Conservative Christians working on HIV/AIDS see burden of sexual liberalism

Jabin Botsford FOR THE WASHINGTON POST WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 25: Project Coordinator John Eliot Murray, from Montreal Canada, hangs … Continued

Jabin Botsford


WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 25: Project Coordinator John Eliot Murray, from Montreal Canada, hangs photos of hands with messages encouraging the fight against HIV and AIDS on the “hands wall” in the Youth, the Arts, HIV & AIDS Network booth at the XIX (19th) International AIDS Conference at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC on Wednesday July 25, 2012. By recognizing and facilitating the importance of artistic expression and the Internet in the everyday lives of youth, aspires to empower youth to take action in the fight against HIV & AIDS.

The challenges of melding HIV/AIDS – a disease that forces uncomfortable, frank talk about sex—and conservative Christianity was on full display Wednesday at a conference about faith groups’ work in fighting the epidemic.

A roomful of prominent development, health and faith leader listened and then clapped politely as a leading Zambian evangelical pastor told the Georgetown University-hosted conference that African nations work with Western non-governmental organizations (NGOs) has “had a downside.” That downside, said Bishop Joshua Banda of the Assemblies of God, is the pro-choice “slanted manner” of health outreach.

View Photo Gallery: A look at events — inside and out — in connection with the 19th International AIDS Conference.

NGOs are targeted toward working with girls and young women toward their empowerment, “but really cause them to make choices that take away their lives rather than build them,” he said. The pro-choice approach is “purely medical”, not spiritual, and is “in a manner that says to my daughter, if she becomes pregnant, that she can make the choice to throw away the baby. That mindset is destroying Africa.”

Megachurch pastor Rick Warren, considered one of the country’s leading evangelicals on fighting AIDS said he was willing to work with anyone “who wants to end AIDS,” but blamed the government for trying to get traditional faith workers to what he called “change” their anti-abortion views in order to partner. Warren, who leads Saddleback Church in California, wasn’t specific but Catholic and some evangelical institutions are suing the Obama Administration for its mandate that American employers ease health care coverage of contraception for U.S. workers.

Multiple speakers agreed that Christian churches are indispensable in the AIDS fight.

“If you want to stop AIDS, and you’re serious about it … you must go through the local church,” Warren told the Summit on the Role of the Christian Faith Community In Global Health and HIV/AIDS. “The first thing in every village is a church. The second is a bar .. Christians are the largest organization in the world. Nothing comes close.”

The panel ended with a prayer from Kay Warren, Warren’s wife and partner at Saddleback Church, one of the country’s largest.

“Some things we agree on, some things we don’t, but we have had dialogues,” she prayed as the room stood. “We haven’t solved a whole lot. But we have reaffirmed that your people serving in your name can make a difference in the world.”

Read more live coverage of the 19th International AIDS Conference held in Washington, D.C.

View Photo Gallery: As the International AIDS Conference meets this week in Washington, we collect columnist Michael Gerson’s articles on the disease.

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  • edbyronadams

    Western churches have largely abandoned the teaching of social taboos and society in general avoids frank talk necessary for talking about the transmission of HIV. For example, on this public discussion board, the autocensor makes frank discussion difficult.

  • WmarkW

    The unscalable wall of political correctness.

    White heterosexuals have minimal problem with AIDS. It’s African Americans and especially African natives who are the target of containment efforts.

    But we’re not going to discuss their sexism, lower future-time orientation, sexually libertine attitudes or primitive beliefs toward gays.

  • IntellectOne

    The homosexual lifestyle is a huge health issue. So why are the school children, which are captive audiences, taught that same-sex couples are equivalent to heterosexual couples? It has been established, for many years, that same-sex is unhealthy and can be deadly if AIDS is transmitted from one partner to the next. Also, the heterosexual partner can be a victim of AIDS, if their partner is Bi-sexual. It is criminal to teach under age children sexual orientation,because it promotes sexual activity and can be setting up a dangerous idea and situation for innocent children. Sexual orientation, of either kind, should be eliminated from the School System Curriculum. A good Health Class and a good Biology Class should be put in place of current ‘Unhealthy’ and Dangerous Sexual Orientation Classes.

  • Sadetec

    Seriously, you need to try to make some Gay friends and really get to know them as people; then perhaps you wouldn’t have such a distorted (and quite frankly rather bigoted, sorry!) view of who they are.

    I could point out the factual inaccuracies and unfounded accusations in your comment, but I’m not sure you’d listen, or (to be honest) that I have the patience to show you the situation isn’t you you think it is.

  • IntellectOne

    You bet I am bigoted about unhealthy practices. It seems everybody was against smoking cigarettes, but not a word about under-age children being taught to engage in unhealthy practices of sex. (heterosexual or homosexual practices)
    Since the Schools have brainwashed the children, that participating in a practice that is reserved for marriage (with proper sexual relationships not violent) and unhealthy for young people
    sexual transmission of diseases have sky rocked, AIDS has increased,in the general population, but not being reported on.. Since the School’s Curriculum of the Sex Education (Orientation) there has been a sky rocketing elective abortion rate, sexual transmitted disease, AIDS. This is not even touching on the Psychological Damage that has been perpetrated, to these young children, by America’s “Educational Departments”.
    It is criminal, to confuse and take away a child’s innocents about something so important for their future in wanting an ‘Authentic Loving Relationship’ with a family.
    By destroying the children’s innocents it is destroying their happiness and the future of the Nation. A better world cannot be built with confusion and ‘Faults Beliefs’ of a beautiful gift given to each and every individual. Whether it be a Parent, a Relative, a Church or the Schools, nobody has the ‘Right’ to take away a child’s innocence and if they do; it is Criminal.

  • kingcranky

    Lesbians have even less of a problem with AIDS than heterosexuals.

  • chloe kim

    I certainly agree with the idea of getting help from christian communities for frighting against AIDS/HIV. One of the best solutions to eradicate this epidemic disease is raising the awareness and , in order to do so, we need manpower and help from the large communities.

    What bothers me, however, is the anti-abortion view in this article. Bishop Joshua Banda expresses that abortion is an act of “throwing away babies”. His radical opinion regarding pro-choice does not convince me at all considering there are many different situations when women choose to get an abortion. Some pregnant females are victims of rape, some cannot afford to have babies financially, emotionally and physically. Abortion gives them an opportunity to escape from those unfortunate situations, rather than offering them to “throw away their children”.