One of the great moral battles of our time is abortion. The other is AIDS.
With the 32nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Stacy at Media Soul
(hat tip Okie on the Lam
) wrote about her experience with Operation Rescue and shared with her her readers a song, 4,000 lives
, which includes this line:
The promiscuity in our land
Has left tons of blood on our hands
With abortion, the core cause of this "tons of blood" is a lack of respect for morality; specifically, a lack of respect for the sanctity of a life God created. AIDS' root is also in a lack of respect for morality. We in the West think of is a lack of respect for God's plan for sexuality. But in Africa, it is a lack of respect for God's New Testament plan for the relationship between men and women.
Today's LATimes -- which is covering Africa with depth and continuity, I have to say -- shared with its readers the story of AIDS in Swaziland.
Swaziland has the highest AIDS rate in Africa, and therefore the world: 38% of its population is infected with the HIV virus or has AIDS. The LAT places the blame:
It is almost impossible here for a woman to legally grow up. She goes from being her father's child to her husband's child. If he dies of AIDS, she becomes his parents' child, and as a minor she is not seen as the guardian of her own children. She cannot sue or own property and is rarely granted a court hearing. Swaziland's ancient customary law forms a confusing second arm to the legal system, and a woman needs a man to access those structures.
UNICEF representative Alan Brody spent the last five years in Swaziland trying to figure out why the human immunodeficiency virus, which causes AIDS, spread so quickly. He concluded that a major reason was men's dominance of women and their use of laws, religions and customs to justify it.
The reference to religion at the end of the paragraph above is the only reference to religion in the story. As I read it, and wondered how a society could allow the sorts of rape and degredation mentioned in the story, I thought the reporter missed the point. Where is religion in this story?
I thought research would show Swaziland to be animist in its primary belief system, and that it had not been exposed to Christ's teachings, which liberated women from the kind of society described above. What I found was much worse.
According to State Department figures, the dominant religion in Swaziland is Zionism (40% of the population), a blend of Christianity and indigenous animalist/ancestral worship, with Roman Catholic, Christians, Mormons and Jews making up 59% and Muslims making up just 1%.
Those figures shocked me, so I dug deeper and found a much better story than the LATimes piece. It ran in early December on Inter Press Service News Agency and contained the following deeper explanation of the tie between Swaziland's religion and its aids crisis:
Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse (SWAGAA) has noted that men accused in criminal cases of rape and incest continue to defend themselves by saying they are following ‘'God's way'', as one defendant testified, to do with women as they like.
‘'Incest and sexual abuse are key contributors to the spread of AIDS in Swaziland,'' asserts Alan Brody, national representative for the United Nation's children's welfare organisation UNICEF.
It seems that Zionism is not a Christian religion at all, but Christian trappings masking an old religion. It hasn't succeeded in reforming ancient views about women, a process Jesus started when he spoke to the Samarian woman at the well, honored his mother, took a prostitute into his care, and healed the woman who touched his robe. Paul carried it on, recognizing the great importance of women in the church and in marriage.
This blending of Christianity and very non-Christian beliefs will make it much harder for those with ministries to Swaziland -- whether they're Christian or secular -- to make headway. We do indeed fight a cunning enemy.