Orange County Outrage: Supervisors May Divert Sex Ed Funds To Religious Group

The Los Angeles Times called the supervisors' move "hypocritical" and "reprehensible."

Lock up the children! The Rev. Wiley Drake is on the loose again.

I'm sure you remember Drake, the controversial California pastor and media hound. Drake, a Southern Baptist, is perhaps best known for waging an "imprecatory prayer" campaign against Americans United and its staff (including me by name – thanks, Wiley!).

It was an educational moment for everyone. A lot of reporters didn't know what imprecatory prayers were, and they were more than a bit surprised that a Christian minister in the 21st century was asking God to kill or cripple people the minister doesn't like. Call it Taliban Lite.

Drake's latest outrage is an over-the-top appearance before the Orange County Board of Supervisors, in which he demanded that Planned Parenthood ("a baby-killing organization") be defunded. He added his usual dollop of gratuitous insanity, noting that President Barack Obama is an "illegal alien." (He "doesn't even have a green card.")

Drake then -- to the derisive laughter of many in the crowd -- proclaimed himself "ordained by Almighty God" and insisted that the supervisors were also ordained and that God "will hold you accountable for what you do today."

I don't know how much the board members were swayed by Wiley's rant. But they voted unanimously March 10 to suspend funding for Planned Parenthood's health-education work among girls and young women. They cited moral and religious reasons for their action.

To add insult to injury, the board is considering directing the money to Birth Choice Health Clinics, a religion-based Santa Ana outfit that pushes abstinence education and tries to pressure women not to have abortions.

On the group's Web site, the sectarian agenda is pretty carefully cloaked, but it is telling that these activists get funding from Focus on the Family, James Dobson's fundamentalist political ministry. Last November, Birth Choice scheduled Religious Right warhorse Gary Bauer as the featured speaker at its fund-raising banquet. (Sadly, the group has also gotten public funding through George W. Bush's "faith-based" initiative!)

The Los Angeles Times called the supervisors' move "hypocritical" and "reprehensible."

"This nation tried abstinence-only sex education," observed the Times. "It didn't work."

Dr. Thomas C. Bent, medical director and chief operating officer of the Laguna Beach Community Clinic, told the Orange County Register, "There has to be a separation of church and state. I don't proselytize in my exam room. [The board of supervisors] shouldn't proselytize with the power of their office."

That's exactly right. Public funding should go to agencies that provide comprehensive, medically sound sex education, not Religious Right front groups that exist to proselytize.

It's especially deplorable when Orange County officials appear to be working in tandem with a certifiable loon like Wiley Drake. That tells you how sound the policy must be.

By the way, Wiley, your imprecatory prayers notwithstanding, I'm still here and so is Americans United. And we're doing everything we can to stop you and the Religious Right from advancing your theocratic agenda.

Maybe God isn't your heavenly hit-man after all.