Modern-Day Colonialism: Gays, AIDS, and the Church, Part 5

In Church by Caris Adel4 Comments



“I think AIDS can be won. I think we can win this fight. It is winnable. But it means behavior change. We cannot continue living in sin and think that we’re going to be safe and we’re going to be OK. We have got to be able to fight this and attack this by using God’s standards, which, unfortunately, the United Nations and many governments do not want to do. They do not want to accept God’s standards. They want to throw his laws off their backs. They don’t want them.” – Franklin Graham


I find it interesting that evangelicals finally started caring about AIDS once it became an African issue.  There was not a 15 billion dollar program implemented in the U.S. in the 80s, but when it comes to literally playing white savior, they jump on it.  From where I stand, this reeks of colonialism.

Faith-based charities for sure have done a lot of good work over the years and saved many lives.  But I question what is behind this sudden interest in AIDS in Africa.  Because in a situation where the risk is so real and the results so deadly, the motivation seems to be a very toxic strain of Christianity.

“I’m a sinner. Jesus Christ came for me, and he came for each person that is infected with HIV/AIDS. God loves that person. He doesn’t hate them. They’ve made mistakes. We’ve all made mistakes. But God loves them, God cares for them, and Jesus Christ died for their sins.” – Franklin Graham 

When you frame a situation primarily as a spiritual one, when you call victims sinners, then the solution is adoption of your religious belief.  There is no way to do that in a way that remains respectful of different cultures and beliefs.

If people with HIV/AIDS are sinners, then the only solution is Jesus, and apparently the only way to follow Jesus is to be an abstinent heterosexual.

The Evangelical Christian Complex managed to turn a public health disaster into a fundamentalist missionary movement.

They were far from being concerned and involved when it was ‘gay cancer’, but now it is about the widows and orphans, the non-gays who deserve our sympathy and compassion.  And not just any ol’ compassion – no the ECC’s driving force is the fear of hell, the salvation of souls on a rapidly ticking countdown.

If the only reason to be compassionate is for a desire to save someone from hell, then that’s a very conditional sort of love.  And even that compassionate aid, selfish though it may be, would be fine if people were legitimately being helped.

But when people insist that their help is based on how they interpret their holy book, and money will not be given if their way isn’t followed, more harm than good is done, both in physical health, and the reputation of Jesus.

“We should not condone sex outside of marriage…Unfortunately, millions won’t be faithful to their spouses or accept God’s standards and will put themselves at risk just for a moment of pleasure. Christians are called to live by a higher standard. Like Jesus, we have to warn those who are putting themselves at risk and have compassion for those who are infected.” – Graham

It is very idealistic to believe that abstinence and faithful marriage (straight and gay) will end the HIV/AIDS crisis.  Wouldn’t that be nice?  But it is not realistic.  This Pollyanna view of the world ignores rape, sex workers, the virgins-curing-AIDS myth, marital unfaithfulness, African (dare I say biblical) polygamy, in addition to plain old hormones.

“They have to make their own choices in life, but I want to warn them….They want condoms, or they want something else that’s not proven. Behavior change, no question, is proven. It will work….I believe that Jesus Christ is God’s son, and I believe that if we are willing to accept his standards that we can prevent AIDS.” – Graham

I had my first child before I was married.  I cannot tell you how many Christians I know who have slept together before marriage.  Statistically, that bears out People are not changing their behavior, Franklin.  They’re just usually not getting caught.

And if, as they insist, ‘every soul is precious’   then doesn’t that include people who don’t want to live according to Jesus, or those who don’t want to live according to a certain interpretation of the Bible?  Don’t precious souls involve those who are gay?  How do you love and honor people who absolutely refuse to agree with your way of life?

“’Unfortunately and shamefully, the church has been somewhat asleep on this issue, and maybe it’s because of the social stigma,’ Graham said, adding many Christians believe only homosexuals and drug users contract HIV/AIDS.” 

Why is being gay or a drug user stigmatized in the first place?  Who was stigmatizing gay people for over 20 years? And why is stigma a deterrent to Christians???  Jesus didn’t care about stigma!  His apparent obliviousness towards the history of gay people is stunning:

“…..and the approach also by the gay community in this country who had politicized this {condom use} — and they were the only ones at the table. …” 

*blink* *blink*


Yes, Franklin, let’s talk about why gays were the only ones at the table!  Let’s talk about how they turned condoms into a political issue.  Let’s talk about how people were left alone to die, abandoned by Christians.

The only ones at the table.  That’s rich.

Franklin Graham and other Christian leaders are holding the health and well-being of the world hostage to their fundamentalist beliefs.

When he can say that a well-reputed faith based organization like his does not believe the Bible, “It’s obvious World Vision does not believe the Bible,” and that people who disagree cannot be Christians“True followers of Jesus Christ, whose salvation is based entirely upon God’s Word, cannot endorse same-sex marriage,” {as an aside, my salvation is not based entirely on God’s Word – it’s based on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.}, but that the only way to solve the problem is his ‘Biblical’ method, then the goal is not stopping the AIDS virus.

The goal is implementation of a religious belief. 

If your solution is one that only people who share your religious beliefs can have, it is not a legitimately helpful, human solution.  It is not a globally appropriate solution.

For people and organizations who espouse these views, it is no longer about simple charity in Jesus’ name.  It is not about feeding, clothing, educating and healing people so that they can live their own lives.

Instead, the vulnerable places in people’s lives have become a place for the Evangelical Christian Complex to glory in their spiritual superiority.

And. It. Is. Killing. People.
Gays, AIDS, and the Church

My Story: Part 1
Fear and Silence: Part 2
The Religious Right: Part 3
Oh, the Humanity: Part 4
Modern-Day Colonialism: Part 5
Africa, Russia, the Past, and Now: Part 6
The ‘Gay Agenda’: Part 7
The Rest of My Story: Part 8
Resources: Part 9

Let's Connect! facebooktwitterpinterestrssinstagram

3 Pingbacks/Trackbacks

  • Olivia

    Thanks so much for doing all this research and reporting on this travesty. The level of self-righteousness and hate that comes from Franklin Graham and others like him is truly astounding. Since Christians had such a large part in stigmatizing HIV/AIDS, I think we need to be on the front lines dispelling the myths, educating about real ways to stop the spread (like condoms), and loving people with HIV/AIDS in tangible ways–whether those people believe in our God or not. The people of other nations to do exist to be pawns in our culture wars. They are not there to export harmful ideologies to when Americans will no longer listen. They are fellow humans created in the image of God, just like us, and it’s about damned time we all started acting like it. Thank you for shedding light on this dark situation.

  • Pingback: Resources: Gays, AIDS, and the Church, Part 9 - Caris Adel()

  • Pingback: Fear and Silence: Gays, AIDS, and the Church, Part 2 - Caris Adel()

  • Pingback: The Religious Right: Gays, AIDS, and the Church, Part 3 - Caris Adel()