I recently discovered the following decade-old story and thought it should be added to our records at XGW. Quoted text is from a 1999 broadcast of PRI’s This American Life. Numbers indicate location of quotes in the broadcast.

In 1988 Charlene Riling, a lesbian, was tested for HIV at the New Haven County Health Department:

I was told that I was positive at that time, the councilor then proceeded to go on to a uh, her own little religious um agenda you know, going on to say that Jesus Christ heals all those who repent their sins, referring to my lesbianism as being a sin and that people are cured of AIDS and you know AIDS is a sinful disease and that’s how people get it but you can be cured of it umm if you repent your sins

Charlene underwent two years of treatment before being retested and learning she did not in fact have HIV.

I just broke down and just cried and cried and cried and just couldn’t believe it that I had been betrayed, and I really had been lied to and that this whole illusion was created for religion, to prove a point, to get me to go to Hope Ministries to convert from being a lesbian to being straight and then probably to be set up to be retested again and be told I was negative.

This claim Jesus cures HIV as well as homosexuality is of course is hardly isolated. It seems Hope Ministry no longer includes HIV in “services available” on their Exodus listing. If you thought Stephen Bennett’s page was full of enough early 90’s web design overload to cause a seizure, then check out Hope Ministry‘s page.

It should also be noted a 1995 broadcast of 60 Minutes featured Riling’s story. Transcripts.

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