The conservative Christian ministry Focus on the Family said it is a little hurt over the shock that came in response to its sponsorship and participation in a local bike race this weekend to raise funds for AIDS relief in Colorado.
"There seems to be the perception that [because] AIDS is seen as typically associated with the gay community, that Focus on the Family wouldn't care for these people," said Devin Knuckles, a spokesman for the ministry, according to the Denver Post.
"It's kind of hurtful," Knuckles said. "It's our mission to help people who need help."
The Christian ministry paid the $1,000 sponsorship fee, reserved a booth and registered two riders for the 100-mile Pikes Peak Classic race this Sunday.
Many locals expressed shock at FOTF's willingness to be involved in the AIDS fundraiser because of the ministry's long and outspoken battle against same-sex "marriage" and "the homosexuality agenda."
FOTF holds "Love Won Out" conferences throughout the country where former homosexuals and ministry leaders equip the church to respond biblically and in a Christ-like way to the issue of homosexuality. Speakers also share how those who struggle against unwanted same-sex attractions can overcome their desires with the Gospel.
However, not all are happy with FOTF's participation.
"We have had some complaints," said Linda Boedeker, executive director of the AIDS project where the money raised will go to, according to the Denver Post. "There are a lot of people [who] think that Focus on the Family must have an agenda … [but] I think they are trying to do what's right in their community."
The Southern Colorado AIDS project provides food, clothing, housing help, medical attention and counseling to those who are HIV-positive or have AIDS. The group's main focus in education includes safe sex with condoms, which makes FOTF a little uncomfortable.
"That does cause a little bit of concern that they don't teach abstinence," Knuckles said. "That (abstinence)'s certainly what we believe is the answer."
FOTF's involvement stemmed from an AIDS project volunteer who is a Christian heterosexual who has AIDS. He approached FOTF for help in the race and to try to get the two groups to move beyond stereotypes about the disease.
Many churches and denominations have also recently tried to move beyond the stereotype and focus on the people who need help.
Megachurches such as Rick Warren's Saddleback Church in California and Bill Hybels' Willowcreek Church in Illinois have spearheaded efforts for the church to move past the stigma associated with the disease and reach out to those who are in need. However, amid their humanitarian efforts, both leaders continue to maintain that homosexuality is a sin.