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Get Kony: How should Christians respond to viral video’s call for justice?

In a little more than a week, this YouTube video has passed 78 million views.
The controversial video, produced by San Diego-based Invisible Children, “aims to make Joseph Kony famous, not to celebrate him, but to raise support for his arrest and set a precedent for international justice,” according to the nonprofit. The video’s producers want Kony, a Ugandan warlord, captured and forced to face trial for war crimes at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands.
Churches of Christ have supported the work of Invisible Children since the 2006 release of a same-named documentary about the plight of child soldiers in war-torn northern Uganda, as we reported:

Chris Lindsey, a minsiter for the Rochester Church of Christ in Michigan, joins the Global Night Commute in support of Uganda’s “Invisible Children” in 2006. (Photo provided)

“Invisible Children,” an independently produced, rough-cut film with an MTV pace, has appeared in schools, universities and religious institutions. Churches of Christ have sponsored screenings of the film, which details the abduction of children in northern Uganda by the Lord’s Resistance Army. The rebel faction turns boys into gun-carrying killers and girls into sex slaves.
Twelve-year-old Nate Barton said the film made him sick — and angry.
“You know that if this was happening in America … there would be immediate action,” he said. “Why is Africa different?”
His congregation, the Rochester Church of Christ in Michigan, showed the film for 780 people — the largest screening in the Midwest, said Josh Graves, minister for young adults.
Graves and Barton were among the 300 people who walked four miles across their community and spent the night under the stars, mimicking the nightly commute made by Ugandan children as they try to avoid capture by the rebel army.

Read the full story.
Kony’s crimes have personally affected Christians in Africa. Last year, as part of our Global South series, we shared the story of James Sokiri, a Church of Christ member in Juba, South Sudan, who was abducted by Kony’s force, known as the Lord’s Resistance Army:

James Sokiri (Photo by Erik Tryggestad)

“I don’t know which Lord’s they are,” Sokiri said with a slight chuckle. Then, in hushed tones, he described the night he heard footsteps in the camp. He was studying for exams and thought his neighbors were out hunting white ants — a local delicacy.
Then he heard the cock of machine guns.
All he remembers next is white light and shouting. LRA soldiers bound his hands and dragged him from his house. He didn’t fear. In his own mind, he already was dead.

Read the full story.
The new, 30-minute documentary has been praised and panned by critics. Some feel it glamorizes a vicious warlord. Others scoff at the notion that a huge number of YouTube views will lead to political action. (An image of Boromir, a character in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, has appeared on Facebook pages with a modified line from the movies, “One does not simply stop an African warlord by watching a video for 30 minutes.”)
Are you a Ugandan Christian, or a missionary who has worked in Uganda? How are people there responding to the video? What do you think of it and its message?
Regardless of where you live, how do you think Christians should respond to this video’s call for justice?

  • Feedback
    You know that justice delayed is justice denied.
    Chinedum Nwankwo
    March, 14 2012

    Mercy and Justice were the “weighter matters” that Jesus accused the religious elite of ignoring in his day. When you look through the prophets the theme that carries as much emphasis as idolatry is the idea of perverted justice.
    As a “nobody” it often feels like the big issues of justice and mercy, especially on a global scale are beyond our means. However, social media like YouTube and Facebook allow us at least to join our voices with others when we see justice and mercy being neglected.
    Of course as with all things, balance becomes an issue, even when we see justice distorted we are not given license to neglect the rest of Christian attitude or the fruit of the Spirit
    Kenneth Clapp
    March, 14 2012

    I admin an Open Journalism group on LinkedIn.com and one of the members provided a pointer to this article. http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/03/201231284336601364.html
    Ed Dodds
    March, 15 2012

    Is this film made by the same Jason Russell that just got arrested?
    Steve Wiely
    March, 17 2012

    Steve: I don’t believe that Jason Russell was officially arrested, but he did have a bizarre encounter with police just a few days ago. They found him running around his neighborhood in his underwear, pounding his fists on the pavement and babbling, evidently. The Invisible Children nonprofit has produced a video appeal about it, and there’s more information here: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/03/kony-creator-jason-russell-flooded-with-notes-of-support.html
    Erik Tryggestad
    March, 20 2012

    Maybe detained is a better word. And I believe the u-tube shows him wear quite a bit less than his underwear. I don’t think the man is well and needs help. He needs our prayers.
    Steve Wiely
    March, 20 2012

    Steve: I’ll take your word for it on the Youtube video. I don’t think I need to see that myself! : )
    Erik Tryggestad
    March, 21 2012

    Thank you for posting from a christian perspective I think that what is going on in Uganda is terrible and needs to be stopped, but we have to make sure that we get all of the facts straight, such as where the money we donate to Invisible Children go to.
    June, 20 2012

    Kony 2012 is probably the most viral video of all time. Amazing how it has gotten around and brought so much attention to the issue at hand.
    June, 22 2012

    Indeed, bizarre! Running around in his underpants and pounding his fists on the pavement? Drugs?
    Richard Rutter
    October, 14 2012

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