Funding Blocked For Faith-Based Organization

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This is pretty interesting. Apparently a faith-based group was using federal funds to promote their religion, so the administration pulled the funds. They claim they weren’t.

Representatives of the Pennsylvania-based nonprofit describe Silver Ring Thing as a “faith-based” group but dispute charges it has commingled its public funds with religious activities.

“Any religious teaching that goes on is separate in time and place from what the government is funding,” said Joel Oster, senior litigation counsel at the Alliance Defense Fund, which is representing the Silver Ring Thing. “They offer a religious program and they offer a secular program; kids can choose which one they want to go to.”

But does their website tell the real story or is it just not updated?

In an advertisement on its Web site for a set of educational materials on DVD, Silver Ring Thing promises: “A secular program is also in development.”

Personally, I’m in favor of funding these organizations. I haven’t always been, because I think this is a slippery slope, but common sense tells me that many people will benefit from increasing funding to these organizations, so I support it. I only ask that they don’t knowingly promote their religion while helping people. I’m sure there’s going to be some crossover, where people who are getting help will want to find out more about the religion, but I can live with that.

In any event, I find this news pretty encouraging, as it draws a clear line in the sand about what is appropriate behavior for faith-based groups and what is not.

More from the Washington Post:

In a letter to the program director, Harry Wilson, associate commissioner of the Family and Youth Services Bureau, concluded that the project funded with federal dollars “includes both secular and religious components that are not adequately safeguarded.”

The action comes three months after the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against HHS, accusing the administration of using tax dollars to promote Christianity. In documents filed in federal court in Boston, the ACLU alleged that the activities, brochures and Web site of Silver Ring Thing were “permeated with religion” and use “taxpayer dollars to promote religious content, instruction and indoctrination.”

Teenage graduates of the program sign a covenant “before God Almighty” to remain virgins and earn a silver ring inscribed with a Bible passage reminding them to “keep clear of sexual sin.” Many of its events are held at churches.

In filings with the Internal Revenue Service, the organization describes its mission as “evangelistic ministry” with an emphasis on “evangelistic crusade planning.”

UPDATE: 10:08 am CMT
Balloon Juice points to a 60 Minutes piece that shows what the group’s founder, Denny Pattyn, says about condoms.

“My own daughter, my 16-year-old daughter, tells me she’s going to be sexually active. I would not tell her to use a condom,” says Pattyn. “I don’t think it’ll protect her. It won’t protect her heart. It won’t protect her emotional life. And it’s not going to protect her. I don’t want her to get out there and think that she’s going to be protected using a condom.”

Yes, I think the administration made the right decision.

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