Florida health department pulls religious-themed AIDS brochure

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com April 08 2003 12:00 AM ET

The Florida Department of Health on Friday pulled a religious-themed HIV/AIDS educational booklet after complaints by civil liberties groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Miami Herald reports. The booklet, titled "A Christian Response to AIDS," includes Bible quotes and images of Jesus. "It's clearly unconstitutional," said ACLU Florida executive director Howard Simon. "It is not permissible for the state to spend a dime endorsing a particular theological point of view." Tom Liberti, director of the Florida Bureau of AIDS, on Friday wrote to local health agencies and groups to inform them that "effective immediately no state or federal money is to be spent on the purchase and/or distribution of this brochure."

The booklet, first published in 1990, has been distributed in other states and has met criticism from other groups over its Christian-focused theme. The Pennsylvania Department of Health in February removed the booklet from its Web site after Capitolwire, an online state government news service, questioned the appropriateness of the state's distributing religious materials. Officials in Washington, D.C., stopped distributing the booklet two years ago following similar inquiries.