Rebels Declare War on the Church in Uganda

( [email protected] ) Jun 26, 2003 01:23 PM EDT

Rebels in Uganda which are led by a crazed cult leader, have declared war on the church, Maranatha Christian Journal reported.

Lord's Resistance Army a cult militia led by Joseph Kony are burning, bombing and descrating churches. The leader Kony has commanded the members to kill priests, nuns, and missionaries, according to international news agencies.

In June 19, 20 rebels attacked the parish church in Adjamani, taking 29 hostages. Rebels also attacked a camp in Katakwi by shooting a priest and killing an intelligent officer. Kampala newspaper New Vision reported that Catholic schools are closing because of fear.

The LRA has been fighting for 17 years to replae Uganda's current government, which has a theocracy based on Kony's interpretation of biblical concepts. 66% of Uganda's 24.7 million people have Roman Catholic or Protestant faith, according to The World Factbook 2002.

The Rev. Carls Rodriguez told Reuters, "last week in a radio communication with his commanders was wiretapped that the leader, Kony ordered them to kill Catholic priests and nuns. The message was wiretapped because Kony was using radio equipment stolen from church missions that use specific frequencies.

"Catholic missions must be destroyed. Priests and missionaries should be killed and nuns beaten black and blue," Kony said.

The LRA has been a cruel murderer of civilians. Continuous insurgence of the LRA make villagers maimed and children abducted. Especially their main target was Christians, even though the rebel group said it had willings to work with relgious leaders for a peaceful solution to the central-Africa nation's civil war.

Elizabeth Kendal, of the Religious Liberty Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance said the efforts of the churches to attain peace have been courageous.

However Kony recently declared a war against Christians after LRA junior commanders deserted during recent peace meetings with churches.

According to some international observers, more than 20,000 civilians and children have been kidnapped and enslaved and even forced to join the LRA army. Human Rights Watch explained that the kidnapped childrens are beaten and even forced to beat civilians. Since they become part of the LRA, they are trained to fight against the Ugandan army, the Uganda People's Defense Force.

World Evangelical Alliance reported on May 11 the LRA attacked a Catholic seminary killing a man and abducting 44 seminaries. Until now four died, three escaped but the remaining 37 are still missing.

Another phenomenon is that every night thousands of children go to Gulu and other nothern-Uganda towns to avoid abduction, Human Rights Watch said. They stay in churches, hospitals until dawn. "In February there were almost 3,000 people, mostly children," Human Rights Watch said.

Also the nation's government recruits children as young as 12 into Local Defense Units, which is known as home guards.

Rdriguez continued, "in the past five weeks churches on nine region were burned and bombed. Because churches have offered most of the health and education services in northern Uganda and they've protected thousands of people from the violence, attacks against churches may bring more serious chaos to the civilians.

Christians are now living in danger threatened and their lives not guaranteed. There are a lot of clergies and Christian workers who help children, former LRA prisoners and victims of mutilation.

"If we really live in the world of the global village, it is important to pay attention to this violent situation that our neighbor are facing," the Rev. Giulio Albanse, director of the MISNA missionary agency appealed.