30 January 2006

Nearly a quarter of President Bush’s $15 billion HIV/AIDS program is earmarked for faith-based groups, with $200 million specifically set aside for groups without experience working with government grants. As could be expected, many groups that promote abstinence only, rather than safe sex through condoms or education programs for sex workers, have already been awarded grants, including the mission-minded Franklin Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse and the National Association of Evangelical’s World Relief. But beyond these earmarks, Rita Beamish’sAP report on the status of the grant program illustrates that the U.S. guidelines on grant-giving reinforce the same morality by insisting that all “condom programs” also include messages about abstinence, while not insisting that “abstinence programs” make any mention of safe sex or condoms, and have been unofficially tightened after conservative critics, such as James Dobson and Republican congressmen Rep. Chris Smith (NJ) and Sen. Tom Coburn (OK), complained that more liberal grant-recipients were “pro-prostitution,” “pro-abortion” and not focused exclusively enough on the abstinence message.