Aug. 25, 2005 – Facing complaints that a religious organization promoting abstinence-only pledges was also promoting religion using federal money, the United States Department of Health and Human Services pulled funding from the program Monday until the group takes action to ensure the money will not be used for religious purposes.
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The decision to withhold the $75,000 in abstinence education funding from the program Silver Ring Thing follows growing complaints made by the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups concerned that the organization was using federal money to push overtly religious ideas on American adolescents.
In May, the ACLU of Massachusetts filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking a ban on federal funding for Silver Ring Thing. The suit, ACLU of Massachusetts v Mike Leavitt, charges that the organization is a "ministry that uses abstinence education as a means to bring â€˜unchurchedâ€™ students to Jesus Christ." According to court papers, the ACLU charges the group with misusing over $1 million in federal funds.
According to the Washington Post, the Family and Youth Services Bureau of the federal Health Department sent a letter to Silver Ring Thing administrators stating that funds would be withheld unless the group takes action to keep the religious component of the program separate from the abstinence-based education efforts. The Alliance Defense Fund, which is representing Silver Ring Thing in the ACLU case, maintains that the group keeps religious elements out of its secular abstinence education program.
Federal funding for abstinence-only sex education doubled this year, despite mounting evidence that many of the programs, despite proving unable to demonstrate effectiveness, provide misleading and scientifically false information.