A term tossed about by the religious right and conservatives when talking about the moral decline of society and used to describe themselves. It seems to be used to imply that the people they disagree with are somehow anti-family.

However, when they talk about pro-family, it seems they use a rather narrow definition of family that fits perfectly with how they live. There seems to be a desire to change others, requiring them to live the same way.

Pro-family does not mean any family. Usually it means a modern Christian family, and no other, by the people using the term.

You hear this all the time on TV, on your CNNs and NBCs.

"We're pro family", "family values", Focus on the Family...

This is, of course, all fine and dandy...for some.

Look around the Focus on the Family website (family.org). You get happy little images of a nuclear family-wife, husband, two kids. So far, so whitewashed and wholesome. Lots of articles on health and so on ("It's time to wake up to the realities of childhood snoring. If your child snores, it may be affecting his academic performance" - no shit, this was on their front page) and in the About Us section, we get a nice little blurb: "Focus on the Family began in 1977 in response to Dr. James Dobson's increasing concern for the American family." Well, yeah, so what's wrong with the American family? It doesn't explain until you dig a little deeper.

It's obvious from their "principles" page that they're a Christian organisation. So blatantly obvious that anyone being in doubt about this may as well seek help. Then all the sick stuff comes in.

FOTF likes to shout about how much it likes to brainwash kids. "Brio Magazine is a style-setting magazine read by more than 188,000 teen girls for tips, advice and spiritual guidance...It presents positive role models and emphasizes making right choices. For more than 13 years, Brio has been teaching, entertaining and challenging teen girls toward a healthy self-concept and closer relationship with Jesus Christ."

So this is, in fact, propaganda. From the Christian right, who want to give this magazine to Christian right families as envisaged by FOTF who want to pass it down to their children, who will hopefully become yet another part of the Christian right. This is frankly scary.

Even scarier are some of the "Focus on your Child" articles. "Helping Boys Become Men, and Girls Become Women" (http://www.focusonyourchild.com/develop/art1/A0000683.html)

The list of headings here says it all: "Is my child becoming homosexual?", "The facts about homosexuality" (apparently it really is a disorder, and not something someone chooses), "The Homosexual Campaign Against Children" (evil homosexuals, all they wanna do is make your kid effeminate and gay). They seem to liken homosexuality to sexual abuse, which is patently crap.

So far we've learned, using their own material, that pro-family groups are anti-gay. Well wait, there's more!

Go to the FAQ page (you can find it on the front page). Search for "sex". See what you find!

Should I teach my child proper condom usage? (so they, y'know, don't get AIDS and stuff)

FOTF says: I would not, because that approach has an unintended consequence. By recommending condom usage to teenagers, we inevitably convey five dangerous ideas: (1) that "safe sex" is achievable; (2) that everybody is doing it; (3) that responsible adults expect them to do it; (4) that it's a good thing; and (5) that their peers know they know these things, breeding promiscuity. Those are very destructive messages to give our kids.

So what they're saying is, you should not teach kids how to use the only method of contraception which significantly reduces risks of AIDS transmission and teen pregnancy because promiscuity is evil. And that sex before marriage is "irresponsible". Lovely.

Iā€™m concerned that my spouse ā€” or someone I know ā€” might be using pornography or looking at Internet pornography. Can Focus help me?

Of course, pornography is evil, and those who watch even a second of it should be imprisoned, as they are obviously sinners. If you're married, I suppose it's not a good thing. But "someone I know"? You don't just go up to someone and go "I think you're looking at porn. Stop it, sinner!".

We're told that sex education programs reduce the incidence of teen pregnancy. Do they work?

FOTF says: Hardly! As the safe sex ideology has been taught in the nation's schools, the rates of unwed pregnancy and abortion among teens have skyrocketed. A comprehensive study conducted by Stan Weed and Joseph Olson at the Institute for Research and Evaluation confirms that the Planned Parenthood approach actually worsens, rather than lessens, the problem of adolescent sexuality.

Yup, I've always thought that kids knowing how to have sex makes them go out and go "let's fuck!".

Puh-lease. Hopefully through reading all this you'll understand exactly what people mean by "pro-family" and realise what they stand for. It's one thing to know about it and believe it, but its another to not know the whole truth and follow it blindly.

Making trivial the most basic human concepts.

Such loudly pronounced concepts as "pro-family" become platforms because they assume the existence of opposition to "family." As with most loudly trumpeted causes to rally around, from either side of the abortion debate to saving rainforests and animal rights, the key to success is to take one interpretation of a simple concept and market it as the only true interpretation.

No one can argue with basic concepts, so you must always return to the basic concept to justify your interpretation.

Since the beginning of time, people have tried to call together bands of supporters to ride their viewpoint on issues into the glory of universal acceptance. In order to accomplish this, those who do not support one's interpretation must be made to look as if they are deriding the concept and not the interpretation. This is the trick. How can one be against families? How can one be in favor of tormenting cute little bunnies? How can one support destruction of the environment? Now, sign here on the dotted line. We accept donations. There is also a small membership fee.

Any organization wishing to wield political clout, especially in the United States, must be capable of mass marketing itself. Such organizations count on casual donations as well as hard core supporters. As such, the most marketable elements of their program must be touted at the right times.

Upset about television and movie violence having an impact on your teenager? We're also concerned, write us a check and we'll do something about it. Think that moral values are on a slippery slope of decline in our society? We think the same thing. Send us a check, we'll send you our newsletter and we'll do something about it.

If you want to be pro-family, the place to start is with your own. Support your family, forgive your family, and accept your family. They are who they are and they are your kin, so you need to love them. Help them when they need your help, but not by telling them how to live. Help them by showing them how to help themselves. Be an example. Learn from them what you can and teach them what you can. That is pro-family.

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