Monday, June 09, 2008

Consistent Ethic of Life

So, once again we have US "pro-life" senators trying to pull funding on work that saves lives (just not the unborn). At the same time I am a UN meeting representing some of the smaller UK based Christian HIV & AIDS ministries (and spending some time talking to the larger ones), and find there is an air of intolerance towards Christians in general, and evangelicals in particular. Some of that antipathy is inevitable and not to be avoided - speaking unpalatable truths (as we should if we are faithful the gospel of Jesus) that set people free is one of our callings as believers. But seldom is it the expression of the truth that causes the problem - it is rather this inconsistency from some of the evangelical community (not just in the USA, but most frequently).

Argh! Here at the UN, the US is seen simultaneously as the bad guy (for an example of why, see above) and as a cash cow (ditto!). I am frustrated that we are not getting back to core issue in the AIDS pandemic - how do we stop in spreading, and then how do we treat and care for those already infected and affected. As I see it, the plan to wreck the new PEPFAR funding bill in the US Congress is based on a misapprehension that only drug therapies have the answer, or that prevention should be along narrow (and largely unproven) sexual abstinence only initiatives. Prevention and care need to be tackled in lots of different ways, but at its most effective it is less dependant on the top down approaches of PEPFAR and more on the mobilisation of local communities (churches and other faith communities in particular) to respond in a locally appropriate way.

A consistent ethic of life seeks to care for all - the born and the unborn, the dying and the living, and accord all with equal human dignity. It is about justice above all else. And it is about equipping people to respond to their own needs rather than rely on paternalism from the rich - a Biblical principle found throughout the Pentatuch, and especially in Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Sadly, a lot of the "pro-lifers" of the US religious right do not know their Bibles half as well as they think they do, or else they might not be barking up the the wrong tree yet again.

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