Lord's Resistance Army (Joseph Kony)

Possibly the worst case of child abuse of any cult in modern history

1987 - present

Warning: This page contains graphic descriptions of child abuse which some readers might find disturbing

The Lord's Resistance Army is led by Joseph Kony, who is solely responsible for some of the worst human rights abuses in modern history. The LRA famously targets children, who they kidnap, force to commit unthinkable atrocities, then make them serve the rest of their lives as soldiers, doing these same things to others. Because of this, millions of people have been displaced, and children cannot meet their basic needs due to a fear of getting abducted.

Even more tragic is that there does not seem to be any purpose or end goal to these killing sprees. Instead, Kony simply created a cult of personality in which people are willing to do whatever he says.

There is currently an international effort to stop this movement, but the leader has never been captured.

Religion: Christianity; Folk Religion

Denomination: Syncretist

Founder: Alice Lakwena

Founded: 1987

Size: 3,000 (100 as of 2020)

Location: Mostly Uganda

Offshoot of: The Holy Spirit Movement

Also called: Lord's Resistance Movement; United Holy Salvation; Uganda Christian Army; Uganda Christian Movement; Lord's [Salvation] Army; United [Salvation] Christian Army


"I kept thinking that I would run away as soon as I could, but then I saw someone who tried to run, was captured and killed. He was shot. After I saw that, I was afraid and realized I may never be able to run away."

-Edward T.

“Pain at sunrise, regrets at sunset – dawn or dusk, life isn’t fair anymore.”

-Betty Ejang

“My husband did not want me as a wife again when I came home. He would tell me the rebels had already slept with me so I was now a rebel wife... He blamed me, saying that I was responsible for my abduction because I always made myself smart and wanted to look beautiful... I can’t even farm my own little plot of land now because of the chest pain I now have from my wounds. I’m just doing my best to try and survive.”

-Rose Achayo

“Now when I first wake up every day, I feel like killing myself”

-Lily Aketowang (discussing her life after escaping and being ostracized by her community)

“My parents feared I would try to kill them in the night, and my older brother said he didn’t want his children hanging around me in case they too became a prostitute.”

-Jennifer Apio, abducted at age 14 (discussing her life after escaping)

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Kony 2012 Documentary

Abducted at the age of eleven, Evelyn Amony spent nearly eleven years inside the Lord’s Resistance Army, becoming a forced wife to Joseph Kony and mother to his children. She takes the reader into the inner circles of LRA commanders and reveals unprecedented personal and domestic details about Joseph Kony. Her account unflinchingly conveys the moral difficulties of choosing survival in a situation fraught with violence, threat, and death.

Amony was freed following her capture by the Ugandan military. Despite the trauma she endured with the LRA, Amony joined a Ugandan peace delegation to the LRA, trying to convince Kony to end the war that had lasted more than two decades. She recounts those experiences, as well as the stigma she and her children faced when she returned home as an adult.

This extraordinary testimony shatters stereotypes of war-affected women, revealing the complex ways that Amony navigated life inside the LRA and her current work as a human rights advocate to make a better life for her children and other women affected by war.

(Order here)

First Kill Your Family is the only book published in American to reveal the full story behind the rise of Joseph Kony and his Lord's Resistance Army. Eichstaedt takes readers into the war-torn villages and refugee camps, talking to former child soldiers, child "brides," and other victims. He examines the cult-like convictions of the army; how a pervasive belief in witchcraft, the spirit world, and the supernatural gave rise to this and other deadly movements; and what the global community can do to bring peace and justice to the region. This insightful analysis delves into the war's foundations and argues that, much like Rwanda's genocide, international intervention is needed to stop Africa's virulent cycle of violence.

(Order here)

The Lord's Resistance Army is Africa's most persistent and notorious 'terrorist' group. Led by the mysterious Joseph Kony, it has committed a series of horrific human rights abuses, including massacres and mutilations. Since the mid 1980s, it has abducted tens of thousands of people, including large numbers of children forced to train as fighters. The IC in 2005 issued warrants for Kony and his top commanders, and the United States is backing a military campaign against the group. But the LRA survives, continuing to inspire both fascination and fear.

Authoritative but provocative, The Lord's Resistance Army provides the most comprehensive analysis of the group available. From the roots of the violence to the oppressive responses of the Ugandan government and the failures of the international community, this collection looks at this most brutal of conflicts in fascinating depth, and includes a remarkable first-hand interview with Kony himself.

(Order here)