Author archives: Pat Fagan

Harder Times Coming

by Pat Fagan

June 15, 2015

Given all we know about the benefits of religious worship the rising numbers of NONEs is real bad news for society.  The social and individual benefit depletion  suggested by the trend lines below is staggeringly serious —- but no public leader is calling attention to this weakening trend. 

From the abstract of a new report by a team of researchers:

In four large, nationally representative surveys (N = 11.2 million), American adolescents and emerging adults in the 2010s (Millennials) were significantly less religious than previous generations (Boomers, Generation X) at the same age. The data are from the Monitoring the Future studies of 12th graders (1976–2013), 8th and 10th graders (1991–2013), and the American Freshman survey of entering college students (1966–2014). Although the majority of adolescents and emerging adults are still religiously involved, twice as many 12th graders and college students, and 20%–40% more 8th and 10th graders, never attend religious services. Twice as many 12th graders and entering college students in the 2010s (vs. the 1960s–70s) give their religious affiliation as “none,” as do 40%–50% more 8th and 10th graders. Recent birth cohorts report less approval of religious organizations, are less likely to say that religion is important in their lives, report being less spiritual, and spend less time praying or meditating

Is the roof falling in?

by Pat Fagan

August 13, 2014

Last Saturday in the Wall Street Journal I read about the dilemma of the European welfare state: its low fertility cannot sustain the welfare state and its anemic economy cannot offer jobs to young millennials. Yesterday, I read Fred Andrews’s New York Times review of Carbone and Cahn’s “Marriage Markets,” an unhappy recounting of the unappealing economics of marriage for all but the upper class. Last night, I started reading Mitch Perlstein’s wonderfully written book, “From Family Collapse to America’s Decline.” This morning I read Mark Regnerus’s latest analysis from his massively expanded survey, on the significant splitting in the nation regarding what is seen good and acceptable in sexual and family matters. Every author each in his own way sees the drift tending in the wrong direction away from marriage.

Regnerus has a wonderfully enlightening interpretation in his video graphic on the economics of sex. The price of sex has lowered. Before the pill it used to cost a guy his life, now just a date or two. By and large he (and she) can get away with it as never before but the price is being exacted in declining education, productivity and employability and stagnant near-poverty for more and more. This sets the next generation up for still further decline.

Charles Murray says we are Coming Apart and recently retired professor of political philosophy, Fr. James Schall of Georgetown, says we, as a polity, already are that nasty mix described by Aristotle: the classical combination of tyranny and democracy.

All this could be pretty depressing especially when the bottom line is that our civilization is clearly in deep trouble. Though Christianity gave us the traditional family based on monogamous fidelity of spouses and their dedication to their children as more and more Christians give up on their own moral code (see Regnerus analysis) nothing else is left — for no else has a better template.

However a ray of hope exists within recent writings: increasingly more and more see that how the sexual is negotiated is at the center of this decline. Even economists (some of them at least) are gradually beginning to see the connection between marriage and the economy.

The solution lies in the regrowth from within the collapse that is underway — among those who hold to “the template that works.” Though Christians in the Middle East may die of martyrdom Christians in the US will have their own heavy price to pay, first in the natural price of good family life and then in the extra costs, not least the extra taxes, to pay for the dysfunctions of a broken America. Though the price is high, the options are clear: live a life of meaning and love or live a life in pursuit of pleasure and things, but devoid of people. For those who reflect on it, it is a “no-brainer”.

Why do it: for the love that it all will take. For it is only love will conquer the tyranny built on the sexual gone wrong. Every wronged spouse knows that. Every former porn addict knows that. America will learn it all over again … but only from those who love. Though we will always need our brave military soldiers, a new type of soldier is emerging: the one pledged to chaste love. How medieval. Maybe history is about to repeat itself.

Which Empowers The Most?

by Pat Fagan

August 5, 2014

At MARRI we are preparing a major synthesis paper on the effects of contraception, which has caused much discussion and  has also led to thinking a lot about natural family planning (NFP). Most folk don’t realize that both methods of birth spacing stem from the same science, the biochemistry of how the body works.   But there the similarities end.  The differences between the two are multiple but the most telling is the effect they have on the communication patterns between the spouses.

Despite many women thinking that contraception empowers them,  in contrast to natural family planning it may disempower them, most powerfully so in the realm of communication with their husbands.  NFP couples stay in constant touch on the wife’s fertility cycle and over time the husband learns a lot about his wife and the effect of her femaleness on her personality, her moods, her difficulties with her body or the peculiar burdens her body places on her at times.  Most normal men become more knowledgeable and sensitive to their wives as a result.

NFP couples are also always aware of their potency and their capacity to make children, that awesome power they carry within and between them.   Couples who use NFP will likely be much more sensitive on matters sexual with their children (after years of practice) when the time comes for introducing their children to these mysteries of life and the fundamentals of their sexual powers and responsibilities.  A very big difference exists between parents who use NFP and those who do not as they rate themselves on their success in raising their children (their success in the fullness of their sexuality).  Users of NFP far outstrip all others in their sense of success in raising their children.  (In the chart below, blue = NFP, red = general population, green = ever married Catholic population.  Source GSS plus survey of NFP users.)

The same data looked at differently yields the following depiction of the differences:

Melinda Gates has been to the forefront in pushing  UN family planning programs but it seems, is also doing some small funding of  NFP research and application as well.  However I bet she is totally unaware of the difference in parenting and  in the satisfaction between  couples with the different methods.  If she were I bet her money would be distributed differently.  She hopes to empower women but is backing the wrong horse for that race.

It would be very good to have a nationally representative sample survey that measures all the differences between the two methods of birth spacing.  The federal government has never done this research despite the billions of dollars it spends on matters sexual.  Is it not strange that there is no clamor for such knowledge?

The Supreme Court v. Love and Marriage

by Pat Fagan

March 14, 2013

After a recent interview on “Washington Watch” with Tony Perkins, some liberals began to inaccurately claim that I want to impose some kind of legal punishment for the use of contraception. I did NOT do so in this interview or have I asserted this in any of my writings. I totally reject such an approach, which would be corrosive of the little social cohesion we have left on matters sexual.

However, I do see the bogus charge as an attempt to distract people from what I did say: The Supreme Court majority used the issue of contraception to launch a radical attack on marriage by legally endorsing sex outside of marriage between single people, giving it rights while denying basic the human right of children to the married love of their parents and the right of society to expect parents to be committed to each other and their children when they bring them into the world. The ruling on contraception was made on the basis of individual liberty, but in fact it lead to radical social reengineering, the sad fruits of which are visible all around us, at massive cost to society and especially to our children.

Instead of protecting a culture of marriage and love, the Supreme Court, in Eisenstadt v. Baird, ushered in and protected the new culture of sexual license, rejection and death. Today, 41 years into this regime, the U.S. is now a highly sexually dysfunctional society: out of wedlock births stand at 42 percent per year, abortions around 30 percent per year, while only 45 percent of our children reach young adulthood having grown up with their biological parents together at home; for the other 55 percent, their parents have rejected each other. We are a society deep in sexual and gender alienation and chaos. It is our children who are taking the punishment.

What my original Public Discourse essay pointed out is that underneath the guise of the ruling on contraception, the Supreme Court majority mounted a radical attack on society’s cultural norms on sexuality and marriage. To this day most people, even legal scholars, have been distracted by the legal endorsement of contraception itself, and have not seen what was wrought by it.

A functional society, like a functional parent, admonishes and corrects judiciously when things go wrong. In a well-run family, such correction is rarely needed and a light dose works best, while in a chaotic family even severe discipline has little effect and likely only adds to the chaos.

We as a society are more like that chaotic, dysfunctional family, which is why I reject the notion of criminalizing the use of contraception. Such legal penalization would only accentuate ills already too numerous. What we need instead is the freedom to choose a radically new sexual regime: one of committed sexual partnering and committed parental love and unity (marriage) between each other and for their children. Such love can only come from free choice. Coercion has no place there. It is corrosive of love.

What Americafaces now is the challenge of rebuilding a culture of belonging and marriage, especially for children from families that are broken (where father and mother have rejected each other). How do these families grow children who are capable of stable intact marriages where spouses love each other and their children? The single mothers and fathers who have pulled this off are national treasures, for they have wisdom and experience the whole country needs. We should identify and celebrate every single one of them.

I suspect that most liberals and libertarians want this arrangement for the nation, as well, though there may be a minority among them who prefer the chaos of non-committed sexual intercourse, despite its personal and public costs. If only that minority could bear the suffering they place on the children who result from non-marital unions. If only their fellow right-minded liberal and libertarian friends would challenge them on marriage and love and matters sexual.

Let me close by repeating: I never called for the criminalization or punishment for the use of contraception. The ones who are being punished most today are the children. To have that cease, American adults have to choose lifelong sexual commitment and love. That requires a unique type of dedicated freedom and sexual responsibility. Can we grow people capable of that? We used to be able to do that. Our national-hero single-parents who have accomplished this have the answer. Let us hear especially from them.

Response to Reuters FaithWorld article on MARRIs release of the Index of Belonging and Rejection

by Pat Fagan

December 16, 2010

Overall I agree with the direction of FaithWorld’s questions on MARRIs release of the Index of Belonging and Rejection, but first a few clarifications (followed by almost-disagreements):

1: I am Catholic, not Evangelical (though FRC is an Evangelical organization. It does believe in religious freedom and builds across honest divides rather than keeping them.)

2: I would have gladly put in the religious attendance data but Census NEVER collects such data though I wish they would (other federal surveys do and the American Community Survey would be so much better if it did). I hope you will push for that.

3: We have covered this anomaly (high worship and low marriage) and brought lots of attention to it. See our own study which does this —- based on the federal National Child Health Survey

4: Bill O’Hare, former editor of the Kids Count from the Annie E Casey Foundation was the first I know of to point out this anomaly. (Mississippi is the highest weekly church attending state but the lowest intact-family state). This clearly points to a family / marriage crisis within the church. Probably most within the Black church — but not solely there. One cannot call oneself a serious Christian (unless one also calls oneself an unreformed one and a sinner) while simultaneously breaking universal Christian doctrine on sex and marriage. This bears further digging into.

5: All the deep digging into the relationship between religious practice and marital stability points to a very clear and very strong relationship between both. (We have a review of that literature coming up on our website in the next few months. This will only heighten the anomaly, not diminish it.

(a) Our Mapping America Project , drawing on federal surveys only, repeatedly illustrates that the intact family that worships weekly is the strongest social unit and the most productive by far. So weekly religious practice and marriage are very important for the strength of the country. Let’s not pit one against the other.

(b) What one can likely take from the data is that if the Southern states did not have the high levels of worship they do have they would be in an even worse situation.

6: The Mormon states do very well and overall most exemplify (at the state level) this strength of relationship, a relationship which holds across all denominations. There is clearly grist for the Christian church-leadership mill here.

7: Our data point towards a need for reform within the church. History teaches two lessons about Christianity: practiced it yields enormous benefits, talked about but not practiced it yields untold suffering and it a great cause for scandal and shame.

10: The history of Christianity is a history of reform upon reform upon reform. Seems like we need it again.. at least that is what I take from the data.

8: As I hope this will make clear (and I hope FaithWorld will notice) MARRI is interested in the truth, not ideological point-scoring. There is much to unravel in the tension between the macro data (state level marriage vs. worship data) and micro data (the greater the religious attendance/ prayer the stronger and more stable the marriage). But it is precisely these “contrary” data that are the source of intellectual breakthrough.

9: To add to this dilemma: The social sciences (to date and probably always) cannot measure the heart (the inner workings, desires, cover-ups, prayers — or lack thereof). It is confined to measuring externalities —- measurable behaviors and words. Getting to the hidden interiorities is beyond its competence. Christ excoriated the religious leaders of his time for what was not in their heart even as the externals looked rather devout. We may be in the same situation. I know I often am.

In Ogden’s case, pornography is incompatible with Justice

by Pat Fagan

February 6, 2009

As the research shows, frequent use of pornography distorts the perception of social realities in gender relations, weakens and frequently destroys marriages, has deleterious effects on children and ultimately undermines the sexual capacities of those who become addicted to it.

Not only is it indefensible as an industry, rather it should be severely contained and suppressed because of its effects on family, children and adults. David Ogden’s connections to the pornography industry preclude his ability to serve in the Department of Justice.

The Left’s Totalitarian Impulse…Again

by Pat Fagan

September 24, 2008

What do the Center for Reproductive Rights have in common with totalitarianism?  The suppression of conscience.

In the name of “choice” CRR is asking people to oppose the rights of conscience of those in health care who do not want to have anything to do with abortion or any other procedure or technology which the professional deems immoral. 

Rather than being sensitive to the differing conscientious stands that citizens and professionals will be taking on divisive issues, CRR and its allies are pushing to ride roughshod over the consciences of professionals. 

This tendency is on the increase in advocacy organizations and needs to be labeled for what it really is … the American form of totalitarianism. In this they join the ranks of those who followed Lenin, Hitler and Mao. 

It is time for all, no matter where they stand on the public issues of morality, to at minimum not violate the conscience of anyone. If we lose that we lose one of the foundations of a humane society, and we can forget democracy.

The 7th Circuit sends the Italian genius packing …for now

by Pat Fagan

August 7, 2008

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that The Freedom From Religion Foundation had no legal standing to sue the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for incorporating chaplain work into its veteran health care. What does this have to do with Gramshi, the Italian genius of soft communism?

To have the federal government expand its reach into virtually every corner of life (family, school, health, the economy) and simultaneously to push for a radical “wall of separation of church and state” is to ban religion from life. It is the perfect scenario for a slow but Sherman-like “march through the institutions” as Gramsci envisioned.

As Mapping America shows, the practice of religion is integral to superior outcomes in most dimensions of life, and medicine is no exception as reviews of the literature make clear.

The plaintiff in a case against Veterans Affairs for their support of chaplains’ work with ill patients, The Freedom From Religion Foundation, clearly falls among the ranks of those dedicated to a Gramsciite deconstruction of American society, not a building up of her strengths nor even of the care of her sick soldiers.

Are babies bad for the economy?

by Pat Fagan

August 6, 2008

A report from Austrailia’s Productivity Commission claims that an increase in the nation’s birth rate will hurt the economy.

However, if one looks at the Australian Government’s own charts it is clear that Australia is heading into a big demographic problem with way too few children to support an aging population.

The Commission’s suggestion is very shortsighted and parochial: loss of taxes for the government.

The reality view: The longer the fertility increase is delayed the greater the crisis eventually faced. Babies that are not born in a particular year cannot be made up in future years. Australia may later decide to import other countries’ people (but these people will likely be poorer and less well-educated than the children that could be born in Australia).

Furthermore, while the government may lose some taxes short term the average Australian household will likely not be much affected, except those where the mother brings in a very large salary (say over $110,000 per year). U.S. research shows that for married mothers with children who go out to work the income is virtually a wash when all the extra expenses and taxes are factored in (Aguirre M.S. 2006). And this without adding another loss: the loss of household productivity through which the wife adds value to her husbands income (it really is their income, but you get the point) by her own labor value added.

This is a case of an alliance between socialist and capitalist interests. Feed the market for the time being, bring in the taxes and forget the long term common good and definitely forget what women might want.

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