WASHINGTON, Oct. 17, 2011 — Guerilla fighters accused of atrocities in northern Uganda and South Sudan are not a legitimate Christian group, according to an official with the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD).
The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) operates in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, and the Central African Republic. Raids by the group on remote locations forcibly take food, money, or people who are subsequently enslaved.
Faith J.H. McDonnell is co-author with Grace Akallo of “Girl Soldier: A Story of Hope for Northern Uganda’s Children,” which tells the true story of child abduction and forced conscription into the LRA. Churches and aid organizations have worked to alleviate suffering caused by LRA attacks on villages. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has essentially named the LRA’s detainment of children as trafficking.
McDonnell’s comments follow an October 14 radio broadcast by commentator Rush Limbaugh in which he stated that the “Lord’s Resistance Army are Christians. They are fighting the Muslims in Sudan. And [President] Obama has sent troops, United States troops to remove them from the battlefield, which means kill them.”
IRD Religious Liberty Program Director Faith J.H. McDonnell commented:
“The LRA has been a destabilizing influence across a swath of central Africa for years, leaving abduction, rape, maiming, and murder of civilians, including children, in their bloody wake. Whatever political goals they may have originally espoused, they now exist to perpetuate their own power.
“Christians and people of good will across the political spectrum have labored for years to heal central Africa from the damage inflicted by the LRA. Recent statements that this is a Christian group are woefully misinformed.
“The LRA rebels are notorious for kidnapping children and forcing them to become rebel fighters or concubines. Their legacy has been over a half-million people in Uganda displaced by the fighting and living in temporary camps.”