Local and Community News
Local Religious Leaders Speak Out on AIDS Epidemic in Africa
October 25, 2002
Because of the wealth of the United States, Americans have a moral obligation to help Africans living with AIDS, participants heard at a conference on AIDS in Africa at Vanderbilt University in Nashville last weekend.
According to a 2001 survey done by the Barna Research Group, a Christian polling organization, most evangelical Christians take no action: Less than 3 percent said they would help AIDS patients in Africa. "I am ashamed of that statistic, and I really hope it isn't accurate," said Rubel Shelly, Woodmont Hills Church of Christ minister and a speaker on a panel about religious and ethical responses to AIDS in Africa. "Anyone who says that, whether he's liberal or conservative, either doesn't know Christ or he doesn't know anybody who's been affected by this disease." Shelly's church has been involved for more than 10 years, he said, supporting a medical clinic in Nairobi, Kenya.
The conference, "AIDS and Africa, Science and Religion," had three panels addressing the scientific reality of AIDS in Africa, the religious community's response, and how international politics affect aid to the continent. The conference was sponsored by the department of religious studies at Vanderbilt.
Volney Gay, professor of religious studies and the organizer of the program, said the conference's goal was to encourage people to be more vocal in demanding that the US government do more to stop AIDS in Africa.
Gay also was involved in planning a book, "The Awake Project: Uniting Against the African AIDS Crisis," that each of the more than 200 people attending the conference received. The book consists of essays about the epidemic by people such as US Sen. Bill Frist, President Bush and evangelist Franklin Graham, as well as prayers and suggestions on how to write to elected officials. It is part of an effort to have more pressure put on government, Gay said. "We have wonderful people doing good works, but not at the level of a national commitment," he said.
10.20.02; Brian Lewis
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.