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Falwell's legal boy still pouting over Silver Ring Thing's funding being yanked

“You can’t have a faith-based grant program and attach as a string to that grant that you essentially have to gut the religious component of the faith-based ministry.”

— Liberty Counsel attorney Matthew Staver, on SRT losing its faith-based funds

It’s all the ACLU’s fault that the bible-beating abstinence organization got its funds yanked. Falwell’s legal bootlicker Matt Staver is still whining! I’m loving it…

A Christian attorney is expressing disappointment over President George W. Bush’s decision to put on hold a federal grant to an abstinence education group. The Bush administration has decided to suspend funding from the Department of Health and Human Services to the Silver Ring Thing, arguing that the program “includes both secular and religious components that are not adequately safeguarded.”

The Silver Ring Thing (SRT), a program designed to promote sexual purity, puts on shows at churches nationwide, using high-tech presentations that include skits, club-style music, video, and the distribution of silver rings to symbolize teens’ pledge to delay sex until marriage. According to Associated Press reports, SRT has received $1.2 million in federal funding since 2003; however, a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union claims the ministry improperly used the money to fund religious activities.

Federal regulations prohibit groups that receive U.S. government funding from engaging in “religious instruction or proselytization” and requires those groups that do engage in such religious activities to keep them separate from their programs that are federally funded. The ACLU suit challenges the constitutionality of the abstinence program on these grounds, alleging that SRT fails to adequately separate religious components from its abstinence message.

Attorney Mat Staver is president of Liberty Counsel, a legal firm that represents the people behind SRT. He freely acknowledges that part of the group’s mission is decidedly Christian, and says that, in fact, is what makes the abstinence program a “viable and effective” ministry.

Bush’s decision to suspend SRT’s federal funding and the administration’s explanation for the decision are both disappointing to Staver….It is that very religious aspect, the pro-family lawyer asserts, that makes faith-based ministries work. “That’s what makes them different than secular outreaches,” he says, “and that’s why they’re so highly successful. So I’m very disappointed in what the president has done.”

…Staver believes the Bush administration’s decision to suspend the SRT program’s funding was due in large part to pressure from the ACLU; however, the Liberty Counsel spokesman says he hopes the president “will reconsider this as time goes on, and this grant will be reinstituted.”

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding