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U.S. News

Tennessee: Faith Groups Step in as Abstinence Funds Dry Up

January 25, 2010

Responding to cuts in support at the federal level, religious groups are promoting events to push the abstinence-only message. In Nashville, Riverside Chapel Seventh-Day Adventist Church collaborated with several other local Adventist churches to host a recent "purity ball," the finale to Riverside's four-month Bible study course on abstinence.

"With funding being cut from the government, you're going to see more responsibility placed on churches in the community to carry this banner," said Michael Polite, Riverside's assistant pastor. "And I think when we do our job, it will show the government this type of education is still necessary."

Even with the Senate considering a measure to restore $50 million for abstinence-only education, the total spent for the approach under President Obama would be less than half of Bush administration levels.

At Riverside, teens were taught ballroom dancing -- "how a woman should be touched, how a man should be touched" without being sexual, said James Brothers, an instructor with Dance World of Nashville. "It's just a great way to express yourself and really enjoy it, while still being classy at the same time."

"Part of the danger in the cuts is that we're seeing incredible outcomes," said Lesley Scearce, executive director of Chattanooga-based On Point, which will lose $564,000 annually, or 40 percent of its budget. "This funding has allowed us to be a consistent educational presence" through schools, she said.

On the other hand, private funding could actually liberate abstinence-only advocates, said Matthew Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, a faith-based legal advocacy group. "I think people are able to participate and understand the importance, and then you don't have the government purse strings attached where it's on today and off tomorrow," Staver said.

"Churches will try to fill as much of the gap as they can, but they're not going to have the opportunity to have exposure to children that the abstinence programs have now," said Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Back to other news for January 2010

Adapted from:
Associated Press
01.20.2010; Lucas L. Johnson II

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
Quiz: Are You at Risk for HIV?
10 Common Fears About HIV Transmission
Abstinence Programs


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