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Virginity pledge org busted by feds for proselytizing on your dime

A Jesus ring to help you say “I don’t,” before you say “I do”. From Hall Jewelers.

“The Silver Ring Thing’s program activities are just the tip of the iceberg in exposing what the federal abstinence-only- until-marriage programs are all about. The American people have endured a lack of oversight of these programs by our government for far too long. It is our hope that the decision to suspend funding to the Silver Ring Thing is the first of many, and that HHS will reexamine its entire portfolio of these unproven, and potentially harmful, programs.”

— William Smith, vice president for pubic policy for The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. (SIECUS)

I posted on the Blend in April about the complete failure of abstinence-only education. Over $130 million was lifted from our wallets last year for this nonsense. One of the organizations at the forefront of virginity promotion was The Silver Ring Thing (SRT), an abstinence-only-until-marriage program operated by the John Guest Evangelistic Team, a Christian missionary organization.

The WaPo also reported that among the 20 percent of kids that took a virginity pledge, 61 percent of the consistent pledgers and 79 percent of the inconsistent pledgers reported having intercourse before marrying or prior to 2002 interviews. Almost 7 percent of the students who did not make a pledge were diagnosed with an STD, compared with 6.4 percent of the “inconsistent pledgers” and 4.6 percent of the “consistent pledgers.”

Guess what else has happened? U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has has stopped funneling our taxpayer dollars to The Silver Ring Thing because it overtly promotes religion. Praise Jeebus! The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away…

“By suspending federal taxpayer funds to the Silver Ring Thing, the federal government has made a laudatory initial step,” said William Smith, vice president for pubic policy for SIECUS. “For far too long, SRT and other programs like it not only have been promoting religion, but also disseminating medical misinformation to our nation’s youth, all at the behest of conservative lawmakers,” Smith continued.

The lawsuit cites the organization’s own documents describing the use of SRT “as the primary outreach” by which it is bringing “our world to Christ.” Many such examples are documented in the complaint, but the real proof is in the actual SRT event. The young people who attend the events and pledge virginity until marriage receive an “Abstinence Study Bible” and a silver ring inscribed with a reference to the Bible verse, “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.” Participants are also encouraged to accept Christ as their savior and become born again.

Furthermore, the Silver Ring Thing program, as well as most other taxpayer funded abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, tells young people that condoms are ineffective, promotes out-dated gender stereotypes, ignores LGBTQ youth, and includes anti- abortion rights messages, among other egregious ideologically driven information. Moreover, no abstinence-only-until-marriage program, including SRT, has ever been proven to be effective, and in fact, some have been shown to cause harm. Recent research has shown that virginity pledges, a common component of abstinence- only-until-marriage programs, including SRT, significantly undermine contraceptive use when pledgers become sexually active, and that pledgers who have not engaged in vaginal sex are more likely to participate in oral and anal sex than “virgins” who have not pledged.

If you want to see the results of abstinence-only education, check out the documentary The Education of Shelby Knox, which reveals how the ignorance perpetuated by these programs in the Texas schools (it’s set in Lubbock), has resulted in higher STDs and teen pregnancies.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding