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Boston ACLU sues Silver Ring Thing / John Guest Evangelistic Team

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paineinthearse Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-17-05 01:01 PM
Original message
Boston ACLU sues Silver Ring Thing / John Guest Evangelistic Team
Excerpt: "The ACLU also notes that the silver rings that youngsters buy for $15 are inscribed with a reference to a verse from the New Testament that says, in part, ''God wants you to be holy, so you should keep clear of all sexual sin." Adolescents who buy the ring also receive a Bible.""

Looks like * has stepped over the federal-funding-to-promote-religion line on this one!

========================================

http://www.boston.com/news/education/k_12/articles/2005... /

ACLU suit sees religious content in abstinence plan
By Jonathan Saltzman, Globe Staff | May 17, 2005

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in federal court in Boston yesterday challenging the US government's funding of a faith-based abstinence program called the Silver Ring Thing, arguing that the public contribution of more than $1 million violates the constitutional separation of church and state. The nationwide initiative, which has held four events in the Boston area since 2002 and is planning more, urges middle school and high school students to forgo premarital sex and buy silver rings to symbolize their vow of abstinence. The three-hour events have drawn tens of thousands of young people since the program began 10 years ago.

In its suit against the US Department of Health and Human Services, the ACLU contends that the program's primary aim is to spread Christianity. The civil libertarian group cites several pieces of evidence, including a Silver Ring Thing newsletter that says the Pennsylvania-based ministry instructs young people that ''a personal relationship with Jesus Christ the best way to live a sexually pure life." ''Federal tax dollars are clearly underwriting religious indoctrination," said Julie Sternberg, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, which prepared the suit. The federal government can fund faith-based programs that perform social services, Sternberg said, but it cannot bankroll activities that explicitly promote a religion.

<snip>

The Massachusetts chapter of the ACLU filed the suit in Boston on behalf of the national organization. The group said it filed the suit here because members in the state were concerned about the program. The ACLU acknowledges in its suit that Pattyn, who leads the events, allows teenagers to participate in the secular discussion group. But the ACLU, some of whose members attended a Silver Ring Thing event at Gordon College in Wenham in September, alleges that young people feel pressured to participate in the religious discussion -- those who want to participate in the secular discussion, for example, have to switch rooms, while the religion-based discussion group can stay in their seats, the suit says. The ACLU contends federal money funds both the secular and religious presentations. The ACLU also notes that the silver rings that youngsters buy for $15 are inscribed with a reference to a verse from the New Testament that says, in part, ''God wants you to be holy, so you should keep clear of all sexual sin." Adolescents who buy the ring also receive a Bible.

Founded in 1995, the Silver Ring Thing calls itself the ''fastest-growing international teen abstinence program" and promises, after teens commit to wearing the ring, mentoring, guidance by e-mail, and access to advisers by instant messenger. The Silver Ring Thing has held events in many cities across the country, but it is not clear how many teens have taken the pledge; the group's website indicates it hoped 40,000 would be wearing the rings by the end of 2004. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette quoted Pattyn in December 2003 as saying the group's goal is to put 2 million rings on teens' fingers by 2010. Pattyn, according to the suit, is also executive director of the John Guest Evangelistic Team, an evangelistic ministry based in Sewickley, Pa., that IRS records show has the same address and federal tax identification number as the Silver Ring Thing. The federal money, according to the suit, helps fund salaries and benefits for the Silver Ring Thing staff, along with stage equipment and transportation of program officials to events.

more......read the full article, which cites studies that such programs are counter-effective and graduates who pledge to retain their virginity until married are equally susceptible to STD's and are more likely to experiment with oral and anal sex.

Jonathan Saltzman can be reached at jsaltzman@globe.com .
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Nothing Without Hope Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-17-05 02:34 PM
Response to Original message
1. This is important and should also have a headsup in the Church & State
Forum:
http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...

Recommended - this is a clear transgression over the Church/State boundary as well as a grab for young people by the Fristians.
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paineinthearse Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-17-05 03:02 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. Thank you for cross-posting
DU'ers working toghether. :hug:
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Nothing Without Hope Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-17-05 03:10 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. You bet - community, truth and communication are our greatest strengths
If this post continues to sink, you might considering posting using the Wash Post as an attention getter and posting in GD-P with a title that grabs the Church/State transgression issue as well as the Fristian-grab-for-our-young-people issue. This thread should be SEEN so these creeps can be fought. The incident also needs to be added to the ever-growing list of documented church/state transgressions.

Looking at the Church-State Forum earlier today, I noticed a thread title that is a kind of response to this unconstitutional brainwashing:

Bumpersticker: Focus On Your OWN Damn Family!!
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Nothing Without Hope Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-17-05 02:42 PM
Response to Original message
2. Wash Post is also on this story: " ACLU Sues HHS Over Abstinence Aid"
Edited on Tue May-17-05 02:43 PM by Nothing Without Hope
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/20...

ACLU Sues HHS Over Abstinence Aid


By Ceci Connolly
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 17, 2005; Page A10

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.

Filed in federal court in Boston, the lawsuit alleges that the programs and educational materials distributed by Silver Ring Thing are "permeated with religion" and use "taxpayer dollars to promote religious content, instruction and indoctrination."

Silver Ring Thing is a Pennsylvania-based nonprofit that promotes abstinence until marriage through its Web site, brochures, videos and seminars. Teenage graduates of the program, after signing a covenant "before God Almighty" to remain virgins, receive a silver ring inscribed with a Bible passage that the group renders as "God wants you to be holy, so you should keep clear of sexual sin."

"Who would have ever thought we would see the day when promoting sexual abstinence among students would become an opportunity to communicate the Good News of the Gospel," the group's newsletter states. "Through our Silver Ring Thing program, students who are longing for sexual purity have the chance to begin again."

(snip -remainder of story at link)
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paineinthearse Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-17-05 04:59 PM
Response to Original message
5. Correction
ACLU is not suing Silver Ring Thing / John Guest Evangelistic Team as written in the subject line, they have sued the US Department of Health and Human Services.

My error.
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