KONY 2012, Invisible Children’s Detractors, and Loving, Christ-Centered Discernment and Disagreement

Update (3/9/12): Probably the best roundup of links I’ve found anywhere on KONY 2012 is at Rachel Held Evans’ website, so I thought I’d point you there right at the top of this post. I’d also encourage you to read this post from missionaries who lived in Uganda for 17 years (they now serve in Kenya). I’ve updated the list below accordingly.

I don’t usually write on this blog about issues or controversies that aren’t related pretty strongly to Discipleship, or Family, or Ministry (hence the blog’s name). But, I’ve found myself trying to catch up on this issue (The controversy surrounding Invisible Children’s film about Joseph Kony, KONY 2012), and since we as a youth ministry (and probably many readers) have hosted Invisible Children at our church, I thought I’d try to help by providing a small resource page linking to pertinent news stories and sites.

Before we get to that, let me first say that I’m posting this before I’ve come to any sort of a conclusion about KONY 2012 or Invisible Children. I wasn’t really aware of the amount of concern that some have regarding the current KONY 2012 campaign or Invisible Children until very recently, and I haven’t read or digested as much as I would like to on the issue. A friend pointed to a Facebook discussion about this “discussion” from her Twitter account, and I wasn’t really too surprised about the content of the arguments. Whether western aid really helps political and social issues on the African continent are really not a new issue, and neither is the question of whether certain non-profit organizations spend their money wisely on the causes they seek to support.

What concerned me was the tenor of other Facebook conversations I perused after reading that first one. I don’t spend much time on Facebook, so I saw pretty quickly that I’m a bit late to the game regarding KONY 2012, since many people were promoting the film by posting links on their wall or by changing their profile pictures. I also saw there are a small, but vocal number of people concerned about the film. And I was disappointed that a couple of the conversations have simply deteriorated into an online shouting match. Searching a few blogs, I found the same result.

For followers of Jesus who are engaged in this discussion, please remember that while what you are arguing says a lot about your passion and opinions, how you say it says a lot about your character. So, let me suggest we take a minute to read Proverbs 17:27-28, helpful words that are helpful in any online argument:

Whoever restrains his words has knowledge,
      and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.
Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise;
      when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.

And know that as I offer that advice, I speak as a life-long hot-headed know-it-all whose quick words have gotten me into a whole lot of trouble.

Now that we have that out of the way, here are some important stories and posts I’ve found on KONY 2012 and Invisible Children, loosely organized for simplicity’s sake into three categories: those who support IC and their project, those who don’t, and (mostly) neutral news sources. I make no claim on the accuracy or quality of these sources; I’m just putting them here to be helpful.

In support of Invisible Children and KONY 2012
Invisible Children’s website (which as of today redirects to a single page about the film)
Official response from Invisible Children
Washington Post, “Invisible Children responds to criticism about ‘Stop Kony’ campaign”
Clutch Magazine post on “White Savior Syndrome” (warning: crude language)

Not in support of Invisible Children and KONY 2012
Visible Children
The Daily What
Added 3/8/12: An article from The Telegraph

(Mostly) Neutral
CNN blog post
Christianity Today article on the topic
Added 3/8/12: Matt Cleaver has some really good thoughts here, including more helpful links.
Rachel Held Evans’ website (tons of links here)
Drs. Scott and Jennifer Myhre (missionaries who lived in Uganda for 17 years)

If you have helpful links you think I ought to include, feel free to leave them in the comments below and I’ll update this post if needed.

And, in case you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the video causing all the stir:

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