Cross-posted from The Chicago Tribune, by Manya Brachear

Cotton swabs tucked between their jaws and cheeks, bishops from the nation’s largest Lutheran denomination sat in silence for three minutes on Thursday as they underwent testing for HIV.

Bishop Mark Hanson of the ELCA

Bishop Mark Hanson of the ELCA

Those few minutes of silence would serve to break another silence, one that the bishops insist has kept the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America from addressing the global AIDS crisis and welcoming AIDS victims into the pews.

“We in the U.S. tend to think of this as a global pandemic unrelated to people in the U.S.,” said ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson, who gave his own three minutes for the HIV test on Thursday. “For me as a married heterosexual man to be tested is a reminder that all communities are affected—if not infected.”

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