Everyone walks? Really?

Because that is not the message being sent by AFAN for the 2006 AIDS Walk. Before I go any further, I want to clarify how much I support AFAN's mission and applaud their efforts.

Ok, back to why I am upset by this morning's antics.

First and foremost is the timing. Did they deliberately schedule this for 10:00 on a Sunday morning? I volunteered months ago, whilst J and I were still without a church home; otherwise I too would have been counted out. I just wonder if they aren't discouraging the participation of the Christian community? Perhpas they think we wouldn't be interested? (Trust me, the timing wouldn't have kept the Westboro Baptisit kooks away if they really wanted to be there.) Not EVERY church worships Sunday mornings, but it is by far the prevailing time for corporate worship. So EVERYONE WALKS, except those "churchy types." (BTW, I did see a couple of Habitat friends. However, while Habitat is a faith-based initiative, it is VERY loosely thus)

Secondly, there were The Holy Order Sin City Sisters. Now, I am not Catholic, capital "C," but I was mildy offended, nonetheless. It wasn't simply the fact that these men are mocking a Vocation that grated, it was their cavelier use of the word "Holy." Again, I support much of their work, even that with which I disagree-- simply because I celebrate the differing voices in this fight-- but Holy? This is the very opposite of holy. They are not solemn, they are not reverent, they are not "set aside." They do, however wear false eyelashes, carry sparkly purses (and the occasional whip), and pass out sticker "blessings."

Finally, there was the shirt which I was given to wear. I suppose it is a character flaw of mine, but I am not secure enough to wear this shirt design. AIDS is not strictly a homosexual disease. Years have been spent education the public to this. This year's t-shirt pretty much undid that work. See my Flickr page later for what I am talking about.

Having said this, the walk raised well over $200K for AFAN's prgrams, which include a food bank, educational opportunities, and assistance with medications. HIV isn't the same death sentence it was 20 years ago, but let us not forget that it IS a death sentence nevertheless.

AFAN is filling a gap in the community. AFAN is giving hope in the most hopeless of circumstances. AFAN is reaching out to our own society's lepers. AFAN is, whether they realise it or not, doing the work of Christ. They are not doing it in His name. In fact, one of the biggest sponsors of the AIDS Walk is Penn Gillette, a very vocal atheist.

So why was the faith community not better represented? Was it simply a matter of scheduling? Were we unwanted? Have we made this community believe we don't want to stand with them? And if so, what can we do to better represent Christ to these, His people? How can we be uncompromisingly compassionate? I guess I have the next 11 months or so to find some answers.


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