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Fact Sheet: An Interfaith Declaration

December 1, 2000

To develop an appropriate response to HIV/AIDS from the faith community, the Council of National Religious AIDS Networks, an inter-religious coalition, was established. The Council developed the following "Council Call," portions of which were taken from The African-American Clergy's Declaration of War on HIV/AIDS (The Balm in Gilead Inc., 1994) and from "The Atlanta Declaration" (AIDS National Interfaith Network, 1989). Feel free to adapt this or use it as a model.


We are members of different faith communities called by God to affirm a life of hope and healing in the midst of HIV/AIDS.

The enormity of the pandemic itself has compelled us to join forces despite our differences of belief. Our traditions call us to embody and proclaim hope, and to celebrate life and healing in the midst of suffering.

AIDS is an affliction of the whole human family, a condition in which we all participate. It is a scandal that many people suffer and grieve in secret. We seek hope amidst the moral and medical tragedies of this pandemic in order to pass on hope for generations to come.

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We recognize the fact that there have been barriers among us based on religion, race, class, age, nationality, physical ability, gender and sexual orientation which have generated fear, persecution and even violence. We call upon all sectors of our society, particularly our faith communities, to adopt as highest priority the confrontation of racism, classism, ageism, sexism, and homophobia.

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 AIDS: All Men -- Make a Difference!.
 

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