Why Care About Rwanda?

Why should American Anglicans care about what is happening in Rwanda or the Democratic Republic of the Congo? Why should we care about Rwandan President Paul Kagame or a rebel movement called M23? I have written endlessly about the subject on my blog, to little avail, and why do I do so? Ultimately, the reasons we should care are (a) theological, and (b) relational. Theologically, we must care because:


We are not to participate in the sin of others:

  • by command
  • by counsel
  • by consent
  • by flattery
  • by receiving
  • by participation
  • by silence
  • by not preventing
  • by not denouncing

If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. – Ezekiel 3.18

William Ames in his The Marrow of Theology says that “Consent or communion with others in their sins is opposed to admonition, Eph. 5:7, 11.”

Those who give approval to murderers are guilty of great wickedness.

St. Paul in Romans 1 says:

They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

rwaje dictator

Rwandan Anglican bishops give approval to Paul Kagame, who practices murder. We give our approval to these bishops. Further basic axioms of Christian theology include:

It is always wrong to kill innocent human beings.

a. Wars must be just.

b. In a time of war, killing innocents must be avoided whenever possible.

It is always wrong to rape.

This is not very complicated, and I would think it would be agreed to by all Christians of good faith.

Next, consider our relational ties to Rwanda:

PEARUSA is directly part of Rwanda.

Our clergy are technically Rwandan clergy. Our bishops are part of the Rwandan House of Bishops. That connection could not be clearer.

ACNA is fraternally related to PEAR via PEARUSA and the FCA (GAFCON).

ACNA may be at a remove from the direct connection that PEARUSA has to Rwanda, but Archbishop Duncan is frequently seen with Rwandan bishops and Rwanda is central to the FCA movement.

Even the AMiA is connected

Even the shattered remnants of AMiA are connected to Rwanda via Archbishop Kolini being on the absurd “College of Consultors.” Thus, American Anglicans bear a direct witness to what goes on in Rwanda, for good or ill. So what is wrong with Rwanda and Rwandan Anglicans? I will briefly summarize here, but the information is so voluminous that I can only scratch the surface in a post like this.

The Reconciliation Narrative is False.

Perhaps the most prominent story that Rwandans have told American Christians over the past nineteen years is that of reconciliation between the primarily Hutu killers and their Tutsi victims. PEARUSA constantly uses the word ‘reconciliation’ about Rwanda and the example that it is supposed to serve for American Anglicans. There is one simple problem with this, it is not true!

Theogene Rudasingwa, former Kagame insider, puts it this way:

The issue of ethnic identity is very very strong…and so…the RPF in public could say ‘we have overcome’, I recently heard a bishop who said, “Oh, we’ve achieved reconciliation up to a tune of about 80%, the other remaining 20% we shall achieve in the shortest possible time.” Thats a lie! The fact of the matter is that even when I was part of the establishment, when Kagame called a kitchen cabinet and all of us were military guys, we were all Tutsi and we had a preoccupation of thinking how we could survive in a sea that is populated by Hutu. So during the day Kagame and us would be talking about all these things but the fact of the matter was that this is a regime where you have a tiny minority within an ethnic minority and that kind of minority tends to rely on force, on coercion, on brutality in order to survive.

Rather than reconciliation, the government is run by a Tutsi elite who are loyal to Paul Kagame. The US government said this in 2008:

An analysis of the ethnic breakdown of the current Rwandan government shows Tutsis hold a preponderant percentage of senior positions. Hutus in very senior positions often hold relatively little real authority, and are commonly “twinned” with senior Tutsis who exercise real power. The military and security agencies are controlled by Tutsis, generally English speakers who grew up as refugees with President Kagame in Uganda.

Susan Thomson has extensive documentation on what life is like in Rwanda today, and she includes this quote in one of her papers:

Because of the hardships, I lost my whole family. What is the point of forgiveness anyway? The Hutu who killed, they know who they are but are they able to tell their truth? No, and I understand why not. If they say anything, they go straight to prison. I understand their problems; I blame this government for its lack of fairness. If we could all just get along, I know we could find some way to co-exist. Reconciliation is never going to happen. At least not for me, I am alone because of genocide. It is better to remain distant than to get mixed up with the ideas and plans of this [post-genocide] government (interview with Vianney, a 25-year-old umukene Tutsi man, 2006).

Personal stories of reconciliation have probably happened in Rwanda, that is what the Gospel does in any culture. But this is not because of a culture of reconciliation promoted by government institutions or church slogans. It is in spite of it.

The Rwandan Government Commits Heinous Evil.

Rwanda tortures its citizens, it kills, imprisons and bans dissidents. It is a one party state with a few other sham parties that are puppets of Paul Kagame. It is a totalitarian nation that has spies everywhere and micro-manages its citizens down to the local level. It requires young people to attend mandatory indoctrination camps in order to hold jobs or go to college. It launched two wars in the DRC that killed 5.4 million people and involved many other African nations. It wiped out Hutu men, women and children who had fled Rwanda after the genocide, with no regard for their guilt or innocence, all the while denying that anything happened.

Rwanda recently sponsored a Tutsi rebellion in the Eastern Provinces of the DRC called M23. This group commited acts of intrinsic evil. These acts included man-stealing, rape and the murder of those young boys who attempt to flee from M23 after they have been kidnapped into service. For example:

Two former combatants told the Group that sanctioned individual Colonel Innocent Zimurinda ordered the torture and killing of deserters. One of the soldiers from Zimurinda’s position observed how two deserters were executed, while four other deserters were buried alive. Another former M23 soldier witnessed the severe beating of one deserter who was thrown in front of the others as a dissuasive example. M23 commanders starved two other deserters to death. The RDF caught one former M23 soldier of Rwandan nationality, who attempted to flee to Rwanda at Kinigi, and brought him back to the rebels and then forced him to rape a girl in front of the others.

Bishops Rucyahana and Kolini supported M23 by fundraising and the recruitment of politicians. Rucyahana also wrote an editorial calling for these provinces of the DRC to vote for who they should belong to. This is in accordance with Rwanda’s lebensraum theory whereby Rwanda wants to annex the Eastern DRC to itself.

The Anglican Church has been Co-opted by the Government.

Anglican bishops fundraise for M23 as part of what Paul Kagame called a “Tutsi self protection campaign.” Anglican bishops shut down a Rwandan dissident who was to speak at an AMiA parish in Chicago because Paul Kagame wanted them to. Anglican bishops authored a letter that protested a UN report about M23, accusing it of lies and inaccuracies, totally in line with their government’s policy of vicious attacks on truth tellers. Anglican bishops function in government roles such as the President and Vice President of NURC, the head of the HIV/AIDS Commission, and the Rwanda Initiative for Sustainable Development (RISD) – an NGO tightly aligned with the government. Theogene Rudasingwa told me that Bishop Kolini was “very pro Tutsi” and that we (meaning Kagame’s inner circle) considered him to be “one of us.” An Anglican bishop wrote in Christianity Today defending the murderous invasions of the Congo which we know included pogroms against Hutus. He said, “The peace we enjoy today in our country is mainly a consequence of that action.”

The Rwandan Anglican Church is seen as a tool of the state. Minister of Justice and Attorney General Gerald Gahima said of Anglicans in Rwanda:

The Anglican Church in Rwanda, one cannot even say it has been compromised by the State, it has basically made itself an arm of the State. It has…you remember what the, the role that the Catholic Church had during the Colonial period and the time of the monarchy? How the Catholic Church was very close to the State and how this continued even during the post-independence period? The Anglican Church has basically taken the role of the Catholic Church as being the chief apologist of the RPF and that has taken away a lot of the credibility that the Church should have and because of this the …I don’t think the Anglican Church would be a viable, a useful contributor to the process of reconciliation in Rwanda because it has taken sides.

Has the Anglican Church produced any martyrs against Paul Kagame? When Rwandan Anglicans visit the United States, do they tell us about how oppressed they are and ask for our prayers and assistance, or do they rather praise Rwanda as a model of excellence with visionary leadership and tout reconciliation? The later of course. Have Rwandan Anglican criticized their government in any way, at any time, over any issue? Not that I am aware of. Instead, they have quietly acquiesced to it or enthusiastically supported it.

I could go on about how the Rwandan economy is supported by aid money, minerals stolen from the occupied Eastern DRC and UN funded peacekeeping missions, but I won’t. The bottom line here is that once again, the Church in the West is silent in the face of a dictator. No rigor of any kind has been put into examining the true nature of the regime and the relationship of Anglicans to it. Instead we are treated to peans to an imagined reconciliation. Short term tourist missionaries see what their hosts want them to see at Sonrise school, genocide memorials and in Kigali. Mountains of reports, books and evidence are ignored by naive Americans who think they know something because they are friends with a bishop. If we are to obey what God has commanded us, as reflected in 2,000 years of theological history, we must speak up about these things.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.