As in Uganda, in nearby Burundi over the past several years the NAR’s anti-gay apostles have actively courted national leadership. And as in Uganda in 2009, a harsh new anti-LGBT rights law was in 2009 introduced in Burundi’s parliament. Unlike in Uganda, the Burundi bill was signed into law. But where Uganda’s anti-gay crusade has enjoyed moderate success towards furthering national solidarity, Burundi’s anti-gay rights efforts have so far failed to unify otherwise fractious constituencies under the mantle of homophoic hatred.
Since announcement of his controversial decision to seek a third term in office, Burundi’s president Pierre Nkurunziza has fought to hold onto power amidst a coup attempt, widespread street violence, and determined pushback from his political opponents. But, like Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni, Pierre Nkurunziza has powerful allies: the apostles and prophets of the U.S.-based New Apostolic Reformation.
[image, below right: from video footage, taken by NAR Apostle Jan-Aage Torp, during his 2008 visit at the personal residence of the President of Burundi]
It’s a textbook-worthy case example of how charismatic Christian churches in the New Apostolic Reformation movement can serve as sources of political support to empower leaders of tyrannical and corrupt Africa democracies with troubled human rights records.
In the mounting war on LGBT rights that has erupted over the last decade in Christian dominated areas of sub-Saharan Africa, Burundi – not Uganda, was first; on April 22, 2009, President of Burundi Pierre Nkurunziza signed into law legislation, Article 567 of the 2009 Burundian Penal Code, that punishes same-sex sexual relations with between three months and two years in prison.
Nkurunziza, who reportedly considers himself a “spiritual son” of a notably homophobic Rwandan NAR apostle, has a deep and abiding relationship with the (U.S.-based) New Apostolic Reformation movement whose apostles and prophets have over the last decade played a leading role instigating Christian anti-gay hatred and anti-LGBT rights laws across the globe but especially in Africa.
As in Uganda, Rwanda, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, and other sub-Saharan nations, in Burundi the New Apostolic Reformation’s fast-growing brand of charismatic Christianity aligns itself, for the most part, with established power – regardless of apparent ethical or moral considerations.
[image, below right: Burundi’s First lady Denis Nkurunziza prays with NAR apostle Jan-Aage Torp]
In 2008, Nkurunziza personally met and hosted, at his residence, Jan-Aage Torp during Torp’s visit to Burundi, chronicled in a short video from Torp titled “A Day with the President of Burundi”. In a short article describing his visit with President Nkurunziza, Torp can be seen in prayer with Nkurunziza’s wife Denis Nkurunziza.
In the video, the Burundi president presents Torp with a framed photograph of Pierre Nkurunziza, an avid bicyclist, clad in spandex cycling shorts, jersey and helmet, standing beside his racing bicycle. Nkurunziza asks Torp to convey the gift to Norway’s Socialist Left Party politician EriK Solheim, who was then serving in dual positions as Norway’s Minister of International Development and Minister of the Environment.
Perhaps the most notorious anti-gay Christian pastor in Norway, Torp’s inflammatory utterances are routinely showcased in Dagbladet, Norway’s second biggest tabloid newspaper.
In 2012, Dagbladet published a heavily controversial op-ed by Jan-Aage Torp which speculated that the Norwegian mass-killer Anders Behring Breivik was possessed by demon spirits and could possibly be cured of his murderous tendencies through exorcism. Another Torp media splash came in early 2013 with the news that Jan-Aage Torp had held a special ceremony to anoint Norway’s princess Märtha Louise with corn oil and soybean oil (in this video, Torp discusses the genesis of the incident with a journalist from Norway’s NRK media service.)
But Torp’s route to notoriety came mostly through his periodic anti-gay ejaculations, such as in 2006 when apostle Torp was reported in Norwegian news to have proclaimed homosexuality to be “an abnormality and a tumor on society” and followed in short order with a call to charismatic Christians to use spiritual warfare prayers against LGBT leaders.
Torp’s exhortation, as translated from a January 16, 2006 Dagbladet article by Google Translate, was for targeted prayer to “stop these power horny representatives of homosexual and lesbian perversion.”
In heavily secular Norway, such bigotry and charismatic practices are considered ridiculous and marginal, and are typically mocked. But Torp exerts real influence, and not just in Africa.
Torp’s videos showcase his travels, from Burundi, Rwanda, and Zambia to the United Kingdom and Romania, where he promotes his NAR movement’s anti-LGBT, demon-haunted religio-political paradigm for charismatic Christian dominion over the “7 mountains”, the top sectors of society. And at his Oslo, Norway church, Torp hosts major world charismatic leaders from the Ukraine to Korea.
[image, below right: Jan-Aage Torp, in 2011, interviewing longtime ICA “convening apostle” C. Peter Wagner]
Torp’s global influence comes principally through his position in the fast-growing apostolic and prophetic networks of the New Apostolic Reformation (in this video, from 2011, Torp interviews NAR leader C. Peter Wagner on taking dominion over all sectors of society, the so-called “7 Mountains” mandate.)
During the decade of the 2000s, Jan-Aage Torp was a member of what was then the NAR’s most important apostolic network, the International Coalition of Apostles (ICA) – which later re-branded as the International Coalition of Apostolic Leaders (ICAL) that has in turn recently spun off a domestic U.S. division, the United States Coalition of Apostolic Leaders (USCAL).
Apostles that have participated in ICA/ICAL include some of Africa’s biggest and wealthiest evangelists, such as Nigeria’s Enoch Adeboye and David Adeboye; from Nigeria and Kenya to Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi their churches provide key electoral support for many of sub-Saharan Africa’s Christian presidents; and they even have working relationships with America’s most prominent “new evangelical” megachurch pastors such as Rick Warren.
More recently, Jan-Aage Torp became the “Convening Apostle” for the recently launched European Coalition of Apostles, a spinoff entity from the International Coalition of Apostolic Leaders (ICAL), which has begun spawning regional affiliates in countries and regions around the globe. Per the model established by ICAL, the position of “convening apostle” officially holds little direct power in the organization but carries tremendous influence.
Jan-Aage Torp’s 2008 visit to Burundi was hardly president Pierre Nkurunziza’s only tie to Torp’s and Wagner’s movement. First, according to Torp, Nkurunziza considers himself a “spiritual son” to Rwandan ICAL apostle Paul Gitwaza, whose Zion Temple church in Kigali regularly features ICAL/USCAL leaders, including Torp and Joseph Mattera, who heads USCAL.
Corroborating Torp’s account, president Nkurunziza’s wife Denis has co-led religious events in Burundi with apostle Paul Gitwaza (whose Kigali, Rwanda church Jan-Aage Torp has several times preached at.)
In early 2013, according to her personal website, Burundian First Lady Denise Nkurunziza hosted a seminar which featured her advice on the dangers posed to the matrimonial bond and to children by anger between married couples. Filling out the message, apostle Paul Gitwaza warned that homosexuality and lesbianism result from family disintegration that, in turn, stems from a lack of submission to God:
“Any couple of partners who do not submit to God the founder of the family develops destruction agents in the society. Among other evils, homosexuality and lesbianism are mostly caused by family disintegration.”
Gitwaza’s teachings on human sexuality extend from injunctions against homosexuality to warnings about intercourse with demons and succubi. But his doctrines on demons and succubi may not be indigenous to Africa; such ideas have been actively promoted by top American NAR leaders such as C. Peter Wagner, whose “spiritual warfare” teachings have long included warnings on the perils of sexual intercourse with succubi.
Below is an excerpt from a Gitwaza teaching, which lumps (category 7.) consensual sex between adults together with abusive sexual predation :
“6. Sexual immorality with demons (Genesis 6:1-4; 1Cor. 10:20-21)
This practice involves a sexual attraction between a man and a demon. Some people sleep with demons during night without their consent. But on the other hand others sleep with demons with their consent, following a pacts made between them. This pact can be conducted by the person himself as his parents. There are others who tame demons-guide; they live in intimacy with them.
Succubus: Sexual relation with female demons.
Incubus: Sexual relation with male demons…
7. Sodomy ( Leviticus 20:13; 18:22, Romans 1: 26-27)
In this sexual practice we find different sorts of sodomy: homosexuality, lesbianism, pedophilia, gerontophilia, necrophilia, bestiality.
Homosexuality: Sexual relation between woman and man via oral or anal way
Lesbianism: Sexual relation between of woman and woman
Pedophilia: Sexual attraction of an adult toward children
Gerontophilia:Sexual attraction of child toward an old person
Necrophilia: Sexual attraction for corpses
Bestiality: Sexual act with animal ( see the 3rd form)”
As I’ll be exploring in a future installment, ICA/ICAL’s courtship of Burundi’s political, religious, and business elites goes back at least two decades, in relationships assiduously cultivated by one of ICA/ICAL’s most politically and ideologically extreme apostles, who for many years has been making repeated trips to Africa – where he has been photographed meeting, consulting, and blessing and anointing African heads of state.
And, Burundi is hardly an anomaly:
In 2010, my 20-minute video documentary Transforming Uganda documented the extraordinarily close relationship enjoyed by ICA/ICAL apostle Ed Silvoso, and his Harvest Evangelism/International Transformation Network ministry teams, to Uganda’s first couple Yoweri and Janet Museveni. My ongoing research indicates that members of Silvoso’s network in Uganda have dominated the anti-LGBT rights crusade in Uganda up to the present and micromanage the effort to the extent of proposing to president Museveni possible schemes to compensate for expected losses in foreign aid should Uganda’s Anti Homosexuality Bill become law.
And, as I’ll soon be covering, the NAR’s apostles and prophets are preparing to ramp up an anti-gay crusade in yet another sub-Saharan African nation. It won’t be the last.