Could Evangelical Christianity in Africa have been the target in Uganda bombing?

The Islamic terror bombings that took so many lives in Uganda over the weekend has generated some surprise.Sheik Yusuf Isse of the Islamist al-Shababb group provides one possible answer, "Uganda is a major infidel country supporting the so-called government of Somalia...we know Uganda is against Islam and so we are very happy at what happened in Kampala. That is the best news we have ever heard."

A knowledgeable friend also tells me that Ugandan troops provide the bulk of the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia. They are fighting al-Shababb. Islamists who would like to take control in Somalia - not just to add another nation to the Islamic world but also for strategic purposes since Somalia occupies a key piece of land on the horn of Africa.

But overlooked by major media outlets is why Uganda,regardless of the Somalia situation, may itself be a target for Islamic terror.

Uganda has become Africa's center for Evangelical Christianity - a religion that is booming there.

Evangelical Christianity is flourishing in Uganda, leading a boom across Africa that's attracting millions of converts each year and changing the social and political landscape of the world's poorest continent.

Nearly 200 years after the first wave of missionaries arrived in Africa, Christianity is growing faster here than anywhere else in the world. There are more than 390 million Christians in sub- Saharan Africa today, up from 117 million in 1970, a trend due mostly to evangelism, according to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity in South Hamilton, Mass.

In Uganda, a lush but largely poor country about the size of Oregon, evangelical leaders estimate that at least one-fifth of the 28 million people are born-again Christians. Their number includes leading government officials, populist young pastors, DJs and other celebrities, and high school and college students.

Uganda's most prominent born-again Christian is the president's wife, Janet Museveni, who was elected to Parliament in February.

Ugandan evangelicals have forged close ties with the powerful evangelical movement in the United States. Backed by American contributions, Ugandan churches play a growing humanitarian role, building schools, health clinics and orphanages, including in the impoverished northern half of the country, which has been wracked by civil war for the past two decades.

Aid agencies "come and phase out, but there's a sense that the church is here to stay," said Fred Ssekyewa, 41, the pastor of Gaba Community Church, which is in a lakeside slum outside Kampala.

The church gets nearly all its funding from American churches such as Cornerstone Community Church in Simi Valley, Calif., Ssekyewa said. With the money, his church has launched a health clinic and AIDS education programs for its mostly poor congregation.

Like their American counterparts, Uganda's churches are a strong political force.

Nigeria has often been viewed as the frontline of the battle between Christianity and Islam in Africa because that nation is split between the two groups, with Muslims predominating in the North and Christians in the South. There have been numerous outbreaks of violence between the two groups over the years with thousands being massacred as terrorism spreads.

Sudanese Christians have been the target of genocidal campaigns by Muslim leaders and millions have probably perished over the years. Now Uganda, because of its key role in promoting Christianity across Africa and because of its role as an epicenter of evangelicalism which relies, in part, on conversion among other religious groups - an apostasy punishable by death in Islam - may now be on the radar screen of Muslim terror groups.

 



The Islamic terror bombings that took so many lives in Uganda over the weekend has generated some surprise.

Sheik Yusuf Isse of the Islamist al-Shababb group provides one possible answer, "Uganda is a major infidel country supporting the so-called government of Somalia...we know Uganda is against Islam and so we are very happy at what happened in Kampala. That is the best news we have ever heard."

A knowledgeable friend also tells me that Ugandan troops provide the bulk of the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia. They are fighting al-Shababb. Islamists who would like to take control in Somalia - not just to add another nation to the Islamic world but also for strategic purposes since Somalia occupies a key piece of land on the horn of Africa.

But overlooked by major media outlets is why Uganda,regardless of the Somalia situation, may itself be a target for Islamic terror.

Uganda has become Africa's center for Evangelical Christianity - a religion that is booming there.

Evangelical Christianity is flourishing in Uganda, leading a boom across Africa that's attracting millions of converts each year and changing the social and political landscape of the world's poorest continent.

Nearly 200 years after the first wave of missionaries arrived in Africa, Christianity is growing faster here than anywhere else in the world. There are more than 390 million Christians in sub- Saharan Africa today, up from 117 million in 1970, a trend due mostly to evangelism, according to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity in South Hamilton, Mass.

In Uganda, a lush but largely poor country about the size of Oregon, evangelical leaders estimate that at least one-fifth of the 28 million people are born-again Christians. Their number includes leading government officials, populist young pastors, DJs and other celebrities, and high school and college students.

Uganda's most prominent born-again Christian is the president's wife, Janet Museveni, who was elected to Parliament in February.

Ugandan evangelicals have forged close ties with the powerful evangelical movement in the United States. Backed by American contributions, Ugandan churches play a growing humanitarian role, building schools, health clinics and orphanages, including in the impoverished northern half of the country, which has been wracked by civil war for the past two decades.

Aid agencies "come and phase out, but there's a sense that the church is here to stay," said Fred Ssekyewa, 41, the pastor of Gaba Community Church, which is in a lakeside slum outside Kampala.

The church gets nearly all its funding from American churches such as Cornerstone Community Church in Simi Valley, Calif., Ssekyewa said. With the money, his church has launched a health clinic and AIDS education programs for its mostly poor congregation.

Like their American counterparts, Uganda's churches are a strong political force.

Nigeria has often been viewed as the frontline of the battle between Christianity and Islam in Africa because that nation is split between the two groups, with Muslims predominating in the North and Christians in the South. There have been numerous outbreaks of violence between the two groups over the years with thousands being massacred as terrorism spreads.

Sudanese Christians have been the target of genocidal campaigns by Muslim leaders and millions have probably perished over the years. Now Uganda, because of its key role in promoting Christianity across Africa and because of its role as an epicenter of evangelicalism which relies, in part, on conversion among other religious groups - an apostasy punishable by death in Islam - may now be on the radar screen of Muslim terror groups.

 



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