Anthony M. PetroDec 2, 2016
After the Wrath of God
AIDS, Sexuality, and American Religion
Oxford University Press 2015
Emerging in the 1980s, the AIDS epidemic was not just a public health crisis. It was a moral crisis too, argues Anthony M. Petro in his new book, After the Wrath of God: AIDS, Sexuality, and American Religion (Oxford University Press, 2015). Throughout the book, Petro describes the entanglements between the supposedly secular field of public health and the religious spheres of American Christianity during the long 1980s. After the Wrath of God, however, is not merely a book about the religious right or Protestant evangelical responses to the HIV/AIDS crisis. It is a broader exploration of the ways that a set of sexual ethics inspired by Christian doctrine encompassing abstinence and monogamy within heterosexual marriage came to become the national moral prescription against the epidemic as well as the religious and medical leaders who shaped that national sexuality and the AIDS activists who fought against it.