Get Kony: How should Christians respond to viral video’s call for justice?
In a little more than a week, this YouTube video has passed 78 million views.
The controversial video, produced by San Diego-based Invisible Children, “aims to make Joseph Kony famous, not to celebrate him, but to raise support for his arrest and set a precedent for international justice,” according to the nonprofit. The video’s producers want Kony, a Ugandan warlord, captured and forced to face trial for war crimes at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands.
Churches of Christ have supported the work of Invisible Children since the 2006 release of a same-named documentary about the plight of child soldiers in war-torn northern Uganda, as we reported:
“Invisible Children,” an independently produced, rough-cut film with an MTV pace, has appeared in schools, universities and religious institutions. Churches of Christ have sponsored screenings of the film, which details the abduction of children in northern Uganda by the Lord’s Resistance Army. The rebel faction turns boys into gun-carrying killers and girls into sex slaves.
Twelve-year-old Nate Barton said the film made him sick — and angry.
“You know that if this was happening in America … there would be immediate action,” he said. “Why is Africa different?”
His congregation, the Rochester Church of Christ in Michigan, showed the film for 780 people — the largest screening in the Midwest, said Josh Graves, minister for young adults.
Graves and Barton were among the 300 people who walked four miles across their community and spent the night under the stars, mimicking the nightly commute made by Ugandan children as they try to avoid capture by the rebel army.
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Kony’s crimes have personally affected Christians in Africa. Last year, as part of our Global South series, we shared the story of James Sokiri, a Church of Christ member in Juba, South Sudan, who was abducted by Kony’s force, known as the Lord’s Resistance Army:
“I don’t know which Lord’s they are,” Sokiri said with a slight chuckle. Then, in hushed tones, he described the night he heard footsteps in the camp. He was studying for exams and thought his neighbors were out hunting white ants — a local delicacy.
Then he heard the cock of machine guns.
All he remembers next is white light and shouting. LRA soldiers bound his hands and dragged him from his house. He didn’t fear. In his own mind, he already was dead.
Read the full story.
The new, 30-minute documentary has been praised and panned by critics. Some feel it glamorizes a vicious warlord. Others scoff at the notion that a huge number of YouTube views will lead to political action. (An image of Boromir, a character in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, has appeared on Facebook pages with a modified line from the movies, “One does not simply stop an African warlord by watching a video for 30 minutes.”)
Are you a Ugandan Christian, or a missionary who has worked in Uganda? How are people there responding to the video? What do you think of it and its message?
Regardless of where you live, how do you think Christians should respond to this video’s call for justice?