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Friday, May 27, 2005

First My Cooch, Now My Soul  
Over the past three years, the federal government has awarded more than one million dollars to the "Silver Ring Thing," an abstinence-only organization that describes its mission as "offering a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as the best way to live a sexually pure life."

Last week, in response to a lawsuit filed by the ACLU and Jenner & Block LLP against the federal government for funding religious activities in an abstinence-only program, the Silver Ring Thing substantially altered and removed religious content from its website.

During the "Silver Ring Thing's" flagship three-hour program members testify about how accepting Jesus Christ improved their lives, quote Bible passages, and urge audience members to ask the Lord Jesus Christ to come into their lives. In addition, the official silver ring of the program is inscribed with a reference to the biblical verse "1 Thess. 4:3-4," which reads "God wants you to be holy, so you should keep clear of all sexual sin. Then each of you will control your body and live in holiness and honor."

The "Silver Ring Thing" is an extensive, nationwide effort that uses government funds for aggressive religious recruitment. Since April 2003, it has held three events in the Boston area and is scheduled to hold a fourth in October of this year. But, it has also held events in Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, and Wisconsin and is scheduled to visit Georgia, Ohio, and North Carolina, among other states, in the coming year.

"A sanitized version of the website does not change the fact that the "Silver Ring Thing" in its core programming is nothing more than a vehicle for converting young people to Christianity," said Sarah Wunsch, a staff attorney at the ACLU of Massachusetts. "Taxpayer dollars should play no part in such a program."

Get more information on the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom program.