Why is the Obama administration still funding anti-gay, anti-choice conservative religious groups?

just say no to abstinence

Instead of saying no to abstinence-only programs, the Obama administration has given them over $170 million.

Over at The Nation, Andy Kopsa has a damning long-read about how the Obama administration is still funding anti-gay, anti-choice conservative religious groups–despite the President’s promises that, under his watch, tax payer money wouldn’t go towards groups that discriminate, proselytize, or are just plain ineffective. 

As a presidential candidate, Obama promised to make a sharp break from Bush administration policies by holding federally funded faith-based groups accountable. “If you get a federal grant, you can’t use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help and you can’t discriminate against them,” he said during a July 2008 stump speech. But a review of a database of federal grants, independent reports and numerous interviews with government officials and grantees reveals that little has changed since Obama took office.

Some Bush-era grants—multiyear contracts signed before Obama took office—had to be paid out well into Obama’s first term. But that’s not the extent of it. Conservative faith-based groups affiliated with the Family Research Council, anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers and an entire network of evangelical abstinence-only educators have raked in millions of dollars every year under new or renewed Obama-era grants through abstinence-only, fatherhood, “healthy marriage” and other initiatives. Under Obama, many states continue to use federal TANF or Medicaid dollars to funnel money to Christian organizations as well. And faith-based groups that proselytize their clients, oppose the use of condoms and believe homosexuals can be prayed out of the gay “lifestyle” are still handed millions every year through PEPFAR. Instead of seeking out new implementing partners that would follow best public health practices, many Bush-era grantees have seen their funding renewed again and again. An entire federally funded evangelical economy took root during the Bush years, and under Obama it continues to thrive.

The piece delves into the way the administration has largely left in place the Bush-era tradition of funneling HIV prevention funds to evangelical Christian groups abroad that oppose condoms, promote “ex-gay ministry,” and even directly supported Uganda’s terrible anti-gay law. Closer to home, the administration has given literally hundreds of millions of dollars to ineffective abstinence-only sex education programs, dishonest–and sometimes straight-up discriminatorycrisis pregnancy centers, and wasteful–even dangerousmarriage promotion efforts 

Reading about how the Bush administration was pushing abstinence as the solution to the AIDs crisis–with deadly consequences–was one of the very first issues I remember getting outraged by when I was younger. Seeing how little has changed under a President I voted for is deeply disappointing.

Maya DusenberyMaya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing.

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like Cosmopolitan.com, TheAtlantic.com, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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