Schools Hit `Cult' Sex-Ed Class

Sun-Times, July 13, 2000

An abstinence-only curriculum taught for free by 25 Unification Church members in up to 61 Chicago public schools last school year is "dangerous," a host of groups charged Wednesday.

Chicago public school officials were expected to sound the alarm today about the CLUE 2000 curriculum offered by the Pure Love Alliance (PLA), which one cult expert described as a "front" for the controversial Unification Church headed by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon.

School officials said Wednesday the curriculum was unauthorized and should be "confiscated and destroyed." The Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health called CLUE 2000 "dangerous" because it promoted abstinence-only, an approach they said the American Medical Association and other major health groups have "discredited."

In addition, Jenny Knauss, the caucus' executive director, said she was concerned about the PLA's links to the Unification Church, whose members are often called "Moonies." The PLA's three founders are all Unification Church members, she said.

"Allowing a group with such close ties to the Unification Church in our schools is dangerous for youth," said Knauss. "The Unification Church is known for brainwashing students at schools. Our students need an education that gives them complete information about health, not an opportunity for religious recruitment."

[Ms. P.], a member of both the Unification Church and the PLA, told the Chicago Sun-Times Wednesday she was among 25 Unification Church members who had taught CLUE 2000 to hundreds of sixth-through-12th- graders in 61 Chicago public schools last school year for free.

CLUE stands for Creating Love and Uplifting Esteem.

[Ms. P.], 19, said instructors "do not promote any of the teachings of the Unification Church." She insisted CLUE 2000 was a PLA-sponsored program and "is not part of the Unification Church."

The 10-session curriculum advocates abstinence only and character education, [Ms. P.] said, and concludes by offering students the chance to pledge themselves to "practice pure love as a child, friend, spouse and parent" and "refrain from all sexual relationships before marriage."

"We're going into schools for the sake of spreading this message of purity," said [Ms. P.]. "We want it to be known that abstinence is an option, and it's a good one. I don't think it should matter if we're part of a religion."

Chicago public school officials Wednesday were surprised the PLA claimed to be in 61 schools.

Officials planned to remind all principals today to only use system-approved curriculum, which CLUE 2000 is not, a spokesman said. The action came after the caucus complained to reporters about the program, which included charges that it gives students medically inaccurate information about condom failure rates.

Joining in those complaints was the Rev. Jesse Jackson of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition. In a caucus news release, Jackson said, "Our children should not be taught a medically inaccurate curriculum in the Chicago public schools. . . . I am troubled that the Pure Love Alliance may be targeting African-American, low-income communities with a message of fear and shame."

Caucus members said the PLA was founded by Robert Kittel, Michael Balcomb and Howard Self, all members of the Unification Church. It claimed the PLA's abstinence pledge is virtually identical to one signed by Unification Church members, although [Ms. P.] said the pledge "belonged to the Pure Love Alliance," which is planning a noon rally at the Thompson Center on July 19.

The caucus said the PLA curriculum also has appeared in New York City and West Coast schools. Others opposing the curriculum include the Illinois PTA, Planned Parenthood of Chicago, the Illinois Women's Health Coalition, Ada S. McKinley Community Services and the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, it said.

Cult expert Rick Ross said the PLA is just one of "hundreds" of "front organizations" for the Unification Church and Moon.

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