US Christian Right Activist in Ugandan Jail over Illegal Guns

Could face terror charges

UPDATE (28 March): All charges have been dropped, and Peter Waldron is now free. See here for more details.

Strange news from Uganda. The Kampala Monitor reported two days ago that

…police in Kampala are holding an American national who was allegedly found with four illegal guns and 184 rounds of live ammunition. Police Spokesman Assuman Mugenyi told journalists at a press conference at Kibuli Police headquarters yesterday that Dr Peter E Waldron was arrested at about 8pm on Monday.

Waldron, 59, works as an Information Technology consultant for the Ministry of Health and has been living in Uganda since 2002. He was arrested at his home in Kisugu near International Hospital after a tip off.

Documents found on him indicate that Waldron is also an advisor to the President of Rocky Mountain Technology Group, Contact America Group Inc and Founder of City of Faith Ministries in Kampala.

(Actually, according Waldron’s website that should be “Cities of Faith Ministries”)

Apparently three men were seen near Waldron’s home dropping a bag; when a passer-by asked them what they were up to, he had a gun waved at him for his trouble. This rather unfortunate move led to an alarm being raised, and a hostile crowd forming:

They pleaded with the mob not to lynch them saying they would show them where more guns were hidden. “The suspects led the police to Waldron’s house in Kisugu and on conducting a search, two more SMG rifles were recovered with 94 rounds of ammunition in a wardrobe in his bedroom and copies of The Africa Dispatch newsletter,” he said. One of the men who were arrested was a Congolese national.

The Monitor also reports that

…Some of the pictures in the magazine show Waldron with diplomats in the High Court during the trial of [Dr Kizza] Besigye.

This raised the spectre of terrorism at the high court; however, a Reuters report says that this was incorrect:

Police mistakenly identified Waldron on Tuesday as being in a picture taken at the trial of opposition candidate Kizza Besigye and this, they said, was proof of a terrorist threat.

But on Wednesday they said they had been mistaken and the man in the picture was a senior diplomat, not the suspect.

This is a bit curious, given that Waldron’s appearance is somewhat distinctive (he has a large moustache). Reuters also provides some extra information:

An American evangelical and IT consultant, arrested in Uganda with assault rifles this week, planned to set up a political party, police said on Wednesday.

…Major-General Kale Kayihura, Inspector General of Police, told a news conference Waldron was suspected of links to a group in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and “planned to set up a political party here based on Christian principles.”…

The Monitor also refers to an article from the New Republic in 2004 entitled “Evangelicals v. Muslims in Africa: Enemy’s Enemy”. Here’s the relevant section of that piece, by Andrew Rice:

The Sunday I attended [Pastor Martin] Ssempa’s church, after he finished his sermon, the pastor told his audience that he had a special guest to introduce, a visitor from the United States. All eyes fixed on a stocky white man with a thick moustache who wore a gray safari suit. He introduced himself as Dr. Peter Waldron of Wyoming. Waldron told the congregation that he had once been a military man and that he used to travel around Africa a lot in the 1960s. He was vague about the nature of his work. (“I’m not at liberty to say,” he later told me.) But he claimed that, on one occasion, it resulted in some good people getting executed by a firing squad. After that, he contemplated suicide, he told the audience. Then he found Jesus… When Waldron launched into a story about how he’d recently been invited to the real White House in the company of religious rapper MC Hammer, the audience was wowed.

Several days later, I met Waldron at a Kampala hotel. He told me more of his story. At different times in his career, he said, he’d been a syndicated talk-radio host, a lobbyist, and a Republican political consultant. More recently, he had run sports programs for underprivileged youths in Tampa, Florida. Now, he was in Uganda, trying to sell computer software to government ministries while preaching on the weekends. “They embrace Americans here,” he said enthusiastically. Indeed, as we sat together, a steady stream of young admirers who had seen Waldron in church came up to greet him. They made complicated handshakes, the way Ugandans do, and Waldron boasted to me that he had met privately with President Museveni and his born-again wife.

A short bio of Waldron on Contact America (currently down – Google cache only) fills in a bit more detail (link added):

Dr. Waldron has worked on several campaigns for candidates seeking to be the President of the United States as well as a great number of U.S. Senate and House races since his first Reagan/Bush campaign of 1979/80. His organization of the faith-based community was, at the time, the beginning of a trend to involve thinking people of faith in the political process.

Uganda

Dr. Waldron has traveled around the world several times on assignment for clients desiring to either pioneer work or maintain relationships with foreign countries. Dr. Waldron worked throughout the African continent and the Middle East during the period when African colonies were transitioning into independent, sovereign nations. One nation with whom Dr. Waldron has had a relationship dating back to the 70’s is Uganda.

Afghanistan

Dr. Waldron accompanied a Member of Congress, Rep. William Dannemeyer to Pakistan on a fact-finding trip. During that visit Dr. Waldron met with the leadership of the Afghani Mujahadeen who, at the time, were engaged in a war with the Soviet Union. Throughout the 80’s Dr. Waldron was involved in the public policy debate to dismantle the Soviet Empire.

On Capitol Hill

Dr. Waldron makes frequent visits to Capitol Hill on behalf of advocacy groups, private sector businesses and non-profit groups on a myriad of issues.

A long list of distinguished clients follows.

Waldron’s website lays out his theology, which draws explicitly on Rousas Rushdoony and Christian Reconstructionism. Hence libertarian rhetoric is put at the service of a theocratic agenda:

Families reigned supreme on earth from Adam until Nimrod (Genesis 10:9) and the gathering of families at Babel (Genesis 11).  Until that time, families gave birth to clans and nations but there was no central government.  All the people and their families spoke the same language, (Genesis 11:6), and dwelt in their own lands (Genesis 10: 31).  God, the Creator, was recognized as the Supreme Ruler and Sovereign Lord over the earth.

This changed, however, when it was determined by those families and nations on earth to unite in an overt effort to rebel against the Lord’s prophetic command given to their forefathers, Adam (Genesis 1:28) and Noah (Genesis 9:1-17).

… A totalitarian form of governance arises when the Word of God is compromised, ignored or denied.  A person will self-destruct from abuse of spirit, soul and body.  A nation will collapse under a “hard” or “soft” form of dictatorship, abuse of public or elected office, and a general denial of human freedom – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – arises. The source of one’s belief system dictates the conduct whether it be personal or national.   The same goes for the end result.

The Bible represents the absolute source for the guiding principles and precepts for all governments in man (self-government), of families (family government), churches (church government), and for nations (civil government).

…Laws and statues are added by local, state, and federal state governments to control human behavior that is contrary to the Word of God.  One wishes that it were not so but man rebels against God’s authority hence civil governments must construct laws to protect the civil society as a whole.

“Rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil.  Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.  He is God’s minister to you for good.  But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.” (Romans 13:3, 4)

Waldron is also the author of several Christian books; one of these, Rebuilding the Walls: A Biblical Strategy for Restoring America’s Greatness, is available to read. This book, written in 1987, makes the case that “traditional conservatism has led evangelicals astray”, and bemoans that

…It was during the conservative administration of Ronald Reagan that trade was normalized with the Soviet dictatorship, that sanctions were imposed on South Africa.

Rebuilding the Walls was co-written with George Grant, a high-profile Reconstructionist. Waldron also publishes a newsletter, African Dispatch:

The Africa Dispatch is a newsletter that will alert Congress, U.S. and foreign funding agencies , governmental and non-governmental decision-makers, investors, journalists and opinion leaders in the United States and abroad  about news concerning hopeful developments in Africa.

…Waldron said the publication, edited and produced in Washington by veteran newspaper and magazine journalist Bob Selle, intends to fill a perceived gap in information available on the positive aspects of a continent that, though still struggling, is in many way making extraordinary progress.

Oddly, however, the only “Bob Selle” (or “Robert Selle”) I could find who is associated with journalism is the editor of World and I, a Unification Church publication (the same Selle also works for Moon’s ” Family Federation for World Peace and Unification”). Judging from the pdf issue of Africa Dispatch available on-line, the newsletter really exists mainly to puff the Rocky Mountain Technology Group.

Waldron is also reportedly a sometime member of the Council for National Policy, although his name does not appear on all lists. He has also been associated with Dennis Peacocke’s Anatole Fellowship, a one-time Christian Right lobby-group within the Republican Party.

So, just why were all those guns found in Waldron’s house? What are his plans for Ugandan politics? How does this fit in with popular Christian support for the increasingly autocratic President Museveni? And just who is Waldron associated with in Congo?

UPDATE: Commentator Michelle posts a defence of Waldron:

NEWS ALERT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 28, 2006 Contact: Dave Racer, 651-340-1911 Peter Waldron, American businessman, arrested in Uganda on trumped up charges Retaliation cited as motive for Waldron’s report on Ugandan riots…Waldron adamantly denies owning or storing guns of any kind. Police arrested Waldron and charged him with illegal possession of firearms. Later, a police spokesman alleged that Waldron is a terrorist, and that he conspired to create a Christian political party in Uganda. The charges stem from the publication of Waldron’s newsletter, The African Digest, published late in 2005. The entire document is available at http://www.daveracer.com/index1.htm…Never in our conversations then or since did Waldron ever discuss any political plans whatsoever for Uganda beyond rewriting his book, Rebuilding the Walls, to apply to Ugandan life…

There may be something in this; a report from Reuters states that

A news magazine found at Waldron’s home, “The Africa Dispatch,” listed him as publisher. [Police Inspector General Kale] Kayihura said the magazine’s articles on Uganda were defamatory.

The statement also appears on a new website, Free Peter Waldrom. This site includes a message from Waldron’s wife; there is no mention of the claim made in some reports that one of those arrested with him was his “girlfriend”.

UPDATE 2: Back in the 1990s, Waldron ran The Rising Stars Education and Sports Foundation. The St. Petersburg Times reported in 1999:

The Rising Stars Education and Sports Foundation, a non-profit group that garnered more than a half-million dollars in public grants, has left St. Petersburg and Clearwater recreation centers where the program claimed to have helped nearly 2,000 black youths.

In January, the Times reported Rising Stars had been awarded $609,000 in state and local grants since 1995 to stage motivational sessions for children who also received free basketball coaching in city rec centers.

But questions arose about the program’s effectiveness. Waldron said the program at one point had 1,500 participants in St. Petersburg and 400 in Clearwater. But in 1998, the city’s numbers revealed a much lower participation rate. Fewer than 400 youths were involved in St. Petersburg during a nine-month period, and some youngsters participated only occasionally.

…In Largo, Rising Stars recently settled a yearlong legal battle after being sued by Faith Community Church, which now has merged with another church.

Church leaders gave Rising Stars 3 acres adjacent to the church so the program could grow but saw little activity there. Waldron angered church leaders when he tried to sell the property to a bus company. The church then sued to get back the land…

UPDATE 3: I’ve noticed that Peter Waldron is referenced on page 20 of Russ Bellant’s The Coors Connection (1991), drawing on Sara Diamond’s Spiritual Warfare. He appears in a discussion of Dennis Peacocke, who was then director of the Coalition on Revival. COR was closely connected to the “shepherding movement”, and Peacocke submitted to one of the founders of this authoritarian Charismatic Christian doctrine, Bob Mumford. Over to Bellant, starting on page 19:

Another group, the secretive Anatole Fellowship, was founded by Peacocke to “gain influence within the Republican Party” on behalf of the Religious Right…One 1987 meeting in Washington, D.C. was arranged in which “[Paul] Weyrich’s Free Congress Foundation was a key player in the two-day meeting, which focused on issues ranging from school-based health clinics to 1988 electoral strategies to South Africa, Nicaragua and El Salvador,” according to Sara Diamonds Spiritual Warfare [Page 130].

An undated Anatole letter to state-level coalition members advised:

For Christians to be successful in influencing legislation in Washington, D.C., it is imperative that we have a national communications network to inform God’s people of issues to concern them. To this end the Anatole Fellowship has formed an issues committee co-chaired by Connie Marshner and Peter Waldron…

Pete Waldron is also a member of the Council for National Policy and the steering committee of Coalition on Revival.

Another undated Anatole Alert directed associates to support Jonas Savimbi’s UNITA, a military force supported financially by South Africa and allied operationally with South Africa’s military campaign to destabilize Angola and strategically control the southern portion of Africa. The Anatole newsletter also counseled against Senate ratification of the Genocide Treaty, an international pact which criminalizes genocidal actions. Peacocke was also active in recruiting and training anti-Sandinista religious leaders in Central America.

(Hat tip: Christianity Today Weblog. Cross-posted to Talk to Action).