8 December 2004

Let’s not be too narrow here

Ignoring the AIDS crisis worldwide.  This isn’t a problem just
among evangelicals, but Christians in general.  But perhaps
evangelicals are supposed to get it more?  That’s what the columnist seems to be saying
I can’t agree; it’s not just to hold evangelicals to a different
standard than other Christians.  Regardless, there’s plenty of
shame here for evangelical Christians to think about.

The survey, conducted by the Barna Research Group for World
Vision, a nondenominational Christian relief organization that does
heroic work in Africa and elsewhere in the developing world, revealed
that since November 2002, the percentage of American evangelicals who
said they would be willing to make a donation to help alleviate the
AIDS emergency has risen from 5 percent to 14 percent.

The survey of 1,004 adults also found that 17 percent of evangelicals
(a group Barna researchers define with a complicated set of nine
questions about doctrine, belief and practice) now say they would help
children orphaned by AIDS, a figure that is up from a shocking 3
percent two years ago.

World Vision calls this a “small but significant increase.”

That’s far too generous. They’re being way too easy on their evangelical friends, and I say that as one of them.

Let me be sure I’ve got this straight: Two years ago, almost none of
the evangelicals polled (in the same Barna survey) said they intended
to make a donation to help the African AIDS emergency. And now, about
85 percent of them still feel the same way.

Hardly reason to celebrate. The numbers should be the direct opposite of what they are….

Jesus said: Suffer the little children to come to me. Feed the hungry. Care for the sick. The poor will always be with you.

Most Christians know this, right?

So, why didn’t the Barna surveyors discover nearly all evangelicals —
the alleged caretakers of Jesus’ gospel message — ready, willing and
able to do whatever it takes to help millions of dying men, women and
children in sub-Saharan Africa live?

The Barna surveyors also reported that about 12 percent of Americans in
general are willing to donate money toward the African AIDS crisis, and
about 13 percent are interested in supporting children orphaned by AIDS.

That’s a negligible difference from the evangelical results.

Where does Jesus fit into the equation?…

Hey, church, what’s it gonna take?

Does Jesus himself have to make a special guest appearance, point at
Africa and shout, “Yo, a little help over here?!” before you realize
it’s unquestionably your responsibility to do something significant to
stem the tide of the AIDS pandemic there?

Yes, it’s up to all of us as human beings, regardless of our religious
persuasion or lack thereof, to care for those most in need….

Actions speak louder than words.

Or as yer man puts it in what (since you asked) is the best track on U2’s new album full of emotional and spiritual spleen:

You speak of signs and wonders
But I need something other
I would believe if I was able
But I’m waiting on the crumbs from your table.

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2 Responses to “Let’s not be too narrow here”

  1. pp Says:

    In peoples minds AIDS is a money pit.
    I received the most recent World Vision pamphlet while having my oil changed and looked the recommended donations. People want to give money to winning causes. One program is to donate fruit trees to provide first food, then income. Or another is for a flock of chickens, including a rooster. Donating money to these gives people a warm fuzzy feeling. In their minds they are single handedly increasing the GDP of some poor Carribean nation or putting an egg the tortilla of the next nobel laureate. People feel giving money to AIDS causes is what we call in the business world “throwing good money after bad”. Religious arguements aside, people in choosing where their hard earned donations are going, want results in a short period of time. Part of this, I am certain, comes from the stigma that attaches to this particular disease, the “they got what they deserved”, but I think as much of it stems from the perception of hopelessness for those who are infected.

  2. Nate Says:

    Well, that’s exactly the attitude that allowed this particular disease to grow and spread the way it has. First it was because gays and hemophiliacs weren’t important enough to Americans and Europeans to make it “worthwhile” for them to do anything. Another excuse was that it’s happening “over there” somewhere, like Africa. Or because there are no immediate results and don’t like the long haul. Or because donating money for research, trade promotion, debt cancellation, medical provision, and all that doesn’t have the same guilt-resonance or warm, fuzzy feeling as Sally Struthers’ commercials or World Vision’s “give this much and you will buy a goat for a family” appeal. or because the whole thing is hopeless , so why get involved and be disappointed later?

    But these are all excuses. I could refute each in turn with evidence and logic, but that’s not my point here.

    My point is that we can make excuses or we can act. The moral stakes, however, are clear. The judgment of history and one’s god(s) (if one believes) depend upon actions taken. If you claim to be a moral person, ignoring the crisis casts that claim into some serious doubt.