- Uganda became the target of European religious concern in the 1860s, when missionary explorer David Livingstone first visited. On his famous trip to locate Livingstone, reporter Henry Stanley took note of the slow movement of Islam southward from the Sudan into Uganda, and upon his return to the West he alerted the Protestant leadership of that fact. The Anglican Church Missionary Society (CMS) responded quickly and had missionaries on the ground by 1877. They found the way already prepared for them by Dallington Maftaa, an African commissioned as a missionary by Livingstone.Alexander M. Mackay (1849-90) led the CMS team; within two years, all his colleagues perished from the climate. Mackay established close relations with King Mutesa of Buganda, who wanted British help to stop the encroachments from the north. But after Mutesa died, his successor, Mwanga, came to resent Christian opposition to some of his rulings, and he had at least 250 Anglicans and Catholics killed. A Muslim coup in Buganda in 1888 forced MacKay from the country.About that time, the European powers allotted Uganda to British control as a protectorate. British authority was established on the ground in 1893. In the succeeding years, Anglicans vied with Catholics for religious influence in Uganda. By the end of the 20th century, each community numbered between 7 and 8 million members, accounting for about two-thirds of the country's residents. Both faiths saw schismatic groups emerge. Former Anglicans founded the Society of the One Almighty God (1914) and the Chosen Evangelical Revival (1967). Catholics lost members to the Maria Legio of Uganda in the 1960s and to the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments in the 1990s. The latter group came to a violent end in a tragic mass murder in 2001, the exact circumstances of which remain unknown.A wide variety of groups appeared in Uganda throughout the 20th century. The Seventh-day Adventist Church began work in 1926, and the Salvation Army in 1931. Pentecostalism came in 1935 through the efforts of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada; the several Pentecostal churches count a total of several million adherents. African Initiated Churches from Kenya, such as the African Israel Church,Nineveh, have also become an important element in Uganda's religious life.The Anglicans have formed a Joint Christian Council that includes Catholics and Orthodox. It is affiliated with the World Council of Churches.Uganda became independent of Britain in 1963. in 1971, a military officer, idi Amin (c. 1925-2003), instituted a brutal dictatorship that negatively affected all religions for the remainder of the decade. in 1973, Amin accused some 28 Christian denominations of subversive activity and banned them from the country. Some of them sought protection through the Anglican Church, and others went underground. Amin's government killed or exiled some 400,000 people. in 1977, the Anglican archbishop was murdered, it is believed by Amin personally. The bloody purge of the preexisting Anglican leadership ended only with Amin's overthrow in 1979, when the religious situation gradually returned to normal.See also Africa, sub-Saharan.Further reading:■ W. B. Anderson, Christianity in Contemporary Africa: Uganda (Kampala, Uganda: Department of Religious Studies and Philosophy, Makerere University, 1973)■ E. T. Rutiba, Religions in Uganda, 1960-1990 (Kampala, Uganda: Department of Religious Studies, Faculty of Arts, Makerere University, 1993)■ John V. Taylor, The Growth of the Church in Uganda. An Attempt at Understanding (London: SCM Press, 1958)■ A. D. T. Tuma and P. Mitibwa, A Century of Christianity in Uganda, 1877-1977 (Nairobi, Kenya: Uzima Press, 1978).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.