10 Reasons Why the Religious Right Is Not Pro-Family: A Tradition of Harm

By Boston, Rob | Free Inquiry, Winter 1998 | Go to article overview

10 Reasons Why the Religious Right Is Not Pro-Family: A Tradition of Harm


Boston, Rob, Free Inquiry


"America is involved in a Second Civil War," screams the cover copy on James Dobson and Gary Bauer's 1990 book Children at Risk: The Battle for the Hearts and Minds of Our Kids. "On one side are those who defend family, faith and traditional values. On the other side are those who aggressively reject any hint of tradition or religion and want a society based on secular values."

Randy Tate, Executive Director of Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition, warned in August that if Coalition members failed to vote, "the anti-family, anti-Christian Left . . . which undermines the marriage-based family" would run America.

It seems as if every other word out of the mouths of Religious Right leaders these days is "family." Dobson calls his group "Focus on the Family." Bauer, his Washington sycophant, heads the Family Research Council. Religious Right leaders constantly claim to be carrying forth the banner for "family values."

Having monitored the Religious Right for 12 years, I am convinced that the Religious Right is many things, but pro-family isn't one of them. The banner that the Religious Right hoists is for narrow, reactionary, right-wing politics, not family values.

With that thought in mind, here are ten reasons why the Religious Right is not "pro-family":

1. IGNORANCE IS NOT PRO-FAMILY.

Parents who really care about children want them to grow up well educated and ready for the challenges of an increasingly technological society speeding toward the next century. Yet the Religious Right, through its constant advocacy of creationism, would have children learn Bible stories in place of real science. Thanks to their meddling, many public schools are afraid to teach evolution, and biology textbooks give the subject scant attention. As a result, an entire generation of public schoolchildren may grow up lacking an understanding of the principles underpinning modern biological sciences. Such ignorance cannot fail to have widespread and dangerous repercussions in the fields of medicine and research.

Furthermore, Religious Right activists bash public education incessantly, yet they have constantly stood in the way of efforts at innovative school reform. Instead, they champion outdated techniques such as rote drilling and mindless memorization.

2. DENYING CHILDREN ACCESS TO SEX EDUCATION IS NOT PRO-FAMILY.

Concerned parents realize that children are curious about how their bodies work and need accurate, age-appropriate information about the human reproductive system. Yet, thanks to Religious Right pressure, many public schools have replaced sex education with fear-based "abstinence only" programs that insult young people's intelligence and give them virtually no useful information.

One Religious Right video I saw a few years ago depicted an actress dressed as a nurse lecturing a classroom full of high schoolers on the importance of abstinence. One boy raised his hand and asked what would happen if he engaged in premarital sex anyway. The "nurse" sighed and replied, "Well, I guess you'll die." Real pro-family parents don't deny the importance of stressing abstinence to young people, but they also know that today's teenagers are sophisticated enough to see right through simplistic, fear-based messages.

3. CENSORSHIP IS NOT PRO-FAMILY.

Most parents want their children to grow up with a love of reading. But in public education, the Religious Right does all it can to disrupt this by constantly challenging works of literature. At a certain age, young people need books that are compelling and interesting, books that are more than simply high school versions of "See Dick run." Yet Religious Right organizations have challenged novels like The Catcher in the Rye, Of Mice and Men, Go Tell It on the Mountain, and a host of others. Not satisfied with having their own children excused from reading these modern classics, the Religious Right has sought to have them completely taken out of schools, denying access to other people's children as well. …

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