Under the radar: AIDS ministry in the bible belt

Jerome R. Koch, Robert E. Beckley

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


This is a case study involving a religious congregation affiliated with the Churches of Christ (Campbellite Tradition). A key component of their ministry is a program entitled Outreach. In addition to providing food, clothing, shelter, substance abuse education, and counseling through the church, Outreach also includes direct intervention and education to those who are HIV+ or who are suffering from AIDS. This facet of the program includes providing bleach kits for disinfecting needles as well as facilitating condom distribution. The present paper provides a qualitative report of this congregation's work. We have interviewed the congregation's Evangelist/Director and other church leaders; we have reviewed the church 's promotional and teaching materials; we have also included several references to sermon transcripts from which we derive a synthesis of this congregation's sense of its mission. We are able to show that, despite its ties to a fundamentalist denomination and its strong adherence to a morally conservative ideology, all of the components of Outreach are consistent with the congregation's central values, and, paradoxically, work to enhance their material and social interests in the community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)393-408
Number of pages16
JournalReview of Religious Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 2006


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