Monday, April 06, 2009

The Christian thing to do

Sunday's Houston Chronicle featured an opinion piece on why allowing local options for setting up syringe exchange programs is the Christian thing to do. Author Dr. William Martin addresses the shift toward ministering to people with HIV/AIDS that has taken place within conservative Christian churches in recent years:
Then, in 2002, Franklin Graham hosted Prescription for Hope, a global conference attended by more than 800 Christians from many countries and denominations. PBS Frontline pointed to that gathering as the moment at which Christians got involved in confronting HIV/AIDS. Soon afterward, Rick (author of The Purpose Driven Life) and Kay Warren launched a major HIV/AIDS initiative. Today, many other churches, large and small, minister to people stricken with this disease. These ministries do not screen the people they serve to make sure they were infected through no fault of their own. They meet them at the point of their need and offer what help they can.
Then at the end of the piece Dr. Martin poses a compelling question:
How can we justify saying it is permissible, even laudable, to help people after they have contracted HIV/AIDS, but wrong to approve of measures that significantly reduce their chances of contracting that disease? Jesus had nothing to say about needles, but we do know how he treated social outcasts and sinners, and he had a great deal to say about people who let prim concern with their own righteousness interfere with offering needed assistance to those in peril.
In other news, last week the San Antonio Express-News editorial board again called on the Texas Legislature to "finally give Bexar County and other municipalities the ability to invest in a proven life-saving and cost-saving effort." The editorial also addresses common misconceptions about syringe exchange programs:
The great myth about needle exchange is that it subsidizes and encourages illegal drug use. In fact, the drug use is already taking place. Studies of needle-exchange programs around the nation demonstrate they do not increase illegal drug use.

Deuell's bill does not require communities to create needle-exchange programs. It simply gives them the option to do so.
Click here to read all four of the local option bills filed this session.

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