Category archives: Family

Amsterdam Becomes Green-Light District for Pro-Family Activists

by Peter Sprigg

September 9, 2009

When the World Congress of Families gathered in Amsterdam in the Netherlands last month, it was not considered friendly territory for the conservative, pro-family principles espoused by most of the international delegates. The city has museums devoted to sex and drugs, and its red-light district is treated as a major tourist attraction. Radical feminist groups decried the event, and the offices of one Dutch organization involved in planning for the WCF were even vandalized, with obscenities and anti-Christian slogans being painted on the walls. The Dutch media sought to stir up controversy over the participation in the Congress by several members of the Dutch parliament and one cabinet minister (who sent a video message the opening day). Five scheduled Dutch participants withdrew from the Congress shortly before it began over concerns that anti-gay messages would be promoted.

In the end, protests against the Congress mostly fizzled, and the delegates focused on issues such as the problem of depopulation in the countries of Europe. The Congress featured the European premiere of The Demographic Bomb (a sequel to the film Demographic Winter), which had its world premiere at Family Research Council on June 17.

Peter Sprigg and Pat Fagan represented Family Research Council at the event, with Dr. Fagan making two presentationsone at a breakout session on day care, and one major address on Family Diversity and Political Freedom. He spoke of how the culture of the traditional family, based on lifelong monogamy, is now being challenged by a competing culture rooted in a sexual ideal that is in some sense polyamorous, in that it is built on the expectation of multiple sexual partners through the life course. Dr. Fagan explained some of the political implications of these competing cultures, and offered a suggestion as to how they might be able to co-exist in a free society by insuring that all parents, of any viewpoint, have greater control over the education and upbringing of their own children.

Although liberals claim to place a high value on dialogue, one of the few who actually came to the Congress to engage in it was a Dutch judge and U.N. official, Jaap Doek, who defended the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CROC) and expressed dismay that the U.S. has failed to ratify it. Pro-family activists are concerned that the rights of children established by the treaty would undermine parental authority in the home, but Doek contended that it only imposes limits and obligations on the state, not upon parents.

Austin Ruse of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, or C-FAM (and the husband of FRCs Cathy Cleaver Ruse) offered a darker vision of the impact of the U.N. and international agreements. He delivered an address describing how radical elites have attempted to establish a right to abortion in international law. The soft law strategy involves inserting code words for abortion (such as reproductive health) in international documents and then asserting (falsely) that it is a matter of customary international law. The hard law strategy involves United Nations committees charged with monitoring compliance with actual international treaties and conventions. Although no right to abortion has ever been established in the text of such treaties, these committees will often tell member countries that they must protect such a right to be in compliance (for example, with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, or CEDAW). Ruse declared bluntly that such new norms are being forced upon nations undemocratically through treachery, lies, deceit and raw power.

At times it was striking how much people from different countries had in common. For example, at one session, an American state senator from Georgia, Nancy Schaefer, and a lawyer from Sweden, Ruby Harrold-Claesson, both decried the abuses sometimes engaged in by child protective services.

However, there was one notable difference evident in the way American conservatives and Europeans see pro-family policy. Most Americans take a more libertarian approach, believing that the best thing government can do for families is to stay out of their way. Yet it was evident that pro-family politicians from Europe and other countries see government intervention on behalf of the family as the best pro-family policy. For instance, Andre Rouveot, the Dutch cabinet minister who addressed the Congress by video, touted the creation of his Ministry for Youth and Families as a great step forward. Yet most American conservatives do not see the creation of a federal Department of Education as something that improved American education. Australian Member of Parliament Kevin Andrews discussed efforts by some countries to provide child care and family leave as pro-family because they make it easier for working women to become mothers; whereas many Americans would argue what is needed is to make it easier for mothers to stay home.

The Congress ended with the adoption of the Amsterdam Declaration, which cited as its touchstone the statement in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society, and is entitled to protection by society and the State. Several countries are already in contention for the honor of hosting the next World Congress of Families, which has clearly established itself as the premier international gathering of pro-family scholars and activists.

My Pops Pelican Hooks

by Robert Morrison

June 19, 2009

[caption id=”attachment_1374” align=”alignleft” width=”182” caption=”Drawing of a Pelican Hook”]pelicanhook2[/caption]

Your father was a real hero, Manual Dias told me. The 88-year old World War II veteran had contacted me in 2008. He knew my late father when the two men served in the Merchant Marine together. I made a point of visiting Manny and his wonderful family in Massachusetts this spring.

Manny remembered every detail of the sinking of the SS Deer Lodge on 17 Feb 43. Your father ran around the deck unlatching the pelican hooks on the rubber boats. That was not his assigned duty. Without that, many of our crewmen would have died, Im sure. Manny corrected an earlier misimpression Id had: that my father ran around cutting the stays for those boats and pitching the boats overboard. No, Manny said, if hed done that, the boats might have struck some men in the water. The boats could have killed them. No, Pop had to unlatch those pelican hooks one-by-one, as the ship was rapidly sinking.

[caption id=”attachment_1373” align=”alignright” width=”182” caption=”Photo of a Pelican Hook”]Photo of a Pelican Hook[/caption]

My father, Leslie Morrison, passed away at the age of 87, in 1998. He was loved and honored by his entire family. But this contact with one of his dearest friends and shipmates thrilled me. It was like a message in a bottle. Or, like a message from heaven.

My dad talked about the sinking of the Deer Lodge, of course. He never claimed to be a hero. He always minimized his own role that fateful night. He never mentioned those pelican hooks. When he and his shipmates were rescued, Pop told me they were taken to a nice hotel in South Africa. Mostly, Pop regaled us with stories of how he got to play tennis every day for six weeks with the rather attractive South African womens tennis champion.

When my cousin Barbara interviewed Pop on the fiftieth anniversary of the sinking, she was amazed. Pop told her that when the U-boat skipper finished questioning the men in the life boats, he had simply turned the submarine around and steamed away. Wasnt that horrible, my cousin asked, just to leave you there? At least he didnt shoot us, Pop answered.

Manny told me much more about that German U-boat commander. He was a humane man. He gave us water, food, and charts.

Through my own research, I had learned that the German submarine was the U-516 and her skipper was KorvettenKapitan Gerhard Wiebe. I was astonished, too, at the extraordinary kindness of Captain Wiebe.

Manny told me that Captain Wiebe had delayed sending in the second torpedo to finish off the Deer Lodge. If he had followed up his first fish with a second, just minutes later, he could have killed dozens of the seamen clambering over the sides of the stricken American vessel. But something in his heart told him to hold back. Was there a single case of an American submarine commander providing such aid, say, to a Japanese freighter he had just torpedoed?

Growing up, I had been surprised at my fathers complete lack of bitterness toward the Germans. He had survived that sinking, true, but his elder brother Harry had been torpedoed in the South Atlantic just a few months before Pop was. Harry was first rescued by a Dutch merchant vessel off Brazil. Then, that ship was torpedoed and Harry and almost the entire crew were lost. Pops attitude reflected the wisdom of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: The line between good and evil runs not between classes or nations, but through the heart of every man.

Along with treasured photographs of Pop in my study, I keep a plaque he gave me. It shows a German U-boat in brass, mounted on a plain wooden background. It reminds me of that incredible story of the high seas. Its a tale of honor, courage, forgiveness, and humanity in the midst of the most terrible war. And Ill thank God for all that my father meant to me and to my own family.

Book Review: 30 Days in 30 Ways to Save Your Family

by Krystle Gabele

April 23, 2009

Recently, I had the opportunity to listen to Rebecca Hagelin of The Heritage Foundation speak about her recently released book, 30 Days in 30 Ways to Save Your Family.  Hagelin wrote this book to strengthen the family and help foster enriching relationships with your children.  Although I am not a parent yet, I found the advice offered throughout the book exactly the prescription for creating more unified families and raising a generation of responsible and healthy adults.

The book is filled with ways to combat the threats of media and marketing influences, while providing tips on protecting children from violence or inappropriate materials.  Hagelin also provides advice on strengthening relationships with your children by writing them a letter, talking with them, going for a slow walk, or playing a game as a family.  These are all ways to share your values with a child. As a former social worker, who worked directly with families, I can tell you Hagelin’s advice is the message I often communicated to my clients.

Hagelin’s book is a must read for parents. The family is only stronger when there are bonds for unity.

Anti-Spanking Zealots Need a Timeout

by Peter Sprigg

March 23, 2009

Yet another “study” by a long-time anti-spanking researcher has been released by an anti-spanking advocacy group. Not surprisingly, the study is anti-spanking. Ironically, though, the research did not focus on spanking at all, but on “physical punishment.” The study explicitly lumps together words like “spank,” “slap,” “beat,” “punch,” and “whip,” treating them as if they are all the same thing. There is a huge difference between the ordinary disciplinary spanking practiced by most parents and all these other forms of “physical punishment,” which can more easily be abusive. Defining the issue this way makes the study useless for identifying the actual impact of “spanking” as such. The key both to the effectiveness of parental discipline (including spanking) and its effect on the child (whether positive or negative) lies in how the discipline is undertaken in its larger context, not simply what disciplinary tool is used. Studies have actually shown that a disciplinary style that balances firm control (including spanking) with positive encouragement results in the best outcomes for children. It’s clear that the long-term goal of these anti-spanking zealots is a legal ban on all spanking that would treat it as “assault” and a “human rights violation.” This is an intrusion into parental rights that Americans should not tolerate.

Arizona Republic report on new study of “physical punishment”

Spare the Rod? The Research Challenges Spanking Critics,” by Den Trumbull, M.D. and S. DuBose Ravenel, M.D.

http://www.frc.org/get.cfm?i=IS07K02

Abstinence Day on the Hill

by Krystle Gabele

March 13, 2009

Thumbnail image for AbstinenceDay2.jpg

Yesterday, nearly 500 students from across the country visited the U.S. Capitol to lobby their legislators on retaining abstinence funding. Many of these students have directly been impacted by abstinence education programs and come from areas that have extremely high teenage pregnancy rates. These eager and enthusiastic teens listened to FRC’s own David Christensen and Valerie Huber, Executive Director of the National Abstinence Education Assocation. Rep. Lee Terry of Nebraska also stopped by the event and added his own remarks. He urged the students to enjoy their time in Washington, D.C. and briefed them about the impact that they are making by visiting their legislators to discuss retaining abstinence funding.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for AbstinenceDay.jpg

Murkowski Goes with the Left on Mexico City

by Chris Gacek

January 28, 2009

What’s up in Alaska?  Senator Lisa Murkowski today voted with President Obama to overturn the Mexico City Policy which, according to World Magazine, “prohibits grantees in receipt of U.S. funding from performing abortions, lobbying to legalize abortion, or promoting abortion as a family-planning method.”  (See also, our Tom McClusky’s description of the policy below - in the blog on 1/23/09.)  That places her in the company of liberal Republicans Arlen Specter, Susan Collins, and Olympia Snowe as the only Republicans to vote with the Democrats.  Alaska’s new senator, Mark Begich, voted to fund overseas abortion providers as well.  

I wonder whether Sarah Palin would have made it a trio ?? The GOP Platform on which Palin ran for President with John McCain stated:

We strongly support the long-held policy of the Republican Party known as the ‘Mexico City policy,’ which prohibits federal monies from being given to non-governmental organizations that provide abortions or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other countries. We reject any treaty or agreement that would violate those values.”

Perhaps, I am wrong, but I never heard Palin stating an objection to the platform on this point.

Viacom-Time Warner Cable Cut Deal for Price Increases

by Chris Gacek

January 6, 2009

Last week, cable giant Time Warner “negotiated” a deal to keep showing Viacom’s channels after December 31, 2008.  As a Los Angeles Times article indicated the companies were battling hard with Viacom threatening to turn off kid’s shows to get their money:

Viacom had purchased newspaper advertisements, featuring a tearful Dora the Explorer, and placed an on-screen crawl on its channels to alert viewers to the impending programming blackout. The ads encouraged viewers to complain to Time Warner Cable.”

“The tactic worked — parents reported having to soothe children who were upset over the prospect of not being able to watch their favorite shows on Nickelodeon, including ‘SpongeBob SquarePants.’” 

Emotional blackmailers of children - in which circle of Hell did Dante place such scoundrels?  Not a pleasant one I’ll bet.

Well, of course, Time Warner capitulated and agreed to a 12% increase for the Viacom channels.  Under the old agreement, for example, Viacom received about 32 cents per subscriber per month from cable operators for MTV.  If you didn’t want MTV - tough.  Time Warner carries Viacom channels into 13.3 million houses, so one-third of a dollar per month per subscriber ain’t chicken feed.

Unfortunately, the mechanism to protect consumers from such price increases, manipulation of children, and unwanted purchases of cable channels is not in place.  What would that be?  It is having the power to refuse to purchase and pay for cable channels. 

This episode points to the need for consumer choice in cable TV channel selection.  If cable subscribers had that power - - SpongeBob SquarePants would probably be the one who would need some serious consolation right now after many adults turned him off and pocketed the change.

Alarming Study Raises Awareness of Teens and Technology

by Krystle Gabele

December 15, 2008

According to a recent survey published by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and CosmoGirl.com, approximately 20% of teens (ages 13-19) and 33% of young adults (ages 20-26) have sent or posted pictures of themselves either nude or semi nude.  If this statistic is not shocking enough, of the 1,280 survey participants, 39% of the teens surveyed said they have sent or posted suggestive messages, while 59% of all young adults have done the same thing. 

The questions in the study were asked and categorized by the sex.  When asked, “What do you think are the reasons that girls send/post sexy messages or pictures/video of themselves?,” approximately 85% of teens and 80% of young adults agree that the main reason behind sending these sexy messages is to get or keep a guy’s attention.  Another popular response from both the teens and young adults was that it is a great way to get noticed.

However, when the question was asked of males, both teens and young adults surveyed said the main reason guys sent or posted sexy messages was to get or keep a girl’s attention, only to be followed by guys wanting to be fun or flirtatious.  

When asked how the teens and young adults described such activities, a majority of young adults said they viewed this as flirty, while others viewed this behavior as being stupid and dangerous.  When asked about a characteristic that describes the people who resort to these messages, a majority said this behavior was flirty, while many felt this behavior was stupid, desperate, immature, and insecure.

Then, why do teens and young adults still feel compelled to post provocative messages online?  Is it because they feel a need to be desired or wanted by the opposite sex?

In a society that seems to be driven by the line that says, “sex sells,” this type of behavior can lead to many dangers.  According to PC Magazine, online sex predators are gradually threatening the security of many teenagers through sites like Facebook and MySpace.  If these sites are used properly, they can be safe places for networking.  When posting semi-nude or nude pictures on these sites, a teenager is setting themselves up for potential risk of abduction, stalking, rapes, etc. 

Additionally, employers and potential employers do look at this material, and the study indicates that many view this is as disgusting and disrespectful.

Let’s get back to basics.  Teenagers and young adults do not need to resort to such behavior when they have respect for themselves and hold high standards.  When you are a teenager, you might have a concept about what true love is, but the concept is flawed due to the overwhelming emotions that you experience.  Enjoy your time being a teenager!  Adulthood comes fast enough.  Be patient, love comes in due time with trust in God’s plan for your lives. 

Parents often recognize that their child participates in things online that they would not approve.  According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project survey, “65% of all parents and 64% of all teens say that teens do things online that they wouldn’t want their parents to know about.” 

This is why parental involvement is so crucial and needed.  Family Research Council has a wonderful publication available online that provides ways to keep your child from engaging in risky behaviors online. 

More on the Crushing Costs of Higher Education

by Chris Gacek

December 12, 2008

As a follow-up to my earlier post on the growing unaffordability of higher education and its effects on families, I bring your attention to a Wall Street Journal article.  The author, Philip Shiskin, writes, “As the economy shrinks, joblessness expands and small-business owners lose income, many students and their parents are struggling to make payments for the second half of the academic year, which are typically due this month or in January.”  The story describes one parent who is carrying $100,000 in debt for her three children while planning to fund a fourth child.  Finally, it seems standard now that a good private college or university will be cost $50,000 per year.  In my opinion, this “business model” is completely unsustainable and is crushing parents and young adults across America.

Two Important Pieces from the Washington Times

by Chris Gacek

December 2, 2008

Over the extended holiday weekend, the Washington Times published an editorial and a commentary piece that are well worth reading:

  • The Times editorial appeared on Friday, November 28, and was entitled “Judicial Imperialism.”  First, the paper discusses the worrying ramifications of the recent settlement by eHarmony, a California company, which was forced by the state of New Jersey to offer dating services to gay customers in New Jersey.  Second, the editorial discusses the dangerous and illegitimate effort to have the California Supreme Court thwart the will of the Golden State’s voters and declare its recently-passed marriage amendment unconstitutional. 
  • The commentary piece was authored by Jeffrey T. Kuhner.  His first Sunday opinion column with the Times was published on September 28th.  In Kuhner’s latest, entitled “Obama vs. Pope Benedict,” he recognizes the struggle that may erupt between Mr. Obama and the Pope should the new administration pass the Freedom of Choice Act.  He sets the stage as follows:

Mr. Obama signing the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) “would be the equivalent of a war,” a senior Vatican official told Time magazine last week. “It would be like saying, ‘We’ve heard the Catholic Church and we have no interest in their concerns.’ ”

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