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If you don’t know who Joseph Kony is by now, then it’s likely that you don’t own a computer. He’s a brutal warlord in Africa who kidnaps children and conscripts them into his “Lord’s Resistance Army” (LRA). His tactics are unspeakably vicious and brutal, and he’s been at it for over 20 years. The man is a monster, and he needs to be stopped. [Denny Burk (DB) has] written twice before on this blog about Kony, once in 2005 and again in 2008. Here’s what Christianity Today wrote about him in 2005:

Perhaps the greatest atrocity is teaching these children that they spread this carnage by the power of the Holy Spirit to purify the “unrepentant,” twisting Christianity into a religion of horror to their victims. It is spiritual warfare at its very worst, and it could not be more satanic. . .

Under threat of death, LRA child soldiers attack villages, shooting and cutting off people’s lips, ears, hands, feet, or breasts, at times force-feeding the severed body parts to victims’ families. Some cut open the bellies of pregnant women and tear their babies out. Men and women are gang-raped. As a warning to those who might report them to Ugandan authorities, they bore holes in the lips of victims and padlock them shut. Victims are burned alive or beaten to death with machetes and clubs. The murderous task is considered properly executed only when the victim is mutilated beyond recognition and his or her blood spatters the killer’s clothing.

In 2008, Michael Gerson shared this horror story in The Washington Post:

A friend, the head of a major aid organization, tells how his workers in eastern Congo a few years ago chanced upon a group of shell-shocked women and children in the bush. A militia had kidnapped a number of families and forced the women to kill their husbands with machetes, under the threat that their sons and daughters would be murdered if they refused. Afterward the women were raped by more than 100 soldiers; the children were spectators at their own private genocide.

This is ultimately the work and trademark of a single man: Joseph Kony, the most carnivorous killer since Idi Amin.

These were the stories that provoked [DB] to write about Kony back then, and his continuing atrocities have provoked [DB] to write again today.

Kony is trending right now on the internet because of a viral video (see above) that has garnered 32 million views since its Tuesday release. The group that produced the film is called “The Invisible Children.” When [DB] was a professor at Criswell College, [DB] had some students involved with this organization, but that was several years ago. Until [DB] saw this tweet yesterday, the organization has been off my radar screen. When [DB] watched the video, [DB] was reminded again of just how horrific Kony’s crimes are.

There has been some controversy about the methods used by the organization that produced the video. The Invisible Children group has responded to that criticism, but the debate goes on. [DB is] not going to attempt to resolve that here. If you are interested in reading a summary of the criticism, The Washington Post has a short piece that is very helpful. [DB is] sure there will be more scrutiny to follow as the national media is now catching up with this story. The leader of The Invisible Children will sit for an interview on “The Today Show” tomorrow morning. [DB looks] forward to hearing him answer some questions.

[DB did not post] this video to encourage you to give money to The Invisible Children organization or to participate in its program. [DB hasn’t] given any and wouldn’t without a little more vetting of the organization.  [DB is providing] this video simply to shine the light again on Kony’s crimes. He needs to be exposed.


Further Reading:

J. Carter Johnson, “Deliver Us from Kony,” Christianity Today 50.1 (January 2006).

Michael Gerson, “Africa’s Messiah of Horror,” The Washington Post (June 6, 2008).

Elizabeth Flock, “Invisible Children responds to criticism about ‘Stop Kony’ campaign,” The Washington Post blog (March 8, 2012).

Sarah Pulliam Bailey, “Why Joseph Kony Is Trending (And What Invisible Children Wants with Rick Warren and Tim Tebow),” Christianity Today liveblog (March 7, 2012).