Sir Elton John is world famous, deservedly so. This billionaire singer is one of the most creative talents we have. But when he attacks Christian missionaries in Africa and other Third World regions, his message is off-key. Instead of Crocodile Rock, he’s peddling a Crocodile Crock.
As a mega-star, Sir Elton is free to say whatever he likes. His native Britain and the U.S. are still free countries. But his belief that the worst thing about AIDS is the “stigma” attached to it is bizarre. We thought the worst thing about AIDS was the disease itself. Even here, however, Sir Elton is free to disagree with us.
What is wholly offensive, however, is Sir Elton John’s attack on Christian missionaries is being funded by U.S. taxpayers—Us!—and distributed to the very nations that are in dire need of help. This Voice of America video is titled “AIDS 2014—Living in the Shadows.” It’s a series of stories of truly terrible treatment of people suffering from AIDS, or survivors whose family members died of AIDS. There’s nothing wrong with showing compassion for these desperate people.
There’s a lot wrong, however, with Elton John pushing the idea that the spread of AIDS is the fault of Christians, especially American Evangelicals, who have “targeted Africa for thirty years.” Would that included the born-again President George W. Bush. President Bush’s PEPFAR initiative sent millions of dollars in U.S. foreign aid to AIDS-ravaged countries in Africa. President Bush saw this effort as an example of “compassionate conservatism.” Others saw it as stemming from his Christian faith.
Bono saw PEPFAR as praiseworthy. So did former President Bill Clinton. Even Bill Clinton took care not to knock Christian missionary engagement in Africa.
As to Sir Elton’s lending his fame and international prestige to an attack on Christian missions, what do any of these Christian missionaries teach about the Gospel and fidelity within marriage that is different from what the Bishop of London taught the world at the wedding of Kate and William.
Elton John sat in the pew at Westminster Abbey for that beautiful event. He was joined by his partner. Neither man jumped up to protest when the Bishop described the importance of a lifelong commitment of husband and wife, and the joy of bringing children into the world. Was the Bishop’s sermon—heard by billions throughout the world—a message of anti-gay bigotry? Of course not.