Two years after U-2's Bono challenged American Christians to become engaged in the AIDS pandemic, a new survey reveals a small, but significant increase among evangelicals willing to donate money to help and support children orphaned by AIDS.


The poll found that 14 percent of American evangelicals definitely would be willing to donate funds to AIDS education and prevention in sub-Saharan Africa and other regions devastated by the disease.  It also indicated 17 percent would help children orphaned by AIDS.  These statistics are much higher than in 2002 when the same poll found 5 percent and 3 percent, respectively.


The new survey revealed that 12 percent of Americans in general were willing to donate money to help prevent AIDS, and 13 percent interested in supporting children orphaned by AIDS.


"The needle is moving in the right direction, but we - Americans overall and Christians - still have a long way to go," said Richard Stearns, president of World Vision, which commissioned the survey.


The survey of 1,009 people was conducted by the Barna Research Group, Ltd. over two weeks in late October and early November.  The margin of error is 3 percent.


President George W. Bush promised $15 billion over five years to fight the epidemic.  While the action is welcome, much more will be needed, said Stearns.


"This crisis is too big for the U.S. Government alone.  It requires action from all sides ? businesses, individuals and people of faith," he said.

JC:  The last Barna research was commissioned by World Vision?


SH:  That’s right, in fact we’ve actually commissioned (something) in the past so we actually have something to go of off over the last three years, have a chance to watch either the fact that this issue of AIDS is becoming well-known issue amongst predominantly evangelical because that’s been the real shocker both positive and negative over the three years as to whether they consider this an issue worth advocating for, getting involved in.  So we’ve worked with Barna to try and understand that community, see what it reflects.


JC:  What factors would you contribute the increase in support to?


SH:  I think for one the national leadership actually making this an issue that’s worthy of not only talking about but doing something about.  The Pepfar (?) Grant by President Bush I think did in a very large way registered this as an issue that we all need to pay attention to.  I would highlight the Hope Tours that World Vision did in 17 of the major cities of our country in which they were talking to editorial boards, major religious leadership, major donors, community leaders, often in three and four day events, series of events in which we were going from morning till night saying this is the issue that we need to pay attention to.  I think also the fact that major Christian leaders have seen to it to begin speaking out.  Ricky K. Warren (?) of Saddleback Church, Bill and Lynn Hibles (?) at Willow Creek, Max Lucado are just three of the very prominent, and Bishop Blake at West L.A. Church of God and Christ, Horace Smith out of Chicago, these have been, Herb Lusk out of Philadelphia, these have been major leadership moves where this is no longer an issue that is simply to be borne by those who have a heart for those who are caught up in average lifestyles.  This is a global pandemic that all Christians need to pay attention to.