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Financial support in the wrong place

As part of President George W. Bush’s faith-based initiative, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced last week the generous award of more than $2.2 million in grants to 12 states and multiple organizations to encourage the country’s child-support-enforcement system. Of that money, $550,000 is earmarked for programs run by churches and nonprofit organizations that emphasize the importance of a healthy marriage, raising separation-of-church-and-state red flags across the country.

The administration’s goal is to advance the quality of children’s lives, and no one can argue with that motive. But the administration is going about it the wrong way. Funding programs to promote parenting skills will benefit the country’s children. Funding programs to promote marriage will not. Children do not benefit simply from having married parents. They benefit from parents who, whether divorced, married, separated or single, provide them with a nurturing environment.

Specifying money for the promotion of marriage does not guarantee help to children. As part of the grant, the Alabama Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board received $200,000 to help poor, racially diverse single parents learn marital skills. If the government truly wants to help children, this money would be better directed toward helping parents learn parenting skills.

The government’s role is not to play moral guide to the people. Its role is not to tell people whether they should be married. By financially supporting marriages under the guise of protecting children, the government is attempting to push criteria for values on Americans, when it is not necessary to be married to have family values. An unhappy marriage often would have been worse for the children than if the parents divorced or were never married.

The government should not meddle in people’s lives and should not use taxpayer money to fund marriage programs.

University Wire — Ohio University