The time has come for a global counter-offensive against the onslaught of the anti-family movement. The Howard Center For Family, Religion, and Society, headed by Dr. Allan Carlson, and other groups are sponsoring the World Congress of Families III in Mexico City beginning March 29. “Our purposes are to generate international understanding of the current status of the family and to develop programs to strengthen it,” says the Howard Center. “Pro-family leaders of the world, scholars, clergy, politicians and families of all faiths and nationalities, and men and women of good will, will unite in Mexico City to celebrate the Natural Family.”
Asked if conservatives–and, indeed, all decent people in general–could stop same-sex “marriage,” Carlson said, “I think in the United States, we can. I think in many parts of Europe, no. There are a lot of traditional, conservative people in this country and this is a wake-up call. We’re still a people guided and driven by religious faith. And religious people tend to be family people.”
The World Congress will feature speakers as diverse as Wade Horn, assistant secretary for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Gary Becker, PhD, professor of Economics, University of Chicago and Nobel Prize in Economics, 1992; Rabbi Daniel Lapin, president, Toward Tradition; and Steven Mosher, president, Population Research Institute–and those are just some of the Americans.
The World Congress and the Howard Center use the term “natural family”: “The natural family is a man and woman bound in a lifelong covenant of marriage for the purposes of: the continuation of the human species, the rearing of children, the regulation of sexuality, the provision of mutual support and protection, the creation of an altruistic domestic economy, and the maintenance of bonds between the generations.”
Carlson said that despite the successes of the force of cultural decadence, there are some positive trends in this country. “I think we’re getting more morally good films than we did ten or 15 years ago,” he said. “Many movies in this country are about marriage as the solution to life’s problems. You would never see this come out of a Swedish film festival.”
But he deplored the TV frills surrounding the Super Bowl–and not just because of the indecent half-time show. There are other kinds of decadence at work, he said. “The advertisements that were being used during the game supposedly showing the greatest creativity of America’s marketing people had two themes: erectile dysfunction and 12-year-old potty humor,” Carlson said. He criticized conservatives because “Conservatives have been reluctant to acknowledge the dark side of the free market. Sex sells, sleaze sells. We should remind corporations of their moral responsibilities.” Another area that needs focus from conservatives, he said, is “how to control what’s flowing into the home” via TV, the Internet, and other sources.
A long-time veteran of the social conservative movement and author of several books, Carlson was president of the Rockford Institute from 1986 to 1997. “He has served as assistant director of the Governmental Affairs Office, Lutheran Council in the U.S.A., and as assistant to the president and lecturer in history at Gettysburg College,” says his bio. “He has been a consultant to the U.S. departments of Justice, Education, and Health and Human Services, the Institute of Medicine, the National Academy of Sciences, and the Kansas Crime Prevention Commission.”
When it comes to marriage, there is an area that most conservatives don’t like to talk about but which is crucial for the preservation and renovation of that essential institution: an end to no-fault divorce laws, which spread through the states like wildfire in the late ’60s and early ’70s. “Going back to a fault-based system is what’s practical,” Carlson said. “Divorce is partly a crime against the social order.” Only serious faults such as “adultery, severe physical abuse, and permanent abandonment” should be grounds for divorce, he said.
Carlson adds another dimension to the debate over another family issue that conservatives do like to talk about–enabling and encouraging mothers to care for their families rather than work outside the home. “Between 1965 and 1970, the family wage system was dismantled,” he said. “Men were traditionally paid enough to support a family by themselves. Real male wages went down between 1970 and 1990 by 25%.” It was because of supply and demand, he said: “Mothers entered the workforce, increasing the supply of labor and driving down wages. . . . But now, home-based businesses are booming. Home-schooling is growing.” Maybe now is the time for the traditional family to make a comeback.
Carlson may be reached c/o the Howard Center, 934 N. Main St., Rockford, Ill. 61103 (815-964-5819; fax: 815-965-1826; website: