THE PLANK JANUARY 7, 2009
Martin Ssempa, Rick Warren's "sidekick" in Uganda, is no stranger to zealotry and extremism, as this 2004 TNR piece makes clear. In "Enemy's Enemy," Andrew Rice looks at the Ugandan pastor's role in the country's ongoing evangelicals-versus-Muslims culture war:
Ssempa claims his church, though it is just eight years old, has more than 5,000 members. "These are going to be the future lawyers, these are going to be the future corporate leaders, these are going to be the future writers," he said. And the pastor believes it is his mission to save the souls of this budding elite from godlessness or, just as bad, from Islam: For evangelical preachers like Ssempa, Islam is the enemy. "For the last two hundred years, Uganda has been the decisive battleground. It has been the roadblock against the spread of Islam from Egypt through Sudan," he said. Ssempa sees himself as a leader in that fight, which he says is of a piece with America's invasion of Iraq. "By and large, the Muslim tendency is to go by what their leader says to them, and their leaders are radical," Ssempa said. "When their leader gives the order, they will go march in the streets chanting, 'Allahu akbar!' [Muslims] will kill, they will stone, they will do whatever is necessary to finish the job. They will kill police. They are known as zealots."
Update: It remains unclear whether or not Warren is funding Ssempa's AIDS work, but it's worth noting that, according to this August 2008 piece by David Tuller, the U.S. government is.