Metro Detroit marriage activists weigh In
Dr. Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s landmark 1965 report linking unwed births with serious urban pathologies unleashed a stormy debate about marriage, and 50 years later the controversy continues. The Family Research Council (FRC) in Washington recalled Moynihan’s keen foresight with a press forum Feb. 12th. Minister and attorney Garland Hunt and Star Parker, founder of The Center for Urban Renewal and Education joined Dr. Patrick Fagan, a senior scholar at the FRC to discuss reviving marriage in the American family, especially in the black family.
Moynihan’s study predicted that when out-of-wedlock births reach 25 percent, crime soars, welfare dependency escalates and urban blight skyrockets.
“There is one unmistakable lesson in American history; a community that allows a large number of men to grow up in broken families, dominated by women, never acquiring any stable relationship to male authority, never acquiring any set of rational expectations about the future — that community asks for and gets chaos. Crime, violence, unrest, disorder,” observed Moynihan in his 1965 report. At the time, he served as Assistant Secretary of Labor under President Lyndon Johnson. Moynihan, a Democrat, later served as a U.S. Senator from New York.
“Moynihan’s study proved prophetic in 1965 forecasting how marriage insufficiency would spur pervasive disorder. We see the effects in many Michigan communities, including Detroit, and U.S. population centers nationwide,” observes Dr. Michael Ross, a physician and advocate for restoring marriage and family. “What’s left for Uncle Sam are generations of abandoned and profoundly wounded children and adults whose trauma constricts and cripples socioeconomic growth,” Ross asserts. Unwed births account for 75 to 90 percent of children born in Detroit, Flint, Pontiac, Highland Park, and Saginaw.
Dr. Ross has joined marriage activists in Washington, DC and Detroit to form the Interfaith Marriage Coalition www.interfaithmarriagecoalition.com to encourage houses of worship to create marriage care systems with volunteer married couples that mentor across the life cycle of marriage.
According to Father John Phelps, co-founder and CEO of Life Directions, a 40-year peer-mentoring organization for youth in Detroit, Chicago, and several U.S. cities, Moynihan correctly concluded that marriage decline breeds violence in family life. “Marriage when it raises a child is a foundation for peace,” he asserts. “When it does not, the potential for violence increases,” Father Phelps observes. He explained, “To raise hope is to increase unconditional love and forgiving. This is the hope for peace that is the fruit of unconditional love.”
Rev. Dr. Nick Phillips, marriage care pastor of Michigan’s largest single congregation, Northridge Church (26,000), cites great value of marriage mentoring to couples. He advises mentoring, classes, and retreats for young boys and men that “focus on developing and modeling Godly manhood as a part of their education, and outreach.” According to Phillips, the Northridge congregation has achieved a seven-percent divorce rate during the past twelve years under his leadership. This compares to the 5-year U.S. divorce rate of twenty-five percent.