• First published in 2004 as Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion (BNOR).

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Kay Warren admits Evangelicals Ignorant about HIV/AIDS

Last week Rick Warren’s Saddleback megachurch in California held a conference on HIV and AIDS, with a view to getting evangelical Christians involved in the issue. Apparently it was reasonably sensible, with Warren acknowledging the need for condoms (within the “ABC” strategy seen in Uganda). But it looks like it’s going to be uphill work – Warren’s wife Kay made an astonishing admission in a recent interview that appeared in Crosswalk. She was discussing her knowledge of HIV until a couple of years ago:

…I think most people are like me, especially evangelicals. I was afraid I’d get sick, first of all, if I hung out with anybody who was HIV positive. Secondly, I thought it was a homosexual disease, and if anyone knew I was hanging around gays, they’d think I’d gone soft on homosexuality. But the reality is, it’s not a gay disease. More women than men are infected around the world.

I’m very glad that Kay Warren now knows better, and is eager to spread her new-found knowledge. But can it really be true that prosperous evangelical Americans in the twenty-first century believe that HIV can be caught by “hanging out” with someone who is HIV positive? That they are largely unaware that most victims are heterosexuals living in Africa? This is incredible.

One Response

  1. Kay Warren’s admission includes an example of an interesting trend in language among the religious right. She says of AIDS, “it’s not a gay disease. More women than men are infected.” It’s not an original observation on my part to point to out that, on the religious right, “homosexual” does not mean “same sex attraction;” it means “anal sex between males.”

    I think American homosexuals and their friends (like me) contribute to this confusion by using “gay” as a synonym for “homosexual” and then using the construction “gay and lesbian.”

    Of course, there is a very low chance of transmitting HIV in female homosexual sex, but the confusion in term leads to astounding misconceptions like Ms. Warrens.

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