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Oct 23, 1996

How can people who claim to believe in a God who is love, openly condemn homosexuality and homosexuals? I live in Australia and the Rev. Fred Nile - a Christian and politician to boot - comes out in public every year at the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and prays for rain (to ruin it) and goes on about how homosexuality is immoral and indecent and how AIDS is God's punishment to them. The scary thing is that people lap it up. They love hearing that they (heterosexuals) are right and the others (homosexuals) are wrong. My point is this: in order to prevent the further spread of HIV in the world, we must strive to create an accepting and non-judgmental attitude, an environment in which people are empowered to make safe choices about sex and sexual partners. People who condemn homosexuality in the name of religion are only perpetuating hatred and condemnation, effectively hindering efforts to curb the epidemic - which, after all, is now affecting the hetero community pretty badly too. How can they justify this behavior?

Response from Rev. Pieters

I'm not going to defend such hate-filled people, and I'm not sure I can explain how they justify their hatred and their behavior. In the U.S. we have Rev. Fred Phelps, who bears a striking resemblance to your description of Rev. Fred Nile. My dear friend, AIDS Activist Alison Arngrim, actually had the opportunity to ask Phelps how he justifies his campaign of hatred, and of course he answered by a selective and distorted interpretation of a only a few verses of scripture. He also indicated to Ms. Arngrim that this campaign was winning him unprecedented media attention, which seemed to Ms. Arngrim to be his primary motivation. I wonder if some of this hateful use of the Bible comes from unresolved issues of abuse and neglect. I would not be the first to suggest that someone who is that obsessively opposed to homosexuality may very well have deeply repressed homosexual feelings themselves. In the words of Rev. Troy Perry, Founder and Moderator of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches (UFMCC), "Jesus died for our sins, not our sexuality." The God we proclaim is a God of love. As it says in I John 4:16, "God is love. Those who live in love live in God, and God in them." According to this equation ("God = love"), for God to condemn the love between two men or two women would mean that God condemns God, and this is theologically impossible. At the Names Project Quilt Display in Washington D.C. on October 11-13, Rev. Phelps was a noticeable presence with his placards and posters spewing hate. Some people stood and shouted hateful things right back at him. Others chanted, "Shame! Shame! Shame!" Still others sang hymns to his group, and answered his hatred with statements of love. Even though I profoundly disagree with Phelps, Nile, and their "type" of Christian, I trust that God will judge them according to their actions and their hearts. Meanwhile, I will do all I can to present an alternative view of a loving God who created us and loves us just as we are. Hopefully, people will be more drawn to love than hatred. I have to trust that love will be the victor, because God's love is more powerful than human hatred. For a more detailed analysis of this question, please read the pamphlet, "AIDS: Is It God's Judgment?" also found here at The Body.

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