Florida recalls anti-AIDS brochure for being too religious
The politicization of the AIDS crisis continues. This week, under pressure from the American Civil Liberties Union, Florida's Department of Health pulled a pamphlet called "A Christian Response to AIDS."

The brochure apparently said such evil things as:

  • "If we are to love as Jesus loved, we each must face the issues of AIDS."

  • "Jesus' response to the ill and disabled was full of compassion—not condemnation, fear or rejection. Jesus set the example for us to follow."

  • "Jesus calls on us to respond with love to everyone, especially those who are suffering."

"The continuous use of the word 'our,' as well as 'we' and 'us,' can only convey the impression of state endorsed and state sponsored religion," the ACLU complained.

The health department has sent a letter to all county health departments and local health groups, asking them to pull the brochures from circulation. There is a legitimate First Amendment issue here: these brochures did have the Department of Health logo on them. The state can distribute such religiously themed literature, but it should be wary of embracing the pamphlet's religious voice as its own. The answer is to fix the brochures, not to pull them from circulation entirely. God forbid that the state should encourage Christians to get involved in fighting AIDS.

Baptism or bath? Baptisms in the Middle Ages were popular—but not always for the right reasons. A ninth-century German monk named Notker the Stammerer, in his Life of Charlemagne, tells of a baptism ceremony where 50 potential converts arrived—far more than expected. The church simply didn't have enough clean linen garments to go around, so the emperor ordered shirts to be cut up, sewn together, and ...

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