Uganda First Lady Fears Increase in AIDS as West Threatens Funds

The wife of Uganda's president, Janet Museveni, has lamented the rise in dangerous sexual behavior in the country and the resultant rise in HIV-AIDS rates.

According to New Vision, Museveni said that Ugandans are abandoning behavior-based solutions to HIV-AIDS in favor of methods imported from the West that only serve to perpetuate the disease.

"It is not too late to reverse the trend," she said. "We can adopt our own indigenous solutions, which are less expensive and are 100% sure of preventing the spread of this deadly disease. I find it very baffling how we could throw away what worked, and embrace ideas from elsewhere. Then we watched as rates of infection soared again to claim lives."

Museveni's words echoed those of anti-AIDS crusader Sam Ruteikara, who wrote in the Washington Post recently that Western methods of combating AIDS, which strive to protect casual sex at all costs, are being imported into Uganda and are resulting in a rise in risky sexual behavior and the overall HIV-AIDS rate.

Ruteikara lamented that the West's encouragement of dangerous behaviors leads to an increase in the need for expensive anti-retroviral drugs. Foreign aid money, he said, could be better spent on successful AIDS-prevention strategies. "For every African who gains access to HIV treatment, six become newly infected," he said. "To treat one AIDS patient with life-prolonging anti-retroviral drugs costs more than $1,000 a year. Our successful ABC campaign cost just 29 cents per person each year."

However, at the same time as Uganda's first lady has drawn attention to the recent increase in HIV-AIDS due to dangerous sexual practices, a prominent Western activist has demanded that foreign aid should be withdrawn from the country on account of its "homophobia." On July 18, Peter Tatchell, founder of the pro-homosexual organization Outrage!, called for an end to U.S. aid for, "viciously homophobic countries like Jamaica, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Uganda, Iraq, and Nigeria."

New Study Shows Abstinence Education Lowers HIV/AIDS

A new study by the United Nations makes it clear that the abstinence education message is making a clear impact in the African HIV/AIDS rates. The study shows people are engaging in casual sex less often, waiting longer to start having sex, and infection rates are dropping. The report says that, in Zimbabwe, there has been a drop in the infection rate among pregnant women from 26% in 2002 to 18% in 2006 and that abstinence is playing a role in encouraging people to have less casual sex. Fewer people are dying-a decline of 200,000 from 2006-2007 -and new infections dropped by 300,000 last year. Though the abstinence message has helped, the UN study says more focus needs to be placed on it so prevention can hold down the numbers of new cases.

Editor's note: Isn't it amazing how politics and prejudice combine to ruin, if they can, a wonderfully beneficial course of events?


California Court Reverses Itself on Homeschool Ruling

In a huge win for thousands of Christian families in California and nationwide, a California appeals court Aug. 8 reversed itself and ruled that parents do in fact have a right to homeschool their children even if they lack teaching credentials.

The three-judge panel received nationwide attention and criticism in February when it ruled that "parents do not have a constitutional right to home school their children." It based its ruling on a nearly 80-year-old law by the California legislature. But in the decades since that law was implemented, the panel ruled Aug. 8, the legislature has implicitly accepted homeschooling as legal.

"Weconclude that California statutes permit home schooling as a species of private school education," the justices wrote in their unanimous decision. There are an estimated 166,000 homeschool students in California.

Baptist Press

Christian Broadcasters Are Nervous about Fairness Doctrine

Religion News Service reports that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is making Christian broadcasters nervous. Pelosi, D-Calif., recently said she supports resurrecting the Fairness Doctrine, a 1949 Federal Communications Commission policy that required broadcasters who sent out specific messages to set aside time for opposing views. Such a move would "really make it impossible to preach the whole counsel of God," said Rich Bott, the owner of Kansas-based Bott Radio Network, which broadcasts Christian programming across 10 states. It would also, he said, likely put him out of business.

Put in place nearly 50 years ago, the doctrine was an FCC regulation that policed the airwaves at a time when there were few other sources of information. It never carried the full weight of the law. By the 1980s, with the advent of cable television and multiple opportunities to air differing opinions, the policy fell out of favor and was finally ditched by the FCC in 1987.

While Pelosi hasn't offered legislation to reinstate the policy, she has signaled that she supports its revival. If the Fairness Doctrine were to be reinstated by Congress, broadcasters would be legally forced to follow the old protocol: one-third of the airtime given to one opinion must be offered free-of-charge to opponents.

Religion Today Summaries

Food Crisis, Drought Hit Relief Ministry In East Africa

Up to 14 million people in Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda and Kenya have little or no food, and it's creating potential calamity for the region. "East Africa is in the middle of a food shortage and a drought," said Dave Evans, vice president of government resources and programs with Food for the Hungry. "The rains that normally occur at this time of year were well below normal. So they're predicting well-below-normal harvests in all of these regions."

"The most hit are ground nuts (peanuts) and some cereals, including corn. Normally a ground nut has 24 to 30 pods per plant, but farms are reporting only five to six. We're headed into a crisis here-food prices exacerbated by drought." Although the work can be discouraging, Evans said the crisis has provided an "opportunity to reach out to their neighbors in love and share what little they have" while opening doors to lead people to Christ in tandem with local churches.

Mission Network News

Amish Population Nearly Doubles In 16 Years

In spite of relatively little outreach, the United States' Amish population has grown from an estimated 123,000 in 1992 to an estimated 227,000 today, the Associated Press reports. This growth in population has led to an exodus extending far beyond their traditional homes as they journey to affordable farmland in seven new states since 1992. "When we think they might be dying out or merely surviving, they are actually thriving," said Elizabethtown professor Don Kraybill, a leading expert on the Amish who shared his research from an upcoming book with the Associated Press. Most of the growth comes from birth and retention rates; most Amish couples have at least five children, and more than four out of five decide to stay within the church.

Religion Today Summaries

Oregon Will Help With Suicide, but Won't Pay for Meds to Prolong Life

Another Oregon resident has heard from state officials that it will pay for an assisted suicide but will not pay for the medical treatment he needs. For the second time in just over a month, a patient has said the state health insurance plan has promoted death over medical care. Randy Stroup is a 53-year-old Dexter, Ore., resident who faces a troubling bout of prostate cancer. As an uninsured resident with a need for expensive chemotherapy he applied to the Oregon health insurance plan for help. Lane Individual Practice Association administers the Oregon Health Plan in Stroup's county and they responded to his request with a letter in August saying the state would not cover the treatment but would pay for an assisted suicide.

"It dropped my chin to the floor," Stroup told Fox News. "[How could they] not pay for medication that would help my life, and yet offer to pay to end my life?" The letter has been sent to other terminal patients in the state and it follows state legislative guidelines saying the state will not cover life-prolonging treatment unless there is a better than 5% chance the patient will live for five or more years.

Federal Kids' Health Program Links with Planned Parenthood

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, designed to provide needy moms and young children with nutritious foods and health care referrals, is referring those same moms and kids to Planned Parenthood.

"It is absolutely outrageous that the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program that WIC sponsors would refer mothers to the nation's largest abortion chain for health care," commented Jim Sedlak, vice president of American Life League. "Planned Parenthood kills more children than any other single organization in the country. How can a program for children associate with it?"

The WIC Learning Online Web site links to Planned Parenthood Federation of America as a "participant referral."

Maldives Constitution Outlaws Non-Muslims

The Institute on Religion and Public Policy strongly condemns the new constitution ratified by the Maldives' legislature Aug. 7. The constitution fails to provide basic guarantees of rights and freedoms in the country for non-Muslims and also violates internationally accepted human rights standards and norms. Article 9, Section D states that "a non-Muslim may not become a citizen of the Maldives." By denying citizenship to some people on the basis of their religion, the country is violating religious minorities' freedom of worship.

"This denial of citizenship to non-Muslims is an extraordinarily harsh measure which places the Maldives among the worst countries in the world in regards to the legal foundation for freedom of religion and belief," said Institute President Joseph K. Grieboski.

In addition to denying non-Muslims citizenship, the new constitution establishes several other precepts which threaten the freedom of religion. The new constitution favors Sunni Islam over other forms of Islam, establishes certain aspects of Sharia law in the Maldives and limits the freedom of expression and thought to "manners" which are "not contrary to a tenet of Islam."

IRPP news release

Sudan: Ministries Help Prepare for Election Next Year

Mission News Network reports that peace may be on paper in Sudan, but an agreement to hold presidential and parliamentary elections in July, 2009, may plunge the country back into war. The North-South civil war killed almost two million people and cost four million more their homes, wreaking even more destruction than Darfur between 1983 and 2005, when the peace agreement was signed. Now, ministries such as Sammy Tippit Ministries and Eternal Concepts are helping churches prepare for the worst and prepare to spread the gospel. Discipleship seminars are helping students and church leaders learn not only evangelism, but essentials of the faith and how they apply to the current situation. One seminar included 40 youth leaders from various churches and the denominational heads of all five major churches in Southern Sudan.

Religion Today Summaries

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