- Stephanie BethelPublic Information Officer
- Jennifer SizemorePublic Information Manager
- Allen SlaughterCanyon Ridge Christian Church
Tell the Southern Nevada Health District: HIV Should Not Be Criminalized
The Southern Nevada Health District is slated to hold a day-long round of HIV testing in honor of National HIV Testing Day this coming Saturday. While that's great, their choice of locale is not: Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas.
That's because Canyon Ridge has been a "strategic partner" of a minister in Uganda known as Martin Ssempa, who wants to kill gay people who are HIV-positive. Pastor Ssempa wants to write this into law. And while Canyon Ridge has been pressured to denounce Martin Ssempa's work, they've yet to separate themselves, and continue to call Ssempa a "prophetic minister" and someone ushering in "a new generation of world-class leaders" in Uganda. Yet this is a man who makes no bones about his desire to see gay HIV-positive people put to death.
Why would the Southern Nevada Health District join with Canyon Ridge for a day of HIV testing, when Canyon Ridge cannot condemn the work of a man who wants to kill HIV-positive people? Should the Southern Nevada Health District be in the business of making sure their test sites are safe, non-discriminatory, and uncluttered with shady relationships like that between Canyon Ridge and Martin Ssempa?
Tell the Southern Nevada Health District to stop working with Churches that are working abroad with people who want to criminalize HIV. That's irresponsible public health, and it only serves to legitimate Canyon Ridge's work with Martin Ssempa.
- Public Information Officer
- Public Information Manager
- Canyon Ridge Christian Church
I recently became aware that the Southern Nevada Health District is scheduled to hold a day of HIV testing at Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas. While I support your efforts to mark National HIV Testing Day, I have to take issue with your partnership with Canyon Ridge Christian Church.
Canyon Ridge Christian Church currently lists a Ugandan pastor named Martin Ssempa as a "strategic partner" on their Web site. Pastor Ssempa has been one of the leading champions in Uganda for a proposed law that would institute the death penalty for gay people who are HIV-positive. Pastor Ssempa's own words on the subject are frightening: "Homosexuals should absolutely not be included in Uganda’s HIV/AIDS framework. It is a crime, and when you are trying to stamp out a crime you don’t include it in your programs," Ssempa has said, suggesting that gay HIV-positive people should not even be given treatment in Uganda.
Canyon Ridge Christian Church has been asked time and again to condemn Ssempa's work, yet they continue to list him as a "strategic partner" on their Web site, and even go so far as to say that Ssempa leads a "prophetic ministry," and that he is raising "a new generation of world-class leaders" in Uganda. But all Pastor Ssempa is raising is global hatred of people living with HIV...and he's doing this with the blessing of Canyon Ridge Christian Church.
See here on Canyon Ridge's Web site for a description of the Church's relationship with this man and his ministry: http://www.canyonridge.org/default.aspx?page=8539.
I urge you to take your testing elsewhere, at least until Canyon Ridge can unequivocally condemn Pastor Martin Ssempa's work to criminalize homosexuality and criminalize people living with HIV. This is not a wise choice of location to mark National HIV Testing Day. Instead, it reinforces the message that organizations in the U.S. don't have to be held accountable for their actions abroad. And in the case of Canyon Ridge Christian Church, it's clear that they have an intimate relationship with Martin Ssempa, and have financially supported his work to criminalize and kill people living with HIV.
For more information, see the following links:
Thank you for your time.
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