It’s a rare place of worship where Muslims and Baha’is both congregate, and where prayer rugs share space with a silver cross, religious pamphlets on healing in Hebrew, and a bright scarlet AIDS bow. But on Wednesday afternoon, that was the scene at the Interfaith Prayer Room of the AIDS 2012 conference.
“This room is designed for Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Jews, Baha’is — for anyone who needs to find a place for quiet and prayer, and counseling, if necessary,” said Imam Dr. Abdul-Malik Ali, who just finished leading prayers beside a broad banner reading “Faith in Action — End Stigma Now.”
A sign in English, French, Spanish, and Arabic welcomed worshippers to the carpeted prayer room. Double doors cut the clamor of thousands of convention-goers to a murmur, so that inside, even the faintest clicking of the ventilation system was audible. To complete the contrast with the outside’s roar and bustle, the air was cool and the lights were gently dimmed.
The Rev. Andrena Ingram is currently the only known Lutheran ordained pastor living openly with HIV. Her husband's death from an AIDS-related illness, and the shame that he felt, inspired the pastor to be open about her own diagnosis with HIV. She is known as "The HIV Minister" – a title that has helped others with HIV reach out to her for help.
Listen to Ingram tell her story inside the blog...
The ONE campaign’s mission to fight AIDS has grown wildly since its inception in 2004, and recently, the organization began a new initiative striving to "begin the end of AIDS" by 2015. It’s within our reach, they say, if only we would lend a hand.
In their latest promotional message, they enlist help from the folks at Funny or Die, along with bigger names like Zach Galifianakis, Sarah Silverman, and Tracy Morgan. In a video that seems like a sketch straight out of the "internet absurdity" vault, the celebrities take turns musing on the innovations that might be possible in a future age, the year 2015. After dreaming of hybrid animals roaming the planet, cars that fit into your back pocket, they close by mentioning that in the not-so-distant future, AIDS can be on its way to nonexistence, if only people would wake up.
Salon reports on what could be a turning point in the fight against AIDS:
"Just one decade ago, experts from the CIA to the World Health Organization feared that AIDS would infect more than 100 million people, becoming a runaway epidemic and crippling countries. But the world, led by the United States, responded in a massive way and expanded treatment from tens of thousands to millions of people, leading to slight decreases in the past five years in the numbers of people living with HIV in countries from West to Southern Africa, where the epidemic has hit the hardest.
Is the world now at the next turning point in the history of AIDS? Is this a moment when AIDS, not countries, becomes crippled? Doubters are many. But many also believe new prevention tools and ramped up campaigns to protect newborns and women will help them finally outmaneuver a virus that has killed millions for decades."
Find out more here
Our friends at the ONE Campaign took traditional April 1 tomfoolery and turned it on its head with the new video "I Predict," that uses humor to drive home a stone-cold sober reality: Within three years, we may very well witness the beginning of the end of AIDS worldwide.
On a recent trip to the African nation of Ghana, Bono of U2 and economist Jeffrey Sachs spoke to the U.K. Guardian newspaper about their hopes for the future of foreign aid.
"There's one thing that might help with aid cynics. Because clearly no one likes the culture of dependency," Bono said. "No one's arguing for it. We're arguing to end it. I think there's something a bit funky about aid as it stands right now. The two most important parties involved in the transaction – the taxpayer who's providing the resources and the person who needs those resources to stay alive or keep their family alive – are the two people who know the least about what's going on. So that has to change."
A lot changes in 50 years.
In 1962, people didn’t have the internet, a cell phone, a microwave oven and many probably didn’t yet have a color television set. JFK was president and no one had been to the moon yet. Steve Jobs hadn’t even invented anything yet – he was only 7 years old.
But one thing that remains is USAID. 2012 marks the agency’s 50th anniversary, and its commitment to global political, economic and social development has been sustained since its foundation in 1961.
HIV/AIDS is a justice issue. The most vulnerable and poorest people still don’t have access to the treatments that save lives. Jesus’ concern for the lives of the sick in Matthew 25 calls Christ-followers to do everything in our power to make these life-saving treatments available to every person in need.
“America is a great idea,” Bono said.
Fundamental to that idea is the belief that all people are created equal and endowed by their creator with the intrinsic right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
The right to life, the right to liberty, and the right to pursue happiness each demand the will and resources make an AIDS-free generation a reality by 2015.
A Decade Of Progress On AIDS (OPINION); States Fail In Fight Against Sex Trafficking; Newt Gingrich, The Savior Of The Religious Right?; Egypt’s Christians Prepare For New Political Climate; Occupy Protesters Consider Political Future; How Much High-Poverty Schools Get Cheated On Funding; Evangelist Billy Graham Hospitalized For Evaluation, Lung Treatment.
People of faith -- including evangelical Christians -- will be voting both ways in the upcoming election. It is simply not true that they will be voting only on one or two issues.
And, if evangelicals focus on many of the issues central to their faith, rather than becoming partisan cheerleaders, they might be able to raise some critical issues in this election and to hold both sides more accountable, even in a campaign that both Richard and I suspect will be one of the ugliest in U.S. history.
At the end of the evening, Amy remarked that if the upcoming election debates were as civil and substantive as this evening was, we would all be very grateful.
The very real needs of Americans pale in comparison to the needs foreign aid addresses. Poor families around the world are right now starving to death. If we cut American aid, we can be sure that millions will die. At a time when our politicians are considering how to cut as much as $1,500 billion from the federal budget we shouldn't try to cut the $33 billion we spend annually to assist the victims of malaria, famine, or natural disasters.
Adam Phillips is a Evangelical Covenant Church minister and director of faith mobilization for the ONE Campaign, www.one.org.
This video is the latest installment in an ongoing series at God's Politics where we've asked leading clergy, writers, scholars, artists, activists and others who self-identify as "evangelical" to answer the question, "What is an Evangelical?"
And I'll be your new tour guide here at God's Politics.
Some of you may know me by my more official byline, Cathleen Falsani. I've been a contributing editor and columnist for Sojourners Magazine for several years now, writing a column every other month called "Godstuff" and also have contributed from time to time to this'a'here blog.
- How do you like your chocolate chip cookies? (Personally, I prefer thick, chewy, and not too sweet.)
- Are you a stay-at-home dad?
- Learn more about new media and faith.
- The changing face of AIDS.