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HIV/AIDS in the United States
This post mentions the impact of HIV/AIDS on organized religion and vice versa. This post is about the different interpretations of the HIV/AIDS epidemic based off the different organized religions, particularly in America. These next passages are focused on the response by Catholics and Jews to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the eighties.
Noonan J of the Harvard University press declares that “The association between homosexuality and infection has complicated the response of many religious people. For one major denomination, Roman Catholicism, the reaction to AIDS has also been complicated by its condemnation as sinful the use of almost all methods of birth control, and this doctrine was stated in such a way as to prohibit the use of condoms in any sexual activity”(6). Catholicism being against condoms is yet another way a belief could make an impact on the spread of HIV/AIDS. Belief in not using contraception is exactly what is continuing the spread of HIV/AIDS around the world.
Jonsen a researcher discusses how the catholic church recognized HIV/AIDS in the eighties. “The Roman Catholic Diocese of San Jose, California, appears to have issued the first statement by a Catholic church official recognizing the epidemic and its implications for ministry to gay men”(118). “Ministry to the sick, dying and bereaved requires special attention and sensitivity in this context because the misunderstanding and hostility surrounding homosexuality has been grievously aggravated by the uncertainty and fear surrounding Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. Afflicted individuals, their families and friends have a special claim on the ministry of the church”(Noonan 2). In this passage the catholic church reaches out to gay men saying that they can “have a special claim on the ministry” basically saying all are welcome. This passage brings up questions of how someone already infected with HIV/AIDS would be impacted by the introduction of catholic beliefs. With one belief already banning the use of contraception, you could infer that a practicing catholic could get the disease, not know they had it and spread it to someone else.
Reformed Judaism Reaction
According to Melton, a Distinguished Professor of American Religious History “The Union of American Hebrew Congregations (Reform Judaism) issued a statement on AIDS in 1985 calling for increased funding for research, education, and the prohibition of discrimination against people with AIDS” (4). Conservative Judaism agreed in 1987, calling for a compassionate response to people with AIDS, including visitation and care (Melton 7). Respected Orthodox rabbi Freundenthal has emphasized healing as “the biblically mandated human response to AIDS” (55). Although AIDS is not regarded as punishment, it is seen in Orthodox Judaism as ”a consequence of a form of life that is morally unacceptable” ( Freundenthal 32). According to Liebman a practicing orthodox, “In 1988 the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America called for increased funding and research to combat AIDS”(20).
It’s interesting to see how each religion responded to the HIV/AIDS epidemic based off these religious groups respective scripture. What I learned from my research is that both religions were relatively silent during the 80’s, they considered it a “gay disease.”(Jonsen 117) Although considered a gay disease by the representatives of the religions mentioned, these religious groups beliefs changed the way they approached the epidemic and influenced these religious groups decision to speak out about the epidemic occurring around them. Displaying another example of how beliefs affect response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. This affected response led to positive results such as religious secs helping to fund AIDS research.
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