Institute on Religion and Democracy — According to the HIV and AIDS Network of the United Church of Christ (UCC), Condoms should be distributed at places of worship. The March 19 statement, issued at a presentation to the UCC Wider Church Ministries Board, also called for making condoms available at faith-based educational settings. According to UCC executive Michael Schuenemeyer, “The practice of safer sex is a matter of life and death. People of faith make condoms available because we have chosen life so that we and our children may live.”
The UCC is the successor denomination to the Puritan and Congregationalist traditions. Membership has dropped steadily, from 2.1 million in 1967 to 1.2 million today. The UCC lost six percent of its membership in the most recent year, according to the 2009 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches.
IRD Vice President for Research and Programs Alan Wisdom commented:
“Schuenemeyer claims, ‘People of faith make condoms available because we have chosen life so that we and our children may live.’ One wonders where the children will come from if UCC members are religiously using their church-dispensed condoms.
“It is ironic that the main thing the UCC is offering its sexually active members is the technical assistance of condoms. Those can easily be obtained at any corner drugstore. One would hope that a church would be offering some moral guidance not available at the drugstore.
“The UCC, which prides itself on being ‘ecumenical,’ was quick to criticize Pope Benedict XVI for reiterating longstanding Catholic doubts about condoms as the solution to HIV/AIDS. It might have done better to consider more seriously the reasons why Catholic authorities oppose artificial contraception: because it turns sex into an activity in which persons instrumentalize one another’s bodies for pleasure, thus promoting the kind of promiscuity that accelerates the spread of HIV/AIDS.
“Parents concerned about schools distributing condoms might assume that the church would have their backs, reinforcing the traditional Christian ethic reserving sex for marriage. In the case of the UCC, that assumption would be wrong. Now, apparently, parents need to think twice before dropping their kids off for Sunday school.
“Efforts to distance the UCC from its Puritan heritage have been a consistent trend, but this move to distribute condoms is truly a bold departure.”
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