Another Gift from the Religious and Political Right
The article in Quartz declares, “The US has spent $2 billion on the reckless hope teens won’t have sex.” Since St. Paul, Christianity has frowned on sex. Generally, most Christians have ignored the call to abstinence, or like St. Augustine, put it off indefinitely. (Augustine prayed, “Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet.”) But today’s evangelicals wage a holy war for abstinence – for teens and the unwed. (They exempt themselves, as they have a high rate of divorce and, presumably, adultery.) Evangelicals have fought for “abstinence only” sex education in the schools – almost a contradiction in terms -- and won out in many states and have also won over most of the Republican party.
The article focuses on wasted federal money. It neglects to mention that the results of abstinence only education are terrible. Students have sex at about the same rate, but are much more likely to have unprotected sex, leading to high rates of pregnancy and disease. They are also much less likely to abort the unwanted fetus, leading to great long-term economic and emotional costs.
This is yet another evangelical gift that keeps on giving. The demonstrable failure of the policy has not lessened their enthusiasm for it, like their denial of climate change, evolution, and so on.