Do you know who Joseph Kony is?

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. I have 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 me to write about Kony back then, and his continuing atrocities have provoked me 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 I was a professor at Criswell College, I had some students involved with this organization, but that was several years ago. Until I saw this tweet yesterday, the organization has been off my radar screen. When I watched the video, I 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. I’m 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. I’m 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. I look forward to hearing him answer some questions.

I am not posting this video to encourage you to give money to The Invisible Children organization or to participate in its program. I haven’t given any and wouldn’t without a little more vetting of the organization. I’m posting this video simply to shine the light again on Kony’s crimes. He needs to be exposed.

My students who were involved with The Invisible Children group were members of The Village Church. Their pastor Matt Chandler posted an endorsement of the organization today saying that it is a “godsend to the region.”


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).


  • John Botkin


    Actually, I didn’t seen them for some reason. I use a reader and all it has the video. When I saw your response, I clicked through. Thanks for pointing them out.


  • Daryl Little

    I think it is right that believers pray for the death of this man, and any of his hench-men who would carry on in his absence.

    And for the salvation of those same men and the people they brutalize.

  • Lori

    Thank you for the information on all sides of this issue. it is always good to be correctly informed. I had seen the video posted on Facebook and did not remember ever hearing about it before.

  • Michael Lynch

    Not to diminish this video, movement, or the fact that this man needs to be stopped, but could you imagine such a movement in America by Christians speaking up for the “invisible children” killed in the womb every day in our own land?

  • Matt Underwood

    Dean Burke (Denny),

    I appreciate you posting this video. Your level of raising awareness, your thoughtful willingness to find out more about the organization who is trying to really escalate publicity about this butcher, and your level of cautiousness is all very appropriate.

    I must state that as a hardcore political conservative and one who not only disagrees with President Obama on practically everything, but will do all in my strength to defeat him at the polls this fall, I nonetheless support the idea of American military advisers being sent on mission to help Uganda (and presumably its neighbors) track down Kony. Obviously some of these kids that are in this organization are probably Obama groupies—maybe a whole bunch of them. Okay…”whatever”, right?

    But every conservative that I know would be quick to step up and endorse the “elimination” of Kony and his LRA leaders, first by arrest if possible, and by literally taking him out if attempted arrest should fail. Personally, as an Army vet, I have no problem with the “dead or alive” scenario from the outset, but I understand the desire to try this man, even though I am at arms-length of the presumptions of the claimed jurisdictions of the Hague’s worldwide criminal court.

    I’ll be starting my support by contacting as many U.S. senators and representatives as I can. And I’ll look for more data on this organization to see if donations to them are in any way going to anything else (i.e. trickling some funds back to Obama’s reelection campaign, or any other weird thing that crossed my mind as I saw flashes of Obama campaign posters and junk featuring purposefully in this video.)

    I will say that the movie was well very done otherwise, but these guys would probably have less hesitancy from conservatives who want to help THEM in particular if they would excise out the Obama fanfare, what little of it there may be.

    Cole Harper works at the Boyce Library here with me, and clicked me onto your blog with the video. I couldn’t remember this monster’s name right off, but after watching the video, a lot of stuff came back to me from a few years back and I realized that I was mixing him up with some other demon-possessed thug in West Africa who I thought was now dead. Sorry that Kony ISN’T, but good to know that people have been staying on top of tracking him, etc.

    Good job, Denny. God bless, and I will be checking back to your blog for more of your opines and what you are sensing about the organization involved here.

    Matt Underwood, Louisville, KY
    National Editor, 11th Airborne Division Association’s “Voice of the Angels”
    (and run-of-the-mill “Old Guy Going Back to College”)

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