Sunday, May 03, 2009

Coverage of Religious Institute's Congressional Briefing on Sex Ed

One of my favorite journalists and bloggers is Sarah Posner. We just met in person last week for the first time. She writes for the Nation, American Prospect, and other print and online journals on religion and politics. The fact that we share an alma mater is a nice connection.

She covered our briefing last week in American Prospect. I'll let you read it directly:

Pro-Sexual-Justice Religious Left Calls for End to Abstinence-Only Sex-Ed Funding.

For all his talk of "abortion reduction" as one of his centrist goals, Wallis remains committed to the idea that, in Gedeik's words to me this week, abortion is the "taking of a human life." That's theo-conservative, not theo-progressive talk. There is a religious left that emphasizes the moral agency of women to make reproductive choices, something Wallis does not.

But progressive, pro-choice religious activism is not limited to abortion. It includes a panoply of reproductive-justice issues. This week, a group of religious activists continued their push for the government to end abstinence-only sex education and fund comprehensive sex education.

The Religious Institute on Sexual Justice, Morality, and Healing, which has gathered over 900 pastoral signatures in favor of comprehensive sex education, hosted a briefing this week for congressional staff. Activists, including pastors, made a religious case for teaching medically accurate, age-appropriate sex education in the nation's public schools.

According to Bill Smith, vice president for public policy for the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, the White House has assured activists of its commitment to comprehensive sex education. "It's a new day in this town," said Smith at the briefing. Obama is "the first president in American history who supports unequivocally a comprehensive approach to sex education."

But in the end, it's not about religion but science. "If science is in," Smith said, "abstinence-only is definitely out."

But for Obama, and increasingly for Democrats, the issue is also about satisfying religious constituencies to the right of the Religious Institute. Science is in but so is religion.

Thanks, Sarah. Good to meet you.

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