The Silver Ring Thing

Have you heard about "The Silver Ring Thing"?  It’s a program that designed to encourage teens to abstain from doing the nasty before marriage, and, according to its site, utilizes "awesome lighting and video systems, hilarious skits, concert sound systems, high-energy music, TVs (sic), computers, and a faith-based abstinence message."  At the end of the program, there’s the signing of the abstinence pledge to God Almighty, and you get  (buy?) a silver ring, designed by one Paul Bensel Jewelers of Yuma. Such ring wearers can also turn to the SRT website for advice and encouragement, including this gem from one abstainer named Larissa, spotted wearing her ring at Cold Stone Creamery in Pittsburgh. "Just make sure you have an accountability partner,  who is the same sex as you…to avoid any temptations.." (There are no gay people in her world. Or does gay sex not count? Or do you get a gold ring if you abstain from gay sex?)

It’s unclear to me whether this is a nonprofit or for-profit venture, given that the site has a "vision/business plan". Perhaps in the ultimate religious-right Nirvana, this group is intended to both make money (through the sale of the rings) and spread God’s word to the heathen. In any event, naturally, the Bush administration has been distributing federal funds to this group, an action which it just suspended after an ACLU lawsuit that argued, quite reasonably, that this group was using federal funds to promote religion.

Of course, abstinence-only activists need not rely on programs like The Silver Ring Thing to discourage teens from using contraception. (Contraception use is what’s caused the teen birth rate to fall so dramatically.) They’ve got all of Health and Human Services at their disposal. A new challenge has been filed today to at least correct the misinformation in sex-ed classes across the country. (Like, condom use will spread HIV/AIDS).  No response from federal officials so far.

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