Federal

Citing Religion, HHS Suspends Grant to Sex-Abstinence Group

By Vaishali Honawar — August 30, 2005 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The Bush administration last week suspended a $75,000 grant for a group that teaches sexual abstinence to teenagers, contending that it has failed to keep the promotion of Christianity out of its federally financed programs.

In an Aug. 22 letter to Silver Ring Thing, based in Moon Township, Pa., an official from the Department of Health and Human Services cites regulations for abstinence funding that say federal-grant recipients may not engage in “inherently religious activities.”

Harry Wilson, an associate commissioner with HHS, adds in the letter to Silver Ring Thing founder Denny Pattyn that the group’s programs include “both secular and religious components that are not adequately separated.”

ACLU Hails Move

The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts sued HHS in May over grants to Silver Ring Thing totaling $1 million over the past three years. The ACLU said in its suit that Silver Ring Thing, in its program, urges students to welcome Jesus Christ into their lives.

“It is impermissible for taxpayers to underwrite a roadshow on Christianity,” said ACLU lawyer Julie Sternberg. She said the ACLU would monitor the corrective- action plan that Silver Ring Thing must submit by Sept. 6 to HHS, as well as the department’s response to it.

Joel Oster, a lawyer for the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Alliance Defense Fund, which is representing Silver Ring Thing, said the ACLU’s suit was the first time anyone had objected to the content of the group’s abstinence program.

He denied that the group had “used a single dollar for inherently religious programs,” adding that when Silver Ring Thing first decided to apply for federal funding, it established a secular program that runs alongside the religion-based one.

He also expressed confidence that the group could have its federal funding restored by “introducing more accounting safeguards” that will clearly separate the funds for its religious program from its secular one.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Law & Courts Webinar
Future of the First Amendment:Exploring Trends in High School Students’ Views of Free Speech
Learn how educators are navigating student free speech issues and addressing controversial topics like gender and race in the classroom.
Content provided by The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Start Strong With Solid SEL Implementation: Success Strategies for the New School Year
Join Satchel Pulse to learn why implementing a solid SEL program at the beginning of the year will deliver maximum impact to your students.
Content provided by Satchel Pulse
Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal What Educators Need to Know About Senators' Bipartisan Deal on Guns, School Safety
In addition to gun restrictions, a tentative compromise would also fund mental health and school safety programs—but it faces hurdles.
4 min read
Protesters hold up a sign that shows the outline of a rifle struck through with a yellow line at a demonstration in support of stronger gun laws.
Protesters gather for the March For Our Lives rally in Detroit, among the demonstrations against gun violence held on the heels of recent mass shootings in Buffalo, N.Y., and Uvalde, Texas.
KT Kanazawich for Education Week
Federal Senate Negotiators Announce a Deal on Guns, Breaking Logjam
The agreement offers modest gun curbs and bolstered efforts to improve school safety and mental health programs.
5 min read
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., speaks during a rally near Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, June 10, 2022, urging Congress to pass gun legislation. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Federal Education Secretary: 'Let's Transform Our Appreciation of Teachers to Action'
Miguel Cardona shared strategies to help recruit, develop, and retain effective teachers.
5 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks during the 2022 National and State Teachers of the Year event in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, April 27, 2022.
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks during the 2022 National and State Teachers of the Year event in the White House on April 27.
Susan Walsh/AP
Federal Lawmakers, Education Secretary Clash Over Charter School Rules
Miguel Cardona says the administration wants to ensure charters show wide community interest before securing federal funding.
5 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks during the 2022 National and State Teachers of the Year event in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, April 27, 2022.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, is seen during a White House event on April 27. The following day, he defended the Biden administration's budget proposal on Capitol Hill.
Susan Walsh/AP