The Church and the AIDS Crisis -- By: Timothy D. Howell
BSac 149:593 (Jan 92) p. 74
The Church and the AIDS Crisis
Eden, North Carolina
AIDS is a problem not just for a certain segment of society. It is a problem everyone must face. The number of persons diagnosed with the dreaded disease is increasing annually. Experts estimate that one million Americans are infected with the AIDS virus at the present time. Kübler-Ross has pointedly challenged the public by asking, “How many more wars, epidemics, famines, or other tragedies do we humans need before we open our minds, hearts, and ears and finally believe that whatever happens to our fellowmen happens to us?”1 Another health expert, Reed Tuckson, Commissioner of Public Health for the District of Columbia, has stated, “I am convinced that when the history of this time is written, it will best be characterized by how we as a society responded to the multiple challenges presented to us by AIDS.”2
Most sectors of society are grappling with this crisis. Unfortunately Christians have not always led the way in facing difficult issues. It is easier to say AIDS is a divine judgment or that it happens only to a limited group of sinners. Kübler-Ross presents a challenge: “Since we can no longer deny that AIDS is a life-threatening illness that will eventually involve millions of people and decimate large portions of our human population, it is our choice to grow and learn from it, to either help the people with this dread disease or abandon them.”3 The church can no longer avoid the problem of AIDS or
BSac 149:593 (Jan 92) p. 75
pretend it is not the church’s concern. The church has the opportunity to respond to those diagnosed with AIDS by sharing God’s love.
Just as Americans have been known to be a death-denying people, so it has become quite obvious that we also attempt to deny AIDS, to pretend it is none of our business! We hear weekly, from thousands of pulpits, “Love thy neighbor,” but when it comes to putting that into practice we quickly add a few conditions. And it is those who preach the loudest who have shown the poorest records in their care and compassion.4
Background Information on AIDS
AIDS is an acronym for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. It was first reported in the United States in June 1981. In 1987 the Public Health Service reported that more than 30,000 cases of AIDS had been diagnosed. More than half of those reported resulted in death.5 AIDS is a disease that undermines the body...
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