Poor Kids Deserve Their Own Parents, too.

The Federal government’s programs for poor relief undermine the ability of the poorest people in society to get married and stay married.

Consider these facts:

  • For women with a high-school degree and maybe some college, 58% percent of their firstborn children are born out of wedlock. These children end up having limited contact and relationships with their fathers.

    wilcoxpic1
    Dr. Brad Wilcox of the Institute for Family Studies and the University of Virginia. He and his colleagues crunched a bunch of these numbers.
  • The percent having their first birth out of wedlock is 55% for white women, 69% for Hispanic women, and 87% for African American women. [1]
  • Some of the most significant income support programs have significant marriage penalties for some people. People these situations are better off cohabiting, or not living together at all, rather than getting married. These programs include the Earned Income Tax, Child Tax Credits, Medicaid, SNAP, TANF and WIC.  [2]
  • Children living with cohabiting parents are more likely to experience the separation of their parents than children whose parents are married. This separation diminishes the chances of the children having continuous relationships with both their parents, especially their fathers.
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Elaine Maag of the Urban Institute: “I believe that we can work toward providing a strong safety net for all people—and that the tax system will always be an important part of that effort.” You go, girl!

Marriage benefits children. There is no longer any serious doubt about this. Why then, is our government creating incentives for parents to not marry? Poor children need their own parents and a stable family life every bit as much as children of the middle and upper classes.

My references below include people from across the political spectrum. In spite of this, nothing has been done to remove the marriage penalties from federal income support programs. My guess is that many of the “liberals” are fearful of marriage as something that could be oppressive to abused women. My further guess is that many of the “conservatives” are fearful of the increased taxpayer costs that removing the marriage penalties might create.

joseph-price
Dr. Joe Price of Brigham Young University. He too, crunched some of these numbers. A coalition of BYU and the Urban Institute: it can be done!

Social conservatives have the ear of the current Administration, more so than any time I can recall.  I urge social conservatives inside the Trump administration to remove the marriage penalties from these programs. I suggest convening a commission of the authors listed in the notes below, along with Pat Fagan of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute, Rachel Sheffield of the Heritage Foundation, and Isabell Sawhill of the Brookings Institute.

Together, they could come up with something. We owe it to the least among us to stop undermining the formation and stability of their families.

 

1. “Knot Yet: The Benefits and Costs of Delayed Marriage in America,” Kay Hymowitz, Jason Carroll, W. Bradford Wilcox, Kelleen Kay, 2013 by The National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, and The Relate Institute. http://twentysomethingmarriage.org/the-great-crossover/ (Last accessed November 15, 2016.)

2. Elaine Maag and Gregory Acs, “The Financial Consequences of Marriage for Cohabiting Couples with Children,” (Washington, DC: The Urban Institute, September 2015.)   http://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/alfresco/publication-pdfs/2000366-The-Financial-Consequences-of-Marriage-for-Cohabiting-Couples-with-Children%20.pdf  

W. Bradford Wilcox, Joseph P. Price and Angela Rachidi, “Marriage, Penalized”: Does Social-Welfare Policy Affect Family Formation?” (Washington DC: American Enterprise Institute and Institute for Family Studies, 2016). https://www.aei.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/IFS-HomeEconReport-2016-Final-072616.pdf

Spencer Rand, “The Real Marriage Penalty: How Welfare Law Discourages Marriage Despite Public Policy Statements to the Contrary—and What can be done about it.” University of the District of Columbia Law Review, Vol. 18, No. 1, 2015, pp. 93-143. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2685206

Robert Rector, “How Welfare Undermines Marriage and What to Do About it,” (Washington DC: The Heritage Foundation, 2014). http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2014/11/how-welfare-undermines-marriage-and-what-to-do-about-it

Why does the media care about crowd sizes all of a sudden?

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Cute girls from Omaha, at the March for Life in 2011, (Photo by Friend of Ruth, Steve Hicks)

How many people watched the Trump inaguarion? I have no idea, and I honestly don’t care. The Main Stream Media is going hysterical over it, which I find funny.

stanford-students-for-life-2011
Stanford Students for Life, West Coast Walk for Life in San Francisco (!) 2011. photo by yours truly.

The March for Life has commemorated the Roe v Wade anniversary for over 40 years. The media consistently under-report the event itself, and the size of the crowds. The media will have a chance to redeem itself this Friday. We shall see whether they report on the presence of half-million peaceful Marchers for Life, most of them young. We shall see if they give as much time to Feminists for Life, Students for Life and the busloads of students who come in from all over the country, as they did to the vulgar, all-abortion-all-the-time, probably-paid protesters. Not to mention the additional marches across the country, in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and many other cities.

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Diversity anyone? Mexican dancers at the West Coast Walk for Life, 2013. Photo by yours truly.

This pattern can be seen calling 350,000, “thousands” in 2010, over 300,000 pro-lifers in 2012 were treated equally with 11 pro-abortion protesters, 500,000 attended in 2013 and the media ignored them. (To be fair, USA Today did a pretty good job in 2015.)  In 2016, the biggest stories were about the snowstorm which reduced attendance down to a mere 200,000, instead of the usual half-million.

Check out this video from 2016.

Of course, it would be better if Trump did not exaggerate. But you know what would be even better? If the Main Stream Media took a good look at itself in the mirror.  Trump voters and Trump supporters are going to forgive him, again and again, including for things that ought not be forgiven.

Main Stream Media, you have only itself to blame for this situation: ya’ll have been so completely clueless for years.

Memo to the Media: redeem yourselves this Friday, and cover the March for Life. It won’t kill you, just this once.

Jesus was right, and we can prove it.

Jesus made His position on divorce very clear:  One to a customer for life. (Slight paraphrase.)

Seriously. His apostles were quite frankly, freaked out. He doubled down, and started talking to them about celibacy. Seriously. Look it up in Matthew 19. 

With the benefit of 2000 years of hindsight, we can see the wisdom of prohibiting attempts at second marriages. Divided loyalties for children. Broken hearts of abandoned spouses. Since we have been systematically breaking His commandments for the past 50 years, we have statistical evidence that divorce is hard on children.

sad-girlgrey-her-scars-are-on-the-insideThis particular research summary finds that children of divorce have poorer relationships with not only mother and father, but often with grandparents as well. Children of divorce have a weakened ability to handle conflict, are more likely to be aggressive, and as adults, tend to be less able to communicate effectively with their own spouses. Children of divorce have more behavior problems in school, more depression and anxiety, diminished learning capacity and lowered school performance. Child abuse and neglect are more common, especially in stepfamilies. Children of divorce have lifelong increased health burdens, including a risk of premature death. This summary of research goes on in this vein for 48 closely-typed pages, and 333 footnotes.

agony-in-the-garden
A classic image of the Agony in the Garden, the night before Jesus’ crucifixion.

On the night before He died, Jesus foresaw His own physical suffering as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. I imagine that He saw all the sins of the world, for which He would suffer and atone. Because He was God, He could see all things and know all things. I believe He saw the children of divorce, weeping for the loss of the lives they had known. I believe He saw the anguish of abandoned spouses. I bet He saw the fact that second “marriages” are more likely to fail that first marriages. He saw the disappointment so many attempted second marriages would bring. He was trying to spare us all this.

archbishop-charles-scicluna-of-malta
Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta: What is he thinking?

Some bishops of the Catholic Church are interpreting Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia to mean that divorced and civilly remarried Catholics can present themselves for communion, if they believe they are “at peace with God.” I cannot imagine what these men are thinking.

I can tell you what they are NOT thinking. They are not thinking about the abandoned spouses. They are NOT thinking about the children, whose families have been turned upside down by their parents’ switching out of parent-figures and sex-partners.

This is the child’s perspective. We tell them, “I still love you. But my relationship with my new sex partner is more important to me than my relationship with your other parent, even though your other parent is half of who you are.” The children cannot make sense of these incompatible claims.

Needless to say: this conflict does not even arise in families where the parents are continuously and faithfully married to each other.

There is, in the end, only one cure for this kind of social confusion. To say as often and as loudly as we can: Jesus was right to prohibit attempts at second marriages while the first spouse is still living. We know this from experience. Our experience is so profound, we will not be talked out of it.

If you have such an experience to share, please consider telling your story for the Tell Ruth the Truth blog. You will be helping more people than you know.

“Playboy sold me a pack of airbrushed lies.”

We started the Tell Ruth the Truth blog to give Survivors of the Sexual Revolution a chance to tell their stories of heartache and recovery. I’m very taken with a recent post, from a man who calls himself “E.H.”  He had the courage to share his story this week.

“Playboy magazine had sold me a pack of airbrushed lies. The idea that Playboy promoted was that there is playboy-bunny-logosomewhere this perfect woman with a perfect body with whom you want to spend your days. Somehow, having a perfect body in bed with me would be what I needed and wanted to have ultimate happiness. I bought the lie, as did so many millions of men.”

The airbrush is a basic necessity for keeping the Sexual Revolution going.  The Revolutionary propaganda airbrushes away all the problems and pain, leaving only glamour and fun. Each individual who is harmed by the lies, feels that he or she is the only one. When they work out that they have been lied to, they have no forum for sharing their insight. Every person has to figure it out alone.

E.H. cries out with apology to those he has harmed:

“In 2001 I converted to the Catholic faith and a few years later I discovered Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. … How I wish I had known that when I met Robin. How I wish I had heard that in time to live it out with Karen.”

 

pope-john-paul-red-cape
The Late Great Pope St. John Paul II, an inspiration to many.

Writing can be therapeutic for the person, helping them heal and move from being a Victim to being a Survivor. These stories can also help the readers. Some may believe they and their families are the only ones who have made these mistakes. Others may despair of ever recovering from their past sins. I am very grateful to “E.H.” and all of our contributors to the Tell Ruth the Truth blog.

Do you have a story? Consider sharing it with us and our readers.

Help for Annulments, both for and against

I have had several posts about the Catholic controversies over divorce and remarriage. Here, here and here. This seems a good time to refer my friends and readers to resources that may be helpful to you.

If you are a Catholic, and believe your attempted marriage was not in fact a valid marriage, Rose Sweet’s material can help you through the annulment process. (Actually, Rose’s stuff helps a lot of people through alot of post-divorce healing.)

bai-macfarlane
Bai Macfarlane, foundress of Mary’s Advocates

If you are Catholic, and your spouse wants a divorce, and you believe your marriage is valid, Mary’s Advocates has a wealth of material for you. Bai Macfarlane has done a prodigious amount of labor, compiling information about canon law and Church teaching. She includes a sample petition for you to use to your bishop to ask him to try to intervene to stop a break-up.  Mary’s Advocates provides a template petition containing this plea. I do not know what your bishop will do or say. I do believe however, that no harm can come from asking.children-and-divorce

The Ruth Institute, the organization I founded, has a whole page for the Reluctantly Divorced (a term we coined) and a page for the Children of Divorce. We even created a brochure, summarizing the elevated risks that children of divorce face over their lifetimes.

 

Finally, you may wish to consider sharing your story with our readers. Ourruth-carousel-tell-your-story Tell Ruth the Truth blog provides an outlet for you, and solidarity for others in similar situations. I find that many people feel alone when they are dealing with family breakdown. Nothing could be further from the truth. You are absolutely not alone. Pretty much every family in America has some form of family breakdown, somewhere in their family tree. Let’s help each other.

Your friend,

Dr. J

“A Case Study in Communion for the Divorced/Remarried”

Crux has a case study, creating a compelling story in which a pastor might permit a divorced and civilly remarried Catholic to recieve communion. I have only one thing to say about this case study.

The priest should encourage the woman to pursue an annulment.

According to the scenario:

She wanted to pursue getting an annulment, although it was almost impossible to get any information or help from her parish in El Salvador.

Wouldn’t this be a good place for her pastor in the US to be willing communion-in-the-handto accompany her? Shouldn’t the tribunal in the US use some discernment about the missing information?

True, she might not get the annulment. But the process itself has merit. It helps to reveal truths that might have remained hidden. It helps clarify the person’s reasons for wanting to return to full communion with the Church. It may also clarify that the person was more culpable than they had otherwise realized, thus allowing her the opportunity for repentance, conversion and closer union with Jesus.

The author presumes she would not get the annulment. This is by no means certain. If she can show immaturity and ignorance, and if her putative husband does not raise objections, she might very well obtain it. And BTW, in this story, the putative husband has disappearred. This is one of the features that supposedly makes for a compelling scenario for pastorally permitting communion.

Irma had no idea where Francisco might be. She didn’t really even know if he was still alive. She had no family in El Salvador. She had brought no church or legal documents with her when she came to the States.

Evidently, she must have divorced him in abstentia, if she really couldn’t find him, otherwise she would be a bigamist, even under civil law. But isn’t there a legal procedure for declaring a long-missing person to be presumed deceased? If the person meets the criteria of being presumed dead, what does canon law say about her ability to contract a valid Catholic marriage?

And, in most countries, it might even take a shorter period of time than the several years the hypothetical pastoral process described in the article seems to have taken.

All in all, this “case study” is not compelling. The hypothetical situation it describes could be handled by “discernment and accompaniment,” through the annulment process. Good. holy, faithful priests have been handling situations like this all along.  The pastor should not give the person permission to receive communion, without first pursuing the annulment process.

Catholics don’t pray to Mary, and why it matters

I asked all my readers to say the Rosary every day, in the last Ruth Institute newsletter of 2016. (You are not a subscriber? Easily corrected.) I gave my non-Catholic readers a non-Rosary suggestion for stepping up their prayer lives.

mary-at-st-matthews
Statue of the Mother of God at St. Matthews Cathedral in DC. She reaches out to the viewer, pointing us toward her divine Son in heaven.

 

 

 

 

I got one very charming note from a non-Catholic who was very concerned that I was praying to Mary. I would like to clarify this bit of Catholic teaching.

We do not pray to Mary or any saint. We ask dead people to pray for us, just as we ask living people to pray for us. That is all.

If it is coherent to ask a friend to pray for me (and of course, it is) it is perfectly ok to ask a deceased friend to pray for me.

We do not worship Mary. (Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) #971.) We do not worship the saints. (CCC #956). We do not worship statues. (CCC# 1670). We never have.

This is important, whether you are Catholic or not because it illustrates how factual errors, constantly promoted, can take on lives of their own. I do not know who started these rumors about Catholic belief. I do know that they took on political and economic importance around the time of the Reformation. Ambitious people had an incentive to spread these rumors, promote these rumors, feed these rumors. No matter how many times we say, “we do not worship Mary or the saints or the statues,” they kept insisting that we did. This has been going on for at least 500 years.

No doubt someone will write to me and tell me I am mistaken and that in fact I do worship Mary. I issue this challenge: if you can find me any definitive magisterial statement by a competent Church authority to the contrary, I will listen to what you have to say. But I don’t think you can find such a statement.

Today, we have ambitious people promoting flat out lies about the human condition, such as: Kids don’t need their own parents. All differences between men and women are socially constructed. A fetus is not a person. Bruce Jenner is a woman. And so on.

Just because these statements are false does not mean that they will die out. The people who benefit from them will keep promoting them, no matter how many times we correct the record.

We have to call this out for what it is: lying. It won’t go away on its own. It could go on for 500 years. I, for one, am not going to sit by quietly while such a thing gets started.