When Melissa Gonzales, 16, receives communion at the church of San Romero de Las Americas in the South Bronx, the altar looks the same as any other, except for a glass bowl full of condoms sitting next to the wine and bread. The church’s pastor, the Rev. Luis Barrios, sees a sacred duty in promoting safe sex among his congregants.
While America’s religious leadership wavers in taking an active role in fighting the AIDS epidemic, Barrios has developed a “Theology of AIDS,” a religious philosophy that embraces an anti-capitalist spirituality, the union of God and sexuality and the ultimate attainment of one simple objective: saving lives.
If they do anything at all, many church leaders will limit their AIDS ministries to counseling and support for the afflicted because they worry that addressing sexuality might promote promiscuity and sex outside marriage. But Barrios has made AIDS education part of his ministry.
Yes, the thought did occur to me that the condoms on the altar might promote promiscuity and sex outside of marriage. Not only is promiscuity against the morality taught in the Bible, promiscuity spreads HIV/ AIDS. An alternative method of preventing the spread of AIDS/ HIV that emphasizes chastity was discussed at GAFCON by representatives from Uganda and Nigeria:
During the mid 1980’s as much as 30 percent of Uganda’s total population was infected with HIV/AIDS. By 2005 that figure had fallen dramatically to 6.7 percent.
Uganda achieved this significant decrease by focusing on supporting abstinence, said Canon Mwesigye. The church particularly participates in the effort by integrating HIV/AIDS prevention into every ministry of the church, especially youth ministry, supporting anti-AIDS/HIV clubs, youth conferences, camps, sports activities, preventing the transmission of the virus from infected mothers to their children, forming support groups for those who have tested positive for the virus and distributing anti retro-viral drugs.
H/T Comment by Dr. Mabuse at the MCJ and Kendall Harmon T19 and Billy Ockham for posting the gang initiation story last week.