Team Obama has been asking their gay and lesbian friends and their supporters to put up with the Reverend Warren speaking at the Inauguration ceremony pointing to Warren's work fighting AIDS in Africa. But until now no one had looked at how his mission against AIDS in Africa works. Now Max Blumenthal has and it ain't pretty.
Condom Burnings and Anti-Gay Witch Hunts: How Rick Warren Is Undermining AIDs Prevention in Africa
Warren may be opposed to gay rights and abortion, the thinking goes, but he tells evangelicals it is their God-given duty to battle one of the greatest pandemics in history. What could be wrong with that?Rick Warren is fighting AIDS by working with ignorant preachers scared of witches and homosexuals and burning condoms and urging jailing of homosexuals. Is this the African AIDS policy Obama supports?
But since the Warren inauguration controversy erupted, the nature of his work against AIDS in Africa has gone unexamined. Warren has not been particularly forthcoming to those who have attempted to look into it. His Web site contains scant information about the results of his program. However, an investigation into Warren's involvement in Africa reveals a web of alliances with right-wing clergymen who have sidelined science-based approaches to combating AIDS in favor of abstinence-only education. More disturbingly, Warren's allies have rolled back key elements of one of the continent's most successful initiative, the so-called ABC program in Uganda. Stephen Lewis, the United Nations special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, told the New York Times their activism is "resulting in great damage and undoubtedly will cause significant numbers of infections which should never have occurred."
Warren's man in Uganda is a charismatic pastor named Martin Ssempa. The head of the Makerere Community Church, a rapidly growing congregation, Ssempa enjoys close ties to his country's first lady, Janet Museveni, and is a favorite of the Bush White House. In the capitol of Kampala, Ssempa is known for his boisterous crusading. Ssempa's stunts have included burning condoms in the name of Jesus and arranging the publication of names of homosexuals in cooperative local newspapers while lobbying for criminal penalties to imprison them.
Dr. Helen Epstein, a public health consultant who wrote the book, The Invisible Cure: Why We're Losing the Fight Against AIDS in Africa, met Ssempa in 2005. Epstein told me the preacher seemed gripped by paranoia, warning her of a secret witches coven that met under Lake Victoria."Ssempa also spoke to me for a very long time about his fear of homosexual men and women," Epstein said. "He seemed very personally terrified by their presence."