How Religion defined Women as the Source of Evil

Column by Bishop John Shelby Spong on 30 November 2005 0 Comments
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Much is in the news of late about the AIDS epidemic in
Africa. In the past, the focus has been on condom
distribution that has helped Uganda in particular to reduce
AIDS infection. But now, with the influence of Pope
Benedict, the Bush administration and ultra conservative
religious groups, the BBC and MSNBC and other news agencies
report that abstinence is now being promoted as the only
workable solution. This had resulted in a shortage of
condoms and an increase in HIV infection.

BBC reported that Stephen Lewis, U.N. Secretary General's
special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa has said that
fundamental Christian ideology is driving Washington's AIDS
assistance program known as PEPFAR with disastrous results,
including condom shortages in Uganda. Uganda has previously
cut HIV infection rates to about 6% from 30% in the early
1990s. Now U.S. legislation requires 1/3 of AIDS prevention
funding be spent to promote abstinence.

I see the promotion of abstinence as an unrealistic
solution in countries where literacy and knowledge of modern
science is often very limited. Do the Pope, President Bush
and the ultra conservatives have their heads in the sand on
this? I would be interested in your opinion on this.


I share with you a sense of horror about the misplaced
priorities of both Benedict XVI and the Bush administration.
They seem to place opposition to birth control methods above
the issues of life and death. I find that narrow religious
passions operating in the political arena are always
destructive. I watch values being lived out by the President
of the United States. They are almost beyond credibility.
Here is our nation in a time of a war gone wrong in Iraq,
with the safety of this nation badly compromised by hurricane
Katrina, facing a scandal involving the crime of identifying
a CIA operative that is eroding the confidence of the people
in this government and yet the biggest issue of debate in
Washington is over where Supreme Court nominee, Sam Alito,
stands on abortion. I do not minimize the abortion issue,
but this nation is not going to reverse Roe V. Wade.
Politicians like to be re-elected and opposition to Roe V.
Wade is not a pathway to national election for anyone. This
means that Washington's politicians are engaged today in an
act of political posturing that is quite irrelevant and
grossly dishonest. This debate also gives them moral cover so
that they do not have to face the fact that they have voted
to go to war on trumped up and dishonest intelligence in
order to make the oil industry happy, while at the same time
voting to give tax breaks to the top ten percent of this
nation's income group. Now they want to cut Medicare, the
school lunch program and the job training programs in order
to cover the deficit created by this ill-conceived war and
their tax cuts for the rich. On top of that we now discover
that the press in the persons of Judith Miller and Bob
Woodward are working hand in glove with this administration
to keep honesty from appearing in their reporting! When will
the electorate of this nation reorder our national
priorities? Too many of our young citizens have died already.
Too many of our nation's poor have lost hope. Too many of
the people of the world have stopped looking to America for
any shred of moral leadership. I do not care whether the
necessary re-ordering of our national priorities comes in a
rebellion within the Republican Party or from the opposition
Democrats but this nation cannot drift in this present
quagmire for three more years.

— John Shelby Spong

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