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Christians Hail, Condemn Young Spears’ Pregnancy

Christians Hail, Condemn Young Spears’ Pregnancy

The entertainment and media industry has responded to the news of Jamie Lynn Spears' pregnancy by halting some projects but spurring others as they consider how to best respond to those affected by the news.

In the latest edition of OK! Magazine, which hit newsstands nationwide on Friday, the 16-year-old younger sister of pop artist Britney Spears revealed that she was "shocked and scared" when she found out she was three months pregnant and her long-time boyfriend Casey Aldridge was the father. Spears intends to raise her child in her home state of Louisiana.

Calling it a double-edged sword in the Christian community, Bill Maier, vice president of the conservative ministry Focus on the Family, hailed Spear's decision to keep the baby but did not excuse teen sex.

"We should commend girls like Jamie Lynn Spears for making a courageous decision to have the baby. On the other hand, there's nothing glamorous or fun about being an unwed teen mother," Maier told The Associated Press.

Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America, said Spears' choice was a "mature response," noting the young teen star pretty much admitted to making some wrong choices but is acting responsibly as she faces the consequences.

Nickelodeon, which airs Spears' show "Zoey 101," has responded to the news by issuing a statement of support and is considering a special for its young audience about teen pregnancy in which topics on sex and love would be discussed. The popular show, which stars Spears as an innocent teen, is aimed primarily at youngsters aged 9-14. The television network has made no announcement about the future of "Zoey 101."

"We respect Jamie Lynn's decision to take responsibility in this sensitive and personal situation. We know this is a very difficult time for her and her family, and our primary concern right now is for Jamie Lynn's well-being," read a statement by Nickelodeon.

The television network confirmed that it is talking with Linda Ellerbee, who has done specials on talking with children about difficult issues in the news such as same-sex parents, AIDS, the Columbine shooting and President Clinton's impeachment scandal.

"I think it's important that something be done," Ellerbee told The Associated Press on Thursday. "But I think it's important that it be done in a measured way, and not just to feed the beast of news stories."

Meanwhile, Thomas Nelson, which publishes Bibles and inspirational books, said Wednesday it has suspended publishing a parenting book by Lynn Spears, mother of Jamie Lynn.

"We have postponed the book indefinitely," said Lindsey Nobles, spokeswoman for Tennessee-based Christian publisher, in a Reuters report Wednesday.

The book, which was scheduled to be released on Mother's Day next year, had the working title, Pop Culture Mom: A Real Story of Fame and Family in a Tabloid World. Publishers' Weekly described the book as "Lynne Spears' personal story of raising high-profile children while coming from a low-profile Louisiana community."

A spokeswoman said Tuesday the book was not cancelled but simply delayed, according to People Magazine.

"We are standing behind Lynne at this time and understand that she needs time with her family," the spokeswoman said.

A speculation over whether 19-year-old Aldridge would face charges of statutory rape has also arisen. The criminal charges he could face depend on the state where the conception took place.

But Aldridge has indicated plans to settle down with Spears. The Rev. Odus Jackson, Aldridge's uncle, told the New York Post that the young couple wants get married. The two reportedly met at church.

"Jamie Lynn and Casey want to get married. I know Casey does, and he says she does, too," said Jackson.

Aldridge's grandfather expressed disappointment in his grandson but hopes the two will get married.

"He should make an honest woman of her and make it all above board by getting married," Aldridge's 71-year-old granddad told The Sun. "Casey was raised in the church. This breaks my heart."

The news comes amid a national debate over teaching abstinence in schools. A December report revealed teen birthrates rose 3 percent last year following a 14-year decline.

But the National Abstinence Education Association said the Center for Disease Control report carried a political agenda to undermine abstinence education programs.

Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse, director of Concerned Women for America's Beverly LaHaye Institute, was quick to point out that the birth rate for 15-17-year-olds declined in 2005 and that the overall birthrate for 10-14-year-olds declined in 2006. She also noted that these are the age groups targeted by abstinence education programs.

A few days before news of Spears' pregnancy surfaced, the Bush administration had renewed funding for abstinence-only education.

Jessica Sheets of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy felt Spears' "good-girl image" would help the message about teen pregnancy resonate among young people.

"It's interesting to note that Jamie Lynn has a good-girl image," said Sheets, according to The Washington Post. "It's a message that girls should be getting."

"I definitely don't think [premarital sex is] something you should do; it's better to wait," Spears told OK! "But I can't be judgmental because it's a position I put myself in."

The Campaign has reported that one in seven girls has sex before she is 15 and 60 percent of teen girls who have sex say later they wish they'd waited.

Christian Post reporter Nathan Black contributed to this report.

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