Matt Gray

The Religiously Policed State

Dec 3, 2004

I decided to read Google News before retiring for the evening, and noticed a story from the Guardian on new so-called “abstinence-only” sexual education programs. This particular facet of the current Administration’s education policy was unknown to me until now.

Apparently, “abstinence-only” programs are forbidden from discussing the proper use of contraceptives, an obvious win for the religious fundamentalists. After all, the Pope (and therefore the Catholic church) still believe such devices are wrong. Unfortunately, this is just wrong.

Contraceptives are vital for preventing sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies, yet millions ($170 million taxpayer dollars) are spent on programs that specifically omit these important devices. The Bush administration is using the government’s power to force the concept of christian shame upon the country. The suppression of health information directly contributes to the backwards way we look at sex in this country. How can young adults form normal notions about sex when every educational program tells them to avoid it or risk HIV? Abstinence is a powerful choice, but it is certainly not the only option. I strongly believe that the government should not lie to the nation’s children by excluding information forbidden by a majority religion.

Unfortunately, it gets worse—several of these federally-funded programs teach incorrect notions and present them as facts. Whether this is done with a specific agenda in mind is open to debate, but the fact remains: our children are being fed incomplete and incorrect information about sex. The article listed a few examples, such as “…condoms fail to prevent transmission of HIV in 31% of incidences of heterosexual intercourse.” I call bullshit. According to the Guardian, the U.S. government’s own studies refute this claim. How can the government fund programs that intentionally misrepresent the truth?

I believe that the government is now out to control the nature of truth. We are living in a collective consciousness right now, where groupthink can change the landscape of fact. Given enough momentum, urban legends become verified stories, and swift boat veterans can demolish someone’s impeccable character. People simply want to be led; thinking for one’s self is too taxing. Why else would television be the medium of choice, the new opiate of the masses? After all, organized religion and television are similar in may respects. Television and religion are designed to broadcast controlled ideas in their message. Unlike great works of art and literature, these easily accessible media streams are forging values and opinions for millions of people.

Clearly, this is a powerful force to be reckoned with, one that could sway public opinion, and anyone attempting to play politics would be a fool to ignore it. I’m afraid that the new face of global terrorism has stimulated people to “close ranks” and huddle together, physically and politically. It is easy to draw parallels between charismatic individualists and terrorists, dictators, and other despicable types—they are unquestionably different. Islamic extremists are firmly in the grip of their own organized religion—hardly a placid, moralistic bunch! Why, then, is the country headed towards a Bible-thumping future? We are no better than anyone. After all, followers of Islam, Christ, Bush, etc. happen to be people, down to the last man or woman.

Okay, I think I’m branching off tangentially into many different things, and it is somewhat late. I believe that federal dollars should not fund misleading sex ed programs designed by any religious faction. Information should be free, especially when it concerns a vital and often misunderstood subject like sex. It is morally wrong (by anyone’s standard) to deprive a human being of the ability to make the right choice because you disagree. True freedom requires that religion remain personal. Playing people’s faith into power is the acme of pure greed. Jesus never tried to get elected.

Update: Wonkette has a blog entry about this, as well.

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