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Fact Sheet: An Interfaith Declaration

December 1, 2001

To develop an appropriate response to HIV/AIDS from the faith community, the Council of Religious AIDS Networks, an inter-religious coalition, was established.

The Council of Religious AIDS Networks works to raise the awareness of the American people and the US government about the urgent need for a comprehensive and inclusive response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. They call for full and accurate HIV prevention programs, access to services by all those infected, and fair enforcement of policies on non-discrimination and fairness.

The Council developed the following "Council Call" for the 21st century.

All faith traditions are called upon to continue their ministries of caring and support, and to continue to speak out whenever . . .

  • those who need prevention resources are left at risk

  • those who need medication and treatment remain excluded

  • those who are dying do so without comfort

  • those affected by the pandemic feel they must suffer in silence

  • any individual is persecuted or isolated

  • the resources of the United States government are not directed to HIV/AIDS programs and solutions that are inclusive, non-coercive and based on the best available science

As long as one member of the human family is afflicted, we all suffer. In that spirit, we declare our response to the AIDS pandemic:

  1. We are called to love: God does not punish with sickness or disease but is present together with us as the source of our strength, courage and hope. The God of our understanding is, in fact, greater than AIDS.

  2. We are called to compassionate care: We must assure that all who are affected by the pandemic [regardless of religion, race, class, age, nationality, physical ability, gender or sexual orientation] will have access to compassionate, non-judgmental care, respect, support and assistance.

  3. We are called to witness and do justice: We are committed to transform public attitudes and policies, supporting the enforcement of all local and federal laws to protect the civil liberties of all persons with AIDS and other disabilities. We further commit to speak publicly about AIDS prevention and compassion for all people.

  4. We promote prevention: Within the context of our respective faiths, we encourage accurate and comprehensive information for the public regarding HIV transmission and means of prevention. We vow to develop comprehensive AIDS prevention programs for our youth and adults.

  5. We acknowledge that we are a global community: While the scourge of AIDS is devastating to the United States, it is much greater in magnitude in other parts of the world community. We recognize our responsibility to encourage AIDS education and prevention policies, especially in the global religious programs we support.

  6. We deplore the sins of intolerance and bigotry: AIDS is not a "gay" disease. It affects men, women and children of all races. We reject the intolerance and bigotry that have caused many to deflect their energy, blame those infected, and become preoccupied with issues of sexuality, worthiness, class status, or chemical dependency.

  7. We challenge our society: Because economic disparity and poverty are major contributing factors in the AIDS pandemic and barriers to prevention and treatment, we call upon all sectors of society to seek ways of eliminating poverty in a commitment to a future of hope and security.

  8. We are committed to action: We will seek ways, individually and within our faith communities, to respond to the needs around us.

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This article was provided by American Association for World Health. It is a part of the publication I Care ... Do You? Youth and AIDS in the 21st Century.
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