Reverend Rick Warren on Trial,
in the Court of Public Opinion

Written by Ann Garrison. Posted in News, Politics

Published on May 06, 2010 with 11 Comments

Reverend Rick Warren and Rwandan President Paul Kagame in Kigali, Rwanda. Photo via

By Ann Garrison

May 5, 2010

Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, presidential candidate of the Rwandan FDU-Inkingi Party, is going on trial in Rwanda.  Ingabire is charged with “genocide ideology,” a statutory speech crime unique to Rwanda, and with “association crime,” associating with terrorists.

Eight days after Ingabire’s arrest on April 21 in Rwanda’s capital,  Kigali, a team of U.S. lawyers filed a civil lawsuit against Rwandan President Paul Kagame in Oklahoma City alleging Kagame ordered the political assassinations that triggered the Rwanda Genocide, costing one million Rwandan lives, and that he engaged in racketeering to control the vast natural resources of eastern Congo across Rwanda’s western border at a cost of six-million Congolese lives.

The international legal strategies and geostrategic implications of these parallel, competing courtroom dramas, are huge and historic.  Like any trials of such import, they will become trials in the court of pubic opinion.

And, California’s most famous Proposition 8 anti-gay marriage campaigner, Reverend Rick Warren, will stand trial in that court as well.  Warren has staked his reputation as an international humanitarian on his alliance with Kagame, and on his Rwandan and Ugandan HIV/AIDS ministries, which are infamous for hijacking PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, in service to his abstinence-only-until-heterosexual-married -monogamy-for-life agenda.

Warren persuaded Bush to champion PEPFAR with a $15 billion budget, in 2006, and Congress increased it to $50 billion in 2008.   Most PEPFAR funds are spent in 15 U.S. “focus countries,” which are also allies of special U.S. strategic interest: 13 African countries, including Rwanda and Uganda as well as Haiti and Vietnam.

President George Bush joined by Mrs. Laura Bush, is presented with the International Medal of P.E.A.C.E. by Pastor Rick Warren and his wife, Kay Warren, Monday, Dec. 1, 2008, at the Saddleback Civic Forum on Global Health in Washington D.C., December 1, 2008. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

In 2009, TIME Magazine published Warren’s effulgent essay nominating his close friend and ally, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, for Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World list of that year; TIME included Kagame on the list, as a “leader and revolutionary.” Warren wrote, in the opening paragraph of his nomination:

“Rwanda’s President, Paul Kagame, is the face of emerging African leadership. His reconciliation strategy, management model, empowerment of women in leadership and insistence on self-reliance are transforming a failed state into one with a bright future.”

Warren’s narrative of the Rwanda Genocide simplifies even the received history of what we know as the Rwanda Genocide, the history contested in the eight-count civil lawsuit filed in Oklahoma, which alleges Kagame’s responsibility for:  Wrongful Death and Murder; Crimes against Humanity; Violation of the Rights of Life, Liberty and Security of Person; Assault and Battery; Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress; Violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act; Torture and Conspiracy to torture.

On September 25, 2009, at his Saddleback Church in Orange County, Warren presented Kagame with his second International Medal of P.E.A.C.E, in a Saddleback Civic Forum on Healing and Reconciliation.”   He presented his first Medal of P.E.A.C.E. to George Bush a year earlier in a 2008 Saddleback Civic Forum on HIV/AIDS Policy.

Pastor Rick Warren presents the International Medal of Peace 2009 to Rwandan President Paul Kagame, at the Saddleback Civic Forum.

To Rwanda, a nation where 60% of the population survives below the poverty level, 37.5% on less than a dollar a day, and just getting enough to eat is the central issue in most people’s lives, Warren has taken the message that the months of 2008, during which gay marriage was legal in California, signaled the apocalypse.

Warren’s close ally Paul Kagame as delivering the commencement address at Oklahoma Christian University in Edmond, Oklahoma on Friday, April 30th, while demonstrators held  signs accusing him of guilt for millions of lives lost in the struggle for “blood minerals” in D.R. Congo.  Inside a team of process servers and lawyers attempted to serve Kagame with the lawsuit and thus require him to answer.

International press, including the BBC, reported that he had avoided process service and left the ceremony early, surrounded by bodyguards.  But Law Professor Peter Erlinder, Plaintiff’s Counsel in the civil lawsuit in Oklahoma City, Defense Counsel for Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza in Kigali and Lead Defense Counsel for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, told KPFA Radio that their team had been prepared for that.

To listen, click on:   KPFA Radio News, 05.01.2010: Lawsuit alleges Kagame’s guilt in Rwanda Genocide.

Ann Garrison

Ann Garrison also writes for the San Francisco Bay View, National Black Newspaper and Global Research, reports for Pacifica stations KPFA, WBAI, and KMEC, and maintains a Youtube Channel, AnnieGetYourGang, and her own website, She is working on a book titled "Sodomy and Hypocrisy: American Evangelicals, LGBT Persecution, War Crimes and Sexual Atrocities in East/Central Africa." She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Comments for Reverend Rick Warren on Trial,
in the Court of Public Opinion
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  1. As a Rwandan I am always ashamed by what this guy Warren does. he is another oppressor at least 75% of Rwandans we see him as a traitor not a man of God because God does not associate Himself with murderers like Kagame. look at this new confession from a person cl0sely associated with Kagame:

  2. As an evangelical Christian, I am appalled (and frankly, embarrassed) by the support that individuals like Rick Warren and institutions like Oklahoma Christian University have given to a man whose actions are in direct contradiction to the true message of the Gospel.

    I pray that as the truth comes out (as it is, more and more, thanks to individuals like Ann Garrison and others), these religious leaders will no longer use their influence to celebrate the actions of this dictator, but to boldly call him to accountability and repentance for the things that he has done.

    – Rena Ali, Indiana, USA

  3. I think one big reason that people like photo ops with Kagame is that he comes across, visually, as a kindly, frail man — sort of the kind of person you might have seen starving as a child in a “Save the Children” appeal who is now grown up.

    What you don’t see, when you look at his picture, is a ruthless military leader, trained in the most advanced techniques of suppression. You don’t see a man who headed the military intelligence apparatus of Rwanda — basically their very own Vlad Putin, except with a warmer smile.

    And then you have his rise to power in the wake of one of the most intense blood-stained civil conflicts of the last century…for which he gets credit as some sort of peacemaker when, in fact, the truth is that it pretty much burned itself out…and, as the “received history” of Wikipedia plainly explains, this is a man who is not averse to widescale carnage of civilians SINCE coming to power.

    These are storylines far too complex and nuanced to penetrate the populist Western news channels and media. It’s much nicer and far more comforting to look at Kagame, see him shaking hands with a popular Christian minister and declare that everyone lived happily ever after.

    Thanks, then, Ms. Garrison, for reminding us that there’s so much more that Kagame has not achieved in Rwanda; that there’s too much blood that he’s spilled outside of Rwanda; and that while Hutus and Tutsis are co-existing of their own accord…it is largely despite President Kagame’s tyrannical, iron-fisted, cold-hearted governing style. If only he looked more like Robert Mugabe, maybe people would see past the thin veneer….

    Until then, your prose portraits are not just welcome: they’re much needed as Rwanda, and all of Africa, seeks leadership that promotes the welfare of the people and not narrow, individual interests that, in turn, get fed by serving, first and foremost, the broader politico-military interests of First World powers.


  4. Correction; Black Star actually published the Hidden Story Behind Rwanda’s Tragedy, in July 2009. I missed it last year, and someone sent it to me today.. Only months ago, in other accounts, t I began to understand the consequence of the UN arms embargo on Rwanda that Christopher Black describes:

    “The vaunted RPF could not take Kigali. The siege of Kigali lasted three months and only ended when the Rwandan Army literally ran out of ammunition and ordered a general retreat into the Congo forest.”

  5. Thank you for revisiting the Warren-Kagame connection. Hopefully the Oklahoma City legal action will succeed. The days are numbered for both of these creeps.

  6. I’m returning to share the Black Star News OpEd on this today, by Christopher Black, another attorney serving as defense counsel to a high ranking defendant at the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda:

    The Hidden Story Behind Rwanda’s Tragedy

    The ongoing coverup of all this reaches into the surreal realm. It’s as though most of the world, and most of all the US, were ignoring the Iraq War, or the most fundamental facts of its history. And Rev. Rick Warren is very very involved, as a Senior Advisor to Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

  7. “And, California’s most famous Proposition 8 anti-gay marriage campaigner, Reverend Rick Warren, will stand trial in that court as well.”

    I am glad these men who chose to ignore our suffering for their own interests are going to have to be reminded that they are not above the law. In the name of all of the millions of deaths in the great lakes region, 5 presidents killed, millions of refugees and orphans that this junta has caused, let justice take place.

    We thought that we were permanently voiceless, hopeless and helpless but this trial has shed some slight of hope that justice and truth will at last prevail one day.

    Kagame and Warren partnership is deeper that we often perceive. These church business, books selling or award presentations are just a tip of the iceberg. Business deals around Congo minerals have attacted Clintons, Blair, Fairbank, Warren and a large number of predators calling themselves “advisors” so close to Kagame that only Justice put a stop to it.

  8. The fight for social justice, peace, democracy and rule of law for each and every Rwandan, congolese and all the population of Great Lakes region is our responsibility as human beings. We should all stand up as one and work together towards such a noble goal. Thanks for Annie along with many others worldwide whose contributions are indispensible.

    Back to the above article, let’s look wisely into the exact nature of the relationship between Paul Kagame and Rick Warren.

    It is important to emphasis that this type of relationship is much different with the one Mobutu had with some American Conservative pastors during the Reagan and Bush era.

    Those pastors were actually helping Mobutu in exchange of some zairian richness those days.

    For instance, Pat ROBERTSON received a whole GOLD mine as a part of his lobbying.

    The KILO MOTO mines had been promised to Robertson had Mobutu remained in power after the 1990s turmoil… And many others were exchanging their favors against Zaire minerals wealth…such as Jerry FALWELL, etc.

    For Rick Warren it is entirely different. First of all, KAGAME does not have anything material to give.. If someone should give something it will be Warren himself as he is far richer than Kagame and maybe than the entire country.

    On this relationship, Kagame has the best hand…and he knows how to play it.

    Rick WARREN is also a little bit different from the old Republican Conservative folks.
    He capitalized on a book he wrote called PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE, which became a best seller in the USA. It is a book that supposedly will help someone attain success spirtually and materially.
    In order to get closer to Warren, Kagame pretended that he already read the book and found that it will be very helpful to get Rwanda move beyond the genocide.

    He proceeded on inviting Warren to visit his small country which was rising from the ashes of Genocide, receiving the pastor like a good personal friend, I understand, even making him his guest in his own house…Kagame knew who was Warren and probably what he will get out of him and his powerful networks in the USA.

    Anyway, things worked right. The Rwandan peoples are in our days very much BORN AGAIN CHRISTIANS so it was worth bringing Warren in the right place to test what he had put in his books.

    Even now, Warren classifies Rwanda as a test country. One of the first thing which ought to be done was to translate the book in plain KINYARWANDA language.

    When Warren is in Rwanda his church services are conducted in the national stadium in the presence of Kagame. Warren has got involved himself in many activities (schools, clinics, orphanages and many more). He is actualy the closest friend to Kagame, a kind of CO-PRESIDENT if you want.

    Whatever he wants to done in Rwanda it is done quickly and very well.

    I personally had the opportunity to be in the presence of WARREN and KAGAME at the same time. I talked to Warren and believe me or not this man has Rwanda in his heart, maybe even more than he has the USA.

    Keep in mind though that KAGAME himself is not yet a BORN AGAIN christian. He knows what he wants.

    It is true that there are some people like Pastor Warren in the USA who are doing the Publicity for Kagame ‘voluntarily’! But we need to remember that Pastor Warren is now a contraversial figure in world politics. He is associated with a number of companies in the oil industry. He is said to own a number of shares in a military hardware industry in Utah!!! Most of these companies are doing business with Kagame Junta. Do they pay taxes? Do they go through the ordinary rules of tendering? The answer is no. So when we price shadow all these, then Pastor Warren is doing the publicity for Kagame at a certain price!!!

    We also need to know that some news reporters in the New Times in New York are like employees of the Kagame Junta. They are paid for ‘image building’. Even a few days ago, a friend told me that he was standing at 42 Street by the Metro Marche and he was surprised to see a big governmnet official coming out ot the main entry of the New Times with a group of news news reporters from this company, taking them ‘out’. These personalities are known”. In any case, time will come to see off this guy exit!!!!It might be soon!!! “

  9. Kagame’s RPF forces attacked Rwanda from Uganda in October 1990. Since then, life has never been the same in Rwanda. The violence that was started Kagame’s RPF forces turned my country upside down.

    In February 1993, a full year before the 1994 genocide, Kagame’s extremist soldiers massacred 40,000 unarmed civilians in one single day. It appears that a year later, the Interahamwe extremists decided to copy Kagame’s extremist soldiers. To the rest of us Rwandans caught in between the two extremist groups, it was clear that Kagame’s forces and the Interahamwes were trying to compete on who can kill more innocent civilians. Some of the crimes committed by Kagame’s soldiers before, during and after the 1994 genocide have been document by Paul Rusesabagina, the hero of the movie Hotel Rwanda at the link below:

    Kagame crimes:

    Most recently, a New York Times reporter published a video footage of what is now known as Rwanda’s “Island of No Return.” The video can be found at:

    New York Times Video:

    The video shows one way that Kagame continues to exterminate Rwandan civilians by keeping young men from one group away from their homes and villages, which ensures that they cannot have children. And before you know it, the minority in Rwanda will become the majority as the majority men are prevented from having children while the minority men roam free and continue to have children. These men from the majority group are kept locked up at a Guantanamo Bay type of island, without charge and without appearing in front of any judge.

    I am so saddened to hear that someone like Reverend Rick Warren, who claims to be a man of God, would dare support such a mass murder.

  10. As a Rwandan, I was ashamed to see my country’s president running away from process of service in Oklahoma. If he really has nothing to hide, there was no need for him to run away before the event at the university ended. The thought that General Kagame could be the one who shot down President Habyarimana and President Ntaryamira’s plane simply makes me wonder what could have happened if this terrorist act never took place in Rwanda. I have a very hard time believing that any genocide would have happened without that act. If indeed General Kagame is the one who ordered the shooting down of that plane, he owes us all Rwandans a huge apology and should be ready to be tried and if convicted spend the rest of his life in jail. If General Kagame shot down that plane, that means anyone supporting him financially or politically is supporting a war criminal that is responsible for sparking the genocide.

    In his interview below with BBC Hardtalk in 2006, General Kagame beats about the bushes when specifically asked if he killed Habyarimana. But most viewers would agree that in his own words, General Kagame leaves very little doubt that he killed Habyarimana:

    Many of us Rwandans wonder if Reverend Rick Warren really believes that General Kagame is innocent of the many crimes we Rwandans know that he committed. Or whether the Reverend really knows about all the crimes and he still chooses to support Kagame for some other reason.

  11. Thanks, Luke; I just came to get the link to my other FCJ story, “Rwanda Genocide: Honoring the Dead without Honoring the Lies,”, to add to a list I’m using to apply for investigative reporting funds to stay on this story, and saw that you have this up too.

    There were six responses, besides my own, on that other piece, and all but one seemed to be written by Africans.

    Several reporters from the state run Rwanda New Times seem to have been assigned to follow me around the Web screaming, and they haven’t found FCJ yet, but quite likely will. Most show up on the SF Bay View site, where comments on some of my reports are running close to 200 and a recent insult was that I must be a lesbian hot for Hutu women. (I.e., big strong Black girlsssss . . . not such a bad idea, but I’ve been hunched over my computer, or on SKYPE/phone/e- to Africa about all this for most of the last six months.)

    I have eloquent African allies on the Bay View site as well, but I hope that the possibility of discrediting Prop 8’s most vocal proponent will encourage San Franciscans to respond as well—and speak out not only for LGBT rights but also for human rights in Rick Warren’s “purpose-driven nations,” Uganda and Rwanda.