Folks on all sides of contentious issues -- especially sex -- know that Christianity has tremendous influence on hearts and minds, which is why Church leaders are often subjected to brutal rhetorical assaults. When AIDS comes up in elite company, the discussion will inevitably turn to the dangerous influence of the Catholic Church, because it doesn't condone condom use. One British editorial earlier this summer declared, "The Pope should slow the spread of AIDS." The editorial acknowledged that the Catholic Church runs "a quarter of the world's AIDS treatment centers," yet still admonished it to abide by the commandment "Thou shalt not kill" (i.e., embrace condoms or people will die, is their argument).
Warren could help change things: The popular preacher claims "a network of tens of thousands of churches from all denominations in 160 countries." As a preacher, he's a bit of a teddy bear -- a regular guy who even talks about how he's uncomfortable pontificating. He's a fresh, kind and gentle face without centuries-as-a-dart-board baggage. He talks, first and foremost, about loving your neighbor. He's even got a friendly acronym for the fight -- "C.H.U.R.C.H.: Care for and comfort the sick; Handle testing and counseling; Unleash a volunteer labor force; Remove the stigma; Champion healthy behavior; and Help with nutrition and medications."
Cheesy, soft-serve, pop religion? Maybe. But he's got his heart in the right place and has latched onto the right evidence and isn't setting out to reinvent the wheel. Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America, sees Warren's star-power entrance on the AIDS-prevention scene as only natural: "When the glamour of AIDS activism fades and fatigue sets in for lack of success because of failed policies, Christians will still be toiling. It is likely that they will rise as the leaders, perhaps because the pool will become smaller, but more importantly because they're providing the solutions that work."
And, working with the Global Fund for AIDS, Warren seeks to bring government and Hollywood money along with the faithful on the ABC journey. You don't have to sing in the same theological chorus as Warren or even buy his book to give him an "Amen." If Warren can get Bill Clinton, Angelina Jolie, Bill Gates and Kofi Annan cooperating with, say, the Catholic Church and a myriad of other faith-based servants in doing what works -- changing behavior -- well, preach it, brother!
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