Religious Right Leaders Seek to Hijack Overseas AIDS Prevention Effort. (People & Events)

Article excerpt

Religious Right organizations are pressuring President George W. Bush to use his $15-billion plan to combat AIDS in Africa to promote their religious agenda, including stressing sexual abstinence, downplaying the use of condoms and stopping legal abortion.

Bush in January outlined an ambitious five-year program to fight the spreads of AIDS in Africa. He gave few details, but Religious Right groups are worried that the program might place too much emphasis on contraceptives and are urging the president to steer the effort in other directions.

"We commend you for proposing the Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief," the leaders of more than a dozen groups wrote to Bush Feb. 27. "We believe that your principles as outlined are the fight approach to stem the tide of this devastating epidemic."

The Religious Right leaders called for using the money to stress abstinence in AIDS education, followed by the idea of fidelity in marriage with instruction about condom use as a last resort.

"Condoms must no longer be treated as a panacea of HIV prevention," they wrote in the joint letter.

The group heads also insisted that "faith-based" groups be funded through the initiative but that organizations that provide or promote abortion not be permitted to receive any funding--even if their main business is fighting AIDS or providing other types of information.

Signers included Charles Colson of Prison Fellowship; Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; James Dobson of Focus on the Family; Sandy Rios of Concerned Women for America; the Rev. …