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“The American Family’s View of Itself”

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Someone’s else’s blog was so informative it replaces mine this week: Karlyn Bowman of The American Enterprise Institute, a veteran scholar of public opinion, condenses BYU’s annual survey 52-page report on the American Family to one page, though I do recommend scanning the report itself for great charts on many key measures. Bottom line: Though marriage is still very important to three quarters of the nation — for conservatives and for liberals — there is still a lot of work to be done.

Radical Assault — Radical Insight

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The study of how to rebuild society leads initially to the study of how it was dismantled. That leads to many pathways but the central is the Marxist highway, which, though beginning with the commune in the French Revolution really got its start with Das Kapital by Marx and Engels. There they pinpointed family and religion as the two major obstacles. It took a hundred years of study for their intellectual offspring to figure out how to cause a collapse from with both those institutions.  They found one solution for both problems: Sex gone wild, as most graphically illustrated in Mallory Millet’s famous reportage on the pre-founding of the National Organization of Women. Men are suckers for it, and women too – in a very different way.

It is noteworthy that when a marriage or partnership disintegrates the children normally stay with their mother. This springs from the fundamental nature of female sexuality: Her sexual biology is overwhelming in its impact on her boding with her children. Once conceived, her child changes all her biological systems as they regroup to grow the baby in her womb. She gets to know that baby as it grows and takes over so much of her life during those nine months.

Then comes the trip down the birth canal and the eruption of pain and trauma of childbirth, an experience men cannot conceive of nor write about. It ends in the joy of holding her newborn and the instant conclusion it was all worth it. This experience alone would bond both so deeply. But it is followed by an even more intimate form with months of breastfeeding that makes the breast forever central to sexuality for both male and female.

For men, biology does not do anything comparable. A man bonding with his children is essentially an act of his will: A decision carried out repeatedly as he deliberately gets closer to his child. 

In the architecture of family and of society and even of civilization and culture the woman’s irreplaceable contribution is biology; man’s is decision, or will – or good habits.  

If the family is an arch the woman is the blocks while the man is the keystone. 

Pull out the keystone and the arch (the family, society, even civilization) collapses. 

The US feminists of the 1960’s, building on the 40 years work of the Frankfurt School and its Marxist allies, had finally figured out how to cause the collapse that Lenin envisaged: remove the father from the family. (For them the traditional intact married family is the “patriarchal” family).  The “litany chant” at the opening of the study group that led to NOW illustrates the method of removal: Let sex go wild. 

The Supreme Court was a key target and delivered the goods: The right to sex outside of marriage in 1972, to abortion in 1973, to contraceptives down to age 16 without parental consent, to homosexual acts in 2003, to homosexual marriage in 2015.

With each decision the place of the male in the family was notched down and down and down, with increases in all the “toxic masculinities” the APA is seemingly concerned about.

The Marxists figured out that if you remove the father from the family society will gradually collapse into the waiting arms of the all-controlling socialist state envisaged by Marx. 

In the mid and late 1960’s some of America’s brightest (but not best) decided to take down the most powerful nation on earth. They have achieved much.

How to restore and rebuild? 

By replacing the keystone in the arch: Good fathers raising boys to be great husbands and fathers. The man is key. He is civilization. He is the keystone. 

(Women have nothing to fear in this order: It is the work of both. Equally. Just very different roles, stemming from very, very different biologies. But totally complementary biologies — if only we can get the “act of the will” right in both male and female, mother and father, husband and wife).

A Deliberate Rejection of “Traditional” Men

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The last blog before the Christmas/New Year break was “Rebuilding our nation, one son at a time” which laid out the work a father implicitly takes on with the birth of his child.  Since then the American Psychological Association (APA) issued Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Men and Boys, causing an uproar among “traditional value” folk who felt (reasonably so, as a quick read of the preamble and the titles of the guidelines will indicate). Two practicing psychologists have severe critiques that give substance to concerns of the layfolk: Dr. Sean Smith of Denver and Dr. Leonard Sax (psychologist and physician) of Maryland. That many of the members of APA likely agree with them is beside the point. The leadership of APA is determined to push the nation in a direction abhorrent to most of its citizens.

In reaction to the backlash APA issued a statement that some see as backpedaling but is in reality a digging in their heels: the president of APA and the two most recent past presidents weigh in on the side of the guidelines.

The three APA presidents state:

“We honor and respect the overwhelmingly majority of boys and men who aim to live fully human lives while valuing the dignity of all others. In short, Division 51 [author of the Guidelines] of the American Psychological Association believes the following:

Division 51 seeks to recognize and promote pathways for boys and men to live healthy and positive lives, [emphasis added] and also to identify and redress the effects of restrictive masculinities[1]. We do this through psychological science, education, advocacy, and clinical practice. In doing so, we aim to promote equality for people of all genders.”

This is not true. 

Let me give preliminary background before presenting the evidence to support my harsh retort: The guidelines are part of a set.  The other part is the almost-identical-twin guidelines for Psychological Practice with Women and Girls, issued in 2007. Two large working groups put in over 30 years of study, meetings, conferences and publications, all aimed at producing these two documents.  This is serious, deliberate project by a lot of highly intelligent, highly educated people, all of whom claim to be scientists, and members of a world-ranking organization that weighs in often as a scientific organization, e.g. in its Supreme Court amici briefs.

What is the evidence that the statement of the three presidents is not true?  In neither set of Guidelines nor in any of the years of research, conferences nor publications leading up to them, is there even the slightest attempt to “recognize and promote pathways for boys and men to live healthy and positive lives” in the traditional way of marriage and the regular practice of the worship of God (manifested in all cultures, over all of history).  Nowhere in any of the text of the two Guidelines, nor in any of the science cited, is there any indication that they acknowledge this widest of pathways, which is as visible as a 12-lane highway.  The data is staring them in the face, and is overwhelming in every federal survey,  but they treat these uncomfortable facts with that sort of contempt which makes itself clear when one turns one’s back on another. This is deliberate, not an oversight.   Also, it shows a total lack of interest in real social science, which will let the data fall where it will.

I like Dr. Sean Smith’s advice: If you need a psychologist (and there are many great psychologists, doing great and needed work), make sure to ask him (or her) about his stance on these guidelines. If he does not give a firm “NO — I do not support or agree with them” walk away from him and find a trust-worthy psychologist, one who will honor you and the traditions from which you come.

In sum these guidelines are an abuse of both therapists and clients: Placing ideology above the needs of vulnerable people in trouble seeking help.


[1] “Masculinities” is a neologism to be rejected and challenged whenever thrust upon you. It embodies the radical agenda within its meaning.

Rebuilding Our Nation One Son at A Time

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The way to rebuild our nation is to do what all good men have always done: raise their sons to be great husbands and fathers.

As his newborn son is placed in his father’s arms for the first time, the young father (even if he cannot formulate the words) says to his son:

I give you my heart always and give you my time early in your life—  to bind you to me with affection (when it is easy to do).  On this foundation we will build the rest. Nothing else compares to this, not a successful business, nor great honors —-nothing else — except loving your mother.

My greatest task is to make a great husband and great father of you.

I will teach you what paths to walk so that you will desire to be good.

In your growing years I will be your guardian and protector.

I will protect you from sexual abuse.

I will teach you how to protect yourself from sexual abuse.

I will protect you from pornography within our home.

I will teach you how to protect yourself from pornography anywhere you come across it.

I will teach you how to treat your own body.

I will teach you how to regard the bodies of women.

I will teach you how to listen carefully to women and hear what they mean .

I will teach you how  to treat all women, so they will know you are a man of good intentions.

I will teach you how to spot and win the sexual battles that will take place inside your head and your heart.

I will teach you why you should not masturbate. (Your wife will thank me — without ever telling me).

I will teach you how to have the sexual control you will need for your marriage bed.

I will teach you how to date well, and how to select and court a great wife from among all the beautiful women you will meet.

My little one, because of all of this you are going to make a great man of me.

As men put this into practice, by taking sex-ed out of the schools and back into the home where it belongs, all of society will adapt around this strategic shift.  By exercising this basic natural right, every father will cause society to rearrange itself around his actions — in ways that restore social order.

The solution is simple though taxing: Fathers raise their boys to be great husbands and great fathers.

To Re-Build Society One Father at a Time

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Boys becoming good fathers is an unchanging need in every generation, else sexual chaos and violence ensue. It takes cultural deliberation to ensure well-ordered male sexuality.

However, Marxist feminism took deliberate lead in the deconstruction of the family in theUnited States, by severing of the father from his family. (Only 46%of American 15-17-year-olds now live with both biological parents).  This absence of fathers is coming into focus as the strongest long-term cause of the now- frequent eruptions of unpredictable forms of violence.

By contrast, a stable society needs fathers who are bonded with their children and who form the sexuality of their sons, so that they, in their turn, build up their own future families rather than tear them apart through uncontrolled sexuality. Malformed male sexuality leads to chaos and to sexual oppression, as the #me-too movement has made abundantly clear. 

The founders of The National Organization for Women (NOW),understood that to mold America in their Marxist image of a “good” society the two universal obstacles to this goal — the traditional (“patriarchal”) family and religious practice — had to be removed. Their brilliance was in seeing how to achieve both without having to resort to government coercion: Sever the father from the family by removing all constraints on the sexual

However, their brilliant success, though destructive, has by now made clear to all that cultural norms on male sexuality determine the level of chaos or order in any society.

A peaceful society will ensure that male sexuality is well-ordered by being well-channeled into marriage.  The dedicated, involved father, well bonded with his children, is the keystone to such a well-ordered sexuality, while his absence is a major gateway to chaos. However, nature does not help fathers as much as it helps mothers.  Something more is needed.

The contributions of both mother and father to this good order are very different, yet very sex-specific. The unique but complementary contributions are most visible in the DNA of their child, as each sex contributes its half to the double helix. In the relational domain each sex also makes similarly different but complementary contributions. 

Feminist ideas have suppressed the most obvious of differences between a man becoming a father and a woman becoming a mother. She is swept along by her biology: once conception takes place biology takes over (unless a woman overrides biology by having an abortion). In the beginning of the child’s new life this biological control is so small it is imperceptible, but soon makes its power visible in gestation, giving birth, and lactating.  The father who attempts to develop a bond with his child anyway near as close as the mother has nothing like her biological “assists.” For him it takes an act of his will. He has to choose to act and follow through with responsible action. This deliberately-constructed closeness is the foundation of his later ability to channel his son’s adolescent sexual drive into honoring women not exploiting them.

This choice by father to deliberately form an individual relationship with his children puts in place the keystone of the well-ordered family, which in turn is the building block of the well-ordered society. Sound societies have cultural patterns that guide the male to make this choice while shaming those males who do not, because it is an unchanging need in every generation that boys become good fathers, else sexual chaos and violence ensue.

The next two blogs will focus on the steps a father needs to take to form the sexuality of his boy, so that his mature son will honor women, be a faithful husband and a dedicated father.

Two Major Reports on Sex Gone Wrong: Among Parents and Among Priests

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Most people will not think of the recent Census data on Parental Raising of Children in Different Family Forms as an illustration of “sex gone wrong”—- but it is.   The child is the product of the sexual intercourse of the parents and the impact on the parents will last till the end of the lives of the parents… much better and benign effects when they “get sex right” in intact marriage, and much more onerous for them (and their children) when they don’t “get it right.”   The chart below shows that the proportion of parents “getting it right” diminishes over time, from 63% at the birth of children,  to 46% by the time the child is 17.

The second report is also about sex going very wrong for a very small, but extraordinarily influential, portion of celibate Catholic clergy.  Fr. Paul Sullins, Research Associate at the Ruth Institute and retired Professor at the Catholic University of America, has reanalyzed the John Jay Institute data, United States Catholic Conference data and Los Angeles Times data to yield the clearest report to date on what happened, its extraordinary decline, and now a possible inching back up again among that few who cause disaster. 

Here are three key charts from within the report for your study and your own conclusions.

The power to procreate is like nuclear physics of the atom: it is massively powerful when released — for good, or for evil.  And as everyman knows, no one is immune from sexual corruption, it is time for us all to reform and turn from “defining deviancy down” on matters sexual, to raising the bar higher again.

Sex, Fathers, and the Future

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The total population of North, Central, and South America is less than a billion.  Europe’s population is much less.  Africa’s population is about one billion.

In the last 100 years the world has eliminated one billion children through abortion. In other words, whole continents. World War II was a walk in the park compared to this. The US alone has aborted 58 million infants (the total  population of the US as it came into the twentieth century,  and almost the same as the total populations killed in World War II, the bloodiest war in human history.  The “body-count” in the Holocaust pales in comparison to this, US-only “body count”. Clearly, we “do sex” wrong.  Humankind has never, ever,  “done it” so wrong. 

In the US, for children who survive pregnancy and make it to birth, most of their parents cannot stand each other enough to live their lives together and raise their children to adulthood.  Slavery has returned to the US—in the form of sex trafficking.  Pornography addiction (to some degree or other) is almost universal among young men. Cohabitation is the majority’s choice despite the widespread knowledge of its bad effects. STDs are “through the roof and are now mega epidemics — having been epidemic for decades.  Motherhood is frowned upon in the academic world and most business put up with mothers only because they are forced to if they want female workers.  The list could go on and on— and that is without going near what is being taught and not taught in churches— of all denominations! 

As a society we have really lost our way.  Leaders in all institutions have lost their way or their courage. There are some who know how to “do it” but most don’t, or are afraid, and public schools and academia are not only totally lost, they lead down the wrong and debilitating path — even in the face of overwhelming data. Proof?  Just look around you.

Where do we start to rebuild? 

This rebuilding starts with men — with fathers in particular. 

The fundamental correction involves all fathers taking back from everyone else the sexual education of their sons. Mothers need to do the same for their daughters. However,  the sine qua non is that fathers become the sexual tutors of their sons, because, given the nature of males, men have much greater and difficult task to achiever bringing  their sexual impulses under total control.

The program is simple: Every father worthy of the title, wants his son to end up happily married to the girl of his dreams and wants to show him the way to pull that off.  This is what fathers do: make men out of their boys.

Now that presents a difficulty because most fathers, today, have not achieved that status or have lost it: they are single or married to some other woman.  Thus, they are quite handicapped in giving what they do not have.  However, let us leave that major difficulty to the side for the time being and focus instead on what has to be achieved: Lifelong marriage of a boy to the girl of his dreams.

As a nation— as a culture— we either go for this or we break apart into factions, because sex — at every level of social organization, from the couple to the polis— either powerfully binds us together or powerfully splits us apart. Those who do not go for the gold of lifelong marriage,  ultimately, are prepared that our nation be split into pieces.  Too strong a claim?  What happens to families after divorce?  Multiply that by millions and then by two or three generations and then you have a nation and culture falling apart.  The choice is not just and individual choice it is a political one (in the pure sense of the polis). 

How men handle their sexuality is at the bedrock level of society.  This is something the Marxist Feminists understood very well, though for nefarious applications.  

Feminists and lots of other women are clear on what they don’t want men to do sexually, and they are right!  But they are NOT clear on what they want men to DO. And without a clear destination anyone is lost. So, feminists, though correct in their attacks on predation, are totally wrong on the nature of sex. There is only one destination that makes sense of sex: Sex is meant for marriage and procreation— procreation within marriage— both entwined.  There are lots of secondary derivative purposes and benefits but these two, procreation within marriage,  are non-negotiables if we are to avoid social chaos, and if justice is to be done to every child, and if we are to be a people who want justice for every child.

Maybe the biggest natural barrier to achieving this justice is a universal fact about being male: for every man a huge portion of females are physically attractive to him— and will remain so throughout his life, no matter his marital status. Men see, and immediately register, the beauty and attractiveness of every female before they know anything else about her. And if a man permits himself to pursue that attraction to its logical end (intercourse) he can be in big trouble for the rest of his life, and worse still, he will have caused chaos in the lives of the woman, her extended family, his own extended family, and in particular, and most disastrously, will have severely damaged the children that result from that intercourse (either eliminating them in abortion or leaving them with split parents for the rest of their lives – and  the grandchildren’s  lives.

The only way that sexual attraction can be properly handled is by channeling it towards one person only — the future bride.  Finding her is a long and delicate process for which a good father is the best guide, by far.

The journey to the bride starts in childhood.  It used to start in adolescence for most of human history but now, with pornography being universally and aggressively obtrusive, it starts for boys around age seven or eight, because with his first exposure to it he is beginning to go down the right path or the wrong path.

(By the way – I am all for the death penalty for pornographers. The human suffering unleashed by pornography is so large it is beyond comprehension.)

Back to the task:  fathers now have to begin tutoring early if they are not to be too late.  By age 7 or 8 it is already urgent and assumes a good level of affection between father and son for this next phase to be successful.

The good father lets his boy know (despite his son not yet being interested in girls) that he wants him to end up as a great young man with a beautiful young wife who will be his companion and best friend for life.  Even the father who has failed to achieve this for himself can lay this out for his son. 

Gradually – and differently for each son – he leads him to understand the fundamental complementarity between male and female; that this complementarity between his mother and father brought him into existence and an even greater complementarity and unity between them is needed to raise him to be a great young man.  The father reminds his son that he exists because he, his father, used his sexuality to bring him into existence!  (This is a most powerful lesson each modern boy needs to hear from the lips of his father.  Without this exchange a father is neglecting the growth of his son).  He lets his son know that his father, and he alone, is the one to guide his son in teaching about sexuality and that his son should take it from no one else unless his father says it is OK.  He even goes so far as to teach his son how to demand this as his (the son’s) right in the classroom and any other place.  He teaches his boy how to be a modern warrior — and gentleman — in these sexually hostile times.

The father paints, repeatedly, the goal of the great woman to be won over – by his son being a great man. He teaches him that in this domain “like attracts like!”  He cannot have a great woman without being a great man. It is impossible.  (At the same time the boy’s mother is teaching the same lesson to his sister).

 The father teaches his son that along the way there are many traps and snares for every man; that there always has been and always will be.  The first snare that modern boys confront is pornography — new, modern and powerful  in its intrusiveness and alluringness (that is what makes it a snare).  The father tells his son (at the appropriate time) how he combats his own temptations to look at pornography.  He does it in a way that invites the son to lean on his father for help whenever that struggle is present – and it will be.  The father promises to protect him within the home and at school but tells him he has to learn how to protect himself when his father is not around.  And he reminds him constantly that all this is for the sake of that wonderful girl he is going to win some day.  The purer his heart the stronger it will be and the more easily she will sense it and be attracted by it. And he in turn will be able to recognize a woman with a similarly pure heart – ready to give it to the right man but only to the right man and only to one man!

Anybody with an ounce of sense will agree with the above. Anyone who  does not is an enemy of children.  Harsh? Yes — but true and fundamental to a just and peaceful society.

In all my years working with couples and families, with data and research,  with evaluating programs and trying to figure out how best to help couples and families, I have concluded that nothing is more fundamental in the cycle of life and of  nations than that the father be the one to induct a boy into sexuality.  No one else.  All else is fraud — dressed up no doubt, but fraud.

Given this, I think it is time for another Revolutionary War.  This war is not fought with guns (though, if it is not won there will be a war with guns).  It is the revolution by which fathers take back from everyone else, no matter who they are (teachers or clergy),  the sexual education and formation of their boys.  

We all love appropriate battle cries, such as New Hampshire’s “Liver Free or Die”.  The one every father needs close to his heart (and on his lips when need be) is “Keep your hands off my son’s sex!”

 If we get enough fathers taking “sex ed” (it really is sexual malformation)  back out of the schools (public and private, denominational or secular) we can change America. If we don’t we lose it.  

Too simple? No, no matter the difficulty of doing it.   I see nothing more foundational than this in the cycle of human existence, handed on from one generation to the next.

(By the way, this is the ultimate reform the Catholic Church needs to rectify its own house on sexual ethics for all vocations—for marriage, priesthood, religious celibacy or single lay life.  It was the “program” proposed in plenty of time by Pope Pius XII back in the 1950’s.  It is a pity of historical proportions that Catholic bishops and religious teaching orders did not take that to heart.)

May fathers take back the formation of their sons’ sexuality from everyone else!  It belongs to no one else.  If anyone wants to do any “sex ed” let them help fathers and mothers do it  — and most of them will need help to do this well.  But any other forms of sex ed is only adding to the problem.  Proof? Just look around you. 

It is already very late.  It is time to start this New Revolution. 

Black Americans Losing Their Freedom

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Most Black Americans are less free than their ancestors under Jim Crow laws.  They no longer can marry and stay married.

Most Black Americans today grow up in broken families and suffer their parents rejecting each other.  (Other ethnic children do also, but less so.)

Compare the Black Family to the Asian American family over the past decades:

[To explore this further go to The Decomposition of the American Family Over Time by Henry Potrykus, formerly with MARRI. If you go there: Click on the words in gold to get what you want to see.]

Parents pass on a lot to their children, one of the strongest being social capacity. This learned complementarity between husband and wife is the great strength that keeps on giving… across generations. The rejection between husband and wife also keeps on giving — more brokenness across generations. The more splitting in a family’s history, the more the children will split. 

Where did this loss of freedom come from? Was this something imposed on Black Americans? Imposed on their church-going families? Where did this rejection virus come from? How is it so endemic even among church-goers?

And keep in mind, this is one Black parent rejecting the other. It is not imposed from outside. 

If Black leaders can build unity in the Black family, they can solve, not only their own problems but also white, Hispanic and Native American too.  Such leaders will become national heroes. 

How is this done? We can put men and women on the moon. But we do not know how build marriage for a lifetime. How do Asian Americans do it?  Can they transfer it? 

The five richest men in America, Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg all have intact marriages. If their combined funds could find the solution — nothing  would yield greater dividends to the nation nor restore to Black Americans the freedom most of them have lost.

Family Disruption and Child Wellbeing

Tags: , , , , child well-being, children, depression, divorce, family, intact family, MARRI, marriage, Pat Fagan, social policy, youth No comments

The most comprehensive overview of the effects of divorce on children until then was a 2012 synthesis paper I wrote with Aaron Churchill. For this blog I composed a short review of the more recent literature on divorce using the National Institute of Health’s Library and database. The simplified results confirm and extend the findings of the 2012 paper:

Parental disruption of the family leads to increased levels and diverse forms of depression (very noticeably in China) and anxiety, earlier death and serious illnesses, including cardiovascular disease, increased rates of cancer and stroke, and other somatic symptoms, such as atopic dermatitis. Ironically, the divorce of parents also decreases the likelihood of taking the medicine needed to treat personal illness and increases additional poor health behaviors (smoking, alcohol use [including early drinking], and unhealthy eating [obesity]). These effects, especially depression, persist into adulthood for offspring of divorced parents. For children who are already depressed (linked likely to family unhappiness) depression deepens with the divorce of parents and episodes of serious depression become more frequent and sometimes morph into bipolar depression.

When parents divorce, a child’s world is shattered. For some children it is a slow disintegration. For others it is cataclysmic in its suddenness.  The depth of the wounds is much the same, though the variety of wounds is myriad and, though patterns abound, each wound is unique and idiosyncratic in its effects on the mind, heart and soul of each child, even when a grown adult.

With divorce, the very center of the child’s universe has imploded. Yes, the child has to pick up the pieces and get on with life,  but they are pieces, a poor substitute for a wonderful whole. If the marriage of parents is the rich soil in which children thrive, then divorce leads them to a perpetual depletion diet.  The rich nutrition of love and unity is bleached out of their food. Different events — a visit to a friend’s home, a scene in a movie, a line in a song — reminds them all the time that they no longer eat steak every day but rather a thinner soup that they just have to get used to. No matter how much divorced parents try they cannot deny their rejection of each other, nor the wounds that rejection causes: They have made their child’s universe crooked. Granted in many cases it is one parent who did the shattering.  Given the effects on his or her children such a person has become evil by doing so great an evil. Hard words?  Just read the effects above in the italicized paragraph again (and they are only partial; for the full list read the full paper).

As laws have shifted away from protecting citizens from harm, by forbidding evils and punishing wrongs, legislators have turned instead to “policy making”. This shift really took off with the sexual revolution and the divorce revolution. The more they aided and abetted the storm (passing no-fault divorce laws), the more effort they have to put into minimizing the damage: This is much of “social policy.”

It is disheartening to read research articles on the effects of divorce on children. The vast majority of studies encourage social policy to reduce the damage done to children by divorce.  Virtually nowhere is there a push for efforts to save couples from divorce, to rebuilding broken marriages or even (especially) those on the rocks. The mantra instead is one of conflict reduction… It is better that the children live in a home with less turmoil.  No one talks of a rebuilt home, a rebuilt marriage.

I know a man who is one of the great healers of “bad marriages”.  He may be  the greatest.  At one time he was working in a family court (a divorce court) in a large Mid-Western city. After he had demonstrated his skill by resolving  some awful relationships the judges gave him access to those waiting for their day in the divorce court. Soon, about half the divorce-seeking couples were going away HAPPILY reconciled. But that cut into the incomes of their divorce lawyers. In response, the divorce lawyers’ lobby got rid of him by having the legislature threaten to significantly cut the family-court’s budget. There is a special place in hell for the lawyers who pulled that off, and also for those behind the no-fault divorce revolution (read Jane Anderson’s 2014 on the effects of divorce if you think that too strong).

Next week I will delve into the effects (visible in the Add Health data) of divorce on boys. There is nothing like it anywhere else in the social science literature: The divorce of parents plus the worship of God turns boys into sexual predators.  

After this delving into the dark side, I feel like a good shower and a good drink, or something even better to revive the heart.

The Demographics of How “Godly” Are Our Religious Beliefs?

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Pew’s new report is a landmark study in the sociology of religion, which “—sorts Americans into seven groups based on the religious and spiritual beliefs they share, how actively they practice their faith, the value they place on their religion, and the other sources of meaning and fulfillment in their lives.” [1]

What are the seven types or groups? And how many are in each group?

If you want to know where you land within the seven types, go here.  For a quick overview of the difference between the types on major outcomes go here.  Here is one comparison (frequency of worship:

Keep the following relationship in mind (from MARRI’s own Mapping America) as you study the Pew report on matters family and marriage:

The chart above gives some idea of the link between frequency of religious practice and the importance given to marriage.  I note this as a reference point to keep in mind as you study the details below.

What is the relationship between Pew’s seven types and the typical identification by denomination?

As I am Roman Catholic, naturally, I paid attention to how represented Roman Catholics are “Sunday Stalwarts” (13%).  [By the way it is very easy to misread this chart: it is not the percent of Roman Catholics who are Sunday Stalwarts but the percent of Sunday Stalwarts who are Roman Catholic).  But still, for Catholics it is a poor showing indeed, for a religion which puts so much emphasis on the Mass (as the act of Redemption, and the obligation of weekly worship of God by this means).  Compared to Evangelicals they are weak in worship, even if, by the nature of being an Evangelical, one self-selects into a devout group, whereas being Catholic has (in ordinary life) as much to so with what one was born into as it has to what you intend do about it.  The biggest showing for “Catholics” is among the Diversely Devout — a strange title for you if you are “Catholic” because devout usually means a high level of faithfulness but not in this case! However, for the Pew typology the Diversely part fits it fits by Catholic norms even as the Devout part fits by Pew Typology norms.  But Pew acknowledges the shortcomings of its “clustering” techniques.  Even given my concerns the data is very helpful. 

What is the relationship between the seven types and family behaviors?

As expected: There is a decrease in impact with a decrease in worship:

What is the relationship between marriage and the seven types?

Given that the next chart does not control for age it is not all that helpful.  The biggest issue in “marriage” is the intactness of the biological parents’ marriage between their mid-30’s and their early 50’s, that phase of family life when their marriage has the greatest influence on their children’s future. From the Pew data below,  we cannot tell. 

It would be nice to figure out where the 7 types tend to fall in the different strata of family structures below. (From the MARRI collection of 5 thousand charts on family structure from the 1940’s to the present).

The most disturbing finding:

For the future of our nation, the most disturbing finding for me is the following:

From this we see a disturbing polarization outside of the Sunday Stalwarts (who have some balance on the issue).  I would be among those who would say (with a major caveat) that it is not necessary to believe in God to have good values and to be moral. I have met many such people.  My caveat: it is much easier to be moral and have good values if one practices believes in God enough to worship him in community.   I don’t trust the ‘God and Country’ type nor the ‘Diversely Devout’ to build the bridges necessary for a functioning polis or political community, which at bottom is a discourse on political morality.  And clearly the remaining groups in the Typology see no contribution from religion to morality.  Now that is dangerous! The more the Sunday Stalwarts shrink as a percent of the nation, the more polarized and the fewer bridge builders we will have, leaving more and more of the country polarized.  Reason and philosophy will have no place in matters moral!

For the “wonks”: Notes on Motivation and Method from the Pew Report

“Pew Research Center’s religious typology is not meant to replace conventional religious affiliations, but rather to offer a new and complementary lens with which to glean new insights into religion and public life in the U.S.” [2]

“The typology groups were created using cluster analysis, a statistical technique that identified homogeneous groups of respondents based on their answers to 16 questions about their religious and spiritual beliefs and practices, the value they place on their religion, and the other sources of meaning and fulfillment in their lives.” [3]

“In some ways, cluster analysis is as much art as science. The groups that emerge will depend on both the number of groups that researchers specify and the questions that they choose to include in the analysis. What’s more, there is no “correct” cluster solution or any single criteria for deciding which solution is best. Researchers must weigh a number of factors: whether it’s clear why people are grouped together, whether the groups are different enough from each other to be analytically useful, and whether the groups are consistent with what researchers already know about the subject.” [4]

“In preparing this report, researchers tested several possible solutions – ranging from five to eight groups – and experimented with including larger and smaller numbers of questions.” [5]

“Researchers ultimately settled on the 16-question, seven-category cluster solution summarized in this report because it has several strengths. First, the solution divides respondents into a relatively small number of groups that are distinct from one another, large enough to permit statistical analysis, and substantively meaningful. Second, all the survey questions that went into the algorithm are measures of religious or spiritual characteristics, making this truly a religious typology.” [6] [1-6] From the Report.