Los Angeles Times Examines Role of Evangelical Pastor in Fight Against HIV/AIDS Pandemic, Work With Sen. Obama
The Los Angeles Times on Thursday examined Rick Warren -- an author and the founding pastor of the Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif. -- and his work in the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Warren has invited Sen. Barack Obama (D- Ill.) to participate in a Friday session at a conference on religion and the HIV/AIDS pandemic. According to the Times, Warren has received some criticism "for his different approach towards AIDS, which included working with" men who have sex with men. In addition, the scheduled speech from Obama has "drawn renewed vitriol from conservative Christian radio hosts and pundits, as well as some evangelical preachers," the Times reports. The Saddleback Church released a statement in response to the criticism that says, "Our goal has been to put people together who normally won't even speak to each other. We do not expect all participants in the summit discussion to agree with all of our evangelical beliefs. However, the HIV/AIDS pandemic cannot be fought by evangelicals alone." Obama in a recent written statement said, "While we will never see eye-to-eye on all issues, surely we can come together with one voice to honor the entirety of Christ's teachings by working to eradicate the scourge of AIDS, poverty and other challenges we all can agree must be met." According to the Times, evangelical Christians' "foray into AIDS work is a relatively recent development," and they "remain one of the religious groups slowest to respond to the pandemic because of the disease's links to homosexuality and promiscuity." Warren's wife, Kay, said, "Evangelicals have been really afraid. They don't want to talk about condoms. They don't want to talk about HIV because that means having to talk about sex. We want to break that kind of silence" (Mehta, Los Angeles Times, 11/30).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.