Here is a film to make you angry and make you cringe – and both for two very different reasons.
The documentary is about the American evangelical church’s influence on Ugandan attitudes and political responses toward homosexuality. Regardless of what most any person’s attitudes (or theological responses) toward homosexuality are, one might expect that any decent person would not support a life sentence or death sentence (funny how those sound like opposites) for homosexual acts.
This film demonstrates that this is not the case. Caught up in religious fervour and intoxicated by the possibilities of a country that can be swayed even more easily than the US by the religious right – evangelical leaders are shown as inspiring and strongly supporting a most immoral law (though the death sentence was eventually dropped). I suppose one shouldn’t be too surprised.
However, another cringe-worthy aspect of the film is the filmmakers’ deception. Having clearly won the trust of a young adult mission team, the camera crew was welcomed along for the ride and recorded the sincere hopes and attempts of well-meaning young people. Though they are largely innocent of the actions of the older leaders, they end up being framed as deluded and bad people. I felt very sorry for them and the trust that they had had betrayed. Twice – because their trust has also betrayed by the older religious leaders whose colonizing distortions of Christianity may have inoculated them against the actual teachings of Jesus. The film effectively exposes the dark side of the evangelical movement, but I don't believe in the ends justifying the means (of deceitful filmmaking).
It’s a good film (probably some people really need to see it) – but it leaves one feeling defiled in two very different ways. As a result, I just can’t give it a rating.