In After the Wrath of God, Anthony Petro vividly narrates the religious history of AIDS in America.
Delving into the culture wars over sex, morality, and the future of the American nation, he demonstrates how religious leaders and AIDS activists have shaped debates over sexual morality and public health from the 1980s to the present day.
While most attention to religion and AIDS foregrounds the role of the Religious Right, Petro takes a much broader view, encompassing the range of mainline Protestant, evangelical, and Catholic groups—alongside AIDS activist organizations—that shaped public discussions of AIDS prevention and care in the US.
Petro analyzes how the AIDS crisis prompted American Christians across denominations and political persuasions to speak publicly about sexuality—especially homosexuality—and to foster a moral discourse on sex that spoke not only to personal concerns but to anxieties about the health of the nation.
He reveals how the epidemic increased efforts to advance a moral agenda regarding the health benefits of abstinence and monogamy, a legacy glimpsed as much in the traction gained by abstinence education campaigns as in the more recent cultural purchase of gay marriage.
The first book to detail the history of religion and the AIDS epidemic in the US, After the Wrath of God is essential reading for anyone concerned with the intersection of religion and public health.
*Book description from publisher