Friday, January 9, 2009

Rick Warren's AIDS-Crusade Card Gets Trumped

Posted By on Fri, Jan 9, 2009 at 6:00 AM

click to enlarge warren_no.jpg
When the hullabaloo erupted over Obama's inclusion of Rick Warren in his upcoming inauguration ceremony, I couldn't seem to clarify my feelings on the matter. I was initially pissed-off that Obama would blatantly add to the let-down I experienced over the anti-gay measures that passed around the nation at the same time that he was elected. Then I tried to be the bigger person and see it as a reaching-out of inclusiveness.

And then I was just annoyed at the fact that religion is even included in the ceremony at all. It really has no place if you actually believe in the separation of church and state. (But I'm one of those crazy people who is against the red-scare-edited version of the Pledge of Allegiance that added "under God" as well as the fact the our cash includes the phrase "In God We Trust"--at least I can avoid that by using plastic for most of my purchases.)

The Oath of Office would mean a lot more to every American if the President-elect placed his hand on a copy of the Constitution rather than a historical document of questionable origin with even more questionable revisions that only means something to a segment (even if large one) of the United States' citizenry. (This lawsuit is at least a step in the right direction.)

But back to Warren. Some who defend him claim he's a man who preaches for social causes, including poverty and pollution. And while he may use his power to demean gays, he's done considerable work crusading against AIDS in Africa. (See, gays, AIDS!)

Well the dirty truth behind Warren's African AIDS crusade has been brought to light by a post at The Daily Beast...

It states that "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.' "

The chief clergyman in Africa is Uganda's pastor Martin Ssempa, who Warren has hosted at Saddleback Church several times. "In the capitol of Kampala, Ssempa is known for his boisterous crusading. Ssempa's stunts have included burning condoms in the name of Jesus and arranging the publication of names of homosexuals in cooperative local newspapers while lobbying for criminal penalties to imprison them."

So Warren's highly touted AIDS crusade relies on heavy doses of condemning gays and promoting abstinence--as if "Just Say No" campaigns have ever been successful.

It is absurd that Rick Warren's invitation is simply considered inclusiveness. If this is the case, there are a whole lot of other divisive figures that need to be given an invitation as well. Impact Florida has made the first step with this video.

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