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Protesters rally outside church holding AIDS seminar

Protesters rally outside church holding AIDS seminar

A group of protesters on Sunday rallied outside a western Kentucky church in opposition to a seminar taking place there on prayer and AIDS. About a dozen people gathered outside the Cedar Street Missionary Baptist Church in Owensboro, where the Annual Black Church Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS was being conducted. They carried signs that read "No mercy in hell" and "No civil rights for sodomites." The worship service offered HIV testing at the end of the program. Cedar Street Missionary Baptist Church did not sponsor the event but offered the use of its building. "You cannot help AIDS with medicine," argued the Reverend Jack Oliver, who led the protest outside. "You must stop sodomy." Oliver's group protests weekly around Owensboro against abortion and gays and lesbians. Cedar Street's assistant pastor, Michael Hardy, invited Oliver and the protesters inside for Sunday's service. Oliver declined the invitation. Inside the church, organizers passed out bulletins that included the following prayer: "We pray for unity, not only in the black church, Lord, but in all of your churches, that we may find a unified way to fight this disease of HIV/AIDS." Speakers spoke of tolerance and the need to end the stigma of AIDS, which is the nation's leading cause of death among blacks between the ages of 25 and 44. Hardy said the church has previously loaned its building to the HIV/AIDS group. "We were trying to inform them that God's place is for everybody," Hardy said. "Everyone is invited here--right or wrong." (AP)

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