Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Onanism on a $157 million budget

The Post reports today on the $157 million cascade of federally-funded virtue flowing into the gaping orifices of socially conservative organizations who promote, among other non-viable and oxymoronic agendas, "abstinence education." As part of a wider, $2 billion program of federal grants directed toward religious organizations, the Bush administration has extended hope to tiny community organizations last seen hocking their goods at county fairs:
Hundreds of struggling antiabortion and pregnancy crisis centers have received federal grants that often doubled or tripled their annual budgets, allowing them to branch out and hire staff, especially for abstinence education.

The Door of Hope Pregnancy Care Center in Madisonville, Ky., a small outfit of four part-time employees committed "to the belief in the sanctity of human life, primarily as it relates to the protection of the unborn," operated on an annual budget of $75,000 to $79,000, most of it raised from an annual banquet and a "walk for life." Last year, Door of Hope got an abstinence education grant of $317,017, allowing it to hire staff and expand.

In Dyersburg, Tenn., the Life Choices Pregnancy Support Center, where the staff believes "without reservation or qualification that the Scriptures teach that human life begins at conception," had revenue of $81,621 and could pay Executive Director Natalie Wilson $12,247 in 2001. Two years later, the center got a $534,339 grant for abstinence education. By 2004, annual revenue totaled $617,355.

Altogether, local antiabortion and crisis pregnancy centers have received well over $60 million in grants for abstinence education and other programs, according to a Post review of federal records.

Among the recipients, evidently, is a South Carolina group called Heritage Community Services, whose website promotes something rather nebulously described as 'The Heritage Method." Sadly, we won't be able to experience the throbbing satisfactions of the "The Heritage Method" without purchasing the 450-minute abstinence curriculum, but we do learn that it consists of "a logic model that addresses the risky behavior of adolescents from the perspective of changing the behavior that is causing the problem rather than dealing with the consequences of the risky actions." In other words, the $3 million Heritage budget -- up from $50,000 a few years back -- helps scatter the fertile seeds of wisdom:
State your boundaries. Share your boundaries with your parents, friends, and anyone whom you are dating. You must be committed to maintaining your boundaries.

Avoid dangerous situations that could make it harder to abstain. This could mean not attending parties that serve alcohol, avoiding a person that is tempting you to be sexually active, and avoiding places such as bedrooms or places with a lack of proper adult supervision.

Firmly say, "No!" The word no is clear and to the point. You do not have to be rude, but you must be clear vocally and with your body language.

If all else fails you can exit a situation. No matter how close you come to crossing your boundaries you can always stop and exit.

I can't imagine how the other 449 minutes and 30 seconds of the group's abstinence curriculum is spent -- perhaps it includes a brutal regimen of aversion therapy and thigh spreaders -- but the Heritage folks might want to pause and reconsider their use of the "stop and exit" metaphor...