Category archives: Family

World Congress of Families Seeks to Strengthen the Family Unit

by Family Research Council

September 26, 2018

Peter Sprigg, Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at Family Research Council, was a speaker at the latest meeting of the World Congress of Families (WCF), held September 14-16 in Chisinau, the capital of Moldova. Formerly part of the Soviet Union, Moldova is located between Romania and Ukraine. Peter’s talk described “Five Myths About ‘Gender Identity’” as part of a panel discussion on “Gender Ideology—The Latest Attack on the Family and the Legal Challenges It Poses.”

The “Gender Ideology” panel was moderated by Patrick Byrne, President of the National Civil Council in Australia, who is also author of a new book, Transgender: One Shade of Grey. The panel included Stephen Baskerville, a professor at Patrick Henry College who is the author of The New Politics of Sex: The Sexual Revolution, Civil Liberties, and the Growth of Governmental Power. Former FRC Fellows Pat Fagan and Allan Carlson (founder of the World Congress of Families) were also among the speakers in Moldova.

FRC renewed its formal partnership with the WCF this year, and Peter has attended all but one of the World Congress events since 2004, speaking in Mexico City (2004) and Salt Lake City (2015).

The event had the active support of the President of Moldova, Igor Dodon (pictured), and Moldovan First Lady Galina Dodon’s charitable foundation “Din Suflet” (From the Soul). President Dodon spoke at the opening and closing ceremonies (despite having survived a rollover car accident just days earlier, after a truck swerved into his motorcade). Dodon declared at the opening session:

[T]he philosophy aimed at strengthening the institution of the family and based on the priority of traditional family values should become an alternative to the actively propagated anti-family ideology. Our motto is: “Every child should be brought up only in a family”. A family should only be regarded as an alliance between a man and a woman, a father and a mother.

Moldova’s Constitution includes reference to the family, with Article 48 stating:

The family shall be founded on a freely consented marriage between a husband and wife, on their full equality in rights and the parents’ right and obligation to ensure their children’s upbringing, education and training.

Dodon also expressed concern over demographic trends in his country, noting, “Over the past 27 years – the years of independence – we have lost up to one third of our population for various reasons.” He warned that if current trends continue, Moldova may lose another third of its population within the next 20 years. For this reason, he has supported policies such as paying subsidies to families that have four or more children. Dodon also officially declared 2019 to be “The Year of the Family” in Moldova.

The theme of the Congress was “The Natural Family: Uniting East and West.” Most of the residents of the former Soviet bloc hold conservative views on social issues, and the last three WCF gatherings have been held in Eastern Europe: in Tbilisi, Georgia in 2016; Budapest, Hungary in 2017; and in Moldova this year.

The World Congress of Families is also significant in bringing together the three main branches of Christianity: Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox. An elder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) also spoke at the event. Moldova is predominantly Orthodox, and representatives of both the Moldovan Orthodox Church and Russian Orthodox Church participated in the event. Many participants, including Peter, attended worship Sunday morning at the Central Orthodox Cathedral in Chisinau, along with President Dodon.

At the closing ceremonies for this year’s Congress, Brian Brown, President of the International Organization for the Family (IOF), which organizes the WCF, announced that the next World Congress of Families will be held in Verona, Italy from March 29-31, 2019.

Lawsuit Targeting Faith-Based Adoption Agencies Allowed to Proceed in Michigan

by David Closson

September 17, 2018

On Friday, a federal judge ruled that Dumont v. Lyon, the ACLU’s lawsuit against the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, may proceed, finding that the plaintiffs—two same-sex couples who allege they were turned away by certain faith-based placing agencies when they sought to adopt—have standing to sue.

In denying the Defendant’s motion to dismiss, the Clinton-appointed District Judge, Paul D. Borman, ruled that the couples have demonstrated plausible Establishment Clause and Equal Protection claims that are “fairly traceable” to the defendant’s practice of entering into contracts with faith-based agencies that operate according to their religious beliefs about marriage. Michigan state law since 2015 has protected the conscience rights of faith-based adoption providers.

In his ruling, Judge Borman explained that because faith-based agencies process 20 percent of the active foster care and adoption cases in Michigan, it is “reasonable to infer that the ability of faith-based agencies to employ religious criteria as a basis to turn away same-sex couples erects at least a 20% barrier to that Prospective Parent Plaintiffs’ ability to adopt or foster a child in the State of Michigan.” Noticeably absent from Judge Borman’s comments on this point is that the ACLU’s clients in the case live closer to four other foster and adoption agencies than St. Vincent Catholic Charities, a co-defendant in the case. All four agencies facilitate adoptions for same-sex couples.

Significant for this case—and others moving forward—Borman cites the Plaintiff’s claim of “stigmatic injury” alongside “practical injuries” as grounds for allowing their Establishment Clause claims to proceed. In addition to claiming that Michigan’s law makes it more difficult for them to adopt, the same-sex couples allege that the state’s practice of contracting with faith-based agencies with religious convictions constitutes a form of harmful discrimination. This is an appeal to “dignitary harm,” a concept that refers to the alleged emotional pain and humiliation suffered when someone disagrees with another’s moral decisions or lifestyle; the notion is increasingly invoked by activists who want to silence dissent from anyone who disagrees with the LGBT agenda.

The longest section in the 93-page ruling was Borman’s rationale for why, in his view, the Plaintiffs have credibly alleged an Establishment Clause violation. The Plaintiffs believe the implementation of Michigan law constitutes an endorsement and promotion of religion which is prohibited by the Establishment Clause. Concurring with the Plaintiffs, Borman employs the second and third prongs of the Lemon test to establish whether Michigan’s law conveys the message that the state endorses the view that opposes same-sex marriage. According to Borman, “The answer is yes.” In an important paragraph he argues that “Plaintiffs plausibly allege and suggest that the State’s practice of contracting with and permitting faith-based child placing agencies to turn away same-sex couples has both a subjective purpose of discriminating against those who oppose the view of the faith-based agencies and objectively endorses the religious view of those agencies that same-sex marriage is wrong.”

Borman also says that while the Establishment Clause does not prohibit Michigan from entering into contracts with religious organizations, the use of religious criteria by faith-based adoption providers suggests “excessive entanglement” between the state and religion. Thus, according to Borman’s opinion, the Defendants will need to prove in the trial phase why current state law protecting faith-based adoption agencies does not constitute an inappropriate promotion of or excessive entanglement of religion.

Turning to the Plaintiff’s Equal Protection claim, Borman is more cautious but permits the claim to proceed to the discovery phase. Notably, he admits the Plaintiff’s burden to prove that Michigan’s law is motivated by anti-gay animus is “admittedly high.”

On one count Borman does rule in favor of the Defendants, finding that the Plaintiffs fail to establish taxpayer standing to assert their Establishment Clause claims. Alongside the same-sex couples, Jennifer Ludolph, a former foster child who also sued the state, objected to the use of taxpayer money to fund child-placing agencies that do not place children in same-sex households due to the provider’s religious convictions on marriage. Borman ruled that all of the Plaintiffs failed to establish taxpayer standing and dismissed with prejudice Ludolph’s claims.

In response to the decision, Mark Rienzi, an attorney with Becket representing St. Vincent said, “Today’s court ruling allows the ACLU’s lawsuit to proceed—a lawsuit aimed at forbidding the state from working with faith-based adoption agencies to help children in need. Such a result would make it much harder for thousands of children to find the loving home they each deserve. Beckett is fighting to make sure that doesn’t happen, and this is just one step along the journey in this case.”

Ohio House Bill 658: Parental Rights are Good for Children

by Madeleine Lucas

July 23, 2018

 

This past February, two Ohio parents lost custody of their teenage daughter after they declined to support medical treatment for her to “transition” to a male. The judge awarded custody to the child’s grandparents, who are supportive of this transition, specifically authorizing the grandparents to place her on their health insurance and petition to change her name. In the wake of this decision, the teen’s parents are now barred from helping their own child through a very difficult and pivotal point in her life. 

This tragic case raises significant questions about parental rights and the role of the state in the cases of children who experience gender dysphoria. The same Ohio judge in her decision observed that “there is certainly a reasonable expectation that circumstances similar to the one at bar are likely to repeat themselves” and encouraged state lawmakers to consider legislation to address these issues.

Republican state representatives have responded to this call. HB 658 was introduced to the Ohio House in May of this year. The bill operates on the principle that parents have “the fundamental right to care for their child” and sets forth provisions to ensure that parents can act in the ways they determine to be in their children’s best interest.

The legislation prohibits parents’ decisions about gender dysphoria treatments from serving as a determinant of custody in a juvenile court. In addition, it seeks to help facilitate involvement of parents in gender related issues for their children, especially in communication with schools. It requires “government agents” (which includes teachers and counselors) who have “knowledge that a child under its care or supervision has exhibited symptoms of gender dysphoria” to provide written notification to the child’s parents. It also requires written parental consent before a child can be administered any treatments for gender dysphoria, thereby keeping parents informed and engaged with important decisions about how to best care for their child.

Opponents have decried the legislation as “anti-trans youth” and as an affront to “child body autonomy.” However, this bill does not deal directly with the prospect of youth undergoing treatments for transition—they still can if their parents consent to it. It simply assures that a child’s parents, not the state, have the authority to make health decisions in the best interest of their child.

At the center of this debate is the idea that parents are better equipped to act in the best interest of their children than the state. Policies that allow the state to remove children from their parents because of disagreements with their favored sexual agenda violate this fundamental principle and ultimately put children at greater risk.

The state can “care” for general matters affecting the people under its jurisdiction; however, the state cannot care for a person in the particular, as a parent or family does. The immediate family has intimate, personal knowledge about their children and has a unique obligation to love them and do what is best for them. The government, by its very nature, is incapable of this kind of care.

Of course, there are situations where parents do not fulfill these obligations to care for their children, as in the cases of abuse and neglect, where the government rightly steps in to rectify those harms. It may be that opponents of this bill believe that denying a child the ability to “transition” counts as abuse, but this is a narrow assessment of the reality that these children face. No one denies that the struggles children with gender dysphoria go through are extremely difficult. However, there are legitimate differences of opinion about how to approach and treat these situations.

It is important to remember that the medical treatments we are talking about are not without permanent consequences and many potential complications. Starting teenagers or younger children on hormone therapy seeks to suppress puberty and will irreversibly affect their development. Gender reassignment surgery is an even more drastic step, since it involves permanent bodily mutilation and loss of physical organs for the rest of these children’s lives. Also, because these medical practices are recent phenomena, little research is available on the long-term consequences of such actions.

These are serious decisions, and it is reasonable to ensure that parents are provided with the best available information regarding the health of their child, and then enabled to make such weighty and irreversible healthcare decisions while they’re still minors. Parents, in exercising their “fundamental right to care for their child,” as HB 658 says, should be able to be with their child as they go through their emotional and psychological struggles, helping them understand the significant consequences of the choices before them. Some parents may choose to start their children on “transitioning” treatments; others may not. Allowing the state to forcibly make this type of decision for parents sets a dangerous precedent, one that infringes on the rights of parents and puts children at risk by taking away familial support systems and care from the only people in their lives who are there to care for and love them for the entirety of their lives.

Those who argue for the so-called “right to transition” drive an unnecessary wedge into the family unit, pitting child against parent. Children who experience gender dysphoria are dealing with complex emotional and psychological issues, and are at higher risk of depression and suicidal thoughts. Times such as these in a child’s life are exactly when they need the presence of family and those who care deeply for them the most. This Ohio legislation helps keep the family together through this difficult time by allowing parents to maintain authority over how to best address issues with their child, instead of ceding that authority to the impersonal state.

Imitating My Father

by Daniel Hart

June 15, 2018

Courtesy of State Library of Queensland

My one-and-a-half-year-old son imitates everything I do these days. “Hey, babes,” I said as I greeted my wife a number of weeks ago. “Hey babes,” he garbled from his high chair a few seconds later. When I left a garbage bag next to the front door one day, he toddled over to it and began attempting to tie the drawstrings together, just as he had seen me do minutes before. Now, to my amazement, he is feeding himself with a spoon. It brings me great joy to watch him carefully position the spoon in his fingers so that he can angle it correctly into his bowl and scoop up food, which he then brings to his mouth with remarkable control and efficiency. It’s as if he saw someone else doing the same thing.

To see my son constantly imitate me is thrilling, humbling, and a bit frightening all at once. It’s exhilarating to know that another human sees me as such an influential presence and role model—I’m excited by the prospect of passing on the passion I have for reading, music, sports, and the knowledge and love of our Father up above. At the same time, I’m realizing more and more the extent to which my words and actions can influence his behavior, which means I really do need to watch what I say and do.

As Father’s Day approaches, I’m reminded of all the ways I imitated my own father when I was growing up. I’ll never forget the Saturday he brought me along with him to the local rec center to play pickup basketball when I was around 10. I watched in awe and a little trepidation at how quickly the much larger men moved and passed the ball. I was soon thrown into the mix, and found myself panicking as I tried to keep up. “Stay between your man and the basket,” my dad said. I could tell by the way he played that he took pride in playing good defense. Something clicked for me after that, and I’ve loved playing basketball ever since.

Then there was the beautiful sunny day my dad first showed me how to swing a golf club in our front yard. He explained the proper grip to take, how far away to stand from the ball, how to bring the club back, and the appropriate motion to take on the downswing. As I imitated his golf swing for the first time, I remember a feeling of comfort come over me. Playing golf has been a natural fit and a great source of fulfilment for me from that day on. 

What I am most grateful to my father for is his determination to keep his Catholic faith central in his life. He always wore a dress shirt and tie on Sundays while a large percentage of other men wore jeans and t-shirts. During Mass, he would always sing out the hymns with passion, while many other men in neighboring pews would stand silently with seeming indifference. The reverence he showed during Mass always struck me—his head was often bowed forward, his eyes closed, and his hands clasped together. After the gospel was proclaimed and the congregation took their seats, he would often remain standing for a beat longer than everyone else, as if to take an extra moment to let Christ’s words soak into his soul. I could feel the devotion emanating from within him during Mass, and it rubbed off on me.

The car ride home from Mass would usually entail a heartfelt commentary from him about the priest’s homily. Countless conversations at home about the nature of faith and reflecting on the life of the Holy Family are some of my fondest memories. There were also numerous times that I recall him witnessing to friends and acquaintances who did not share his faith. This has always been something I have greatly admired in him—there was an energy and joy that his faith gave him that he did not want to contain, compelling him to share it with others. There was also fearlessness in the indifference he had to what others might have thought of him. Seeing him take his faith so seriously clearly made a great impression on me. I can see now that it was through my imitation of my father at a young age that I first began to make the Catholic faith my own.

Every father knows that they set an example for their children, but what they perhaps don’t know is how much of an impact they can actually have on them. Part of the reason for this is that it is easy for parents to underestimate how observant their children are, which I have discovered with surprise at my own son’s remarkable ability to imitate me. I doubt that my dad knew the extent to which I was watching him as I grew up. What I have noticed is that this is a common experience. I remember numerous occasions where my sister and I have related our experience of a childhood memory, to which my parents have responded, “Really? You remember that? I didn’t think you noticed” or “That’s funny—I don’t remember it that way!” I have also seen this same interaction happen with my friends and their parents. I have no doubt that when I am advanced in years and I listen to my son’s experiences of childhood, I will be blown away.

In the first verse of 1 Corinthians 11, Paul states plainly: “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” For me, this is the perfect encapsulation of what authentic fatherhood should be. God created us in such a way that the father of a family is to be the image of Himself—God the Father. We see this in how a father and mother welcome a newborn child—with love. The first experience of God’s love that a newborn encounters is through the love of their father and mother. As Paul says, the model that fathers need to follow is Christ, the Incarnation of God Himself. But since Christ no longer physically walks the earth, His followers must imitate Him in order to allow His presence to abide in the world. Paul stood as an amazing model for Christ in the early Christian church, and his example was imitated by his followers, who were then imitated by their followers, and so the faith was passed down through the generations. This mission has been passed down to all Christian fathers today—to imitate Christ in order to lead by example for the good of their children and for the good of everyone they encounter.

Thank you, Dad, for your example of Christian manhood. Your witness of faith is something I hope to pass down to my own son, just as you did for me. Happy Father’s Day!

Getting to Know Generation Z

by Marion Mealor

June 14, 2018

For years, researchers have been studying the worldview of millennials and how it differs from the generations before them. More recently, however, a new generation that is just entering their college years is stepping into the spotlight and gaining attention—Generation Z.  Who are they? The simple answer is that they are the 60-70 million people born between 1999-2015 (ages 2-18), making them the second largest generation in America. The more complicated answer, however, encompasses the identity of the most ethnically diverse generation alive today. What is shaping them? What is their worldview? How can we lead them? Based on research conducted by the Barna Group in partnership with the Impact 360 Institute, Jonathan Morrow answers these questions at an FRC Speaker’s Series event yesterday in Washington, D.C.

As Gen Z is growing up, it is vital to know and understand what is shaping them and if they will carry on the cultural and moral trends that defined Millennials. David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group, asks a very significant question, “Is it possible that many churches are preparing young Christians to face a world that no longer exists?” This is something we must recognize in order to equip Gen Z for the challenges they are sure to face. The percentage of people with a biblical worldview has been in evident decline with each generation, from the Baby Boomers to Gen Z. According to Morrow, only four percent of Generation Z have a biblical worldview, making them the “post Christian” generation. It is important to evaluate whether we are preparing our young people for the world we wish we lived in or the world that actually exists.

Jonathan Morrow, the Director of Cultural Engagement at the Impact 360 Institute, offers some essential mindset shifts needed for leading Generation Z. This generation does not remember a time without interactive screens, and they exemplify the pros and cons of being “digital natives.” Many in this generation need to learn more about how to form relationships with people and how to engage in face-to-face conversations. Today, many young people feel unequipped to defend their faith because they lack the training and knowledge to do so. Morrow pointed out the importance of allowing them to test what they believe by being challenging in their faith, which will give room for it to grow.

Too often, the data of our lives is compartmentalized into different boxes, but one of the best gifts we can give Gen Z is showing them how all these isolated parts work together. Our faith should not start and end when we go to church on Sunday, but instead be integrated into everything we do. One of the positive things about Gen Z is that they have a lot of empathy. Our job is to help them channel that in the direction of virtue. They need to know why they believe what they believe so they can take a stand of faith no matter what they may face. In short, Gen Z needs more connections, more challenge, more training, more integration, and more critical thinking.

Understanding Generation Z is critical if we want to serve, lead, influence, and equip this next generation. The majority of these young people are still heavily influenced by parents, friends, teachers, and churches. They are driven by the desire for success in schooling and careers, and one of the best ways to reach them is vocational discipleship. We can be an ally to this “next, next generation” and continue to direct them to a biblical worldview. In the words of Morrow, “Listen and be present.” For more information and to learn more about Generation Z, be sure to view FRC’s Speaker Series event with Jonathan Morrow.

Marion Mealor is an intern at Family Research Council.

Remembering the Little Ones Up Above on Mother’s Day

by Daniel Hart

May 11, 2018

We shall find our little ones again up above.”

-St. Zelie Martin

Recently, the state of Nebraska passed a bill that is the first of its kind in the history of the United States. The bill allows parents who have lost a child due to miscarriage to apply for a commemorative birth certificate as long as a health care practitioner has verified the pregnancy. Unlike previous bills which mandated that the miscarried child must have been at least 20 weeks old, this bill has no minimum gestation period.

The beauty of this bill is that it publicly acknowledges the life of the unborn, no matter how short their time may have been with us. Miscarriage is an experience that is all too common but often not spoken about in our culture. It is estimated that 15-20 percent of all pregnancies in the U.S. end in miscarriage. Anecdotally, it seems to me that this number is an underestimate—almost all of the couples I know who have multiple children have experienced at least one miscarriage, if not more.

Although these children are unseen and never encountered face to face, their passing has an unavoidable impact on families, especially mothers. As one woman recounts in Karen Edmiston’s book, After Miscarriage, “I could no more pretend that nothing has happened than I could pretend to be fine if my husband died.” This natural response underscores the deep wound that all mothers who have lost children experience. 

Many women may blame themselves or feel ashamed of their miscarriage, and may even be unaware of their grief. Holly Cave recounts one mother who confided to her:

I thought to grieve you had to have lost something you’d met – like a person that you had talked to – or you could grieve over a baby that maybe you’d held,” she tells me. “I didn’t know anything about grief… I didn’t know whether I should leave that to people who had lost actual people, not a very, very tiny baby that you’ve never met.”

As Edmiston explains, “Grief is necessary, and our children deserve the dignity of our mourning, the recognition of their infinite worth, the respect that is manifest in our grieving of their passing.” Grief is an affirmation of love. It is an affirmation that a child is missed. 

It is clear that our society needs to do a better job of honoring the grief of women who have experienced miscarriage. The Nebraska birth certificate bill is a great start in bringing a tragic event into the light in order to help facilitate healing for mothers and their families, especially by officially pronouncing a name for the unknown child. Although no parent should feel guilty if they have not thought of giving their child a name, this can be a beautiful way of affirming God’s gift of life. As Christians, we believe that the life in the womb of a mother possesses an eternal soul, and therefore, the child may possess a name. “Names are powerful,” Edmiston writes. “They identify us, shape us, connect us to one another… It is a small but very real gift you can give to the baby you were not able to see or embrace.”

On this Mother’s Day, let us remember and pray in a special way for all those mothers who have children whose lives ended before they were born—from miscarriage, stillbirth, or abortion—or whose lives ended after birth, from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) or other tragedy.

Here are some resources to help those who are grieving the loss of a child:

Faith-Based Adoption Providers Must Be Allowed to Serve Needy Children

by Family Research Council

April 26, 2018

In America today, over 400,000 children are languishing in foster homes or other institutions, waiting for a chance to be adopted by a loving family. To help solve this crisis, it is obvious that parents who want to adopt need all the help they can get in being matched with a child, which means they need an adoption agency that understands their needs.

Instead, adoptive families who are religious are finding themselves left out in the cold. In Massachusetts, Illinois, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and now Philadelphia, faith-based adoption agencies like Catholic Charities and Bethany Christian Services have been forced out of serving needy children because of their religious beliefs by progressive activist organizations like the ACLU, who demand that faith-based organizations affirm same-sex relationships or be barred from offering adoption services.

However, since there are plenty of adoption agencies who already serve same-sex couples, barring faith-based agencies from serving needy children is simply outrageous and will only compound the foster care crisis. As Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) pointed out at a recent Speaker Series event at FRC, Christian churches are the ones who started healthcare and adoption services in the U.S. to begin with, so to bar them from practicing their religious beliefs as they serve the public is counter-productive and benefits no one. As he succinctly observed, “If it’s the truth, it can’t hurt anybody.”

Because of the activism of extremists on the Left, legislation is clearly needed to protect faith-based adoption providers from discrimination. That’s where the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act (CWPIA) comes in. CWPIA simply “ensures all available agencies can continue to serve the 440,000 children in the foster care system and the more than 100,000 awaiting adoption.”

Be sure to view Rep. Kelly’s full remarks here.

For a complete analysis of the benefits of CWPIA, click here.

Of Guns and Prodigal Fathers

by Peter Sprigg

March 16, 2018

After a school shooter murdered 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14, the calls by liberals for new gun control laws were predictable, and received blanket coverage in the mainstream media.

Gun rights activists, in another unsurprising response, resisted efforts to blame the weapon rather than the killer, promoting instead ideas like arming teachers to defend their students.

I’ve been heartened to see that a number of pro-family conservatives have pointed out a third factor that must be addressed when examining violence in our society—the role of family structure, and specifically the negative effects of fatherlessness on boys and young men. The Parkland shooter (whose name I choose not to publicize) was fatherless, just like many other perpetrators of mass murders. Yet most of the media have not focused on this issue.

Susan L. M. Goldberg was one of the first to raise the issue, at PJ Media. Former Sen. Rick Santorum also raised it in a CNN interview. Unfortunately, one statistic that was cited multiple times turned out to be unverified (at this writing, it lives on in a headline at Patheos: “Of the 27 Deadliest Mass Shooters, 26 of Them Had One Thing in Common.”) Paul Kengor, a scrupulous scholar from Grove City College, apologized for having cited this number in a piece in Crisis Magazine. After studying the available (albeit incomplete) data more closely, Kengor said that

[W]e found maybe four or five of the 27 shooters that we could definitively conclude (without doubt) had been raised in an intact family, or a family that included the biological dad at home, or a biological father who was consistently at home… .

At this point, however, what is clear is the vast majority of shooters came from broken families without a consistent biological father throughout their rearing and development. Very few had good, stable, present dads.

(I would also note that the CNN list of the “deadliest mass shootings in modern U.S. history,” starting in 1949 and apparently first compiled in 2013, has now been updated to include 34 incidents, not 27. Only four of those, however, have been in schools, and another three at colleges.)

What is perhaps more compelling than the anecdotal evidence from the most extreme events is the overall data regarding the link between fatherlessness and crime and violence. Here is edited data I accessed from the National Fatherhood Initiative in 2015:

Father Factor in Emotional and Behavioral Problems

      • Children born to single mothers show higher levels of aggressive behavior than children born to married mothers. Source: Journal of Marriage and Family, 2007.

 . . .

Father Factor in Crime

      • A study of 109 juvenile offenders indicated that family structure significantly predicts delinquency.
        Source: Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 2000.
      • [H]igher social encounters and frequent communication with nonresident biological fathers decreased adolescent delinquency.
        Source: Child Development, 2007.
      • [A] more positive father-child relationship predicts a reduced risk of engagement in multiple first risky behaviors. The positive influence of the father-child relationship on risk behaviors seemed to be stronger for male than for female adolescents.
        Source: Journal of Family Issues, 2006.
      • [I]f the number of fathers is low in a neighborhood, then there is an increase in acts of teen violence. Source: Journal of Marriage and Family, 2005.
      • In a study of INTERPOL crime statistics of 39 countries, it was found that single parenthood ratios were strongly correlated with violent crimes. Source: Cross-Cultural Research, 2004.

NFI also offers these graphics as free downloads:

 

 

An infographic from the National Center for Fathering reports the following:

Fatherless children are:

  • 11 times more likely to have violent behavior
  • 20 times more likely to be incarcerated

and:

  • 70% of adolescents in juvenile correctional facilities come from fatherless homes
  • 60% of rapists were raised in fatherless homes

It’s clear we have a problem of what we might call “prodigal dads” in our society. (Writer Doug Mainwaring used that term in a piece last year in Public Discourse, “May I Please Speak to My Daddy?”)

More powerful, though, than statistics may be a three-minute film produced recently by students at Gordon College, an evangelical school in Massachusetts (full disclosure: my son is one of those students). If you want to illustrate the pain of fathers and children who are separated, consider sharing “Prodigal.”

Women Speak: A Panel Discussion on Real Issues that Women Face Today

by Family Research Council

March 9, 2018

In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8th, FRC hosted a panel discussion with women staffers to discuss a variety of issues that women face today.

In a wide-ranging and animated conversation, topics included how the modern feminist agenda intentionally excludes conservative women, the trials and joys of being a stay-at-home mom, the challenges and opportunities of being a working mom, the value of flexibility in workplace policies, the role that husbands have in empowering and enabling their wives to achieve their goals, how the #MeToo movement has exposed ugly realities about the dynamics of power and a Hollywood culture of self-indulgence, and more.

Some fascinating questions are explored here. Can women have it all—both at home and at work? Is personal identity more important than ideals? Can society expect men to treat women with respect when the reality of biological sex itself is being challenged? How can the conservative movement and Christian ministry do more to give women opportunities to succeed and to lead? Don’t miss this enlightening and candid discussion.

Gentle Strength: Why I’m Not a Feminist

by Cassidy Rich

March 6, 2018

The feminist movement is in full swing and nothing seems to be stopping it. Women are breaking away from the “chains” of oppression and showing the world what they can do. In a slew of my college classes I heard young women talk about how they do not want to be controlled by a man or submit to their husband. Being strong, independent, and successful in the corporate world seems to be what defines women today. Interning in Washington, D.C. and personally witnessing the Women’s March made me realize this in ways I didn’t want to. Thousands of women (and even some men) walked the streets of our nation’s capital holding vulgar and obscene posters that supposedly showed strength and independence, but instead made my stomach turn while also saddening my heart.

With all the gender equality lingo being thrown around these days, I was surprised to hear a girl in my Women’s History class say, “I know that some women look down upon this, but I want to be a stay-at-home mom.” Hearing those words come out of her mouth with such conviction was a breath of fresh air. So often, women want to define themselves by showing how they can do just as good of a job as men, if not better. But what if women were designed to do what men cannot do in order to complement one another and bring glory to God? What if women were created to do something different and special that men do not even have the ability to do? What if all women need to do to show their greatness is embrace the role God gave them, even if society may look down on it?

So what does God say about the role of women? Ephesians 5:22 says, “For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” We must recognize that this verse is often taken out of context, and feminists use it as a way to bash the Bible. They seem to think that this verse says they shouldn’t stand up for themselves and have to do whatever their husband demands. This passage is actually much more nuanced than that, for the following verses instruct husbands to love their wives “just as Christ loved the Church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.” Accordingly, God holds men specifically to this standard, as He is instructing husbands to love their wives perfectly just as His love is flawless. Obviously, this is impossible because we are sinful human beings who will never, ever be able to do anything perfectly. God says that He wants husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church because that is what He wants husbands to strive towards. God gave husbands a target to aim at so they know what God expects of them. Women who are married to godly, righteous men willingly submit to their husbands because they know that their husbands love them well, treat them with respect, and honor them. My dad is the most wonderful example of this kind of love.

I’m not a feminist and I don’t plan on ever becoming one. I believe women should have the right to an education and the freedom to pursue their dreams, but I don’t agree with women demeaning men, not taking responsibility for their actions, and trying to show how they can do a man’s job for no other reason than to cut men down. God created men and women equally and doesn’t look at one gender more favorably than the other, but God created men to be the head of the family. My dad demonstrated this beautifully during my younger years and continues to do so to this day. He leads my family with the gentle strength that God talks about in Ephesians 5. My dad loves my mom as Christ loves the church because he listens to my mom’s opinions, suggestions, and ideas and takes them into consideration. He tirelessly serves my family to make sure we have everything we need, and then some. He is not perfect by any means, but this is one of the things I love most about my dad. He admits when he is wrong, asks for forgiveness, and strives to do better. As I heard more about feminism in my college years, I thought for a while as to why I didn’t subscribe to what I was hearing. When I came home from class one day, it suddenly dawned on me.

I am not a feminist because my dad plays his God-given role as a husband and father. My father shows me unconditional love, supports me in pursuing my dreams, and tells me when he thinks one of my ideas is simply a bad idea. When I was younger and incredibly stubborn, my dad constantly reminded me to submit to his and my mom’s authority. I didn’t want to because I thought my parents were dumb and oblivious, but now that I’m an adult I realize that my dad was trying to prepare me to make my faith my own and submit to God. Through my dad’s loving authority and gentle strength, God showed me that submitting to His authority results in a fulfilled life. It’s not an easy life and there are plenty of days when I don’t want to submit to God’s authority because it’s not what I want. I have to remind myself that it’s not about me, but instead it’s all about Him and His glory.

In this fallen world there is unfairness, and we may wonder why God has allowed things to be a certain way. But if we had all the answers, we wouldn’t need Him. He created us to reflect His glory and He has a plan that is truly greater than anything we can imagine. By following in His gentle strength I know I am loved, cared for, wanted, and accepted. That’s what women in the feminist movement desire, anyway. They are trying to find acceptance and equality but are searching down all the wrong avenues. As Katy Perry sang in her “Unconditionally” song: “Acceptance is the key to be, to be truly free….” It’s by surrendering to Christ that we find true acceptance and freedom, for He is the restorer of all things and is the standard of gentle strength.

Archives