Monday, January 30, 2006

Article: Bush Administration Giving Billions to Churches

Read this in the Post this morning...

New groups are springing up to win a piece of President Bush's $15 billion AIDS program, with traditional players and religious groups joining forces to improve their chances in a competition that already has targeted nearly a quarter of its grants for faith-based organizations.

The administration is putting out a call for new community and church groups to get involved in HIV prevention and care in 15 target countries, most in sub-Saharan Africa. It is reserving $200 million specifically for groups with little or no government grant experience.

Groups that have deep local ties in the countries and focus on abstinence and fidelity - instead of just condoms - are faring well.


The abstinence emphasis, say some longtime AIDS volunteers, has led to a confusing message and added to the stigma of condom use in parts of Africa.

This doesn't surprise me at all. The administration has already spent tens of millions of dollars supporting abstinence education, even though studies show that it is counter productive. (I would link to the studies, but most have graphic discussions of, well, things that we all know go on in high school that parents like to pretend don't happen - and I don't want to get anyone in trouble if they read this at work. You'll just have to Google it. Here's a hint - it has to do with the opposite of abstinence).

The administration has done a good thing by increasing AIDS funding. And for that, I applaud them.

And I once had a very open mind when it came to alternative ways of reducing teen pregnancy and stopping the spread of disease. But having studied it at length, I've concluded that abstinence education just doesn't work. They've read the same studies, but continue to fund these programs out of moral conviction and/or political calculation.

Also, I purposefully wrote "Giving Billions to Churches" in my headline, and not "Religious Groups" as the Post misleadingly writes. There are almost no mosques, synagogues, temples, or other religious groups receiving this money. The vast bulk of it is being steered directly to evangelical Christian Churches and, to a lesser extent, the Catholic Church.

They are using AIDS money as a cover for political patronage.

[Insert Expletive Here]


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