"You're going to have to up your game because pressures exist today unlike any time in politics," Graham said at a Washington, D.C. event co-hosted by a number of organizations that have worked together to fight AIDS around the world, including World Relief, World Vision, Pan African Christian AIDS Network, UNICEF and the United Methodist Church.
Foreign aid is only about 1 percent of the budget and not the cause of the nation's budget woes. For this reason, Graham believes it is important for faith groups to let their congressional representatives know they will stand behind them, or "provide a safety net," if they do not cut foreign aid programs to fight AIDS.
"In my state, the evangelical Christian community, the church community, the faith community is listened to," Graham said.
The primary federal program for AIDS relief is The President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR. It was first passed under President George W. Bush with bipartisan support and continues under President Barack Obama.
Graham also argued that foreign aid benefits national security by building allies abroad and rooting out the suffering that terrorist organizations use as a recruiting tool. Graham also believes that PEPFAR has used taxpayer dollars wisely; 67,000 people received treatment for AIDS in 2004, Graham said, and now over 5 million people are getting treatment through the program.
"This is a smart investment," Graham said. "We're building friends and allies for the future. We're doing the right thing. God will stand with us as long as we stand with Him."
CMA Vice President for Govt. Relations Jonathan Imbody: "CMDA CEO Dr. David Stevens accompanied Senator Graham in 2012 to meet with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to discuss strategies on continuing international health aid in the midst of a struggling economy. I've also been working with Senator Graham on this issue and attended the above-mentioned event at a U.S. Senate office building celebrating 10 years of PEPFAR's success in fighting AIDS and treating patients.
"When the program called for us all to join in singing 'Amazing Grace,' I jokingly wondered to a colleague next to me if the Capitol police might storm the meeting and carry us out in handcuffs, citing an imagined church-state violation. But that didn't happen, and the remarkable coalition of faith community leaders, AIDS activists, Republican politicians and Obama administration officials gathered there focused on the common ground and goals we all share in pursuing healing and hope for AIDS patients.
"Several statistics demonstrate the basis for such co-belligerence ('waging of a war in cooperation against a common enemy without a formal treaty of military alliance')--a phrase applied by Christian philosopher Francis Schaeffer to alliances of Christians and others for a shared purpose.
- The World Health Organization released a report revealing that between 30 percent and 70 percent of the
health infrastructure in Africa is currently owned by faith-based
- The Gallup World Poll asked sub-Saharan Africans in 19 countries about their confidence in eight social and political institutions. Overall across the continent, they were most likely to say they were confident in the religious organizations (76 percent) in their countries.2
"Thankfully, even administrations antagonistic to many of our public policy positions recognize this strength and continue to work with the faith community in the fight to eradicate disease and minister to patients overseas."
1. "Faith-based organizations play a major role in HIV/AIDS care and treatment in sub-Saharan Africa," February 8, 2007: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/notes/2007/np05/en/index.html.
2. Gallup Poll, "Africans' Confidence in Institutions -- Which Country Stands Out?" January 18, 2007: http://www.gallupworldpoll.com/content/?ci=26176.