ACLU says Louisiana abstinence program violates court agreement
The American Civil Liberties Union last week claimed that Louisiana's Governor's Program on Abstinence continues to feature religious materials on its official Web site, in violation of a 2002 court settlement to not use tax money to promote religion. The ACLU is asking a federal court to hold Louisiana in contempt of the settlement. The ACLU had earlier sent a letter asking that the program remove all religious content from the Web site. In December, Gov. Kathleen Blanco and her executive counsel, Terry Ryder, said the program's Web site merely provided links to other abstinence-related sites with religious content--and so did not violate the settlement.
State attorneys are evaluating the ACLU's complaint, but believe Louisiana is fully compliant with the 2002 agreement, said Roderick Hawkins, a spokesperson for Blanco. In July 2002, U.S. district judge Thomas Porteous Jr. of New Orleans found that some program grants had been used by recipients to promote religion, including purchase of Bibles and religious tapes. In its settlement with the ACLU, Louisiana agreed to monitor spending by the GPA, then under former governor Mike Foster, to ensure abstinence funds would not be used to promote religion.