Religion in Society

Miss. Abstinence Evangelicals Not Familiar With 1st Amendment

| by Texas Freedom Network

From TFN Insider

Texas isn’t the only state that is constitutionally challenged. In fact,
Mississippi is giving us a run for our money when it comes to (willful?)
ignorance about what the First Amendment means.

Earlier this summer, our friends at Advocates for Youth
brought us the disturbing tale of an abstinence-only rally/evangelical prayer
sponsored by the state of Mississippi:

In May, the state of Mississippi threw a state-funded abstinence-only rally
for students where they were told the value of not having sex until marriage
(including a chant that went “Stop! Don’t touch me there! This is my no-no
square!”). That in itself is legal, but not when the rally itself is from start
to finish a blatant attempt at proselytizing students in Christianity.

The ACLU just brought forth a lawsuit against the state of Mississippi last
week for violating the First Amendment, which prohibits the government from
promoting one religion over another.

(You can read about the rally — and watch video clips — here. Suffice it to say, this rally didn’t simply brush up
against the church-state boundary. It trampled right over it.)

Now Mississippi Senior
Lt. Governor Phil Bryant weighs in with local news reporter on the
lawsuit, but apparently under the impression that he was really speaking to a
Sunday school class at his church:

“I was so disappointed that the ACLU has decided that we don’t need to tell
young women in the state of Mississippi about our faith; we don’t need to
explain to them that abstinence, we believe, is related to our faithful
Christianity beliefs.”

(Pause to let that sink in — or to weep quietly.) Let’s count the problems
with this statement:

  • Government telling young people “about our faith” and “faithful Christianity
    beliefs” is a little something the Founders liked to call “establishment of
    religion.” And they weren’t too fond of the idea of government telling citizens
    what to believe.
  • Did you notice that the lieutenant governor believes it’s only the “young
    women in the state of Mississippi” who need to be educated? Sadly, this “boys
    will be boys” attitude is not uncommon in abstinence-only programs (as TFN revealed in our report earlier this year), and it has
    the effect of unfairly burdening young women with responsibility for controlling
    the behavior of males.
  • One more time for the record: the ACLU didn’t decide that government can’t
    establish a religion or coerce belief. The Constitution settles that issue!

    Watch the video for yourself. And if you are so inclined, say a little prayer
    for the young people of Mississippi who live in the state with the highest teen birth rate in the nation (ever
    higher than in Texas!), but have leaders who think the best thing the government
    can do is preach to students.