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How the Latest Abstinence Findings Could Turn Into a Classic Sex-Ed 'Bait and Switch'

The religious right is rallying around a study that supposedly proves their legitimacy. In reality, the findings just demonstrate how important comprehensive sexual education is.

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The Urban Family Council, which received more than $310,000 in earmarks in the past, collected an additional $24,000 last year. The group was founded by a Philadelphia evangelical activist and is known for its aggressive efforts to block benefits for gay partners of city employees.

A+ for Abstinence, a Christian program that runs a website called coolvirginity.com, received $24,000. The program, according to the website, "shares sexual purity in an innovative and spiritually sound way that speaks directly to the hearts of young people."

Abstinence-only money goes to anti-choice organizations, evangelical groups, and other religious groups that then express their gratitude by reinforcing the message the Jesus was a Republican. Cutting abstinence-only funds hit the bottom line of these groups pretty hard. No wonder they want the money back, enough that they're apparently willing to promote a study they ideologically oppose in order to reopen that funding stream.

Not that there's anything wrong with building up non-profits that rely on government funds to do your work, of course. The problem arises when the work you do is harmful and opposed to taxpayer wishes, and you therefore misrepresent what you do in order to get your hands on the money. Valerie Huber has employed this strategy for a long time, characterizing abstinence-only in such a way that it sounds just like good comprehensive sex education, while actually supporting scare-‘em-lie-to-‘em-moralize-at-‘em ineffective, unethical abstinence-until-marriage programs. Call it the sex ed bait and switch -- the voters want comprehensive sex education that teaches kids skills so they can delay sex if they want to, and Huber is happy to pretend that's what she's selling if it keeps the funding flowing for the programs she wants. If she can't be honest, it's supposed to be the media's job to call her out on the carpet, not give her a platform from which she claim credit for effective programs she's seeking to demolish so she can replace them her own ineffective, moralizing ones.

Amanda Marcotte co-writes the popular blog Pandagon. She is the author of It's a Jungle Out There: The Feminist Survival Guide to Politically Inhospitable Environments .