The Church’s continued ostrich approach to the catastrophe that is HIV/AIDS on the continent:
Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday signed off on an African roadmap for the Roman Catholic Church that calls for good governance and denounces abuses, while labelling AIDS a mainly ethical problem. Benedict signed the apostolic exhortation called “The Pledge for Africa” during a visit to the West African nation of Benin, his second trip to the continent as pontiff.
The document says AIDS requires a medical response, but is mainly an ethical problem.
Changes in behaviour are required to combat the disease, including sexual abstinence and rejection of promiscuity, it adds. “The problem of AIDS in particular clearly calls for a medical and a pharmaceutical response,” it says. “This is not enough however. The problem goes deeper. Above all, it is an ethical problem.”
The Church in Kenya has every right to lobby for a pro-life amendment to the draft constitution. But that does not give them the right to completely rubbish the opinions of women leaders. Women like Gender Minister Esther Murugi are not crazy child-killers. They are reasonable people who do not want the male-dominated constitutional review process to usurp too much of women’s reproductive rights. Demanding for women’s reproductive rights is not being pro-abortion. And if the church leaders are so concerned about abortion perhaps it is time they eased their opposition to contraceptives that limit the occurrence of unwanted pregnancies in the first place.
The fact that the Kenyan clergy feel the need to legislate morality is a clear pointer to their failure to do their job right. If you do not want people to have premarital sex or use contraceptives, preach to them from the pulpit. Do not seek to make this into law. In any case, Kenyan society is already conservative enough when it comes to things like abortion and sexuality. What we need is not a constitution that pushes us further into paranoia about these issues but one that protects our mothers and sisters from the tyranny of the men from 10,000 BC who run our country.
This quote from Hon. Murugi captures the absurdity of the amendments being proposed by the anti-women’s rights team: “Let us have a reproductive health bill where all other issues are addressed. For instance, women are using morning after pills after sex. Are you going to put us all in jail?”
I am sure none of those opposed to the amendments is into the idea of killing the unborn. All that Kenyan progressives want is a law that does not take away women’s rights to choose what is good for them. Reason demands that we should not legislate morality. This will only lead to more kienyeji abortions that will continue to kill many Kenyan women each year.
It is fascinating how the conservative types (in both ODM and PNU) that ordered policemen to shoot rioters or organized militias to kill fellow Kenyans in early 2008 are the same ones at the forefront of the faux pro-life campaign. May their efforts to go against reason fail.
It is quite a shame that the church is somewhat contributing to the spread of the HIV virus on the continent of Africa. Church leaders, especially of the Catholic variety, have always maintained that the use of contraceptives – including condoms – is against the will of God. Given Africans’ religiosity and respect for these men of God, many of them have ended up not using any form of protection or contraceptives while having sex. The result has been the very high fertility and HIV infection rates on the continent.
African governments have been fighting the AIDS scourge with very costly campaigns while turning a deaf year to the churches.Because in most cases the churches are the ones that provide much needed public goods and social services, they’ve come to have a stronger grip on the people’s minds and hearts than the government. It is therefore a no brainer that even on the life and death issue of condom use they tend to listen more to the men of God than to Caesar.
This should not be the case. To echo Wole Soyinka, “Even in a purely theocratic state, there comes a point – surely – at which the state must restrict clerical interference in clearly scientific matters, most especially where human well being and survival are at issue.” Although the percentage of those infected because of their religious persuasions may be small, the fact is that their infection is preventable. It is because of this that governments should step in and rid pulpits of this madness. Church leaders should stop deluding themselves that their call for abstinence is in God’s people’s interest.The truth is that God’s people will always have sex and therefore need ways to control their fertility and protect themselves against terrible sexually transmitted diseases.
This does not mean that the churches should stop preaching about chastity and sexual purity. On the contrary, I say they should redouble their effort. But they should also be flexible on contraceptives, including condoms, for the safety of the many of their flock who fall to the temptations of the flesh.
The continent’s men of God should take time off next time they are in Rome, London or Texas – from where they get their cue – to inquire about the rates of condom use and fertility of their fellow believers in these places.