Bush Republicans and far-right religious fundamentalists expand interference into scientific research funding

Religious fundamentalists and their allies in the Bush administration are expanding their attempt to have a Christian Right litmus test for all scientific research. Now over 250 research grants are under attack. The investigators on these grants are being asked to inform the National Institutes of Health (NIH) of the "public benefit" of the grants, despite the fact that the public benefits of the grants were discussed in detail before the grants were approved. Rep. Henry Waxman states that the list appears to have come out of the Bush Administration's Dept. of Health and Human Services. A copy of the list obtained by the Associated Press shows that the list has been annotated by the Traditional Values Coalition (TVC), and the TVC may have created the list itself. Grants which investigate HIV and STD transmission especially are targeted.

Researchers have been told by NIH staff not to mention (in grant applications) abortion, condom effectiveness, needle exchange, sexual minorities or other subjects controversial to the religious right, because of fear that the Bush Administration and Congressional Republicans are working stop research the contrary to "Christian values."

The Executive Director for the Traditional Values Coalition stated, "This is NIH's Mapplethorpe." Indeed, conservatives are trying to do to the NIH what they did to the National Endowment for the Arts. But the consequences here are far more serious. An attempt is being made to scare a generation of researchers from approaching topics controversial to religious conservatives. Unlike artists, universities and their investigators cannot function without government grants. The Right cannot be allowed to win this one. The stakes are too high.