Pressure mounts on Aid for AIDS Nevada

Late yesterday, Change.org posted an article in response to my post about Aid for AIDS Nevada (AFAN). The AIDS services organization is now the target of a petitionfrom Change.org asking AFAN to denounce Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Change.org’s Michael Jones makes the case for action from AFAN:

It’s quite the sticky situation. AFAN hosts an AIDS Walk. It allows Canyon Ridge Christian Church to march in it as a legitimate participant. Yet at the same time, Canyon Ridge Christian Church is financially supporting a man who would sooner see gay HIV-positive people murdered than taken care of or treated.

As the largest AIDS service organization in Nevada, AFAN no doubt does some critical work. But they’re failing their constituents, clients, and the Nevada community at large by not addressing Canyon Ridge Christian Church’s partnership with Ugandan ministers who want to write into law one of the most criminalizing laws toward HIV-positive people in the world.

However, AFAN’s Executive Director doesn’t see the problem. In an email, late last evening, AFAN’s leader, Jennifer Morss, said AFAN has no partnership with Canyon Ridge:

We do not partner with Canyon Ridge.  In fact, we are simply a recipient of their donations in support of our lifesaving, essential programming for individuals surviving HIV/AIDS…we are not able to cease a partnership that does not exist.

Ms. Morss also said she could not say what AFAN would do next year since they had not starting planning for the 2011 AIDS Walk.

In contrast to Ms. Morss reaction, the AFAN Facebook page has been buzzing with requests for them to sever ties with Canyon Ridge. The Red Ribbon Army, a Facebook group of over 500,000 members twice posted requests for AFAN to clarify their position on Canyon Ridge. The first comment was removed from the page by AFAN. The last two comments read:

The Red Ribbon Army  We deserve an answer. Aid for AIDS of Nevada owes us the courtesy of replying and letting us know exactly why it is that they are partnering with a church that is sponsoring murder.

and…

The Red Ribbon Army The organization targeted by this petition has removed our post from their fb page (as described in this article). We ask again Aid for AIDS of Nevada! Do you support the Uganda death penalty bill for gays living with HIV/AIDS?

Truth Wins Out, Mike Tidmus and Michael Bussee and others (some deleted)have also posted comments asking for a clear statement from AFAN.

In June, Canyon Ridge Christian Church pastor, Kevin Odor, used the church relationship with AFAN (CRCC’s team page here) as a point of defense against charges of inconsistency due to support for Martin Ssempa. Describing a conversation with NPR’s Barbara Bradley Hagerty, Rev. Odor said at about 11:25 into the video:

Well, we care about AIDS in Africa, you know what, we care about AIDS in Clark County. For the last five years, members of our church have organized themselves and marched in the AFAN parade – Aid for AIDS of Southern Nevada. And we show up and we raise money and we help support the that organization that helps take care of people in Southern Nevada with AIDS and their families that are dealing with it.

Timothy Kincaid at Box Turtle Bulletin posted an unanswered letterto AFAN and raised concerns about CRCC’s use of their participation in the AIDS Walk as a means of image management.

Anyone who reads the the Anti-Homosexuality Bill can see how tragic CRCC’s position is. I believe many of their members do care about Uganda; they raised $30,000 one Christmas to buy farm animals for Ugandan families and they support the staff of Makerere Community Church. However, the stance of their Ugandan partner has been a hindrance to AIDS work there, especially among gays and bisexuals.

Elsewhere I have discussed how the AHB could also undo AIDS progress among straights. One of my sources of information on AIDS in Uganda is Dr. Ed Green at Harvard, and a former colleague of Martin Ssempa. In the past, Dr. Green recommended Ssempa’s work. Ssempa still has this recommendation posted on his website. However, Dr. Green would like it removed, telling me in a July email:

I asked Martin Ssempa in a very clear and direct manner to remove my name from his site. I checked and you are right: he has not done so.

Will AFAN lead on the question of what is good in the AIDS arena? So far, they are MIA and allowing an opportunity for dialogue about what caring for AIDS here and in Africa means to slip away.

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  • Eddy

    The Red Ribbon Army The organization targeted by this petition has removed our post from their fb page (as described in this article). We ask again Aid for AIDS of Nevada! Do you support the Uganda death penalty bill for gays living with HIV/AIDS?

    This would be laughable if it wasn’t so damned tragic!

    Try this…anyone…anyone…what is the answer to the question that I bolded? Is there any doubt in anyone’s mind that Aid for AIDS of Nevada does NOT support the Uganda death penalty bill?

    The bullies are getting out of hand!!!! You MUST make a statement! You MUST tell us your plans for next year! You MUST drop what you’re doing in this very busy week and ACT on our demands!

  • Pingback: Box Turtle Bulletin » AFAN arrogantly dismisses concerns about CRCC

  • Michael Bussee

    Warren: I appreciate your attention to this matter. If I hear from AFAN, I will post an update.

  • Eddy

    Here is what appears to be the entirety of AFAN’s response (quoted from above and from BoxTurtle’s link):

    We do not partner with Canyon Ridge. In fact, we are simply a recipient of their donations in support of our lifesaving, essential programming for individuals surviving HIV/AIDS…we are not able to cease a partnership that does not exist.

    And here is BoxTurtle’s headline reporting on this response:

    AFAN arrogantly dismisses concerns about CRCC

    Where is the evidence of arrogance on AFAN’s part? The only place in their response where it could even possibly be is ‘we are not able to cease a partnership that does not exist’. Is it arrogant to make this distinction? Or is it arrogant to read into that declarative statement and to presume an attitude? And, going beyond that, rather than query whether the statement is arrogant as a part of the commentary, to state the presumption as fact in a headline?

  • James

    As usual, they will demand and demand and demand and demand. The weak may bow.

    Respond to them in their desired way and they will always use you as a reference, reject their agenda and they will demonise you. Congs Dr. Warren for wanting to kill many innocent HIV/AIDS patients. Yes go for all including The innocent like AFAN.

  • Tony Langston

    i received an email today as follows:

    Statement from Aid for AIDS of Nevada

    RE: Canyon Ridge Christian Church

    “After evaluating Canyon Ridge Christian Church’s backing of Pastor Ssempa of Uganda and his support of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, we feel that it is in the best interest of our clients, supporters and staff to dissolve our relationship with the church immediately. Unfortunately, we will be unable to continue to work with the church, as long as they are associated with Pastor Ssempa. Since what he and the Anti-Homosexuality Bill represent violates the basic human rights that should be afforded to all Ugandans. Our mission is to provide client service programs that assist in enhancing the physical health and psychosocial wellness of the individuals living with and affected by HIV/AIDS in southern Nevada, while promoting dignity and improving the quality of their lives. We will further this mission without the support of Canyon Ridge Christian Church.

    It was posted on their facebook page as well.

  • Jeffrey Hames

    It is unfortunate that AFAN’s leadership continued to have ties with the Canyon Ridge Christian Church for almost a year while this bill was being introduced to the Ugandan legislature which is now passed.

    What is also unfortunate is that AFAN’s leadership continues to ignore a wide array of current issues and concerns by the community here in Vegas including those of the clients they service.

    I invite anyone that would like to help bring about positive change or to find out more information about to Southern Nevada’s largest agency to visit the facebook group page Restore the Sanity in AIDS Service Organizations

    http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_104584856281536&ref=notif&notif_t=group_activity

  • Shawnn Slaughter

    CRCC has issued a statement about Ssempa saying they do not support him. http://www.canyonridge.org/default.aspx?page=9602


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