NAE under fire over contraception funding
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) -- The National Association of Evangelicals is under fire for receiving $1 million from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unmarried Pregnancy, an organization which promotes contraception for the unmarried.
Marvin Olasky, editor in chief of WORLD Magazine, broke the news and has written several articles regarding the controversy.
"The National Campaign is zealous," Olasky wrote July 14. "When conservatives this year tried to reduce funding for Planned Parenthood and similar groups, the lead story on the Campaign's newsletter began, 'The U.S. House of Representatives recently voted to increase teen and unplanned pregnancy.'
"It's hard to imagine two stranger organizational bedfellows," Olasky added. "Yet since 2008 the Campaign has partially funded the NAE."
The funding came in the form of a multi-year grant that supported the NAE's "Generation Forum" project, and the grant was the largest given by the National Campaign to any organization in 2008, 2009 or 2010, according to Olasky's examination of IRS disclosure forms. The NAE's annual budget is $1 million.
In an email to Baptist Press July 30, NAE communications director Sarah Kropp said current funding from the National Campaign expires at the end of 2012 and, "The NAE does not have plans to seek further funding from the National Campaign."
Among Olasky's main concerns is that during the past decade the National Campaign received nearly $50 million from the Hewlett Foundation, one of the nation's largest abortion and contraception supporters, and last year the National Campaign received more than $5 million worth of shares in Berkshire Hathaway, one of the world's leading abortion funders.
Another concern Olasky raised is that the NAE gave $10,000 to the Relevate Group's Q Gathering where young evangelicals met in April to hear speakers address topics including abortion reduction.
Along with the money, the NAE pushed to have the National Campaign's Sarah Brown included in a Q panel and Brown ended up dominating the discussion, Olasky said. "Brown argued that churches should promote contraceptive use by their unmarried singles," Olasky wrote.
During the panel discussion, Brown reportedly said she wished people in their 20s would have fewer sexual partners but the role of marriage is decreasing in modern culture and it's inevitable that unmarried evangelicals are going to have sex. Abortions, she said, could be reduced if contraceptives were used more widely.
In 2010, the NAE used some of its National Campaign grant money "to commission a Gallup poll with a key question worded to make it seem that 90 percent of evangelicals favor contraception generally -- and the Campaign then trumpeted that finding," Olasky wrote.
NAE President Leith Anderson acknowledged to Olasky the association's involvement with the National Campaign but also cited a 2010 NAE board resolution which says, "The Church is understandably reluctant to recommend contraception for unmarried sexual partners, given that it cannot condone extramarital sex. However, it is even more tragic when unmarried individuals compound one sin by conceiving and then destroying the precious gift of life."
In an email to Olasky, Anderson wrote, "Evangelicals are conflicted about contraceptives outside of marriage because we never want to promote or condone sexual immorality. But we are told that contraceptives can reduce abortions and we want to stop abortions."
Olasky's July 28 analysis of the matter included a reference to author John Piper's statement that, "Abortion is caused by illicit sex the way stealing is caused by unemployment. We don't give the unemployed person money so he won't steal. We help him see that work is better, and then help him find it."
What churches say on the issue of sex before marriage does matter, Olasky wrote in June. "Does God put us in a box where the only way to avoid one sin is to commit or condone another? That's not what the Bible teaches," he said.
For its part, the NAE, in a statement on its website, wrote, "Does NAE promote biblical sex in biblical marriage? Yes. Has NAE endorsed contraception for unmarried Christians? No."
"Several sources have mistakenly claimed that the National Association of Evangelicals endorses or promotes the use of contraception by unmarried Christian young adults. No. NAE has never done so," the statement said. "NAE promotes, endorses and teaches the biblical standard of God's gift of sex only within marriage between one man and one woman.
"To address abortion among evangelicals, the NAE commissioned research by Gallup and Grey Matter to find out what is happening. Financial assistance for this research, for a staff member and for publication of Theology of Sex came from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.
"The National Campaign and the NAE share a goal of reducing the number of abortions in the United States. Under this goal, the NAE has partnered with the National Campaign. The NAE does not agree with every position or goal of the National Campaign.
"To learn more about the NAE's promotion of biblical values and work to reduce the high rate of sex and abortions among unmarried evangelicals go to NAEgeneration.com. Especially, read and encourage others to read Theology of Sex," the NAE said.
Pastors who wrote to WORLD Magazine in late June and early July, Olasky said, overwhelmingly were against churches promoting contraceptive use among unmarried adults.
To combat the problems that lead to premarital sex even among evangelicals, pastors recommended, among other things, fighting the recent tendency to marry later. Olasky quoted University of Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus, who said, "Most young Americans no longer think of marriage as a formative institution, but rather as the institution they enter once they think they are fully formed."
"My takeaway: When we face difficult problems, we can choose to follow the world's prescription, or God's," Olasky wrote. "If the NAE speaks with worldly wisdom in the name of evangelicals, it undermines pastors, parents, and young adults striving to do what's right. The Holy Spirit is real and can change people: Giving in to the contraceptive lobby is like saying the Holy Spirit is powerless to help us obey God."
Erin Roach is assistant editor of Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).