The New Fundamentalists 
Media gatekeepers. 
by Joseph Loconte 
12/19/2007 12:00:00 AM 


AN ARTICLE OF FAITH among many liberals is that religion and tolerance don't go well together. In a recent editorial, for example, the New York Times matter-of-factly derided conservative Christians as "the most religiously intolerant sector of American political life." That's quite a sector. It includes tens of millions of believers in the African-American, Latino, and Asian communities, male and female, from every conceivable walk of life. Sure, there are plenty of crusty fundamentalists in the mix. But other actors are manifestly better candidates for theTimes's designation.

Take public education elites. Last week the D.C. Board of Education approved new Health Education Standards for the city's public schools, including guidelines for teaching about AIDS, sexuality, family life, and drug use. Ministers, activists, and parents complain--with good reason--that the standards are strongly biased against abstinence-only curricula. There are warnings about using "correct terminology" to discuss issues such as sexual orientation. There are specific guidelines for teaching about "different family structures"--gay couples, for example--to children in kindergarten.

That's going to make it tough for organizations that hold conservative views of marriage and human sexuality to continue their outreach programs to at-risk kids. And it comes at exactly the wrong time: New data show that the District boasts 12 times the national rate of new AIDS cases, the worst in the nation. One might suspect that school officials would welcome help from just about any quarter--yes, even from members of the faith community. "The chancellor has placed a moratorium on all external providers of health and consumer education," Richard Nyankori, assistant to the School Chancellor, reportedly told one abstinence-only group. "Her goal is to ensure programs are consistent with D.C. standards."

The chancellor's decision seems aimed at one particular category of provider: those uncomfortable with a boundless view of "sexual exploration" as the defining feature of childhood and adolescence. It does not matter to education mandarins that large numbers of parents in this city--mostly African-American and socially conservative--find the new standards offensive (as the comments from many of the 75 local ministers who attended a recent Clergy Leadership Summit on HIV-AIDS surely make clear). Nor does it appear relevant that many parents want their kids involved in community-based programs that uphold their values.

This moratorium on common sense finds support from a second candidate for the Most Intolerant Sector Award: media gatekeepers.

Earlier this month WAMU's Kojo Nnamdi took up the school standards issue, along with guest host Marc Fisher of the Washington Post, on Nnamdi's popular "D.C. Politics Hour." In the dock was Richard Urban, co-founder of Ultra Teen Choice, an abstinence-only program operating in D.C. public schools for the last four years. Urban's program is one of several facing possible expulsion. WAMU's listeners might have expected a discussion about the mechanics of these programs, their values, or why many D.C. parents like them. Instead, Fisher and Nnamdi staged a bare-knuckled assault on Urban's alleged religious views. Though Ultra Teen Choice is ostensibly secular--it "guides youth toward the formation of two-parent families and positive character development"--Urban acknowledges that he is a member of the Unification Church.

Fisher: While this group bills itself as a program that is simply promoting abstinence, in fact, Mr. Urban and his group are a wholly-owned subsidiary of the [Sun Myung] Moon organization. So there is an agenda here that you have not been upfront about with the District.

Urban: Well, I'm not going there. This is an outrageous personal attack If I'm black, if I'm Asian, if I'm Baptist what difference does that make? This is outrageous. I can't believe you even mention those things. I mean, are we in the United States? 

Nnamdi: What Marc, in fact, mentioned--is that in fact your faith belief?

Urban: No, it is outrageous the things he said. This is a program that I started with my wife I have never gotten one penny of money from the Unification Church. It is crazy. This is a personal attack and I'm not going there 

Fisher: Do you believe, as the Unification Church teaches, that homosexuality, that homosexuals are dung-eating dogs?

Urban: Marc, why do you keep talking about the Unification Church? I started this program. I have a right to my religious faith. This is irrelevant 

Fisher: Well, do you believe that the separation between religion and politics, as Reverend Moon says, is what Satan likes most?

And on it went. To be sure, there are good reasons to challenge the presence in public schools of certain organizations, such as those linked to radical Islam. After all, a tolerant society need not condone intolerance. And the Unification Church is not without controversy; it has been accused of brainwashing and authoritarianism. Parents have a right to know the identity and values of groups influencing their kids (just as they're entitled to know the agenda of public educators). Tutoring and mentoring programs cannot be a device for proselytizing on school grounds.

Yet there was no evidence of this kind offered against Urban or his organization. Instead, he was declared guilty--of extremism, presumably--only by association. The attack on his faith looked very much like a proxy for an indictment of traditional views about sexuality and marriage.

I raised this issue in an email with WAMU's Kay Summers, director of public information. "Mr. Urban did not initially answer the question as it applied to ULTRA Teen Choice, which is why Mr. Fisher and then Mr. Nnamdi continued to ask for clarification," she insisted. "Mr. Fisher did not ask about Mr. Urban's personal religious beliefs " Well, if we're looking for an exercise in obfuscation and deception, we have it: There were no untoward insinuations about personal religious beliefs, claims WAMU--just gentle prodding for clarification.

The saturation of presidential politics with religion has surely heightened sensitivities on all sides. Politicians and activists have a constitutional right to bring their religious values into the public square--and can't cry foul when they're questioned about it. But when education and media elites use their position as a kind of Star Chamber to blacklist groups they don't like, then we've taken a step backward, a step away from pluralism.

And there's nothing enlightened or progressive or tolerant about it.

Joe Loconte is a senior fellow with Pepperdine University's School of Public Policy and a frequent contributor to THE DAILY STANDARD.

Read this article on the Weekly Standard Website

Teens Choose Character, Not Condoms

By Lyndia Grant
All Nations Baptist Church
WI Contributing Writer
Thursday, August 30, 2007

Marcus Barnes, a high school student, participated in a presentation conducted by Ultra Teen Choice, an Urban Life Training & Reality Assessment Teen Choice Education and Peer Counseling Club.

I’m not ready for a child. I’m not ready for my body to be sick with HIV/AIDS and other such diseases at this young age. I want a long life, and I think this program is great!” he said. 

Lakia Merriweather said, “I’m too busy to baby sit. I don’t have time for it. This program helps me to keep my head straight. It’s good.”  
These are comments made by high school students from Eastern High School who have decided to abstain from sex until they’re married, or at least, they said, “Until we’re old enough to make responsible decisions in this matter.”

The members of Ultra Teen Choice have decided they will respect their bodies as the temple it is, as indicated in 1st Corinthians, 6:19 which says “Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost.”   
A very special guest, Miss District of Columbia Rita Sinha, was among this elite group. She speaks around the country, telling her story of how she has lived a life of abstinence. And she’s only 24-years-old!  
“I’m saving myself for my husband. In fact, I decided as a young girl to become celibate,” Sinha said.
“There is so much emotion that comes along with sex, and I plan to go to law school this fall. Many of my friends have allowed some guy or girl to get inside their heads, but I believe that when you wait, you will meet who is destined to be your spouse.”  
Milton Meza, another member of this group said, “There’re not enough people out here with good advice, and there’s lots of peer pressure. I don’t want to have babies early and have to work two jobs when I can barely support myself. I don’t want my Mom to support my child. I want to take responsibility.”  
Nicole Jeffersonanother member, said“I’m around others like me who have also chosen a celibate lifestyle, so I don’t feel any different. I’m not ready for the responsibility required for kids, and I don’t want kids to stop me from my goals.”
Richard and Stacey Urban, founders of “Ultra Teen Choice,” have as their slogan, “Character, not condoms.”  During the recent presentation held at the Urban’s home, astounding statistics were given about the District of Columbia on the latest status of HIV/AIDS.  
Richard Urban reminded everyone that it takes seven years before symptoms of HIV appear. His statistics further showed that 50 percent of the students in the District of Columbia have contracted sexually transmitted diseases, with chlamydia at the top of the list. 
There was some good news.
“There has been a 16 percent decrease in teen sex in the United States over the past two years, and 54 percent of U.S. teens are not having sex,” Richard Urban said.  
Richard Urban quoted the following statistics:  35 percent of teen girls become pregnant at least once and 66 percent of sexually active teens regretted having sex and wished they had waited.  
Wouldn’t it be great if the majority of students in high schools throughout the District of Columbia were members of such a group as Ultra Teen Choice or other such groups that teach abstinence? Wouldn’t it be simply marvelous if this celibacy thing just kind of caught on?
It would be marvelous if girls were not having sex, having babies, or dropping out of school to care for babies when they don’t even know how to care for themselves yet.  
A special thank you goes out to Mayor Adrian Fenty for proclaiming the week of March 10-17, as Abstinence Awareness Week. Let’s do it again!     



Abstinence is the First Choice

By Queshonda Moore
WI Contributing Writer
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Kasey Davis, 12, and Bryan Buchanan, 27, have three things in common. Both are African American, youthful, and virgins.
Davis is a 7th grader at Stuart Hobson Middle School. His friends think he is crazy for not wanting to have sex, but peer pressure is not an issue for him. “It makes me want to be the leader,” he said. “I am not trying to follow anybody.”

Jonetta Rose Barras, columnist, author and WAMU-FM political analyst, host youth forum on: "Why Abstinence Matters." The forum, held at the Thurgood Marshall Center for Service and  Heritage in Northwest, was held to kick off Abstinence Awareness Week, March 10-16.

Buchanan stands and reminisces on the days he was standing in Davis’ shoes. He recalls that he did not have an answer to give to his friends because of his experience.
They shared their experience at a recent forum promoting abstinence. 
“As I got older my friends saw that I was serious and I was able to communicate to them why,” Buchanan told the audience.
Last week was Abstinence Awareness Week, and the testimonies offered by Davis and Buchanan were just two of many. Messages about abstinence from sex before marriage were promoted by several community organizations, including Ultra Teen Choice, Concerned Black Men, and Amerigroup Community Care. 
Richard Urban, co-founder of Ultra Teen Choice, believes that as an adult it is his duty to help youth make the best choices. 
“If you wait to have sex, you can do better financially, be more focused, and avoid other risk behaviors such as, drug and alcohol abuse and dropping out [of school],” Urban said.
Tierra Glymph, a student at School without Walls, said she believes abstinence is better because intimate relationships are complicated. “Young people who indulge in sexual activities too early are often receptive to other problems such as drugs, alcohol, declining grades, and sexually transmitted diseases,” she said. 

She also believes that young men and women who remain abstinent send a clear message that they want to be respected. 
At Howard University, Carl Miller, is calling all students to make a stand by abstaining from sex for one semester. This is part of an effort by the Howard University School of Social Work to address the epidemic of HIV/AIDS in the African American community.
“We are trying to get to the root of our behavior,” Miller said. “We are going to use our bodies as a part of the solution and not part of the problem.”
D.C. Council member Harry Thomas Jr. (D-ward 5) told the audience that youth and adults should be more careful with their bodies. 
“Your body is a vessel. This temple called your body must be a special place because it holds and controls your spirit,” Thomas said. “You have to honor it and make others respect it.”




Teenagers urge peers to abstain from sex


By: Keyanna Butts/Contributing Writer

Posted: 3/11/07

Spreading the gospel of sex abstinence is a challenge seventh grade Cameron Tate readily relishes. There are strong reasons for keeping away from sex, the Stuart-Hobson Middle School student writes in an essay contest for Abstinence Awareness Week which is March 10 through the 16th.  He wants teenagers to understand that sex may bring pregnancy, HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

"If you're a teenager in school, the baby would distract you while you're studying," the Northeast D.C. student writes. He said that since he's abstinent, it's easier for him to concentrate on his schoolwork and get good grades. If I had a child, I would struggle through school and might not graduate from high school," he says. "My life is care free. There are no disadvantages in being abstinent."

Tate and other members of Ultra Teen Choice, a local teen peer-counseling program, are taking a stand for abstinence.  On its Web site, the group notes that 50 percent of teenaged girls in the District will get pregnant at least once, while no teenager abstaining from sex will get pregnant, contract HIV, or have any other negative consequences of sexual activity.

The teenagers will encourage their peers to wait until they are married to have sex during Ultra Teen Choice's second annual Abstinence Awareness Week.

"A lot of young people don't know that abstaining from sex is an option and that you can live without having sex until marriage and that it is a desirable choice," said Ade Ademisoye, a sophomore at Eastern Senior High School in Northeast D.C. and youth president of Ultra Teen Choice. ""This is a good way to get the message out there: that abstinence is important."

Ultra Teen Choice is the committee host for Abstinence Awareness Week, which will be held at various locations throughout the week.

The week's agenda will include question-and-answer sessions, skits, songs, dance routines and testimonies. Special guests include author and WAMU-FM radio personality Jonetta Rose Barras and local recording artist Mark Greene.

Co-founded in 2003 by Richard and Stacey Urban, Ultra Teen Choice provides programs and activities for middle and high school youth that promote healthy lifestyle behaviors and character-based decision making with an emphasis on abstaining from sex until marriage.

"We put a standard out to the kids, that they should be abstinent until they're married," Richard Urban explained. "It is directive and character based, so that is the expected standard that they have. We do not promote or demonstrate contraceptive use."

For Abstinence Awareness Week, Ultra Teen Choice has partnered with community organizations such as the D.C. Healthy Marriage & Relationship Coalition, Amerigroup, Concerned Black Men, Christian Love Baptist Church and East Capitol Center for Change (ECCC).

"I'm excited about Abstinence Awareness Week," said Melissa Higgs, ECCC youth health and abstinence educator. "It will be beneficial for the city and for young people. There is so much pressure from the media, peers and the environment. We just hope to plant a seed in the minds of youth, giving them another option and another way of thinking."

Aside from informing and encouraging youth about abstinence, organizers also hope to advocate change in District legislation. Urban explained that the District budget contributes very little to programs, which teach youth to abstain from sexual relations until marriage.

They may have an ally in the new mayor, Adrian Fenty, who has declared March 10th-March 16th Abstinence Awareness Week.

A selected group of youth will talk to six council members and explain the importance of abstinence, abstinence programs and clubs in the District. Organizers hope that this will emphasize the necessity for more legislative support and funding toward abstinence programs and clubs.

So far the Ultra Teen Choice has four abstinence clubs at one high school and three middle schools in D.C. Each club has about 15 members.

"Youth need and deserve our support," Urban said. "With the really high rate of HIV/AIDS in the District, and with teen pregnancy rates reaching 50 percent in the District, I think we need a strong track for kids who want to stay abstinent. And I think the District government needs to fund that."

© Copyright 2007 The District Chronicles