Recent battles in the "condom wars"
Events from the year 2000 to 2002, incl.
Some randomly selected events - year 2000 to 2002, incl.:
2000-JAN: Life Research Institute pamphlet:
Life Research Institute of Concord CA distributes a pamphlet titled: "Sex,
Contraception, Disease and YOU." It says that sexual activity almost
inevitably leads to disease. This pamphlet may have fueled the commonly held but mistaken belief that the latex used in condoms does not act as a barrier to HIF and other STDs:
"Former U.S. Surgeon General Everett Koop said, 'When you have sex with
someone, you are having sex with everyone they have had sex with for the
last ten years, and everyone they and their partners have had sex with for
the last ten years.' Therefore, it is extremely likely that you will get a
sexually transmitted disease (STD)...."
"BUT even the condom is very poor protection. Even when a promise to use
one is kept, they deteriorate before and during use, they leak, and they
break. The HIV virus is far smaller than human sperm (1/450th the size) so
the virus often passes right through the wall of the condom." 12
2002-FEB-11: UT: Condom giveaway at the Olympics:
A group of organizations, including the American Red Cross, Utah AIDS Foundation and Planned
Parenthood, set up a "SafeGames 2002" program to distribute
safety-related items to Olympic Games visitors in Salt Lake City, UT. These
included: hand warmers; lip balm; glow sticks; cards with telephone numbers
for emergency services, taxis and ticket services; and 250,000 condoms.
Meanwhile, the Salt Lake Olympic Organizing Committee distributed 12,000 free condoms to 2,400
Olympic athletes. Both programs were condemned by a variety
of religious organizations and pro-life groups.
Some developments -- all related to the condoms -- were:
Gayle Ruzicka, spokesperson for the Utah
Eagle Forum said: "They're sending a very unhealthy message, as
well as a very immoral message...Of course, [the suppliers are] not
bothering to tell them that the majority of the [sexually transmitted
diseases] out there have nothing to do with whether you do or do not use
a condom." 1
spokesperson for the Heritage Foundation, linked pre-marital sex
with marriage failure. He said "Here we have some of the finest
blossoms of youth, of athletes at their peak performance. There are
people who want to lead them in a direction that the body was never
meant to go. They're sowing the seeds for fragile marital relations and
they're sowing the seeds for potential divorce." 1
A coalition of pro-life groups and Fundamentalist religious
organizations held a series of protests against the condom distribution in
Salt Lake City. Two demonstrations were held at the Greater Salt Lake
Area chapter of the American Red Cross. 2
The local Red Cross office objected to what it called "the
circus-like approach" of some SafeGames 2002 volunteers. They ended
their participation in the program. Spokesperson Susan Sheehan said that
the demonstrations in front of her office "had nothing to do with it." 2
Stan Penfold, a spokesman for the Utah AIDS Foundation stated
that boxes containing about 10,000 condoms "went missing" from some SafeGames locations. Piles of condoms were
later dumped at the front door of the
The Washington Post obtained an internal Red Cross staff note
which said that the SafeGames "coalition's tactics at the Games are not
consistent with the Red Cross approach to HIV/AIDS prevention education."
Allegedly, out of the 100,000 condoms distributed to date, one involved a
volunteer tossing a packet at a local community leader, and another
resulted in a teenage woman receiving an unsolicited condom; it is not
known whether she was an adult.
Luciano Colonna, a co-founder of SafeGames said: "It's my feeling
Red Cross gave in to the pressure from protesters. The responses we've had
about our volunteers have been very positive...the American Red Cross
trained them, and did a good job in training." 2
The SafeGames program was apparently be unaffected by the Red Cross' pullout.
Volunteer schedules had already been set. Other functions were be picked
up by the remaining groups. 2
2002-FEB-14: World: Colin Powell recommends use of condoms:
MTV -- a cable channel directed at youth aged 17 to 25, conducted a "global
forum" involving teenagers in seven cities around the world. U.S.
Secretary of State Colin Powell took part. He discussed many different
questions asked by a number of teens from those cities. At one point, in
response to a Roman Catholic young woman from Milan, Italy, he allegedly said that countries had to "forget about
conservative ideas" about sex in order to effectively combat the spread
of AIDS. He said: "I believe condoms are part of the solution to the
HIV-AIDS crisis and I encourage their use by our young people who are
sexually active." 3 Powell continued: "It's
important that the whole international community come together, speak
candidly about it, forget about taboos, forget about conservative ideas with
respect to what you shouldn't tell young people about. It's the lives of
young people who are put at risk by unsafe sex — and, therefore, protect
Some developments -- all related to the topic of condoms -- were:
Christian activist Gary Bauer, a former GOP presidential candidate,
said that Powell should "follow the lead of the Bush administration
which he serves." That administration funds abstinence-only sex-ed
courses in public schools, in addition to courses which include
abstinence and protection information. 3
James Dobson, president and founder of the Fundamentalist Christian
group Focus on the Family commented: "Colin Powell is the
secretary of state, not the secretary of health. He is talking about a
subject he doesn't understand. He clearly doesn't understand the science
regarding condom efficacy... Secretary Powell's comments directly
contradict those of his boss, President Bush, who just proposed a $33
million increase in funding for abstinence-only education in the United
States. As one who has distinguished himself in the armed services,
surely Mr. Powell must understand the importance of self-control and
discipline. These very characteristics are helping to win the war
against terrorism. It is these same traits that can keep young people
from HIV infection through abstinence." 3
Ken Conner, president of the Family Research Council (FRC),
stated that Powell's comments were "reckless and irresponsible"
and a "slap in the face" for the president's supporters. 4 In a mailing to "Friends of Family Research Council"
on 2002-FEB-15, Conner said: "Colin Powell is a respected role
model. His irresponsible remarks could lead millions of young people to
believe that condoms protect against STDs. They do not...Telling young
people they can engage in sexual conduct and avoid STDs by using condoms
is like throwing someone a life preserver in a tidal wave." 6 Two days later, Conner seems to have slightly backed away
statement that implied that condoms were totally useless and
ineffective. He wrote that "There are several sexually transmitted
diseases condoms don't protect against." This would imply that
condoms are effective protection against the vast majority of STDs. He
continued: "Secretary Powell, is promoting the lie that condoms
'protect' young people, giving them a false sense of security when they
engage in life-threatening sexual behavior."
Commenting on Powell's remarks, White House spokesperson Ari Fleischer
said on FEB-14 that the secretary of state had "limited his answer to
people who are sexually active," and said his remarks were consistent
with Bush administration policy. 3 He also said: "There's,
of course, a group of people who are going to be sexually active no
matter what anybody in the government, or anybody's family, says about
abstinence. The president's point is they both need to be highlighted,"
-- i.e. both abstinence and condoms. 4 He
mentioned that the President's budget includes financial support for
educational programs that promote abstinence as well as sex-education
classes that discuss condom usage. 7
Pete Winn, associate editor of Focus on the Family's CitizenLink service asked readers to: "Contact President Bush and urge him to
immediately repudiate Secretary of State Colin Powell's comments
encouraging the world's youth to 'forget about conservative ideas' with
respect to sex education and to use condoms to protect themselves from
sexually transmitted diseases. Also, please thank President Bush for his
recent proposal to increase abstinence [-only] funding by $33 million." 3 They provided President Bush's:
On FEB-18, during an interview on CNN's Late Edition, Powell
defended his earlier statements about condoms on MTV. He said that he
had said nothing for which he should apologize. During the interview,
Powell said that, in many countries, there is a great need to educate
young people about abstinence as well as condom use and being faithful.
"But if they are going to be sexually active, we've got to educate
them how to protect themselves. And one way to do that is with condoms.
And for me to have said anything else would have been
irresponsible...And as my daughter told me when I was getting ready for
MTV, 'Dad, don't try to snow these kids.' "
Joseph Dolman, commentator for Newsday.com wrote: "Someone
should give Gen. Colin Powell another bronze star. Last week the
secretary of state went on MTV and committed an unabashed act of
heroism. He threw himself into the debate over condom use as a way to
fight AIDS - and rounds of flak have been flying at his head ever
since....He just strongly implied that - if you're going to have sex in
the age of AIDS - you're infinitely better off with a condom. Like it or
not, this is the unvarnished truth. But here's the awful part as this
skirmish in the Great American Culture War plays itself out: The sound
and fury erode prevention efforts - at a time when we need them more
than ever." 5
Vote.com conducted a public opinion poll on its web site
about Powell's comments. They asked the question: "Powell urges
condom use to fight AIDS; [Is it] Good advice?" They offered two
alternatives. Sixteen days into the poll, results were:
Yes! "If young people choose to have
sex, they need to know how to protect themselves. Their lives are at stake." 19,292 votes (57%).
No! "His words were reckless and irresponsible. He should promote abstinence, not so-called
'safe sex'." 14,729 votes (43%).
Vote.com sent the final results to both Secretary of State Colin
Powell and President George W. Bush. 8
George W. Bush mentioned youth sexuality in two of his speeches:
On 2002-FEB-26, he mentioned: "Abstinence is the surest way and
the only completely effective way to prevent unwanted pregnancies and
sexually transmitted diseases."
On FEB-27, he said: "When our children face a choice between
self-restraint and self-destruction, government should not be neutral.
Government should not sell children short by assuming they are
incapable of acting responsibly. We must promote the good choices."
In the latter speech, Bush seems to believe that youth have only two
"Self-restraint" (i.e. abstinence) or
"Self-destruction" (i.e. engaging in sexual activity).
He seems to have discounted the possibility of a third option: engaging
in safer sex. Like other conservative Christian information sources, he
seems to telling young people that condoms and other method of preventing
the transmission of STDs are ineffective. 9
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- Stuart Shepard, "Olympic Condom Giveaway Decried," Focus on the
Family, 2002-FEB-11, at: http://www.family.org/
- Mary Pat Flaherty & Gilbert Gaul, "Red Cross Quits AIDS Effort:
Abortion Foes Protested Condom Distribution at Olympics," Washington Post,
2002-FEB-22, Page D12. Online at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/
- Pete Winn, "Powell pushes condoms to youth," Focus on the
Family, 2002-FEB-15, at: http://www.family.org/
- "Powell backs condom comments," Associated Press, at: http://www.washingtonpost.com
- Joseph Doman, "Powell's MTV comments aren't the problem,"
2002-FEB-20, Newsday.com at: http://www.newsday.com/
- Ken Connor, "Powell's Reckless Remarks Put Young Lives at Risk,"
Family Research Council's Washington Update to "Friends of Family
Research Council." 2002-FEB-15
- Ken Connor, "Safe-Sex "Pow-Wow!" Sends Mixed Messages to Public,"
Family Research Council's Washington Update to "Friends of Family
Research Council." 2002-FEB-18.
- Vote.com's web site is, predictably, at: http://www.vote.com/
- Ben Taylor, "Dobson Thanks Bush for Abstinence Support,"
Focus on the Family, at: http://www.family.org/
- Heather Boonstra "Public Health Advocates Say Campaign to Disparage
Condoms Threatens STD Prevention Efforts," Guttmacher Report on Public
Policy, Vol. 6, Nbr. 1, 2003-MAR, at: http://www.guttmacher.org/
- Steve Bradshaw. "Vatican: Condoms don't stop Aids," Guardian
newspaper, 2003-OCT-09, at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/
- "Sex, Contraception, Disease and YOU," Life Research Institute, 2000-JAN,
- Abid Aslam, "Uganda Disputes Condom Shortage as U.N. Envoy Blames Bush
AIDS Policy," OneWorld US, 2005-AUG-29, at: http://us.oneworld.net/
- Karin Fransson & Karin Fransson, "Abstinence at the Expense of Condoms?," Lund University, 2005-FALL, at: http://www.solidaritetshuset.nu/ This is a PDF file
Copyright © 2002 to 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2002-FEB-21
Latest update: 2010-NOV-21
Author: B.A. Robinson