HOWARD CENTER SEES PROGRESS AND PERIL FOR FAITH AND FAMILY IN 2004
Allan Carlson, president of the Howard Center for Family, Religion
and Society, said that – for better or worse -- 2004 was a momentous
year for faith and family.
Among other developments, Carlson noted the following:
1. Massachusetts Legalized Homosexual “Marriage” – By judicial
fiat, in May, Massachusetts became the first state to legally
recognize gay marriage. This was accomplished not by legislative
enactment or referendum, but by order of the state’s Supreme
Judicial Court. In so doing, the court undermined a millennia-old
institution that serves as the bedrock of society.
2. Congress Takes Up Marriage Amendment – In response to the
Massachusetts move, Congress took up the Federal Marriage Amendment
(defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman). The FMA
failed to secure the requisite two-thirds vote in either house.
Senate liberals used a filibuster to prevent a vote on the FMA. The
House voted for the FMA by 277 to 186 – short of the two-thirds
majority needed. While Congress showed a lack of leadership on this
crucial issue, with increased pro-family representation in the next
Congress, there is hope for the Federal Marriage Amendment in the
3. States Pass Marriage Amendments – The most positive
development on the marriage front was the passage of 14 state
constitutional amendments protecting marriage. The amendments,
enacted as ballot measures, passed by votes ranging from 56% to 85%.
Now, more than three-quarters of the states have defined marriage as
the joining of a man and a woman, either by statute or amendment.
4. Values Vote – To the amazement of pundits, in the November
election, 22% of voters told exit pollsters that they based their
vote on values (including such matters as abortion, marriage, faith
and the family). With a war ranging in Iraq, and the economy in the
doldrums, a plurality of voters still said their chief concern was
the health of America’s families. Will the political establishment
get this unambiguous message?
5. The Ten Commandments Controversy – The culture war continued
to rage over public display of The Ten Commandments. A judicial
disciplinary committee removed Roy Moore as Chief Justice of the
Alabama Supreme Court for failing to obey what he considered the
unconstitutional order of a federal district court judge to remove
his Ten Commandments monument from the Alabama Judiciary Building.
Elsewhere, the Supreme Court agreed to take up two cases dealing
with The Ten Commandments’ controversy early next year. It is hoped
the Court will return to the traditional definition of the First
Amendment’s Establishment Clause and allow public display of a
document so important to the founding of this nation.
6. Pledge of Allegiance – In 2002, the ultra-liberal 9th Circuit
Appeals Court ruled that the phrase “one nation under God” made it
unconstitutional to say the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools.
Rather than ruling on the merits of the case, this year the Supreme
Court held the atheist father who brought the suit lacked standing,
thus overturning the ruling on technical grounds. The issue will
continue to haunt us, with activist judges determined to stamp out
even this modest manifestation of monotheism.
7. Partial Birth Abortion Ban – A ban on the hideous practice of
partial-birth abortion, passed by Congress and signed into law by
president George W. Bush in 2003, was overturned by Federal District
Court Judge Richard C. Casey – in a classic case of judicial
activism. Unless Congress reins in a runaway judiciary, the best
enactments will have a slim chance of survival.
8. Unborn Victims of Violence Act – In April, the president
signed into law the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, also known as
Laci and Conner’s law (after Laci Peterson and her child), which
allows the killing of an unborn child in the commission of a crime
to be prosecuted under federal law. Despite the fact that upwards of
80 percent of the American people believe that not one but two
people die in such incidents, the measure passed the Senate by a
single vote – demonstrating that there are powerful forces
determined that unborn children shall have no recognition in law.
9. On-Going War on Christmas – The secularist campaign against
Christmas continued unabated this year – with various public schools
forbidding the singing of carols, distribution of Christmas cards,
salutations of “Merry Christmas” and Christmas decorations – either
in the name of “church state separation” or “inclusiveness.” There
was also an on-going political struggle over public displays of
creches. The foregoing notwithstanding that roughly 96% of the
American people celebrate Christmas (Gallup Poll, 2000).
10. Cultural Decline Continues – The culture continued to
promote unrestrained hedonism and sexuality divorced from morality.
Among other telling incidents, there was Janet Jackson’s display of
a nipple during the Super Bowl halftime show, the Britney
Spears/Madonna open mouth kiss (during MTV’s Music Video Awards) and
the ABC series “Desperate Housewives.” It seems that we are still in
a cultural free-fall.
11. Christian Persecution in Philadelphia – The city of
Philadelphia is charging 4 Christians with a variety of felonies and
misdemeanors, including criminal conspiracy, reckless endangerment,
ethnic intimidation and riot. The charges arose from an October 10th
incident, when Christian protestors quietly prayed and read Bible
verses on the perimeter of a gay celebration. Notwithstanding that
the Christians obeyed all police orders, four of them were arrested.
If convicted, they could be punished with up to 47 years in prison.
This is perhaps the most chilling example yet of anti-Christian
12. World Congress of Families Meets in Mexico City – In a
hopeful sign for the future of the family, the World Congress of
Families III convened in Mexico City from March 29-31. More than
3,300 delegates from over 60 counties attended this international
summit of the pro-family movement. (Allan Carlson and the Howard
Center were principal conveners.). The Congress adopted the Mexico
City Declaration, which stresses the crucial importance of the
natural family to a healthy and vibrant society.
conclusion, Allan Carlson commented: “This year – 2004 – was filled
with victories and defeats, advances and retreats, for the
pro-family movement. In the year to come, the Howard Center for
Family, Religion and Society and the World Congress of Families will
continue to bring reason, clarity and morality to the family-values