retained, if not enforced regularly. Now, certain politicians and clergy have taken a tip from the American political playbook, and used gays as convenient distractions from substantive economic and governance problems. No doubt the average citizen in these countries has some dislike of gays and lesbians as losers or as shirkers of a duty to build up the extended family/ clan by fathering or bearing many children - but I'd doubt that the issue would become prominent without the help of politicians and preachers.

Yes, media coverage of Africa is poor, but I daresay that much of the coverage is of the "If it bleeds, it leads" type that exemplifies most American journalism. War is covered more often than successful appropriate technology projects.

by NancyP on Sun Jan 18, 2009 at 11:47:45 PM EST

Witchcraft is not a practice that is limited to the non-elite. What Stephen Ellis and Gerrie ter Haar call mystical power is at the heart of most (maybe all) African belief systems. And witch-hunting is not simply a matter of scape-goating, though that certainly happens. There are lots of people who practice mystical-power rituals for a large variety of reasons. Obviously, you believe that these practices are ignorant. Most Africans, including PhDs and politicians and scientists, believe these practices to be real - they believe in mystical powers. Who is correct?

by chipmunk on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 12:23:20 PM EST
Estimates of Christian adherence in Africa run at around 10% around the turn of the last century ( 1900 ). Now, Christian adherence is in the high 40th percentile. Is witchcraft in Africa somehow rising apace ? And, why are so many innocents ( such as Congo's notorious 'witch children' ) getting caught in the apparent conflict--between a poorly quantified group of Africans subscribing to witchcraft and Christians ?

by Bruce Wilson on Sun Jan 25, 2009 at 08:33:47 PM EST

That's in the article. As for my sources of information - you don't know what those are. And, your comments would indicate you are not uninterested in dealing on a factual basis.

As for "What is happening now with openly gay activism is a refusal, if you will, to contribute to the life-force of the community." - I would say you have just defined, through a spiritualistic or theological idiom, living a gay lifestyle as inherently antagonistic to the health 0f straight community. In my experience gay people contribute as much as straights.

by Bruce Wilson on Sat Jan 17, 2009 at 12:39:41 AM EST

One. I'm sorry but in the first image with some information on Manga in Uganda it says, "Although the book was originally created by Japanese Christians who are Manga professionals, the book was first printed in English."  I didn't see where else in the article it corrected this.

Two. How many years have you lived in Uganda? How well do you speak Luganda or Dholuo or even Swahili? What, in fact, were your sources? I realize that I may now sound like a smart*ss, but I want to raise the point of journalists commenting on Africa with a very limited understanding.

Three. No where in my response did I attempt to define living a gay lifestyle! I presented the underlying assumptions of the African world view that rejects a gay lifestyle. I did not mean to imply that it was MY understanding. And "contributing to the life-force of the community" (my words) and "gay people contribute as much as straights" (your words) do not at all mean the same thing. From this African perspective, people living a gay lifestyle do not contribute to the 'life-force', because they do not reproduce.

Four. I, personally, disagree with the hateful attitude towards gay people shown by some African people - and I have personally discussed this with Africans who have expressed these views.

Five. I often find myself pulled in different directions on these sort of human rights issues. I basically agree with you about gay rights, but Africa (and other parts of the world) have long been subjected to the Euro-American universalizing of Euro-American ideas and values. In this post-colonial era I believe we need to be better aware of our tendency to assume that OUR ways are the universally correct ways. I don't have an answer, but I do feel that this article was not quite up to the standards I've read in some of your earlier ones.

by chipmunk on Sat Jan 17, 2009 at 02:44:56 PM EST

I'd like to add to the mix by saying that St. John Chrysostom is misrepresented when he is called 'anti-Semitic'. He was preaching against the 'Judiasisers', Christians who insisted on observing the Jewish feasts and keeping kosher and obeying the finer points of Judish law and  custom. (Kind of like 'Messianic Jews' of today).  There has been considerable research in this area in the last ten years.

Rdr. James
Olympia,  WA

by rdrjames on Sun Jan 18, 2009 at 06:26:00 PM EST

Chrystom's Eight Homilies Against The Jews constitute one of the major fonts of anti-Jewish invective within the Christian tradition.

by Bruce Wilson on Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 05:36:24 PM EST

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