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Zico
11-01-2010, 05:50 PM

HIV still carries a stigma in South Africa’s townships

"Today I will start with a three-part sermon on: Jesus was HIV-positive," South African Pastor Xola Skosana recently said in a Sunday church service.

The words initially stunned his congregation in Cape Town's Khayelitsha township into silence, and then set tongues wagging in churches across the country.

Some Christians have been outraged, saying he is portraying Jesus as sexually promiscuous.

HIV is mainly transmitted through sex, but can also be spread through needle-sharing, contaminated blood, pregnancy and breastfeeding.

However, as Pastor Skosana told those gathered in the modest Luhlaza High School hall for his weekly services, in many parts of the Bible Jesus put himself in the position of the destitute, the sick and the marginalised.

"Wherever you open the scriptures Jesus puts himself in the shoes of people who experience brokenness. Isaiah 53, for example, clearly paints a picture of Jesus who takes upon himself the infirmities and the brokenness of humanity," he told the BBC.

He is also quick to emphasise that he is using the metaphor to highlight the danger of the HIV/Aids pandemic, which still carries a stigma in South Africa's townships.

"Of course, there's no scientific evidence that Jesus had the HI virus in his bloodstream," says the pastor, whose non-denominational Hope for Life Ministry is part of a growing charismatic movement in South Africa.

"The best gift we can give to people who are HIV-positive is to help de-stigmatise Aids and create an environment where they know God is not against them, he's not ashamed of them."

'Mock Christ'

But Pastor Mike Bele, who officiates at the Nomzamo Baptist Church in nearby Gugulethu, said most clergy in Khayelitsha and other Cape Town townships are strongly opposed to associating Jesus with HIV.

"The subject of my Jesus being HIV-positive is a scathing matter," he says.

"I believe no anointed leader with a sound mind about the scriptures and the role of Christ in our lives would deliberately drag the name of Christ to the ground."

For Pastor Bele portraying Jesus as HIV-positive means he becomes part of the problem, not the solution.

"The pastor needs to explain how it came about for him to bring Christ to our level, when Christ is supreme and is God," he says.

"There is a concern that non-believers would mock Christ and try to generalise Christ as opposed to the powerful force we believe him to be."

But Pastor Skosana, who has been in the ministry for 24 years and lost two sisters to Aids, argues that religious leaders have to play a much bigger role in combating the spread of the pandemic in South Africa where more than 5.7 million people live with the virus - more than in any other country.

And he concluded the last of his three-part sermon by taking an HIV test in front of the congregation - after which 100 churchgoers followed his example.

"The message to the church is that it is not enough for us to give people food privately and give them groceries, we must create an environment that's empowering because most people who are HIV-positive will not necessarily die of Aids-related sickness but more of a broken heart, out of rejection," he says.

'Fear and ignorance'

Amid the controversy, Reverend Siyabulela Gidi, the director of South African Council of Churches in the Western Cape, has come out in support of Pastor Skosana, saying his standpoint is theologically correct.
Continue reading the main story
HIV in South Africa

* 5.7m carry Aids virus
* 18% of those aged 15 to 49 HIV-positive
* 460,000 receiving ARVs(estimated in 2008)
* 350 000 deaths due to Aids (estimated in 2007)
* 1.4m Aids orphans

Source: UNAids/WHO/Unicef epidemiological fact sheet, 2008

"What Pastor Skosana is clearly saying is that Christ at this point in time would be on the side of the people who are HIV-positive - people who are being sidelined by the very church that is attacking him," the Anglican priest says.

"Pastor Skosana has fortunately got the country talking, he's got the world talking and that is what theology is all about."

Outside religious circles, Pastor Skosana has also received support from Aids activists.

"The pastor's sermon takes away the stigma that HIV is a sin and that it's God's punishment," says Vuyiseka Dubula, general secretary of the powerful Aids lobby group Treatment Action Campaign.

"To associate Jesus with HIV is powerful, particularly for those who go to church. Now people are starting to think: 'If Jesus could be HIV-positive who am I not to have it even if I go to church?'"

Jan Glazewski, a professor of marine and environmental law at the University of Cape Town who has been HIV-positive for 25 years, wrote in a letter to the Cape Times newspaper that he identified with the idea that God was on the side of the poor and marginalised.


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IAmZamzam
11-01-2010, 10:02 PM
Is it just me or did HIV not exist until the late seventies at the earliest?

Are you sure this isn't another one of those articles that starts off as a spoof or goof and then ends up getting mistaken for a real news story? That happens a lot, you know, as snopes.com will attest.
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sabr*
11-01-2010, 11:01 PM
As-Salāmu `Alaykum (السلام عليكم):

Surah Al-Ma'idah 5:17

17. Surely, in disbelief are they who say that Allah is the Messiah, son of Maryam (Mary) . Say (O Muhammad ): "Who then has the least power against Allah, if He were to destroy the Messiah, son of Maryam (Mary), his mother, and all those who are on the earth together?" And to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them. He creates what He wills. And Allah is Able to do all things. (Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan translation)

Surah Ash Shura 42:13

13. He (Allah) has ordained for you the same religion (Islam) which He ordained for Nuh (Noah), and that which We have inspired in you (O Muhammad ), and that which We ordained for Ibrahim (Abraham), Musa (Mosesý) and 'Iesa (Jesus) saying you should establish religion (i.e. to do what it orders you to do practically), and make no divisions in it (religion) (i.e. various sects in religion). Intolerable for the Mushrikun , is that to which you (O Muhammad ) call them. Allah chooses for Himself whom He wills, and guides unto Himself who turns to Him in repentance and in obedience.
(Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan translation)

Surah Maryam 19:27-36

27. Then she brought him (the baby) to her people, carrying him. They said: "O Mary! Indeed you have brought a thing Fariya (an unheard mighty thing).

28. "O sister (i.e. the like) of Harun (Aaron) [not the brother of Musa (Moses), but he was another pious man at the time of Maryam (Mary)]! Your father was not a man who used to commit adultery, nor your mother was an unchaste woman."

29. Then she pointed to him. They said: "How can we talk to one who is a child in the cradle?"

30. "He ['Isa (Jesus)] said: Verily! I am a slave of Allah, He has given me the Scripture and made me a Prophet;"

31. "And He has made me blessed wheresoever I be, and has enjoined on me Salat (prayer), and Zakat, as long as I live."

32. "And dutiful to my mother, and made me not arrogant, unblest.

33. "And Salam (peace) be upon me the day I was born, and the day I die, and the day I shall be raised alive!"

34. Such is 'Isa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary). (it is) a statement of truth, about which they doubt (or dispute).

35. It befits not (the Majesty of) Allah that He should beget a son [this refers to the slander of Christians against Allah, by saying that 'Isa (Jesus) is the son of Allah]. Glorified (and Exalted be He above all that they associate with Him). When He decrees a thing, He only says to it, "Be!" and it is.

36. ['Isa (Jesus) said]: "And verily Allah is my Lord and your Lord. So worship Him (Alone). That is the Straight Path. (Allah's Religion of Islamic Monotheism which He did ordain for all of His Prophets)." [Tafsir At-Tabari] (Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan translation)

Practicing Muslims protect the honor and name of all رسل Rusul and نبی Nabiun

Why not promote the qualities and contributions of the righteous prophets and messengers?
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Zafran
11-01-2010, 11:08 PM
Salaam

the mod should deal with this.

peace
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