act up, religious freedom, and the ethics of sex
This chapter examines the Stop the Church movement, orchestrated by the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, or ACT UP. Stop the Church culminated in a nationally publicized protest in 1989 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, the seat of power of Cardinal John O’Connor. Protesting the Catholic Church’s stance on condoms, gay rights, and abortion, ACT UP members offered an alternative political and moral vision that called for sexual freedom. In doing so, they sought to limit the role of conservative religious leaders in debates about public health and HIV prevention, while simultaneously challenging the very terms of “religion” itself, often reclaiming it for their own needs.
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