I have to retract some of the positive comments I made about Rick Warren's AIDS-prevention efforts in Africa. Max Blumenthal writes about "Rick Warren's Africa Problem" at The Daily Beast (h/t: Timothy Kincaid at Box Turtle Bulletin) and observes that "an investigation into Warren's involvement in Africa reveals a web of alliances with right-wing clergymen who have sidelined science-based approaches to combating AIDS in favor of abstinence-only education:"
More disturbingly, Warren's allies have rolled back key elements of one of the continent's most successful initiative, the so-called ABC program in Uganda. [...] Warren's man in Uganda is a charismatic pastor named Martin Ssempa. [...] Ssempa's stunts have included burning condoms in the name of Jesus and arranging the publication of names of homosexuals in cooperative local newspapers while lobbying for criminal penalties to imprison them.
At Makerere University in Kampala:
Ssempa stormed on to campus...grabbed a box of free condoms, and set them ablaze. "I burn these condoms in the name of Jesus!" Ssempa shouted as he prayed over the burning box.
Abstinence-only education is a proven failure, but this anti-gay (and anti-sex) ideology isn't value-neutral--by promulgating misinformation, people's lives are being endangered:
By 2005, billboards promoting condom use disappeared from the streets of Kampala, replaced by billboards promoting virginity...educational material in Uganda's secondary schools falsely claiming condoms had microscopic pores that could be penetrated by the HIV virus and noted the sudden nationwide shortage of condoms due to new restrictions imposed by on condom imports. [...] Due at least in part to the chronic condom shortage, HIV infections were on the rise again. The disease rate had spiked to 6.5 percent among rural men, and 8.8 percent among women--a rise of nearly two points in the case of women.
Will the rest of Warren's allegedly laudable programs be revealed to have similar hidden downsides, or are his AIDS efforts an aberration?