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How Rick Warren Is Undermining AIDs Prevention in Africa
(Max Blumenthal, The Daily Beast,January 8, 2009)
Warren's defense against charges of intolerance ultimately depends upon his ace card: his heavily publicized crusade against AIDS in Africa. Obama senior adviser David Axelrod cited Warren's work in Africa as one of "the things on which [Obama and Warren] agree" on the Dec. 28 episode of Meet the Press. Warren may be opposed to gay rights and abortion, the thinking goes, but he tells evangelicals it is their God-given duty to battle one of the greatest pandemics in history. What could be wrong with that? . . . But since the Warren inauguration controversy erupted, the nature of his work against AIDS in Africa has gone unexamined. Warren has not been particularly forthcoming to those who have attempted to look into it. His Web site contains scant information about the results of his program. However, an investigation into Warren's involvement in Africa reveals a web of alliances with right-wing clergymen who have sidelined science-based approaches to combating AIDS in favor of abstinence-only education. More disturbingly, Warren's allies have rolled back key elements of one of the continent's most successful initiative, the so-called ABC program in Uganda. Stephen Lewis, the United Nations special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, told the New York Times their activism is "resulting in great damage and undoubtedly will cause significant numbers of infections which should never have occurred." . . . By 2005, billboards promoting condom use disappeared from the streets of Kampala, replaced by billboards promoting virginity. "Until recently, all HIV-related billboards were about condoms. Those of us calling for abstinence and faithfulness need billboards, too," Ssempa told the BBC at the time. A 2005 report by Human Rights Watch documented educational material in Uganda's secondary schools falsely claiming condoms had microscopic pores that could be penetrated by the AIDS virus and noted the sudden nationwide shortage of condoms due to new restrictions imposed on condom imports. . . . AIDS activists arrived at the 16th International AIDS Conference in Toronto in 2006 with disturbing news from Uganda. Due, at least in part, to the chronic condom shortage, HIV infections were on the rise again. The disease rate had spiked to 6.5 percent among rural men and 8.8 percent among women -- a rise of nearly two points in the case of women. . . . Warren, in his effort to dispel criticism, has denied harboring homophobic sentiments. "I could give you a hundred gay friends," he told MSNBC's Ann Curry on Dec. 18. "I have always treated them with respect. When they come and want to talk to me, I talk to them." . . . But when Uganda's Anglican bishops threatened to bolt from the Church of England because of its tolerant stance towards homosexuals, Warren parachuted into Kampala to confer international legitimacy on their protest. . . . "The Church of England is wrong, and I support the Church of Uganda on the boycott," Warren proclaimed in March 2008. Declaring homosexuality an unnatural way of life, Warren flatly stated, "We shall not tolerate this aspect [homosexuality in the church] at all."



posted by Lorenzo 11:11 AM


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