A recent article in the UK Guardian reports that the evangelical Christian approach to sex education — Abstinence Only — has been an abysmal failure. It’s not as if there wasn’t already evidence, but this latest report by the CDC has added a punctuation mark to the argument for comprehensive sex education with readily available contraception, as practiced in many European countries.
The details are not pretty:
- There is voluminous data showing conclusively that no matter how emphatic abstinence only education is, the rates of teen pregnancy and disease transmission do not decrease. Instead, they often increase, sometimes drastically.
- Comprehensive sex education including readily available contraception has been shown to be effective in many European countries, where rates of pregnancy and disease transmission are as little as half those in the most Christian states in the U.S.
There have been no peer reviewed studies contradicting these facts. Indeed, it is quite clear that the only possible objection to teaching young people the truth about sex is a religious objection. In typical fashion, theists refuse a reality check. They use their faith based conclusion that sex is bad unless it is in monogamous marriage, and they insist that in light of their profound failure during 8 years of near theocratic government, the solution is more preachers preaching abstinence.
Theism defies reality checks, and that is why it is so dangerous.
Here is real, concrete human suffering directly caused by what can only be described as a faith based religious agenda. While the rest of the post-industrial world moves forward with the acceptance that young people can and will engage in safe sex practices if properly instructed and encouraged, the United States continues with its dogged insistence that sex is bad and that the less young people know, the better off they will be.
Kudos to President Obama for his immediate action in ending federal funding for this failed religious agenda. But the work is not done. There are still some 40% of Americans or so who are teaching their children this nonsense. Until the media gets on board and church leaders are publicly ridiculed for their absurd beliefs, we’ll still have a problem. We’re still the only modern country in the civilized world where nearly half the population believes in creation, after all. We freethinkers should be appalled that it seems like a victory that the government finally realized it shouldn’t fund religious nonsense in public schools. It’s a victory we should never have needed to hope for. We should be pressing our advantage now, so that when the next election comes around, we might live in a country that prefers results-based methods for preventing teen pregnancy and disease transmission. Otherwise, we’re likely to end up right back where we started.