Kony 2012's Visible Funding: Invisible Children's anti-gay, creationist, Christian right donors

(Photo: The Kony 2012/Invisible Children guys posing with SPLA soldiers on the Sudan-Congo border in April 2008. Photograph by Glenna Gordon.)

Over at Alternet, Bruce Wilson digs in to the sources of funding for the group behind "Kony 2012," and discovers 990 IRS tax forms and yearly financial disclosure reports from the nonprofit and its major donors "tell a story that’s jarringly at odds with the secular, airbrushed, feelgood image" it has cultivated.

The documents show that Invisible Children, Inc. received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the biggest financial backers of California’s anti-same-sex marriage Proposition 8, with links to James Dobson, The Family (see Jeff Sharlet's excellent book on the subject), and ideologically similar Christian Right entities.


(...) What does Invisible Children share in common with James Dobson’s Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council (pegged by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “hate group”), or the Fellowship Foundation — one of the nonprofit entities of the Washington-based evangelical organization also known as “The Family” (covered in two books by journalist Jeff Sharlet) whose leader Doug Coe has been captured on video celebrating the dedication inspired by Hitler, Lenin, and Mao ?

What does IC have in common with the ministry of California evangelist Ed Silvoso, who works directly with leading Ugandan author and promoter of the Anti Homosexuality Bill (also called the “kill the gays bill”) Julius Oyet — who claims that “even animals are wiser than homosexuals”?

The answer? — all of these ministries – the Discovery Institute, Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, The Fellowship Foundation, The Call, Ed Silvoso’s Harvest Evangelism, and Invisible Children – received at least $100,000 in 2008 from what has emerged in the last decade as the biggest funder of the hard, antigay, creationist Christian right: the National Christian Foundation.

Wilson's post is cross-published here with additional links at Talk2Action, his site on religion and politics. I've been blogging about the viral phenomenon here at Boing Boing, with perspective from aid workers, and a round-up of voices from Africa here (just updated with new additions).

A related digging-through-the financials post at Demand Nothing argues that the group works in a manner similar in style to "evangelical modes of operation" because they are effectively "a continuation of the same tactics used by more explicitly christian charities that operate in Africa and internationally." Snip:

Of Invisible Children’s network of supporters, two are run on a specifically US evangelical Christian stance. These are AIM AIR and National Christian Foundation. AIM AIR involves itself in the transport of resources to help expand evangelical work and Christian relief in Africa. Their aim is to “share the vision of Africa Inland Mission: to see Christ-centered churches among all African peoples.” National Christian Foundation sponsor organisations who push Christian ideals. They believe in funding organisations that will lift those out of poverty and educate them with Western Christian morality. They seek evangelism and discipleship amongst less controversial aims such as clean drinking water.

The National Christian Foundation is run by board members who have ties to many conservative religious political organisations. Terry Parker is a founder of National Christian Foundation and has served on the Family Research Council , which is registered as a hate group by Southern Poverty Law Center for its denigration of the LGBTQ movement and lobbying against equality legislation. James B. McCabe is senior vice president, finance and chief financial officer of Chick-Fil-A. His company has given $3 million to conservative anti-gay organisations since 2003 and $2million in 2009 alone (technically speaking they did it through their charitable arm, Winshape, and not directly. see: pp41-42 of their IRS form). Jay Bennett is trustee to The Bob Buford Institute.This institute runs several initiatives dedicated to expanding church activity and influence across the US.

More of Invisible Children's money goes to "awareness" than to Africa, according to its "director of idea development," Jedediah Jenkins. Production costs for their recent Kony 2012 viral short appear to be somewhere around USD $1 million. From the watchdog site "Visible Children":

According to Jason Russell’s appearance on the Today show several days ago, over 500,000 action kits have been ordered at $30 a piece, meaning this campaign has brought in a minimum of $15M in revenue this week. This is great news: at least 500,000 people are “advocate[s] of awesome” according to the group’s webstore! So where’s that money going? I’ll leave it to Jedidiah Jenkins, Invisible Children’s Director of Ideology:

“Thirty-seven percent of our budget goes directly to central African-related programs, about 20 percent goes to salaries and overhead, and the remaining 43 percent goes to our awareness programs. […] But aside from that, the truth about Invisible Children is that we are not an aid organization, and we don’t intend to be. I think people think we’re over there delivering shoes or food. But we are an advocacy and awareness organization.”

(thanks, Bruce Wilson, @somebadideas, @stannenb, Joshua Eaton, and all others who shared.)


  1. Wait, you mean the homophobic creationists are also against thw LRA? I guess the LRA must be alright then, the enemy of my enemy, and so on. Oh wait, that’s silly.

    Maybe what this means is that even homophobic creationists are mostly decent people who don’t like rape, murder, or child conscription, most especially not when it’s done in the name of their own religion.

    Or perhaps it’s that they’re focusing on the message of the campaign, and not deliberately alienating their secular audience just to make it easier for people to launch ad-hominem attacks on them. In the same way is itvsinister when a person sticks to a single topic when writing a letter to the editor, or to an elected representative?

    Next shocking expose: many influential Muslim leaders who are involved in fighting gainst Al Qaeda are also pretty uptight when it comes to women’s rights and sexual diversity.

    Or is there something actually shocking here that I’m failing to be shocked t.

    1. “Maybe what this means is that even homophobic creationists are mostly decent people who don’t like rape, murder, or child conscription, most especially not when it’s done in the name of their own religion.”

      No, it means that they support one group of raping, murdering religious zealot conscriptionists against another gang of rapists and murderers.

      The people they *support* against the LRA came up with the “kill all the gays” law for Uganda.

      1. “The people they *support* against the LRA came up with the “kill all the gays” law for Uganda.”

        I did not know that. Thanks for the link and the information.

        1. I know, right? Information, rather than “ZOMG they’re conservative Christians and hold many views typical of that group.”

    2. Dragonfrog ….or maybe you are just being pretentious and thinking that questioning any seemingly altruistic group and pointing out flaws is “ad hominiem attacks” Sure buddy! LOL. It is totally “attacking” to tell others facts you have found out about a group they might give time and money too. REALLY? Are you for real? You skipped past critical thinking and logic and went to pedantic and puerile.  I guess all the Ugandans that are decrying it and stating it is more harmful than helpful are just FOS? Kony2012 is about white paternalism and white savior complex, plain and simple. If you truly can;t see how and why it can damage I suggest you expand our research to history of neo colonialism and how this savior complex has harmed so many indigenous cultures . Oi vey!!!

      1. The inevitable and predictable tactic of the left…in response to somebody daring to voice their own opinion – shout them down with cynicism, sarcasm and abuse. No doubt you subscribe to the maxim “I defend your right to have an opinion….just as long as your opinion intersects with mine” !

        1. I have the “right” to consider your opinion stupid and uninformed. Nobody’s opinion is inherently deserving of respect.

        2. Isn’t Bunny Mellon just sharing his/her own opinion?  How does it count as “shouting down”?  I really don’t see it.  And “cynicism, sarcasm, and abuse,” isn’t that the conservative rhetorical arsenal in a nutshell?  I mean, liberals tend to be the less cynical group…at least when it suits conservatives to paint themselves as the steely-eyed pragmatists.  And abuse…it is to laugh.  From the ideology that brought you such terms as “traitor” and “evil” to demarcate people whose opinions on public policy differ from yours.

          Conservative rhetoric really is just concentrated hypocrisy, isn’t it?

          (Probably also worth pointing that it was dragonfrog who made the “shut up” post and Bunny Mellon just responded to say there are certainly legitimate reasons to talk about this.  So again, hypocrisy.)

      2. Thank you Bunny for addressing the actual substance of the Kony2012 campaign, rather than the religion of the people involved. Thank you in other worrs for choosing reasoned argument over ad hominem attacks.

        In response to your question, no I don’t think knowledgeable Ugandans are full of it, or that the campaign is well designed or necessarily a good idea. I just don’t think that pointing to the religion of its supporters proves anything (no matter how different it is from my own views)

        No thank you for your tone toward me, that was just pointless douchery. I’m glad to argue a point with those who can argue without shouting me down.

  2. Is this really a bad thing? Do the political and ideological leanings of IC’s supporters matter? If a racist or sexist (or [fill in relevant -ist here]) donates money to a good cause, why criticize them for doing something good?

        1. Xeni might argue that the two evangelical organizations point toward IC as a charity built around proselytizing rather than awareness or charity. Am I in the right ballpark here?

          1. Hm, okay, but is the identity of the donors the only thing which suggests this? I mean, I’m fully aware that an organisation can spread a harmful doctrine while also helping fight poverty, but is this actually the case? 

          2. “is the identity of the donors the only thing which suggests this”

            No, it’s the speeches that IC has given to Neocon institution Liberty University that have indicated this. Why don’t you read the article?

          3. “I did, but I guess I should read it again. Guess I didn’t parse that properly.”

            Cool, it’s a pretty decent article on IC talking about how they’re using their organization for missionary purposes. Granted, I think they’re a bunch of greedy pious frauds, but the point is that they’ve out and explained that IC’s intention is to get the word of Jesus out.

          4. @ C W Well, I don’t really have a problem with people getting the word of Jesus out (and because you will wonder, no, I’m not Christian, or straight) because I know that stuff can help people as much as any spirituality. And Christian organisations do a lot of good charity work which no one else seems interested in doing- and while not all, many of them do manage to balance out the evangelism with actual rescue, and don’t withhold aid from those who won’t accept the religion.

            This is probably why my first reaction was ‘uh…so?’ And even the extreme nature of the supporting organisations didn’t seem shocking to me, since I didn’t see how it necessarily tainted IC’s actions.

            But, of course, ‘kill the gays’ is not the word of Jesus, or any kind of acceptable policy, so that’s a dealbreaker for me.

          5. But, of course, ‘kill the gays’ is not the word of Jesus, so that’s a dealbreaker for me.

            Just about every human institution that has taken it upon itself to interpret Christian doctrine have decided otherwise.  You can’t just erase that fact by playing “no true Scotsman.”  Evangelicals (and especially U.S. evangelicals) have been doing serious harm in Africa by pushing for anti-gay legislation.  The witch hunts inspired by Pentecostalism are pretty awful too.

          6. “But, of course, ‘kill the gays’ is not the word of Jesus, so that’s a dealbreaker for me.”

            They also rape, murder, and loot, arguably less often than the LRA.

            Plenty of people in the region believe that they keep Kony around to have a bogeyman for which to justify committing human rights violations on their people and others.

          7. ” Just about every human institution that has taken it upon itself to interpret Christian doctrine have decided otherwise. You can’t just erase that fact by playing “no true Scotsman.”  

            I’m not, and that’s why I’m not Christian though I was raised as such. This is a huge flaw in the faith. Besides that, it has a lot of qualities which I also recognise.

            @CW, the army does that, I know, I wasn’t ever a fan of supporting them as the alternative to Kony- my comment referred more to the western sponsors who supported that project instead of abhorring it. But all in all, small diff, I guess.

          8. Granted, I think they’re a bunch of greedy pious frauds

            The more I find out, the more this is what I think too.  They had a pretty good cash cow going milking gullible and politically naive young people, but let their egos and messianic tendencies bite off more than they could chew.  Now that they’re under some scrutiny they may be sorry for being so greedy.

    1. That’s what I was wondering. Unless IC perpetuates anti-gay propaganda in its work, then I don’t see the problem. 

      1. “Unless IC perpetuates anti-gay propaganda in its work”

        They support the murderously anti-gay Ugandan military.

        1. Yeah I just saw your reply above. Thanks, that’s all I needed to know, really. I’m just wondering why this didn’t surface much earlier.

          1. “I’m just wondering why this didn’t surface much earlier.”

            Lotta credulous people with good intentions :)

            They see a smile and open their wallets unquestioningly. This guy, he loves children. Why would he ever be misrepresenting himself?

  3. They did not support this out of the goodness of their hearts, they are trying to use it as a way to evangelize “poor ignorant natives” after they save them from Kony and the LRA.

  4. So I should ignore Kony and let him go about his business because I’m against prop 8 and I’m not an evangelical?  What message are you trying to send?

    Also, if the Southern Poverty Law Center has classified the Family Research Council as a hate group, then they’ve probably jumped the shark. Aren’t they just stock social conservatives?

    1. “if the Southern Poverty Law Center has classified the Family Research Council as a hate group, then they’ve probably jumped the shark.”

      That, or you’re not as good of a person as you think you are.

      1. Or, giving the benefit of the doubt, qwerttyy is just not as familiar with the FRC as the SPLC is.

      1. Besides that it’s a false dichotomy, that we can’t think IC are a bunch of assholes AND that the situation is very complex, Kony being one factor at play. The “good guys” we would be granting aid to are only slightly less terrible than Kony.

        So maybe not throwing more guns at the issue isn’t going to fix things alone, and not giving money to IC isn’t an endorsement for the status quo.

    2. The Family Research Council actively and intentionally promotes discrimination against certain American citizens on the basis of sexual identity. Bigotry may not be remarkable among social conservatives, but that doesn’t make it “not hateful.”

    3. The real problem is that Kony is not the real problem. I’ll not rehash my point-by-points, with citations, from other BB articles on this. Suffice it to say that to Ugandans, Kony is old news and not even in the top 10 issues in Uganda; and though he’s fled elsewhere and stays on the move, his numbers are dwindling rapidly as are his resources. AND there are already US military teams on the ground hunting him down. Is he a bastard? With certainty. But he’s far from the biggest bastard in Uganda right now, or even in the region. Arguably, deep, deep corruption in the Ugandan government and military are the biggest threats to Ugandans now. But that’s no biggie to IC, since they want to zOMG STOP KONY. You know, so they can feel like big white saviors of those poor ignorant African blacks.

  5. http://www.acholitimes.com/index.php/perspectives/opinion/15-open-letter-to-jason-russell-ceo-of-invisible-children-inc-on-kony2012

    Dear Jason Russell,

    After being bombarded with your KONY 2012 crusade, I have no choice but to respond to your highly inaccurate, offensive, and harmful propaganda. I realized I had to respond in hopes of stopping you before you cause more violence and deaths to the Acholi people (Northern Ugandans), the very people you are claiming to protect.

    Firstly, I would like to question your timing of this KONY 2012 crusade in Uganda when most of the violence from Joseph Kony and the LRA (The Lord’s Resistance Army) has subsided in Uganda in the past 5 years. The LRA has moved onto neighboring countries like the DRC and Sudan. Why are you not urging action in the countries he is currently in? Why are you worried about Kony all of a sudden when Ugandans are not at this present moment?

    This grossly illogical timing and statements on your website such as “Click here to buy your KONY 2012 products” makes me believe that the timing has more to do with your commercial interests than humanitarian interests. With the upcoming U.S. presidential elections and the waning interest in Invisible Children, it seems to be perfect timing to start a crusade. I also must add at this point how much it personally disgusts me the way in which you have commercialized a conflict in which thousands of people have died.

    Secondly, I would like to address the highly inaccurate content of your video. Your video did not leave the viewer any more knowledgeable about the conflict in Uganda, but only emotionally assaulted. I could not help but notice how conveniently one-sided the “explanation” in your video was. There was absolutely no mention of the role of the Ugandan government and military in the conflict. Let alone the role of the U.S. government and military. The only information given is “KONY MUST BE STOPPED.”

    I would like to inform you that stopping Kony would not end the conflict. (It is correctly pronounced “Kohn” by the way). This conflict is deeply embedded in Uganda’s history that neither starts nor ends with Kony. Therefore, your solution to the problem is flawed. There is no way to know the solution, without full knowledge of the problem itself. We must act on knowledge, not emotions.

    Joseph Kony formed the LRA in retaliation to the brutality of President Museveni (from the south) committing mass atrocities on the Acholi people (from the north) when President Museveni came to power in 1986. This follows a long history of Ugandan politics that can be traced back to pre-colonial times. The conflict must be contextualized within this history. (If you want to have this proper knowledge, I suggest you start by working with scholars, not celebrities). President Museveni is still in power and in his reign of 26 years he has arguably killed as many, if not more Acholi people, than Joseph Kony. Why is President Museveni not demonized, let alone mentioned? I would like to give you more credit than just ignorance. I have three guesses. One is that Invisible Children has close ties with the Ugandan government and military, which it has been accused of many times. Second, is that you are willing to fight Kony, but not the U.S. Government, which openly supports President Museveni. Third, is that Invisible Children feels the need to reduce the conflict to better commercialize it.

    This brings me to my third issue, the highly offensive nature of your video. Firstly, it is offensive to your viewer. The scene with your “explanation” of the conflict to your toddler son suggests that the viewers have the mental capacity of a toddler and can only handle information given in such a reductionist manner. I would like to think American teenagers and young adults (which is clearly your target audience) are smarter than your toddler son. I would hope that we are able to realize that it is not a “Star Wars” game with aliens and robots in some far off galaxy as your son suggests, but a real world conflict with real world people in Uganda. This is a real life conflict with real life consequences.

    Secondly, and more importantly, it is offensive to Ugandans. The very name “Invisible Children” is offensive. You claim you make the invisible, visible. The statements, “We have seen these kids.” and “No one knew about these kids.” are part of your slogan. You seem to be strongly hinting that you somehow have validated and found these kids and their struggles.

    Whether you see them or not, they were always there. Your having seen the kids does not validate their existence in any shape or form or bring it any more significance. You say “no one” knew about the kids. What about the kids themselves? What about the families of the kids who were killed and abducted? Are they “no one?” Are they not human?

    These children are not invisible; you are making them invisible by silencing, dehumanizing, marketing, and invalidating them.

    Last year I went to Gulu, Uganda, where Invisible Children is based, and interviewed over 50 locals. Every single person questioned Invisible Children’s legitimacy and intention. Every single person. If anything, it seemed the people saw Invisible Children as a bigger threat than Joseph Kony at the time. Why is it the very people you are trying to “help” feel more offense than relief with your aid?

    “They come here to make money and use us.”

    “It makes us feel terrible to be presented as being so stupid and helpless.”

    These are direct quotes. This was the sentiment of the majority of the people that I interviewed in varying degrees. I definitely didn’t see or hear these voices or opinions in your video. If you are to be “saving” the Acholi people, the very least you can be doing is holding yourself accountable to them and actually listening to what they have to say.

    This offensive, inaccurate misconstruction of Ugandans and its conflict makes me wonder what and whom this is really about. It seems that you feel very good about yourself being a savior, a Luke Skywalker of sorts, and same with the girl in your video who passionately states, “This is what defines us”. Therefore, I can’t help but wonder if Invisible Children is more about defining the American do-gooders (and making them feel good), rather than the Ugandans; profiteering the American military and corporations (which Invisible Children is officially and legally) than the conflict.

    Lastly, I would like to address the harmful nature of your propaganda. I believe your actions will actually bring back the fighting in Northern Uganda. You are not asking for peace, but violence. The fighting has stopped in the past 5 years and the Acholi are finally enjoying some peace. You will be inviting the LRA and the fighting back into Uganda and disturbing this peace. The last time Invisible Children got politically involved and began lobbying it actually caused more violence and deaths. I beg you not to do it again.

    If you open your eyes and see the actions of the Ugandan government and the U.S. government, you will see why. Why is it that suddenly in October of 2011 when there has been relative peace in Uganda for 4 years, President Obama decided to send troops into Uganda? Why is it that the U.S. military is so involved with AFRICOM, which has been pervading African countries, including Uganda? Why is it that U.S. has been traced to creating the very weapons that has been used in the violence? The U.S. is entering Uganda and other countries in Africa not to stop violence, but to create a new battlefield.

    In your video you urge that the first course of action is that the Ugandan military needs American military and weapons. You are giving weapons to the very people who were killing the Acholi people in the first place. You are helping to open the grounds for America to make Uganda into a battlefield in which it can profit and gain power. Please recognize this is all part of a bigger military movement, not a humanitarian movement. This will cause deaths, not save lives. This will be doing more harm, than good.

    You end your video with saying, “I will stop at nothing”. If nothing else, will you not stop for the lives of the Acholi people? Haven’t enough Acholi people suffered in the violence between the LRA and the Ugandan government? Our alliance should not be with the U.S. government or the Ugandan military or the LRA, but the Acholi people. There is a Ugandan saying that goes, “The grass will always suffer when two elephants fight.” Isn’t it time we let the grass grow

    1. Posted. That probly was the most succict response to KONY yet.  Also we should be dillident about watching   http://afripopmag.com/2012/03/african-reactions-to-the-kony-2012-campaign/     I’m sure it’s being updated

  6. Follow the oil. Five years ago, a massive supply of it was found in the Albertine Graben region, which borders the DRC. 

  7. And anti-gay Ron Paul supports having fewer wars. Does this mean that anyone who supports fewer wars is anti-gay?

    I think that there’s something in whatever it is that you’re trying to say, but relying on guilt-by-association to speak for you isn’t doing it for many of us.

    So anti-gay creationists supported a film that’s anti-LRA. So….. what’s the conclusion exactly? Should we be pro-LRA? Pro-child soldiers? Anti-white hipsters trying to save the world? (Sure, but that has nothing to do with your premise.) What?

    1. “So….. what’s the conclusion exactly?”

      IC is a group of fundamentalists (in designer jeans) that wants to back one religious zealot against another religious zealot. Some people may wish to know this. The point to the article is far more clear than your criticism of the article.

    2. So… what’s the conclusion exactly? Should we be pro-LRA? Pro-child soldiers? Anti-white hipsters trying to save the world?

      Whether we support those things or not it is always a good idea to be as informed as possible about all the major players in complex issues like this. Especially when those decisions might lead to some kind of military intervention (or lack thereof) which could determine the fate of countless lives.

      Frankly I don’t think I’m ready to draw any “conclusion” just yet. I’m still acquiring and contemplating new information, and I’m glad that there are still some journalists out there willing to provide it.

      1. Yeah, the problem with “Awareness” campaigns is that they give a comically dumbed-down view of the cause, so much that IC’s “documentary” was less that than a strange mix of propaganda and advertisement. It left people with intentional misunderstandings of what’s currently happening in the country, and all those that live there who’ve seen it are pretty incensed by the portrayals.

    1. I’m glad you’ve found wikipedia’s list of logical fallacies. Hopefully one day you’ll read them enough to know where to use them.

      1. Look at the opening paragraph to the AlterNet article:

        Why does it matter, if Invisible Children was funded by controversial donors? Two reasons – one, we can assume those donors thought IC aligned with their agenda – which is antagonistic to LGBT rights.

        If that assumption doesn’t qualify as an association fallacy, nothing does. The NCF supports a whole range of issues that have nothing to do with LGBT rights.

        There have been good critiques of ICI, and there have been lazy critiques that range from non-profit turf wars to complaints that ICI is too white or western. This article falls somewhere in the latter category.

          1. Agreed that having the information is good, but “overstating the case” seems to be the running theme with ICI critiques.

        1. “If that assumption doesn’t qualify as an association fallacy, nothing does.”

          These initial Dominionist backers only fund causes that promote their agenda.

          If you paid attention to IC, you’d see plenty of other incidents where they don’t give a flying fuck about LGBT rights.

          1. These initial Dominionist backers only fund causes that promote their agenda.

            Of course they only fund causes that promote their agenda — that’s kind of how funding works. The point is that their agenda includes a lot of stuff that has nothing to do with LGBT rights.

            If you paid attention to IC, you’d see plenty of other incidents where they don’t give a flying fuck about LGBT rights.

            Because their mission has nothing to do with LGBT rights.

      1. It’s not “by association” if you actively admit to being fundamentalists with an ideological bent. It’s just “guilt” :)

    2. Association fallacy requires that the association is irrelevant.

      The NCF’s sole purpose is to fund evangelization of Christ, Christ’s Word, and Christian values. Their donations are a directly relevant association because of the simple fact that they only donate to organisations that will assist in their evangelical mission. It’s literally their mission statement.

  8. We don’t have time for all this “investigation” and “nuance” and “thinking.” Just tell us which side is good and which side is evil so we know who to send all the bombs and assault rifles to already!

    1. But isn’t this the implicit fallacy in the entire Kony 2012 debate? No matter what is true of the people who made the video and the people who support them, Kony, whether he’s in Uganda or anywhere else, ought to have his head put on a pike. There is no equivalency, as implied by your statement.

      Maybe the real question ought to be why a bunch of homophobic etc. etc. people were the ones who brought this issue to the masses. Where were all the cognoscenti who comment here BEFORE the video blew up?

      1. “Maybe the real question ought to be why a bunch of homophobic etc. etc. people were the ones who brought this issue to the masses. Where were all the cognoscenti who comment here BEFORE the video blew up?”

        What the are you babbling about?


        The LRA has been around for quite some time.

        The human rights violations by them AND the Ugandan army are well-documented.

        Just because YOU had no clue what was going on, don’t assume the rest of the world doesn’t.

        1.  But then why was this the first dibs? Why couldn’t the right message come out first, be as slick and well produced, without this kind of baggage attached? Was the argument that far removed?

          1. Why couldn’t the right message come out first, be as slick and well produced, without this kind of baggage attached?

            Then why didn’t you do it yourself, Asterisk?

          2. Sorry to hear that the complexities of Geopolitics fails to meet your media-incubated demand for the “slick and well produced” before you take it seriously.  Your telling post very much helps me understand this whole phenomenon.  Thanks.

        2. But it was in Foreign Affairs!

          Good grief. This group is easy to be critical of, but the fact of the matter is they, for a short time, made Kony a vital issue for a lot of people. That they turn out to be wingnuts is a side issue compared to the fact that people who “knew all along” are acting as if Foreign Affairs articles are the same as what the wingnuts accomplished in terms of publicity.

          And don’t bother replying al a Antinous with “why didn’t you do it?” I am not running around saying I knew all the time. It is for those who have leveled nothing but criticism to explain why the door was open for these wingnuts.

          1. “the fact of the matter is they, for a short time, made Kony a vital issue for a lot of people”

            And in this case “raising awareness” may do more harm than good, considering the solutions IC offer.

          2. Since when is publicity all-important?  Looks like no amount of publicity is going to stop Assad from murdering his own people.  If you had read the article you would have learned that Obama sent American troops to kill Kony last fall.  It goes on to say that this action may well imperil peace talks already underway.  Actions are the only thing that matter, and the choices in such cases are relatively few: the use of military power (Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya), or a brokered deal with the bad guys (Burma, N. Korea).  Those screaming ‘do something’ are usually the first to cry foul when the body bags start coming home. 

          3. Simple answer? Boiling down a complex problem that calls for complex solutions into manipulative social media fodder is not the best way to go about solving these kinds of issues, so the “door” was “open” only in the sense that it was a door to a completely different place, that noone apart from IC really had a vested interest in using.

            These (well-funded, media savvy) wingnuts marketed the issues in the same way that a good PR firm markets a new product: in simple, sensationalised ways that make the product easy to grasp for someone with only a passing interest. The product, in this sense, has nothing to do with Kony and has everything to do with attracting donations.

            I’m sure keyboard cat has had a similar number of views to Kony 2012, but that doesn’t mean we should be allowing its creator to set political agendas. Effective meme creation =/= effective international politics.

          4. “Only if they are allowed to be the only voice on this issue.”

            They’re still the ones in the news, not any of the other more deserving/capable/not-completely-horrible charities.

        3. This is such a superb point, which underscores the revolting solipsism which is what really gives this so-called “movement” (and others like it) its legs.

      2. I’m not seeing any implied equivalency either.  And your comment makes no sense.  I’d heard of LRA and Kony before this nonsense but I don’t have a squad of battle-hardened mercenaries I could send into battle to defend the innocent, right?

        And from what I understand neither do the filmmakers.  They’re making a movie.  Do you really think uncovering evidence of ideological motivations on their part is a bad thing?  Do you really think pointing this out is somehow making them out to be as bad as mass murderers?  I really don’t understand what you’re trying to say here.

  9. Kony fanboys are the worst fanboys. ‘Course the reaction to this information is predictable. After all, they aren’t terribly interested in hearing details about the actual threat Kony poses to Uganda right now, so why would they want to know that their white knights are likely just another arm of the US Xtian evangelical fundamentalist movement in Africa? Both kill the passive do-gooding buzz.

    1. And YOU’re the “bad guy” because pointing out that a charity does very little good and that others should be supported instead of a bunch of grifters means that you “want Ugandans to die” or “support Kony”, I really wonder how many commenters here or elsewhere on the internet are just not very smart, or how many are just shills for their well-funded social media campaign.

    2. This is the sort of misdirection that helps nothing. “Kony fanboys?” Really? Ad hominem much?

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with pointing out the questionable motivations behind evangelical donations to IC, nor with challenging IC itself. The linked articles go into greater depth about IC, and that’s great. Still, I don’t see how it provides a blanket green light to the guilt by association in the post. It’s the same crap coming in from the right about “liberal Hollywood types” boosting IC.

      I think a good many of their donors have dubious intentions (evangelicals and banks with oil interests in particular). I don’t think IC is on the right track. But I’m also inclined to consider a compatible and parsimonious explanation: privileged kids with good intentions don’t always recognize the world’s harsh realities and complexities. This shortcoming applies just as readily to their fundraising as it does to their simple-minded approach to politics.

  10. Worst. Organization. Ever. An evangelical hipster scam getting rich by trivializing serious issues into mass opium. Watch this video from the CEO in its idiotic glory. Now look at the unpaid internship positions available. Way to exploit unpaid workers *and* the victims of humanitarian disaster, assholes.


  11. Without putting on my tinfoil hat here, this is geopolitics at its finest!  Newly found Oil reserves, AFRICOM, and competition with China … this KOFY2012 video was a blazing good piece of propaganda — and the amazing thing is that the circles it really traveled through were the more left-leaning crowds — when it’s a campaign of more guns, more intervention, and yes, US soldier boots on the ground, yet again, in another country…  all to support the Empire with a capital E
    Thanks Xeni for the good analysis on the funding… I found this to be one of the most insightful articles on the discussion today:

    1. “Newly found Oil reserves”

      Hey, hey hey now. Why would a charity aligned with a Dominionist University and Neocon thinktanks be interested in invasion to “stabilize” a region’s natural resources? 

      That’s crazy talk. 

      I’m sure that the very recent oil find is entirely coincidental to the very recent media campaign to invade Uganda, after a dozen or so years of the LRA, and certainly after Kony left Ugandan soil.

  12. It’s worth noting that much laudable work in Africa related to human rights and sustainable development is done by Christian activists and organizations, both native and foreign. I hope this post isn’t misconstrued as “bashing” faith-based activism.

    1. Right. The issue isn’t that they’re Christians, or a FBO. The issue is who they aim to help with their narcissistic/greedy “awareness” campaign.

    2. I’m pretty confident that if you place most other Christian aid organizations under the spotlight that ICI is currently under, you’d find they’re supported by groups or individuals who share many of the aims you find objectionable in ICI’s supporters. That’s why I think this sort of guilt-by-association criticism is misguided and reckless.

  13. Not the best situation or the most preferred champions of the cause, but sometimes you just have to remember the phrase “Good enough for government work.” Go for the assist on this one, but work to protect the rights of gays should it come up.  You’d be surprised many of Evangelicals are quite reasonable. 

  14. This is crazy. Some friends and  I were just talking about this and in a totally naive and ignorant way I said “as if supporting the current government in Uganda isn’t also supporting genocide” thinking only that I was being some what cynical and useless, while talking about unintentional consequences. 

    Turns out I’m not cynical enough I guess. Useless as all hell though.

    1. The Nazis were quite popular with plenty of reasonable-seeming people for a long time. Much of the horror was known until the war was over.

  15. Really BB? I mean it’s no secrete you guy swing to the left a little, but come on these guys are doing something good here and 2 out of the 3 posts you guys can come up with are attacking their character? While we all have our bias’s I guess, and it is hard to see the subject from the other side, but does Christianity seem so intimidating that people would rather attack these guys character than applaud their effort despite their theological differences? Is there a better way to go about this than these guys have done, is there a better solution available? How the hell would I know, I’d never heard of this before, and that is exactly the point. People know about it now, the don’t know any detail or intricacy but they know about it. This Kony 2012 effort is brilliant, they took an atrocity and brought it to light. For some reason people don’t like this? All the detractors have is a picture taken out of context, a lot of jealous finger pointing and money coming from groups you don’t like. I think point of view is limited and sad. 

        1. When they ‘took an atrocity and brought it to light’, it had a little Santorum on it, but don’t point fingers. 

      1. Yeah, I saw that misspelling right after I posted. I knew that would become fodder for ridicule. But seriously, that’s the best reply you have? Because you disagree with the possible theology or source of funding it is better to find someway to discredit a good intention for a just cause? I know that isn’t the case, BB has always been a intelligent  source of information. All I’m saying is maybe it’d be nice to see a post showing that there indeed is an issue from the LRA or it isn’t an issue, not some weak ridicule for the people trying to make a difference. 

        1. it’d be nice to see a post showing that there indeed is an issue from the LRA or it isn’t an issue

          Maybe you should read all of the posts on this issue from the last week, since they address the fact that the issue as presented is very much out of date.

    1. “Christianity seem so intimidating”

      Have you ever heard of the word “Dominionism”?

      Because you have no clue what you’re talking about.

      “Is there a better way to go about this than these guys have done, is there a better solution available?”


      “How the hell would I know”

      You don’t, and you’re no more enlightened today if you’re suggesting we back IC and imperialist “charity” over the good charities already in the region.

      1. CW, you’re way off. I had never heard the term “dominionism”), but I get the idea. Don’t just over simplify the question I was asking or the point I was trying to make. Are liberals choosing to ridicule this effort because they are too proud to show support for a effort that has leaders that are Christians.  Just because these guys are Christians doesn’t mean they aren’t doing something noble that people of any faith could agree with. I’m no expert, but I do know that getting the word out is a pretty good strategy to fixing the problem. 

        Your “Yes” answer seems to me like “I don’t know but as long as it isn’t that guys idea”. You may call this kind of effort imperialism, I think it is more like people  trying to good for somebody else. Sure there are all sorts of historical instances where good intentions turn into occupying forces, as well there are a few historical instances of complacency  in the international community letting people die and suffer the atrocities of mad men.

        1. Well, I don’t know about CW, but I don’t support this effort not because of some Christians, but because it’s a necolonialistic campaign that ignores the actions, voices, desires, and needs of Ugandan, Congolese, and Sudanese activists, it spreads false information about the location of Kony and the LRA (they still haven’t been in Uganda for years!), and it’s a fundraising campaign for an irresponsible organization that’s ineffective and uninterested in serving the needs of Ugandans as they express them. The fact that it’s funded by violently homophobic fundamentalists whose actions and supported actions (the “kill the gays” bill, colonialism through evangelism) are in direct opposition to the interests of Ugandans is definitely another reason to oppose it.

          This is not an either/or situation–no one is choosing between supporting IC and letting people die, because Uganda is not in a state of emergency right now. IC’s strategies do not involve consultation with Ugandan civilians. Even if I believed they were well-intentioned, even if their intentions mattered when the solution they advocate is such a terrible one, their decision not to cooperate with Ugandans who are not the military is untenable. They’re a bunch of Americans insisting they know the solution to an extremely complicated series of problems that have been plaguing several countries for years, despite the vocal disagreement of people who actually live there: http://www.youtube.com/watch?&v=KLVY5jBnD-E

  16. Ya know all those churches that have those BIG gymnasiums and the ball fields and the soccer fields for the kids of the “membership”?  The buses they have that take their “members” to all kinds of exciting places?  Since churches don’t pay taxes and since they want to integrate church and state so bad then all that stuff should be available to EVERYBODY.  You know since a lot of other people DO have to pay taxes to make up for the churches that don’t, but these same churches want to take over the government then their stuff by right of common sense becomes open to ALL.   Do churches get to run the government, NOT pay taxes, and still expect everybody to pay/tithe 10% or whatever they tell you so your kids can play ball and ride the bus?

    1. You can’t start and end your argument about how much money the church has, it’s what they do with it, and the billions that go  back into the community. Does “Food Bank” and “Soup Kitchen”  ring your dinner bell? Most in my area are staffed and operated by our local churches. 

  17. Think about the children!: “Give us money so we can stop one murderous psycho who brainwashes children and then brainwash the children ourselves. Trust us… we won’t murder them*”

    *unless they happen to be gay.

    People who support this fucking joke of a charity should do the world a favour and go donate some money to Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) instead. Then you can be sure all of your donation will actually be used to help people instead of supporting hatred.

  18. Wow. You’ve ultimately defined the definition of ‘Slippery Slope’ within the world of word play. 

    I have a lot of family and friends who don’t agree with same-sex marriage. But they would come to my aid and help me and my partner in any way they could. 

    Faith based institutions have almost always been the backbone of charity, this is exactly what this is. Two men getting married has nothing to do with children being kidnapped, raped and murdered. 

    You will never meet anyone who is 100% like-minded, how would we ever learn anything new or get anything done?

    1. This has nothing to do with not being “100% like-minded”. We’re talking about supporting people who want to introduce the death penalty for being gay.

      1. Nothing new, the same thing happened here in the United States. 

        Homosexuals = AIDS. To fight AIDS, you need to eliminate homosexuals. That’s what this is all about. Sadly, the ancient faiths in this part of the world haven’t been eradicated by Christianity, their belief system is completely hybridized. You see it in Haiti too. My God Anti, they’re slaughtering albino Afrikaans as a curative. What do you expect? Even today, HIV+ men think by raping a virgin, she  will take away his HIV. 

        If you want to read a great article about how AIDS is spread throughout the continent, it’s a fantastic read: 

        Ted Conover, A Reporter at Large, “TRUCKING THROUGH THE AIDS BELT,” The New Yorker, August 16, 1993, p. 56

        Yes, they are using a verse from the bible, but shouldn’t we all be immune to that, we should all be used to it by now, it’s a great source in formulating a fear based recipe for propaganda.  

        1. Nothing new, the same thing happened here in the United States.

          As far as I know, nobody in the US government has suggested executing anyone found to be gay. Uganda is seriously considering making that the law of the land.

        2. What are you talking about? The US is pretty messed up but being gay isn’t a capital offense. Not even here in Texas. Also the difference between a superstition and a religion is tenuous at best. You just sound  racist.

    2. “I have a lot of family and friends who don’t agree with same-sex marriage. But they would come to my aid and help me and my partner in any way they could. 
      Faith based institutions have almost always been the backbone of charity, this is exactly what this is.”

      The Ugandan military supports rape and murder of gays, backed by legislation they wish to introduce to legalize murdering gays. This is who IC is backing themselves.

  19. Actually, I’m really proud of these guys. I watched an interview. They believe, as I do, that it’s perfectly fine to focus on ONE SINGLE THING. They are getting so much shit for not shining light on other things.

    Wait, What? Now that this group has proven they have a loud voice, and have been successful at getting their point across, other’s are coming forward because this group is not speaking about something others find important? It’s the proverbial ‘who do you save first’ conundrum.

    Sounds like Envy to me. It’s their light, and they can shine it on whatever the hell they want to, whatever they feel is important. They’ve succeeded, and they are not done, not by a long shot.

    1. What they’ve done is as admirable as what Michael Moore does. Just remember thats why he won awards, not because the sun shone out his asshole.

  20. As Jon Stewart revealed in this segment, but missing a deeper point:


    the media is puzzled why this is now getting so much coverage.  The reason, of course, is this:

    The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power


    C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy


    1.  Seems this might be funded by the Religious right to appeal to younger voters with some charity.  The left would be smart to heed the words of Admiral Akbar, “It’s a Trap!”

  21. Do you think the children who are slaughtered and the women mutilated care where this money came from?  Right wing groups do good things…and left wing groups do good things.  Someone should expose the money going to Darfur charities – oh, that’s right, people have but the Christians donate and become missionaries – while you left wingers sit on a blog and get mad.  Only in America, where our lives are so easy, do we let politics infect things issues like this.

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