“Equally lame is the argument mounted by an Obama spokeswoman, Linda Douglass, who talks of how Warren has fought for “people who have H.I.V./AIDS.” Shouldn’t that be the default position of any religious leader? Fighting AIDS is not a get-out-of-homophobia-free card.”
Oh but it’s worse than that as this blog item makes clear.
Warren and his fellow evangelicals brought new visibility to the issue; simultaneously, faith-based AIDS groups brought a faith-based, rather than evidence-based, agenda to HIV prevention work. In Kay Warren’s HIV/AIDS Initiative at Saddleback Church, that includes the core argument that “healthy choices” require faithfulness to the principle of abstinence, and “faithfulness requires faith”: an evangelical priority that echoes her husband’s reassurance to the far-right World Net Daily that his number one priority in his AIDS work was the salvation of non-Christians. Warren has made clear that his collaboration with non-evangelical AIDS activists wouldn’t lead him to compromise on his biblical convictions.
“As a pastor, my job is to change behavior,” Warren said. “I’m going to be training pastors how to teach behavior change.”
“Despite his success in elevating the profile of the global HIV/AIDS epidemic among communities of faith in the United States who previously thought it was outside the scope of their concern, the prevention approach that Rick Warren promotes is riddled with hypermoralistic dictates,” says Ariana Childs Graham, international policy advocate at SIECUS. “According to Warren, churches have a ‘moral obligation’ to promote abstinence and faithfulness as the only health behavior, ignoring the full range of prevention strategies that evidence has demonstrated needs to be part of successful HIV-prevention interventions.”
In 2005, PEPFAR increased its commitment to faith-based groups through President Bush’s New Partners Initiative, which sought to tap churches and faith-based groups as funding recipients. “What it meant is that the old partners, the public health people who distributed condoms, were disdained,” says Jacobson. “Then new partners, many of whom had never stepped foot in Africa, were suddenly getting millions of dollars to go there. As far as we were concerned, it was a slush fund for the far right.”
We shall be hearing more about Warren’s AIDS mendacity from Sidney Blumenthal in the very near future. Stay tuned.
Does Obama know about this? Is he simply ignorant or does he prefer PR to reality? The Gupta appointment indicates the latter. As does Warrengate — a far more serious matter, needless to say.
If we had a real press in this country (rather than a coven of pampered hacks) he’d be forced to answer some hard specific questions about this.
But of course that’s not going to happen