Newsweek: PEPFAR funds will not be held for Uganda

Katie Paul at Newsweek has an interview with the US PEPFAR coordinator, Eric Goosby, today. She sets up the story by referring to the infamous ex-gay conference in March. 

The thinking behind them [Anti-Homosexuality Bill] is just as disturbing, since this latest round of anti-gay fervor was kicked off at a conference held by by American missionary groups that went to proselytize about the twin evils of Nazism and homosexual behavior in Kampala earlier this year. Just to hammer home how far-out that is, this means the Ugandan government got its advice from the author of a book called The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party, which claims the Nazi movement was “entirely controlled by militaristic male homosexuals throughout its short history.” The result has been a vigilante campaign against the country’s LGBT community, whereby gay detainees are tortured and tabloids publish the names, places of employment, addresses, and physical descriptions of gay rights advocates under headlines that scream “TOP HOMOS IN UGANDA NAMED.” It would seem the stuff of Orwellian parody, but it’s real.

To Paul’s question about US funding, Goosby replied:

I’m very concerned about any decision that any country–including our own–would make to target a group that’s in the population, and that’s always been in the population, by excluding them from a service or passes legislation that criminalizes their behavior. Everytime you do that, you push the behavior underground. It never works. Rather than minimizing the spread of the virus, it actually amplifies it.

The U.S. policy is trying to work with governments to say exactly that. I think I would do more harm than good by connecting our resources to respond to the epidemic to making them dependent on a behavior that they’re not willing to engage in on their own. My role is to be supportive and helpful to the patients who need these services. It is not to tell a country how to put forward their legislation.

Goosby goes on to suggest diplomacy will work if he points out the public health argument. Will this work? I don’t have much confidence in this. Go read Katie’s thoughts on the matter and the Obama policy.

Discuss…

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  • Michael Bussee

    Wow. It seems that there may indeed have been warnings (in addition to Warren’s) that under the circumstances, it was probably not a good idea to go to Uganda — and that the tip could very well have some serious negative consequences… Am I getting thta right?

    http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2009/02/24/9098

  • Lynn David

    …..to target a group that’s in the population, and that’s always been in the population, by excluding them from a service or passes legislation that criminalizes their behavior. Everytime you do that, you push the behavior underground. It never works. Rather than minimizing the spread of the virus, it actually amplifies it.

    Warren…. Goosby goes on to suggest diplomacy will work if he points out the public health argument. Will this work? I don’t have much confidence in this.

    I might go so far as to say that those in power and many of the clergy in Uganda don’t care. They would see that an epidemic of HIV in their gay populace to be part of their ‘god’s plan or design.’

  • Michael Bussee

    There were a lot of voices here in the USA that made the same claim. AIDS was God’s judgement against gays. Ignoring Christ’s example with the lepers, judgement often trumped compassion.

  • Eddy

    Once again the allegation is being made that participants in the Uganda ex-gay conference were warned (implying before the fact by Warren and others, can anyone tell me the nature of these warnings?

    A ‘warning’ is before it happens; Monday morning quarterback is after the fact…I’m curious as to these warnings that are being referenced repeatedly.

  • http://exgaywatch.com David Roberts

    Eddy, if you are implying that there is some doubt that Exodus was warned ahead of time (before Schmierer participated in the conference), then you can stop. There is no debate on this and I seriously doubt even Alan would suggest otherwise. He certainly could not do so honestly.

    I know there were at least two other emails besides my own because I saw them. Alan responded but the contents of that response I am not at liberty to divulge in public — but he did get the messages and they referenced sufficient information that he would have known the nature of the conference and the men that sponsored it.

    That aside, it strains credulity that Schmierer, et al, would be unaware of the others speaking at the conference. To know that a representative from Richard Cohen, and Scott Lively himself would be there is plenty of warning in and of itself.

    Any legitimate discussion of this issue will have to proceed with the fact that Exodus and Schmierer (at least) knew what they were getting into, or at least acknowledged receipt of such information, before the participants were even on the ground in Kampala. IOW, they were indeed forewarned. No good comes from muddying the water on that point.

  • Jayhuck

    They would see that an epidemic of HIV in their gay populace to be part of their ‘god’s plan or design.’

    Interestingly Lynn, that’s just what some conservative/Evangelical/fundamentalist groups did here in the U.S. at the onset of the epidemic in this country – which is why they were so slow to respond in a rational way to the disease – they were too busy judging others

  • Lynn David

    It was after the conference about the 27th or so of March that Exodus removed a link to Scott Lively’s article on the Pink Swastika. And they added a disclaimer that made it sound like they did not have any control over what might have been put on their own website. But unlike what David Roberts said above:

    ….it strains credulity that Schmierer, et al, would be unaware of the others speaking at the conference. To know that a representative from Richard Cohen, and Scott Lively himself would be there is plenty of warning in and of itself.

    Schmierer need not know that it was a warning that Scott Lively was attending, because Schmierer buys in to Scott Lively’s revisionist tale:

    Last week I sat next to this guy (Don Schmierer) on a flight from USA to Europe. He was on his way to Uganda to speak at a conference there on how to convert people from homosexuality.

    .

    We started talking and he was interesting. He was a nice guy, moderate in tone and personality, and concerned not to offend me in case I had different views.

    .

    Of course, he has batsh!t crazy ideas that The Gay is caused by a domineering parent, or neglected kids or broken homes. Or something. Whatever, it’s a 100% acquired condition. Also the Nazis were all gay.

    .

    He works for Exodus International, which apparently is the leading Christian ministry focusing on the ex-gay (conversion) thing. They are not short of cash as it’s funded by billionaire Howard Ahmanson. Africa is a big focus for them – it’s religious and predominantly anti-gay, and Exodus wants to keep it that way.

    .

    Anyway, if anyone wants “Preventing the Homosexual Condition in Today’s Youth”

    I now have a copy.

  • Lynn David

    Jayhuck….. Interestingly Lynn, that’s just what some conservative/Evangelical/fundamentalist groups did here in the U.S. at the onset of the epidemic in this country – which is why they were so slow to respond in a rational way to the disease – they were too busy judging others

    Well, it was for that reason that I didn’t think it was much of a stretch. And they have been acting and making comments that seemed to allude to just that. Some comments I have read over the last year from religious leaders in East Africa and Uganda in particular allude to the idea that HIV/AIDS is completely a gay disease (I suspect they think it came from America, also). The trouble is they would have to explain why it is that 90% of Ugandans with the disease are straight. But in their rhetoric against gays they choose to forget that fact (or rather they choose ignorance).

  • Eddy

    David–

    Thanks for your response. I have a reputation for speaking forthrightly…if I’m implying something, be sure that it will extremely obvious. My only concern was that the issue of ‘several warnings’ has come up several times but I couldn’t find prior conversation about them here. I cited that back when I was first asking about them. I couldn’t find any conversation here that preceded the conference.

    I didn’t know if that was my own inept searching skills…if perhaps that revelation popped in in some unrelated thread (we’re famous for that here)…or if it was a matter of public knowledge that I had somehow missed.

    Reactions to my question (which I maintain was/is a legitimate concern) ranged from ‘too busy to discuss that now’, ‘what’s the point?’, to ‘go find the answers for yourself’ and ‘ask Alan’. The only one among them that was truly responsive was ‘ask Alan’…but even that one had it’s limitations. What if these warnings were delivered to Don rather than Alan? It seemed fair to me to ask those who knew of the warnings (as indicated by their reference to them here on the blog) to simply pony up with what they knew.

    I’m hunching that conversation re the Uganda conference was going on over at BoxTurtle or EGW prior to the conference and that the warnings were discussed there. Since some of the bloggers here (including our host) frequent those sites, perhaps they were unaware that the ‘prior conversation’ was not addressed here (or hard to find) and forgot that a number of us do not frequent those sites.

    Whatever the background, I am satisfied with the answer that you have provided along with one that Warren sent me privately last evening. Thank you.

    Lynn David–

    Sorry, I appreciate most of what you’ve been able to dig up on this issue but ‘passenger’ remarks are simply too biased to be taken at face value. Referring to someone as ‘batsh@%t crazy’ is incredibly subjective. I don’t think there’s really a measure for ‘batsh@%t crazy’ in the industry. Those who I’ve heard use the term are often referring not to an overall personality-wide psychiatric disorder but rather to an issue or two where they completely disagree with the individual(s) who they have diagnosed.

    The bias of ‘passenger’ would/could serve as enough of a filter to cause them to misinterpret simple statements. That is why I mistrust ‘passengers’ conclusions re Don’s mission for Uganda. For example, if Don simply said that he personally believed that homosexual behavior was sin and that he was coming to communicate that message in Uganda; ‘passenger’s’ bias could cause him/her to assume that Don’s mission was to rid Uganda of homosexuals.

    That exception aside, though, I’ve appreciated the various links and insights that you’ve brought to these conversations.

  • concerned

    Thanks Eddy,

    Generally when I hear the term ‘batsh@%t crazy’ being used by someone it is a pretty strong indication to me that they are equally ill informed and likely just as ‘batsh@%t crazy’ in the opposite direction. Bias can so easily distort ones ability to honestly and openly listen to what someone else has to say, even when it may be extremely worthwhile to do so.

  • Michael Bussee

    That aside, it strains credulity that Schmierer, et al, would be unaware of the others speaking at the conference. To know that a representative from Richard Cohen, and Scott Lively himself would be there is plenty of warning in and of itself.

    Precisely.

  • Eddy

    There was a time when I naively would have assumed…”yikes, someone sensible from ‘our team’ needs to step in and attempt some damage control.”

    And, truthfully, we still don’t know if that may have happened. Everything we’ve been hearing…about the climate in Uganda, about ‘the Family’, etc…suggests that this bill would have been brought to the table, in essentially the same form, with or without the conference. But, as David Roberts pointed out on a point very closely associated to this one:

    No good comes from muddying the water on that point.

  • Michael Bussee

    There are many factors (historical, cultural, political, religious) that led up to this terrible bill — mainly factors within Uganda itself — but also including the real possibility of misinformed and/or uninformed external influences. No one thing, person, organization or religion deserves the blame.

    At this point, I would rather focus on the good that Exodus has done lately to clear things up — and they clearly oppose this bill. So do thousands upon thousands of other people from many walks of life and from many religious viewpoints.

    “This is a rare chance for Christians of many views to stand united, whatever their beliefs about sexual ethics. Many Christian leaders and groups have already condemned this Bill.” — from an article from “Ekklesia” posted on the Facebook group.

    Like Warrren said, “Rare but cool”. I hope we don’t miss it.

    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=198541255168&ref=mf

  • David Blakeslee

    @ All,

    Finally, the facts are reaching the main stream…good news for all involved. “I the light of the world” goes with “Light is the best disinfectant.”

  • David Blakeslee

    @ Lynn David and David Roberts,

    Are you sure you want to place blame for the HIV epidemic at the feet of slow-moving, judgmental Evangelical Christians?

    @ Michael,

    are you sure you want to compare leprosy with HIV? They see to be very different in their origins.

    @ Everyone,

    Why would we bring HIV into this discussion of Uganda and homosexual hatred and oppression? Hasn’t Uganda been exemplary in its effectiveness with HIV?

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    David B – Re-read what Ed Green at Harvard said about this bill. While homosexuals are a minimal issue in the HIV rate, the bill will increase stigma to the point where it could effect how straights interact with health care and counseling people. People will be afraid of testing; they will assume due to the misinformation spread by Langa and reinforced by the harshness of the law that heterosexual sex is less risky or consequential.

    And the supporters of the bill are bringing HIV into the discussion.

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    PS – Can’t see that David Roberts said anything about HIV…

  • Michael Bussee

    @ Davd: I wanted to point out Christ’s example with the lepers– that he reached out with mercy and healing, not judgement. He never pointed fingers at sinners or the sick with a “well, you got what you deserved” attitude as some “so-called-religious” people did with HIV. To their credit, thousands upon thousands of others were more Christ-like — reaching out to when few would — providing solace, hope and hands-on care.

    Like Jesus.

  • Michael Bussee

    Why would we bring HIV into this discussion of Uganda and homosexual hatred and oppression?

    I honestly don’t think “we” did. I think Ugandans did.

    In the minds of many Ugandans who have spoke out in support of the bill, AIDS and “recruitment” of children are cited as two main reasons why this law is needed. In post after post, article after article, “Homos” = child “defilement” = AIDS. That’s why gays must be stopped.

    From my reading over the past weeks, I have noticed that many who support that bill say argue that homosexuality has to be heavily criminalized to stop AIDS. Warren, in your work on this haven’t you noticed this line of reasoning from many supporters of this bill?

  • Eddy

    People, both Christian and non, have a propensity for pointing fingers…for laying blame. People, both Christian and non, tend to speculate that some serious illnesses can be avoided by right living and, conversely, ‘that you got cancer cause you smoked’, liver trouble ‘because you drank’, obesity because ‘you don’t watch what you eat’…so it shouldn’t be any surprise that when faced with a disease that is transmitted primarily via sex and where (in most of the cases) at least one of the partners had had multiple partners…that people, both Christian and non, would point fingers and lay blame.

    Sins of the heart, mind and attitude seem to be the most difficult to bring under submission to the mind of Christ.

  • Michael Bussee

    Some walked by self-righteously, pointed fingers at sinners and did little else — feeling assured within themselves that “they” were not like “them.”

    Others, moved by compassion, not judgement, did stop to help — noticing God’s image and a common humanity in “them”.

    These are the ones who will be remembered and blessed. Without realizing it, they were ministering to Christ — “in all His distressing diguise”.

  • Jayhuck

    that people, both Christian and non, would point fingers and lay blame.

    That may be true – but in my limited experience here in the United States, the vast majority of those finger pointers have been Christian! Religion seems to often serve as a justification for prejudice and bigotry – but I’m sure its true that Christians and non-Christians alike have judged others – harshly and with extreme smugness at times

  • Michael Bussee

    It’s the old “Who’s worse: Gays or Christians?” game — it’s non-prodcutive and way too simplictic. Labels tell you almost nothing. As we ought to know by now, how a person identifies is not necessarily who they are.

  • Eddy

    but in my limited experience here in the United States, the vast majority of those finger pointers have been Christian!

    Since you’re using your experience to ‘clarify’ the point about Christians being the major perpetrators, we’ll need to hear more about your experiences.Can you approximate how many finger pointers you’ve been exposed to? Were these one on one private conversations? Was it stuff you heard or saw on the news? Perhaps that you read on BoxTurtle or XGW?

    How did you know they were Christians? Were they nominal? liberal? conservative? How did you assess that? If they were religious, how were you able to weed out the Jews or the Muslims to know it was the Christians?

    Some of us are going with zero tolerance for generalizations. Generalizations followed by exclamation points get special consideration. Please demonstrate how that statement is true and not a generalization.

  • Michael Bussee

    Religion seems to often serve as a justification for prejudice and bigotry.

    I agree, to a point…They may use their “religion” in this way — but they were probably the ones who were already prejudiced and bigotted to start with…

    We should not assume that their religion caused their prejudice and bigltory, or infer that Christians, as a group, are any more prejudiced and bigotted than anyone else. In general, labels tell us almost nothing about an individual or group.

    Who was the commedian who said, “Prejudice is such a silly thing, really when you consider that there are tons of perfectly good reasons to hate people on an individual basis.” :)

  • Lynn David

    David Blakeslee…. Are you sure you want to place blame for the HIV epidemic at the feet of slow-moving, judgmental Evangelical Christians?

    And where did I say that? I am well aware that churches are doing good work in places like Uganda. I was commenting on that rhetoric concerning HIV/AIDS and homosexuals by Ugandan leaders and clergy, which has often been very reminiscent of some of that which occurred in the US from the 1980s.

    Like Eddy, you seem to think more into what someone says than is there. Is that a problem psychologists develop?

  • Eddy

    LynnDavid–

    Like Eddy, you seem to think more into what someone says than is there. Is that a problem psychologists develop?

    1) please cite some examples of where I ‘think more into what someone says than is there’. I daresay that I’m the victim of that one more than the perpetrator.

    2) thanks for the promotion, but I’m not a psychologist.

  • Michael Bussee

    I keep asking myself, “What are the roots of anti-Christian prejudice?” Why do so many gay people seem to have it? I am not saying that all gays have it or that all gays are anti-Christian — since many of them are devout Christians themselves.

    I am talking about the strong animosity so many of them seem to have towards a particuar type of Christianity — one that they perceive as hateful towards them. The type that makes them grimmace” when you even mention Christianity. Why is it there?

  • Lynn David

    It’s in the works in another window, Eddy. I am a rather ploddingly slow and methodical human being.

  • Lynn David

    Eddy…… Sorry, I appreciate most of what you’ve been able to dig up on this issue but ‘passenger’ remarks are simply too biased to be taken at face value. Referring to someone as ‘batsh@%t crazy’ is incredibly subjective. I don’t think there’s really a measure for ‘batsh@%t crazy’ in the industry. Those who I’ve heard use the term are often referring not to an overall personality-wide psychiatric disorder but rather to an issue or two where they completely disagree with the individual(s) who they have diagnosed.

    Gee, Eddy… that just what that person was doing. Refering not to Schmierer himself who he said was “interesting…. a nice guy, moderate in tone and personality, and concerned not to offend me.” But he said further:

    ….he has batsh!t crazy ideas….

    He was refering to Schmierer’s ideas that homosexuality was caused by “a domineering parent, or neglected kids or broken homes” and that “it’s a 100% acquired condition.” Oh, and also he the Schmierer idea that: “the Nazis were all gay.”

    .

    Now where does this account of a casual conversation between two trans-Atlantic travellers fail? Can you think of a blog by a psychologist/professor who has proffered scientific research that has shown that homosexuality is not caused by “a domineering parent, or neglected kids or broken homes” and who also has reasoned that homosexuality is not “a 100% acquired condition” but instead is more than likely a mixture biological and environmental conditions?

    .

    Seems to me that the fellow relating his experience from the airplane is not necessarily completely biased. And so I’ll go further. Back in March, Exodus made a statement in support of Don Schmierer:

    Exodus International said it applauds its board member Don Schmierer, who attended the Uganda conference, for his effort to convey an “alternative message that encompasses a compassionate, biblical view of homosexuality,” according to a statement by Exodus International president Alan Chambers to The Christian Post on Wednesday.

    I wonder how he could do that, when he is espousing ideas which have been shown to be viable? How could he do that if his values are so flawed as to believe the Lively lie that “the Nazis were all gay?” Now very soon after the March conference in Kampala Exodus removed the link to Scott Lively’s article (earlier I had posted that they did not remove it until later in March, I was relying on this blog, but that post came late). But why was the Lively link there in the first place and who put it there. They removed it under pressure from gay blogs (and possibly this one) and the obvious desire to not be seen as anti-gay or simply homophobic (my possibly simplistic definition of homophobic is the use of lies to promote an anti-gay agenda). But then we have Schmierer relating that:

    He works for Exodus International, which apparently is the leading Christian ministry focusing on the ex-gay (conversion) thing. They are not short of cash as it’s funded by billionaire Howard Ahmanson. Africa is a big focus for them – it’s religious and predominantly anti-gay, and Exodus wants to keep it that way.

    It became further obvious why Schmierer deferred to Lively on some questions at the Kampala conference. There it was Lively who said that homosexuality is like pedophilia and the gay agenda wants replace Ugandans and take over their nation by recruiting their youth and to turn the whole world gay.” Well, Schmierer got his wish, possibly just in time for Christmas. Is he speaking for Exodus? Is Exodus really and anti-gay organization, which hides it when it must?

    .

    Public statements perhaps belying a private agenda. Or it could be two different faces one for an American public and another for a homophobic, Ugandan public. Or two competing forces in Exodus. One powered by Howard Ahmanson and his Fieldstead employee/program officer, Don Schmierer, who is Ahamanson’s man on the board of directors of Exodus, and a second, certainly more understanding of what homosexuality is about, and represented by Exodus president, Alan Chambers. But if I read what has happened correctly, then Chambers has has been hamstrung in his possible actions by the need to keep Exodus in the money that Schmierer/Ahmanson represent.

    Certainly, there have been an attempt or two by Exodus throughout the year to diffuse the situation. But that was directed towards th acrimony here in America not in Uganda. It was not until the bill was tabled that something finally dawned on Exodus that it had to speak out – to Uganda. But even then at a symposium on the Bahati bill at Makerere University when it was offered and should have had its most force, Langa diffused it by saying it was gays that hacked the Exodus website and put up a false letter. Exodus possibly should do more. I would suggest that they buy space in a major newspaper or print it in church newspapers. And this time Don Schmierer should be a signatory.

  • Lynn David

    The world can be lost but for a single word:

    .

    I wonder how he could do that, when he is espousing ideas which have been shown to not be viable?

    .

    Exodus possibly should do more. I would suggest that they buy space in a major newspaper or print it in church newspapers in Uganda. And this time Don Schmierer should be a signatory.

  • Michael Bussee

    …something finally dawned on Exodus that it had to speak out – to Uganda. But even then at a symposium on the Bahati bill at Makerere University when it was offered and should have had its most force, Langa diffused it by saying it was gays that hacked the Exodus website and put up a false letter.

    Exodus had been urged by many people, including Dr. Throckmorton, to speak out more clearly and forcefully about this matter. Even Warren said he was “frustrated”. Finally, the statements came — “albeit late” to use Alan’s words. Alan posted here mand Warren signed the Exodus letter. Exodus spoke out!

    Who knows why the statements came? And does it really matter? Whether Exodus was pressured or simply decided on its own to do the right thing, they did it.

    Now, Langa dismisses it as hacked by gay and a “false letter”. Exodus must not let this happen. Exodus needs to send a letter directly to Langa, call him personally or take whatever measure it can take to make it very clear that it is a TRUE letter that truly reflect Exodus’ position. Perhaps Alan should post a video statement or Youtube piece of some sort so there could be know doubt that it’s real and he means it.

  • Michael Bussee

    Interesting article posted on the Facebook page by Lynn David, regarding Scott Lively’s participation in the March Conference and some of Lively’s thoughts on the proposed law.

    http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2009/nov/09112708.html

  • Michael Bussee

    According to this article:

    [Lively] testified to lawmakers in the Ugandan Assembly Hall that having legislation against homosexuality on the books is important since it protects against those who would advocate in public and in schools that homosexuality is positive…

    He suggested that it is important that “homosexuality should be actively discouraged in public policy. But only as aggressively as necessary to prevent it from being advocated in society.”

    “Sort of the way that Oregon treats marijuana,” he explained. “The law is on the books, it’s very rarely enforced but because it’s enforced, because it’s illegal, no one is allowed to go into the schools and say smoking dope is a good thing.”

    In the same article, Lively expresses some opposition to this law, saying that it is “way too harsh”and goes “way too far”.

    These statements attribute to Lively make me wonder…Does this article accurately represent Lively’s views? Is so, would it be morally appropriate and/or helpful for Lively to write a letter (such as the one Exodus recently sent to the Ugandan President) stating that he thinks the law is “way too harsh” and goes “way too far”? They wanted his opionions before. Perhaps they would listen to him again.

    If Lively truly believes that homosexuality should be (1) “actively discouraged in public policy”,and (2) that some sort of law is needed — to prevent advocating homosexuality in schools and to toughen up on child abusers — could he suggest to Uganda something that would address those concerns without being overly harsh or going “way too far” ?

    Finally, if he thinks it should be “sort of the way Oregon treats marijuana”, could he suggest a law that, like Oregon’s, would be “on the books, very rarely enforced, but because it’s illegal, no one is allowed to go into the schools and say [having gay sex] is a good thing”?

    BTW: How does Oregon treat marijuana anyway? What would a similar law look like addressed towards the issue of homosexuality?

  • Eddy

    Lynn David-

    I did misread the ‘bats@%t crazy’ comment. I took it as referring to Don S in toto and not simply to some of his ideas.

    I’m having trouble with the funding conspiracy notion. Have we ever determined how big Ahmsanson’s (sp?) contributions to Exodus were/are and if they are earmarked?

  • Michael Bussee

    Exodus possibly should do more. I would suggest that they buy space in a major newspaper or print it in church newspapers in Uganda. And this time Don Schmierer should be a signatory.

    I agree — especially considering the fact that some supporters of the Bill within Uganda believe the Exodus letter is a fake. Alan promised that Exodus would do more and that they would not stop at the letter. Looks like more is needed. I suggest a video statement — with Alan and Don both speaking the message that they strongly oppose this bill.

  • David Blakeslee

    @ David Roberts,

    I misaddressed you in my post. My bad. Sorry.

  • David Blakeslee

    Let me try again…more cautiously:

    Michael Bussee posts:

    There were a lot of voices here in the USA that made the same claim. AIDS was God’s judgement against gays. Ignoring Christ’s example with the lepers, judgement often trumped compassion.

    David Roberts makes no comment about this…again, my bad.

    Jayhuck quotes Bussee and then says:

    They would see that an epidemic of HIV in their gay populace to be part of their ‘god’s plan or design.’

    Interestingly Lynn, that’s just what some conservative/Evangelical/fundamentalist groups did here in the U.S. at the onset of the epidemic in this country – which is why they were so slow to respond in a rational way to the disease – they were too busy judging others

    Lynn David quotes Jayhuck and then says:

    Jayhuck….. Interestingly Lynn, that’s just what some conservative/Evangelical/fundamentalist groups did here in the U.S. at the onset of the epidemic in this country – which is why they were so slow to respond in a rational way to the disease – they were too busy judging others

    Well, it was for that reason that I didn’t think it was much of a stretch. And they have been acting and making comments that seemed to allude to just that. Some comments I have read over the last year from religious leaders in East Africa and Uganda in particular allude to the idea that HIV/AIDS is completely a gay disease (I suspect they think it came from America, also). The trouble is they would have to explain why it is that 90% of Ugandans with the disease are straight. But in their rhetoric against gays they choose to forget that fact (or rather they choose ignorance).

    I make a second mistake here, jumping to the conclusion that Lynn David, in quoting Jayhuck, agrees with Jayhuck. I am sorry Lynn David.

  • David Blakeslee

    I make a second mistake here, jumping to the conclusion that Lynn David, in quoting Jayhuck, agrees with Jayhuck. I am sorry Lynn David.

  • Lynn David

    @David Blakeslee…. Nice sarcasm? Fact is I did agree with Jayhuck as he said “some.” Yes, there were some religious groups whose overt animosity towards gay men in particular led then to some rather nasty sayings from 1980/81 on. I also know that it was among many faith groups that solace for gay men, who were dying of AIDS, was found.

    .

    Just don’t pigeon-hole me into such absolutist ideas.

    .

    BTW, Jayhuck was quoting me.

  • David Blakeslee

    @ Lynn David,

    I was trying to take responsibility for my error. There is no sarcasm, nor attempt in the most recent posts to pigeon-hole you.

    @ Anyone,

    After these errors, I still wonder about various comparisons between lepers and those with HIV…compassion should certainly rule the day; but man’s capacity to wound himself for his “rights” does not fit with the “leper” comparison.

    There is also a reactive response with some about judgmental Christians calling HIV/Aids the “gay plague” from God…and that this somehow interfered with adaptive and effective public policy in treating the disease.

    I don’t think this last assertion (perhaps only implied by some) accounts for all the data about a slow response to taking HIV/AIDS seriously, or for the ongoing risk 20 years later of this disease to gay men in Western Culture.

  • Michael Bussee

    Yes, there were some religious groups whose overt animosity towards gay men in particular led then to some rather nasty sayings from 1980/81 on. I also know that it was among many faith groups that solace for gay men, who were dying of AIDS, was found.

    I agree with Lynn David. “Some” is the important qualifier. Some faith groups exemplified the love of Jesus and some did not.

    I still wonder about various comparisons between lepers and those with HIV…compassion should certainly rule the day; but man’s capacity to wound himself for his “rights” does not fit with the “leper” comparison.

    I think the comparison does fit. It points out that the compassion of Christ should extend to all the sick, no matter how they got sick. Jesus did not say “Show compassion and extend healing ONLY to the innocent sick who got ill through no fault of their own…”

    There is also a reactive response with some about judgmental Christians calling HIV/Aids the “gay plague” from God…and that this somehow interfered with adaptive and effective public policy in treating the disease. I don’t think this last assertion (perhaps only implied by some) accounts for all the data about a slow response to taking HIV/AIDS seriously…

    I agree with you, David. I don’t think “some judgemental Christians” slowed or stopped the ones who cared. The caring ones did it anyway.

  • Ann

    There is also a reactive response with some about judgmental Christians calling HIV/Aids the “gay plague” from God…and that this somehow interfered with adaptive and effective public policy in treating the disease.

    David,

    If I remember correctly, it was a complete dilemma as to why so many were being stricken with this and what to do about it. When it was determined that mostly men who were having sex with other men were mainly the ones contracting it, that brought on a whole new dilemma as to why. It was the perfect opportunity for ill spirited people (not a religion) to use it for their own purposes. I remember when Ervin “Magic” Johnson of the Lakers (greatest basketball team in the world as the Dodgers are the greatest baseball team and USC the greatest football team) contracted it – it created yet another dilemma in that a man does not have to have sex with another man to contract it. Remember Elizabeth Glaser? So many were surprised when she contracted it and subsequently passed it on to her child – both passed away. There is a wonderful organization for pediatric aids named after her. I don’t think the slow response came from any other reason than it was initially a dilemma and took time to understand and how to proceed with treatment, prevention, etc.

  • Michael Bussee

    @Ann:

    I don’t think the slow response came from any other reason than it was initially a dilemma and took time to understand and how to proceed with treatment, prevention, etc

    I agree. The caring ones were not slow — or slowed down by the judgemental ones — but they were not sure what to do, expect to comfort the dying.

    The judgmental “religious” ones were acting out of fear, self-righteousness and arrogance — traits contrary to true religion. They didn’t slow down the reponse. They just sat on the curb and threw dirty verbal snowballs. The ones who cared brushed it off and kept moving forward.

  • David Blakeslee

    @ Ann and Michael,

    I think the alarm was clear early… (correct me if I am wrong).

    I think the alarm was generalized to the heterosexual community to bypass the “otherness” accusation by straights (who may or may not have been religious).

    I do not understand how the risks for HIV remain low for heterosexuals in Western Culture, but high for heterosexuals in the African continent.

    Getting at the root of this issue pushes us to behavior, rather than orientation.

  • Mary

    Oooopsies – until we started finding those with blood transfusions having the virus also. It is in our community – human.

  • Michael Bussee

    The sense of alarm was clear early — but information was not. I first heard of it as a bit of gossip that I thought ws a joke: someone asked, “Hey, have you guys heard about this new gay cancer in New York?” I kep waiting for the punch line. Gay men were dying. No one knew why. Maybe it was God’s judgement…

  • Ann

    Regarding God’s punishments, etc. – I think people of all persuasions and religions and cultures use this to get back at someone or something they do not like, cannot relate to, or consider a sin. When a baby was stillborn, I have heard it said that it was God’s punishment because the mother was not married and the child would have been illigitimate. I personally believe in blessings and curses and understand the personal responsibility involved for each, however, am not that arrogant to say how God makes His decisions for each person. If I did know the answers, I don’t I could even come close to understanding them.

  • Ann

    Gay men were dying. No one knew why. Maybe it was God’s judgement…

    Yes, I can see how someone without answers could initially think this way, especially if they were desperate to understand a condition that affected mainly men who had sex with other men and thought they should be punished for it.

  • Ann

    It would be interesting to hear if Bill and Melinda Gates (founder of Microsoft), who are actively involved in supplying vaccines and medical treatments to Africa, have any thoughts on all of this. They quietly and effectively go about intervening in the most dire of situations and make a difference to the people who need it the most.

  • Michael Bussee

    Regarding God’s punishments, etc

    When my Dad was dying of leukemia, more than one conservative Christian suggested to me that it was because my Dad had “unconfessed sin” or didn’t have enough faith. Other conservative Christians prayed for us, visited in the hospital and helped my Mom cope with the sudden loss.

    I saw the same thing happen again and again when AIDS broke out and every week it seemed someone we cared about was dying or had died. Some Christians did very little but shake their fingers, quote verses and talk of sin. Others seem propelled by some great love to do something about it. Blessed are they…

    “He has the right to criticize who has the heart to help.” — Abraham Lincoln

  • Michael Bussee

    I can see how someone without answers could initially think this way, especially if they were desperate to understand a condition that affected mainly men who had sex with other men and thought they should be punished for it.

    Ann, I think I get what you are saying, but I don’t know if I would entirely agree that the ones who thought “they should be punished for it” were “desperate to understand” anything. My feeling is that such folks had already made up their minds. Simple. Gays were getting what they deserved. Sodom and Gommorah ring a bell?

    Once more scientific information became available, I actually heard such people dismiss the information with the remark, “Well, if it’s not God’s punishment, it should be…”

    Let me be be clear that I am talking about a sub-group of folks with a particular mindset — and not trying to characterize Christians as a group. As Lynn David rightly pointed out , many people of faith were among the first responders.

  • Ann

    If I did know the answers, I don’t I could even come close to understanding them.

    sorry, I left out a word – should have said –

    If I did know the answers, I don’t think I could even come close to understanding them

  • Ann

    I think I get what you are saying, but I don’t know if I would entirely agree that the ones who thought “they should be punished for it” were “desperate to understand” anything.

    Michael,

    I think the initial reaction was desperation until it was realized that the majority of individuals who contracted it were men having sex with other men. When these individuals were dying because there was no cure, some concluded, it must be God’s punishment. I believe only after it was evidenced that men and women and children of all races and geographical locations and ages can contract it that it was thought about differently and prevention began to be the focus instead of judgement.

  • Ann

    “Well, if it’s not God’s punishment, it should be…”

    Hmmmmmm…………and I wonder how God feels about this advice?

  • Michael Bussee

    I believe only after it was evidenced… that it was thought about differently and prevention began to be the focus instead of judgement.

    I believe that is so. Judgement often preceded information. In the absence of information, we tend to fill in the gaps with fear.

  • Lynn David

    @ David Blakeslee….

    David, allow me to off to you my apology for not understanding the sincerety of your apology.

  • David Blakeslee

    @ Lynn David,

    No problem.

    It is stunning to me what is revealed in my error…it is a conglomeration error, and it devalues the efforts of the individual to speak clearly about their position.

  • David Blakeslee

    @ Anyone,

    I remember in 1986 I read an Atlantic article about AIDS patient #1. It was clear in the story, he was reckless, self-indulgent and indifferent to his diagnosis. If that story has any truth, his hatred, not fundamentalist Christian hatred, was much more powerful.

    At the CDC researchers had been continuing to investigate the cause of AIDS through a study of the sexual contacts of homosexual men in Los Angeles and New York. They identified a man as the link between a number of different cases and they named him “patient O” for “Out of California”.68 The research appeared to confirm that AIDS was a transmittable disease, and the co-operation of “patient O” contributed to the study.

    From: http://www.avert.org/aids-history-86.htm

    and: Auerbach D.M., Darrow, W.W., Jaffe, H.W, and J.W Curran (1984)’Cluster of cases of the acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome-patients linked by sexual contact’ ,American Journal of Medicine, 76, 487-492

    In later comments the authors refer to the myth of patient “Zero.” So I may misunderstand something here.

    The Associated Press (1984), ‘U.S. Medical study singles out a man who carried AIDS’, the New York Times, March 27

  • David Blakeslee

    It appears that patient O helped researchers prove a human carrier to the virus…not that he was the original transmitter of the virus from Africa to the states.

  • David Blakeslee
  • David Blakeslee

    @ Anyone,

    I previously asked if anyone is familiar with heterosexual transmission in Africa.

    anyone?

  • Ann

    I previously asked if anyone is familiar with heterosexual transmission in Africa.

    anyone?

    David,

    I am not sure if this article would help but I found it both interesting and alarming. This was a link of Crosswalk today.

    http://www.mnnonline.org/article/13551

  • Ann

    David,

    Here is another link that might help with your question.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/12/01/world/main5848920.shtml

  • Ann
  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Davd: I wanted to point out Christ’s example with the lepers– that he reached out with mercy and healing, not judgement. He never pointed fingers at sinners or the sick with a “well, you got what you deserved” attitude as some “so-called-religious” people did with HIV. To their credit, thousands upon thousands of others were more Christ-like — reaching out to when few would — providing solace, hope and hands-on care.

    Like Jesus.

    Just wanted to respond to this comment of Michael’s a way back up this thread. Jesus did respond with compassion to many sinners and those stricken with disease, healing and forgiving them and not condemning them. I am not aware of any diseases mentioned in the Bible that could be linked to sexual promiscuity. So the leprosy and HIV comparison does not work. You can only go so far as to say that all disease stems from our fallen state.

    It is only natural that folks would have made moral judgments about HIV/AIDS in the early days here. Not only was it linked to promiscuity, but to men having sex with men. In Africa, it has long since jumped to mainly heterosexual transmission. That does not negate the fact that here in the U.S., the gay male population is still responsible for anywhere from 50-70 percent of new HIV cases, according to the CDC. And their misbehavior has morphed into a problem that now places substantial portions of the heterosexual population at risk.

    Now, I have been roundly excoriated for stating this inconvenient fact. I have gone so far as to remove an older commentary from one of my Web sites because the language was too harsh. But if Uganda or other African countries where AIDS can be traced back to are now dealing with a swelling tide of heterosexual AIDS cases, we should be expecting to be in that place in the not-too-distant future ourselves. So, what happens in Africa will impact the rest of the world. A policy that drives gays who may be HIV-infected underground and causes others to fear being cast as gay if they have HIV or want to be tested for it will worsen an already serious pubic health problem worldwide.

  • David Blakeslee

    Thanks Ann,

    So there is some compulsive panic in the heterosexual community among straight men…panic that leads to superstitious behavior that exploits young girls…perhaps even rape…under the belief they will be cured of AIDS.

    Men who are not circumcised have a greater likelihood of carrying and spreading the virus.

  • David Blakeslee

    @ Debbie,

    If punishment for heterosexuals in Uganda for having sex with minors did not drive this behavior underground….(existing law)…

  • Ann

    That does not negate the fact that here in the U.S., the gay male population is still responsible for anywhere from 50-70 percent of new HIV cases, according to the CDC. And their misbehavior has morphed into a problem that now places substantial portions of the heterosexual population at risk.

    Now, I have been roundly excoriated for stating this inconvenient fact.

    Debbie,

    While it might be inconvenient or unpleasant to hear, it is nonetheless the truth.

  • Michael Bussee

    I will say it once more and leave it at this: I stand by the comparison. The love Jesus shows would be the same. And we ought to show the same compassion of Christ — even if the disease is “self-inflicted.”

    I was not trying to say they were morally equivalent. I know you believe they are not. I am saying that did not seem to be Jesus’ primary concern. He didn’t tell the “innocent sick” to stand in one line and the “sinful sick” to stand in another.

    His first impulse was to “reach out and touch” the untouchables. Wasn’t that considered sin at the time? In the days of the lepers did anyone (except Christ)know what caused it? I’ll bet lots of people thought it was God’s punishment.

    Hey, maybe we should show even MORE love to the “sinful sick”. They have two problems.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    If punishment for heterosexuals in Uganda for having sex with minors did not drive this behavior underground….(existing law)…

    Is there such punishment? Or is this a toothless law? And if it is, will a similar law meant to punish homosexuals also be toothless? Why don’t Ugandan gays just threaten to fight back by starting a campaign to expose heterosexual pedophiles and sex traffickers and embarrass those who are supposed to enforce those laws? Then we could just have the snake consuming itself.

  • Ann

    Michael,

    I personally believe there is a big difference in showing compassion to those who are ill, regardless of how they became ill, and showing compassion to those who want me to embrace their continuence of the activity that is known to cause an illness or jeopardize the health of another. When you say “sinful sick”, are you referring to the continuence of same gender sex?

  • Michael Bussee

    Why don’t Ugandan gays just threaten to fight back by starting a campaign to expose heterosexual pedophiles and sex traffickers and embarrass those who are supposed to enforce those laws?

    Maybe because if this passes, they could face execution or very long jail terms for doing so. Ugandan gays are outnumbered.

  • Michael Bussee

    Debbie, at no time was I asking you to “show compassion to those who want me to embrace their continuence of the activity that is known to cause an illness or jeopardize the health of another.”

    I still don’t think it would hurt. Your compassion might win them over.

  • Michael Bussee

    Sorry, I meant that for Ann, not Debbie. I know your heart and I know you would never with-hold the compassion of Christ from any sufferer.

    I was using “sinful sick” to refer to those who made themselves ill by their own sinful behavior and the “innocent sick” to refer to those who became ill through no fault of their own.

    Humans seem conerned with fault and blame. We want to know: “Who sinned? This man or his parents?” They missed the point. Jesus knew the glory of God could be revealed by healing the sick, regardless of how they got sick.

    I don’t know any other way to express this, so in order not to cause annoyance, I best leave it alone. Today is World AIDS day. Let’s remember it in prayer.

  • David Blakeslee

    @ Debbie,

    I like this idea:

    Why don’t Ugandan gays just threaten to fight back by starting a campaign to expose heterosexual pedophiles and sex traffickers and embarrass those who are supposed to enforce those laws?

  • David Blakeslee

    On second thought…the whole thing doesn’t quite work.

  • Ann

    Debbie, at no time was I asking you to “show compassion to those who want me to embrace their continuence of the activity that is known to cause an illness or jeopardize the health of another.”

    I still don’t think it would hurt. Your compassion might win them over.

    Michael,

    It was me who wrote this. I know you did not ask me to do that – I was speaking from other experiences. As you know, I have and continue to do volunteer work in many areas – this being one of them, so to show compassion to others, in any given situation is not hard for me. I could only pray for compassion and mercy should I ever be in the same situation. The word sin has too many dimensions and meanings for me to use it definitively. What do you mean by it? For me, enabling, embracing, or encouraging someone to continue doing something that I know could cause them harm is not an act of compassion, it is an act of cruelty. I believe there is a huge difference.

  • Ann

    Humans seem conerned with fault and blame. We want to know: “Who sinned? This man or his parents?” They missed the point. Jesus knew the glory of God could be revealed by healing the sick, regardless of how they got sick

    Michael,

    Yes, you are right.

    But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

    2 Cor. 12:9

  • Ann

    I was using “sinful sick” to refer to those who made themselves ill by their own sinful behavior and the “innocent sick” to refer to those who became ill through no fault of their own.

    That is what I thought you meant but how can one quantify sinful behavior?

  • Michael Bussee

    @Ann:

    The word sin has too many dimensions and meanings for me to use it definitively. What do you mean by it?

    For me, it would be anything that violates the Two Great Commandments:

    (1) Love God — more than anyone or anything else. (2) Love others — more than myself.

    Any thing that takes the place of God in my life is idolotry. He alone is God. Nothing else should take primary place in my life. Putting, people, or sex, or money, power or any other thing or person in place of God is sin. Denying God is sin. Acting like I am God is sin.

    Treating other people as anything less than God’s children is sin. Lying to them, stealing, murder, robbery, false witness,etc. Anything that says “I matter and you don’t” is sin.

    Treating my body with disrespect is sin — because it His temple. Overeating, smoking, drug use, promiscuity, etc., are sins against that temple. We are supposed to be grateful for our bodies and use them for God’s glory, not abuse them.

    For me, enabling, embracing, or encouraging someone to continue doing something that I know could cause them harm is not an act of compassion, it is an act of cruelty. I believe there is a huge difference.

    I completely agree. To condone or ignore behavior that I believe could harm them is sin — it says they don’t really matter to God or to me. For me that would be a sin against them — not true compassion — because I would not be treating them as I would want to be treated.

  • Ann

    Thanks Michael – really good things for me to absorb :-)

  • Lynn David

    David Blakeslee….. It appears that patient O helped researchers prove a human carrier to the virus…not that he was the original transmitter of the virus from Africa to the states.

    Without looking at your article I remember that it was a French-Canadian flight attendant who told some he had sex with, ‘I have gay cancer and now so do you.’

    There were others. In St Louis, Missouri, about 1968 or so a young girl who had emigrated from Africa became ill and died from a disease similar to ‘the thins’ in Africa. Early in the 1970s a Scandinavian commercial sailor visited Africa and evidently became infected. Later his wife and subsequent children would also be diagnosed with diseases which were later tied to AIDS. But I think it was in the 1950s that a man in Africa first presented with diseases which later came to be associated with HIV/AIDS.

  • David Blakeslee

    @ Lynn David,

    Thanks…

    In trying to find common ground on many of the issues we discuss, I am trying to make the point (repetitively) that we share in common intolerance of narcissism.

    Narcissism which devalues and neglects a person because of his or her orientation or a disease which is avoidable.

    Narcissism which endorses indulging behaviors which are reckless to the self and to others (and to minors).

    Narcissism which elevates my rights over the best interests of the culture and the society.

    Narcissism which seeks to create a hierarchy of basic human rights which some people can enjoy and others are excluded.