"Fighting AIDS on a global scale is a massive and complicated undertaking, yet this cause is rooted in the simplest of moral duties," President George W. Bush said Tuesday. "When we see this kind of preventable suffering, when we see a plague leaving graves and orphans across a continent, we must act. When we see the wounded traveler on the road to Jericho, we will not, America will not pass to the other side of the road."
Among those applauding Bush's speech were Focus on the Family's James Dobson, Prison Fellowship's Chuck Colson, and evangelists Franklin Graham and Anne Graham Lotz.
"Americans can do something about this modern plague—and we must," Colson and William J. Bennett wrote in a Washington Times op-ed that same day (which was very similar to Colson's March 17 Breakpoint radio commentary): "President Bush has correctly identified African AIDS as a humanitarian catastrophe of staggering proportions—one that a strong and merciful nation must throw its considerable resources into fighting. His $15 billion plan to do so is both simple and sensible."
In yesterday's Breakpoint commentary, Colson again affirmed the President's plan, but added a warning: "There's a danger that the president's initiative may be derailed in Congress. The House International Relations Committee failed to pass two critically needed amendments."
One would have set aside at least one third of the funding for abstinence and monogamy programs, and the other would have provided a conscience clause exempting faith-based groups from having to hand out condoms (some say the amendment would also allow groups to hire workers consistent with their religious beliefs).
A third amendment that some other religious conservatives were pushing for would limit funding to the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which is affiliated with the United Nations.
Who decided that it would cost at least $5 billion to say "stop having sex"? Only a theo-Republican without any understanding of virology or public health could have come up with that highly imaginative budget.
What do you expect from a felon who had a piety makeover?
Bush and Colson have so much in common, Colson wrote in his commentary yesterday:
The president made it clear that the House and Senate must act quickly, not only to pass a law, but also to make it clear that the faith-based community will be full participants. At the end of the meeting the president said, "We need to do this because it is the right thing."
I added, "It's not only the right thing, Mr. President—it works."
"I know that," he replied. "That's what delivered me from alcohol, and I wouldn't be sitting at this table otherwise."
I responded, "I wouldn't be sitting at the table either."
And think of all the Africans we could save if neither the ex-drunk deserter nor the Nixon felon were sitting at that table.
Fighting viruses with Bibles is not only bad medicine, it's another example of the fraud that passes for policy in the Bush administration.
Tell your representatives not to allocate AIDS in Africa money to any faith-based groups.