The Bush administration’s latest effort to expand the role of religious organizations in government services enlists church-based youth groups in antidrug programs, the Associated Press says. The Office of National Drug Control Policy is offering guides, brochures and a Web site with information for leaders of religious youth groups to use in teaching – or preaching – a message against the use of marijuana and other drugs.
“Religious institutions are an enormously powerful influence on young people,” drug czar John P. Walters said in announcing the program yesterday. “A lot of faith-based communities don’t know how to talk about drug use. There’s a need for a tool like this.” A study published in March by the American Psychological Association found that teenagers were less likely to use marijuana if they thought religion was important to their lives.
Critics of the administration’s religious initiatives said spiritual groups were already fighting drug use members and did not need the federal government to get involved. “It’s another example of how the Bush administration is obsessed with finding a faith-based solution to every social and medical problem,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.