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The Bible Belt's Self-Righteous Christians And Sex Abstinence Programs

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Ever so often we hear the self-righteous, pious utterings of America's Christian and religious right wing bellowing about how teaching sex education in the nation's public schools was immoral. The shouted that this was akin to brainwashing innocent children making them eager to engage in risky pre-marital sex. During the Bush years liberally billions of dollars were spent on every dreamed up celibate only, abstinence only programs, that targeted especially white teenagers in the South to preserve some form of spurious Aryan purity and the institution of marriage and then sex.

Alas if only things were so cut and dried, sign sealed and delivered.

That these programs partially excluded Black teenagers long held to be overly promiscuous and "lost causes" by Southern Bible belt right wing zealots did not prevent or bother their proponents from hailing the benefits of celibacy. The Christian Right and its supporters promoted this abstinence only among female and male teenage students loudly proclaiming that the programs strengthened the institution of marriage, family and the engaging of sex only after marriage.

Lo and behold new research has the Christian Right in more then a bit of an embarrassing dither since it was found that female students in these abstinence programs are more likely to get pregnant than female students in programs that teach sex education, contraceptive use and also abstinence. This new and damning report also exposed the huge failure of the "just say no to sex" program that was an approximately $1.5 billion experiment.

If the report in the April issue of Adolescent Health is factual then half of all teenagers will have sex before graduating high school, and more embarrassing for the Christian and religious, right 95 percent of them will have sex before they marry. The problem with this hard data apart from the fact that teenagers are having a hell of a lot of sex in high school is that it exposes the idiocy of the Christian Right's outdated and outmoded approach to matters of sex.

Using an 18th century bible-based methods to deal with a topic and issue that has always been a sensitive one for the Christian and religious faith clearly is not suited for what is a 21st century problem brought over from the previous one. Their approach is to keep teens in the dark about sex and sexual issues like protection and condom use while hoping somehow that this ignorance will result in sexual temperance. Its somewhat like pretending that alcohol does not get a person drunk while hoping that that person will not drink because he or she never got drunk.

And the other findings in the report also say that teens that took part in so-called virginity pledge programs (they pledge to stay virgins until marriage) are more likely than their non-pledging peers to engage in risky unprotected sex. The study revealed that virgin pledgers were six times more likely to have oral sex and male "virgins" are four times more likely to have anal sex than those who do not take the pledge. These "virgins" had the same rate of STDs as other teens but were much less likely to be treated for them.

More damaging for the pompous Christian Right leaders, especially those living in the southern "Bible Belt" area of the United States, is the fact that in the school districts where these abstinence programs abound when compared with northeast schools the data exposes the utter failure of these misguided, impractical and unrealistic programs. After an infusion of over $1.5 billion southern states today lead in Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), have the highest rates of new HIV/AIDS cases, and have the highest percentage of teenage mothers in the nation.

The embarrassment is so deep that 19 states have moved to stop federal funding for abstinence only programs that target teenagers. Without publicly stating the obvious one can draw the inescapable conclusion that they were not willing to bank roll programs that were bringing back such high failure rates.

Accompanying the abstinence only policy of the Christian Right is its misguided anti-abortion crusade. That too is failing abysmally. In recent times the Christian Right and its allies have moved to have abortion outlawed all across America in the hopes of overturning the landmark women's reproductive rights legislation Roe v Wade. Fourteen states have so far joined the crusade but has this helped to lower abortions?

The answer is a resounding "no." And the empirical evidence suggests that countries with pro-choice laws, where sex education is taught in public schools and where contraceptive programs are to be found in all communities abortion rates are very low. The evidence is overwhelming that in countries where women's' reproductive rights are under siege and enforced by outdated, antiquated religion-based anti-abortion laws abortions rise to very high rates and numbers. For example, just look at Latin America and compare its high abortion rates in a deeply Roman Catholic region of the world and the very low rates found in Germany and other liberal European countries.

Of course, the Christian Right is convinced that its way is the right and "Christian way" of any and all things even when hard evidence to the contrary pokes it in the eye. So there will be a lot of yapping about "God's will" and the "evildoers in our society." Those ideologically flawed crutches are the last bastion of a totally discredited movement. It was this element that viciously attacked President Barack Obama about where he went to church, urging him to leave this church because of the controversial statements of his former pastor.

Yet, this so anal righteous group has not made similar calls for a whole set of lawmakers to mass exodus from the Roman Catholic Church in the wake of damaging child abuse sex scandals now popping up with marked regularity around the globe. Such hypocrisy reveals the moribund, reactionary nature of the Christian Right and the fact that its ideology is the product of a former era.

When a right wing religious ideology with blinkers on its eyes cannot see that impractical other-world methods will not produce the kind of results that jive with modern reality the next move is to stake out and harden positions. When this happens the issue at hand is shoved into oblivion while both side trade barbs and obfuscate what was the real issue.

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MICHAEL DERK ROBERTS Small Business Consultant, Editor, and Social Media & Communications Expert, New York Over the past 20 years I've been a top SMALL BUSINESS CONSULTANT and POLITICAL CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST in Brooklyn, New York, running (more...)

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