Testing positive does it to some HIVers. For others, it’s starting meds
or getting sick. But no matter the cause, most people with HIV know all
too well what it’s like to have their entire sense of self and safety
come undone in seconds. What may surprise you is that many HIVers with
a religious bent define such moments less as emotional traumas than
spiritual crises. Not that they welcome
misery, but they do try to see it as an opportunity for growth and
healing. In fact, it’s often what sends them back to God again.
your mind keeps playing the sound of a long-forgotten hymn, consider
heeding the call. Such subtle intuitions can lead to life-changing
discoveries, and a church, temple or mosque may provide the hope and
strength you can’t find elsewhere. But seeking comfort in the arms of
organized religion—especially when it is so often the voice of anti-PWA
rhetoric and policies—is a hard pill for many HIVers to swallow.
essence of ministry should be the willingness to listen first, no
matter where a person comes from,” says the United Church of Christ’s
Michael Schuenemeyer about intolerant congregations. The minister, who
directs his church’s global HIV-awareness programs, encourages all
soul-searching HIVers to look for an open and affirming one, no matter
their faith of origin.
For the best resource on HIV-sensitive
denominations, look to the divine light of the Web. The Council for
Religious AIDS Networks (www.aidsfaith.com) and BeliefNet
(www.beliefnet.com) will get you started. Going home may be
frightening, but as Martin Luther King Jr. said, “You don’t have to see
the whole staircase—just take the first step.”
Nourish your spiritual needs at these progressive online
- Unitarian Universalist Association (www.uua.org)
- United Church of Christ (www.ucc.org)
- Center for Progressive Christianity (www.tcpc.org)
- Congregation Beth Simchat Torah (www.cbst.org)
- Union for Reform Judaism (www.urj.org).