Thursday, December 01, 2005

Warren saddles up for HIV/AIDS

And it only took him 20 years.

Of course, I should be more positive toward Rick Warren, head pastor of the Saddleback megachurch in Orange County, California, and the other evangelical and megachurch pastors that have decided that they should be doing HIV/AIDS work here in the U.S. and not just in Africa.

But then Warren says dumbass, though well-meaning, things like this: "The Gospels repeatedly show that Jesus loved, touched and cared for lepers--the diseased outcasts of his day. Today's `lepers' are those who have HIV/AIDS." Diseased outcasts?

This, of course, is part of the problem, since it is precisely this attitude in the right-wing religious groups and the Reagan administration that stigmatized those with HIV in the first place. In fact, we might be a lot further along in the fight against HIV had Reagan--the first president to openly court evangelicals--had actually been able to utter the word "AIDS."

People with HIV are "lepers" only if those who are HIV-negative make them so; their "leperhood" is not their issue, though they certainly suffer the consequences. "AIDS victims," after all, still figure prominently in evangelical tracts against homosexuality.

Warren's wife, Kay, gets points for honesty: "The evangelical church has pretty much had fingers in our ears, hands over our eyes and mouths shut completely. . . . We're not comfortable talking about sex in general and certainly not comfortable about talking about homosexuality--and you can't talk about HIV without talking about both of those things."

Maybe if we Christians could do only one thing this World AIDS Day it would be to quit associating AIDS with some kind of moral failure. Just because something can be sexually transmitted doesn't mean there's some kind of sin involved.

HIV is a resilient little organism that has a devastating effect on the human immune system. The moral failure is not related to its transmission; the true moral failure lies at the feet and in the hearts of all of us who have not mustered the political will and financial resources to care for those affected; people of faith, knowing full well the demands of compassion but failing to meet them, have sinned doubly.


Post a Comment

<< Home