When the HIV/AIDS crisis first developed, some American evangelicals viewed the virus as a kind of intrinsic biological judgment against those who indulged in sexual promiscuity (especially homosexual promiscuity) and drug abuse. Some still promote this idea. Yet at the other end of the spectrum, evangelicals were closely involved in creating the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which has dramatically reduced the spread of AIDS in Africa and saved over a million lives. Launched in 2003 by President George W. Bush, and renewed with broad support in 2008, PEPFAR is arguably the largest effort ever by a single country to combat a single disease.
How is the story of evangelicalism and AIDS best told? Were those who described AIDS as "God's punishment for homosexuals" (Jerry Falwell) extreme voices, or widely representative? Have attitudes changed? Is PEPFAR a story of successful evangelical political engagement, an effective use of government for the sake of the poor? Or is the evangelical relationship with PEPFAR and other anti-AIDS initiatives more complex? Have evangelical attitudes toward AIDS changed, and is eliminating the spread of the disease one of the "great objects" for evangelicals today?
Madelle Payne, Vice President of Ministries, Medical Ambassadors International (MAI)
In East Africa in 2005, it was common for African pastors to ignore the whole issue of AIDS, but within a few years, many churches began looking for ways to compassionately help their own people as well as others.
Frank Viola, Author and Blogger, "The Deeper Journey"
No matter how a disease was contracted, we Christians are called to be agents of grace, love, mercy, and forgiveness.
Paul Louis Metzger, Author, Professor, The Institute for the Theology of Culture
We cannot put a price tag on a cure for HIV/AIDS, or on the people who bear this burden.
Jack Wellman, Author, Blogger, and Pastor
All we need to know is that they have AIDS; instead of asking "Why?" we should ask "What can I do to help?"
Owen Strachan, Professor and Blogger, "Thought Life"
Though imperfect, evangelicals like Bush and Colson have left a mark on the fight against AIDS, whether on a personal or governmental level.
Peter Wehner, Author and Senior Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center
The global AIDS initiative qualifies as one of the great moral stories, one of the great humanitarian acts, of the last half-century.
Jay Hein, Author, President of Sagamore Institute
PEPFAR exists because an American president understands the scriptures to teach that African AIDS patients are equal in God's eyes to our citizens and family members.
I was ten when AIDS was first clinically observed. I remember that early attitudes to this, among the media and general population were revulsion and fear. There was a lot of ignorance. People worried that AIDS might be easy to catch. Even as a young man, as I became more aware of AIDs and how [Read More...]
My little brother is HIV+. My precious, joyful, kind-hearted 11-year-old little brother is infected with the most feared and stigmatized disease of our time.