Some Christian Conservatives Calling on Congress To Reduce Funding for Global Fund Because of Condom Promotion, Funding for Faith-Based Groups
Some leading Christian conservatives are calling on Congress to reduce U.S. funding allocations to the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, saying that the Global Fund does not allocate adequate resources to faith-based programs and that it promotes condom use, the Boston Globe reports. According to the Globe, the Global Fund is not "popular" among U.S. Christian conservatives, some of whom object to the Global Fund's policies, which include supporting needle-exchange programs for injection drug users. In addition, some Christian conservatives are "furious that just 6%" of the Global Fund's program grants go toward faith-based groups, the Globe reports. Peter Brandt, senior director of government and public policy at the Christian group Focus on the Family, said he wants the U.S. to stop financing all of the Global Fund's HIV/AIDS programs because the group does not provide sufficient money to faith-based groups and has given little support to abstinence messages. He said that the U.S. could continue to support the Global Fund's TB and malaria programs. According to the Globe, Global Fund officials have pledged to increase funding to faith-based groups that run HIV/AIDS programs. Global Fund Executive Director Richard Feachem on Thursday at an HIV/AIDS conference organized by the Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., said that the battle against the pandemic "will only succeed if the great faiths of the world become totally mobilized." The Global Fund "wants to see many more programs" run by faith-based groups, but most funding decisions are made by local boards, Feachem said in an interview. Christoph Benn, director of external relations for the Global Fund, said that money also is directed to faith-based contractors. Faith-based groups hold 4% of seats on country oversight boards, which put together funding proposals. In addition, Benn said that he objects to statements made by some Christian conservatives and that many Global Fund-supported programs promote abstinence messages for young people and marital fidelity, according to the Globe.
According to the Globe, the Bush administration "has taken something of a middle ground" regarding the Global Fund and proposed allocating no more than $300 million to it this year. "The Global Fund has to work; it has to be an integral part of the global response to AIDS" Ambassador Mark Dybul, who serves as the U.S. global AIDS coordinator and administers the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, said, adding that he wants most federal funds to be directed toward PEPFAR because it is "right now our most rapid response" to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Christian health associations deliver at least 40% of health care in several African countries -- including Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Zimbabwe and Tanzania -- according to U.N. figures. In the past year, PEPFAR directed 24% of its funds to faith-based groups. The Senate is considering a proposal that would increase the Bush administration's budget request for the Global Fund to $700 million next year, while the House wants to allocate $445 million, according to the Globe. Although some Christian leaders support the Global Fund, the "battle over the fund ... only is expected to intensify" in the weeks prior to the congressional vote on the funding proposal, which is expected early next year (Donnelly, Boston Globe, 12/1).