Magazine article The Christian Century

ACLU Complains of Bias in Catholic Antitrafficking Programs Funded by U.S

Magazine article The Christian Century

ACLU Complains of Bias in Catholic Antitrafficking Programs Funded by U.S

Article excerpt

The American Civil Liberties Union has sued the federal government, charging that it allows the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to use taxpayer dollars to impose its religious doctrines on victims of human trafficking.

The Department of Health and Human Services awarded the bishops' conference $6 million in grants from 2006 to 2008 to aid victims of human trafficking, many of whom are female prostitutes, according to the ACLU.

In keeping with Catholic teaching, the bishops require subcontractors to pledge not to use the grant money to pay for contraceptives or abortion referrals.

"Everything we do has to be consistent with our beliefs," said Sister Mary Ann Walsh. a spokesperson for the Washington-based U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. "We do all these social services, and we do it better than anyone else."

The ACLU's lawsuit, filed January 12 in the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts, says the Department of Health and Human Services has "permitted the USCCB to impose its own religiously based substantive restrictions on grant funds."

HHS officials knew that the bishops would impose restrictions on abortion referrals and contraceptives but still allowed them to receive the grants, according to the ACLU. …

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