Thorny issues arise when non-profits take government funding, especially when said non-profits have an explicitly Christian (and evangelistic) purpose. Case in point: “The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit yesterday against the Department of Health and Human Services, accusing the Bush administration of spending federal tax dollars on an abstinence education program that promotes Christianity,” aka Silver Ring Thing.

I first heard about the Silver Ring Thing via a special documentary broadcast on NPR, “With This Ring: Pledging Abstinence.” All in all it looks like a praiseworthy effort communicating the message of Christian holiness…in policy lingo “a faith-based abstinence message.” I don’t know if they still do it or not, but the NPR documentary said that at the end of the event students are given a Bible compliments of SRT.

I’m inclined to think that the SRT mission would be better served if it didn’t rely on the government for funding…even if that funding is legal and the government wants to give it. Consider it a form of forbidden fruit (with strings attached, of course). If the ACLU wins the suit, SRT might be faced with the decision to abandon the explicitly evangelistic elements to remain eligible for funding. And other faith-based non-profits might be tempted to do so preemptively, to avoid the tangles and confusions of litigation.

HT: The Corner


  • http://blog.acton.org/index.html?/archives/431-A-Blessing-in-Disguise.html Acton Institute PowerBlog

    I’ve talked before about the complexities of government funding before with regard to the abstinence-program called the Silver Ring Thing.

    Now, on the heels of an ACLU suit, SRT is being faced with a cut-off in federal funding. The AP reports tha

  • http://blog.acton.org/index.html?/archives/775-Silver-Ring-Thing-Loses,-but-Really-Wins.html Acton Institute PowerBlog

    It may not seem like it, but the settlement reached between the ACLU and the US Department of Health and Human Services is really going to be good news in the long run for the abstinence-program Silver Ring Thing.

    In a deal struck yesterday, Silver Ri