Chicago Pastor Says Abstinence-Only Education Amounts to "Wishful Thinking"

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In the wake of the controversy swirling around the family of Gov. Sarah Palin, Pastor Patrick Shaffer of Chicago's City of Faith Christian Church says parents, educators and leaders needs to take a more realistic and honest approach to sex education in an "over-sexed" society.

Pastor Patrick Shaffer of Chicago's City of Faith Christian Church is weighing in on the news released yesterday that Vice Presidential Nominee Governor Sarah Palin's 17-year-old daughter is pregnant. His perspective is a unique one that some might consider ironic, coming from a religious leader. Shaffer says:

"The Palin candidacy for Vice President has brought to the forefront a myriad of issues for all Americans to consider: gender, equality, and now parenting and responsible discourse on teen sex. It may be ironic that the conservatives are grappling with theses issues, especially since data has consistently shown that the abstinence-only approach is wishful thinking."

Shaffer is known for being unorthodox. Although he leads a non-denominational Christian church, members worship in a Jewish Synagogue located in Chicago's culturally diverse Hyde Park Community. In addition to openly discussing hot-button topics in his Blog, Shaffer also regularly leads candid conversations with his congregation about controversial issues including race, sex and sexuality.

Shaffer cites the startling statistics from Texas, a state which strongly endorses abstinence-only sex education and demands parental consent before teenagers can get contraception. "Reports show that between 1991 to 2004 the teen pregnancy rate in Texas decreased by only 19 percent, while in the rest of country it dropped by over 30 percent," he said.

Meanwhile in California, where comprehensive sex-education is mandatory in public schools, the teen pregnancy rate dropped by 47 percent. Shaffer says, "based on these numbers, we have to make a realistic choice: provide comprehensive sex education or favor abstinence-only sex education which is proven to have limited positive results."

As to whether or not the pregnancy of Governor Palin's teen daughter should be scrutinized in the media, Shaffer said, "It is not an indictment against Palin's commitment to serve or a reflection on her ability to parent."

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Monique Caradine
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