November 2, 1994
No one ever wrote a better opening to a letter than the Apostle Paul. Whether his message was one of exhortation or admonition, he knew full well that each opportunity to share his thoughts with "God's people" was precious. Obviously, my letters don't compare with Paul's. But I, too, feel privileged for every opportunity I have to share my thoughts with you. I am also greatly lifted by his undaunted spirit of joy and thankfulness--a spirit that remained unbroken even while he suffered in prison.
Later on in his letter to the Philippians, Paul speaks passionately about being arrested and jailed for preaching the Gospel. Rather than complain, he tells his readers that through their daily struggles they "all share in the privilege that is mine." In today's difficult times, I cling to Paul's words. I long for a spirit of thankfulness to sweep across our country, for the return of a time when sharing in each other's sufferings, as well as in that of our Lord's, is considered a privilege. And perhaps there is no more relevant time to ponder Paul's words than this month as we celebrate Thanksgiving.
Those who fight the good fight for family values have so much to be thankful for. Even so, I am painfully conscious of how often I must play the role of the messenger who bears bad news. All too often, I am the one sounding the alarm about issues such as socialized health care, more illegitimacy, more burdensome taxes on families with children, or the Justice Department's surrender on pornography.
Some mornings I wonder what difference the efforts of the Family Research Council have made in checking our nation's drift. Happily, in times like that I also remember a year ago when I asked for your thoughts about the importance of FRC's work. And how you responded! Hundreds wrote caring letters of exhortation and encouragement. Many told me of their prayers for my family. Others said they pray for the protection of the FRC staff, and many offered encouragement and support for the hard tasks in which we are engaged.
I shared many of those letters with my staff and also keep a packed file folder of them close at hand. Whenever I am discouraged, I reread them. They help me remember who FRC represents and why we must never give in. This month I thought you might also get a boost from reading excerpts from a few of the letters I've received from our supporters. I'm inspired just knowing that there are so many American families out there who "share in the privilege" that is ours.
One young mother wrote in to say:
A school teacher from the Midwest wanted me to know of her success involving
the placement of our fatherhood posters:
Another supporter wrote to tell me about the economic troubles her family was
facing as well as their efforts to escape dependence on welfare:
A Michigan man, a grandfather of nine, sent me a long letter encouraging FRC to
continue standing tall for the values that, he said, had guided his education
and helped him build his own family:
Many other letters have given me a boost by telling me how much our resource
materials and publications have meant to those who receive them:
I only wish you could see the stacks of similar letters that find their way to my desk. Each has come from a special friend like you who stands with us daily in the battle for family, faith and freedom. You share in our victories and you suffer with us in our defeats. Together, we have come to realize that these battles are fought not for some abstractly defined "family," but for all the little faces framed in pictures on refrigerators, desktops and fireplace mantles everywhere. I continually give thanks to God for your prayers and for the opportunities we have to speak out on behalf of your family and mine. I have renewed hopes that our efforts will lead our country to a better tomorrow.
Standing together is reason enough for us to rejoice, but I believe we have other grounds for optimism as well. Just two years ago, editorial writers were triumphantly declaring the abortion issue settled while delivering claims that "family values" were dead as a political issue. Dan Quayle was held up as an example of what happened to politicians who defended the family. TV's "talking heads" scorned his speech about "Murphy Brown" and his criticism of her decision to raise her child without the bother of marriage. His defeat, they said, was a warning to all pro-family politicians that "intolerance" would no longer be allowed in a liberated America.
Once again the pundits were wrong! Wrong about Dan Quayle! Wrong about the demise of family values! Wrong about Americans' willingness to approve "alternative lifestyles." And spectacularly wrong about the desire of Americans to have more government control over their lives.
When Dan Quayle returned to the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco to restate his now famous family values address of 1992, the reaction of the press and the political community was very different. The sneer was gone as the press witnessed the ovations Quayle's remarks received from San Francisco's business leaders. Quayle forcefully restated his earlier message: intact two-parent families are the best place in which to raise children. Children raised in such families are far more likely to do well in school, enjoy better health, and be safer. They are less likely to be involved in criminal activity, out-of-wedlock pregnancy or acquire sexually transmitted diseases.
Sensing this trend, even President Bill Clinton has dramatically increased his pro-family rhetoric. He now contends that he agrees with Quayle about family values. In recent days we've also seen many candidates from both parties eager to jump on board the pro-family bandwagon. As you no doubt noticed, there were innumerable TV spots showing politicians attending church and birthday parties with children. Other spots urged us to restore voluntary prayer in our schools as well as respect for parental authority in our homes.
I am trying not to be cynical about this change. For many of these politicians, I know, there was a sincere desire to appear more pro-family than their opponents. For others, however there was an even more sincere desire to remain in office. Obviously, there are many politicians who truly believe that the way to help families in distress is to craft more federal programs to "deliver services" to them. All things considered, we have really come a long way toward home in the last few years. But, we still have a long way to go!
However belatedly, many politicians have rediscovered the family. I am convinced, though, that something more profound is at work in our society. I see it in such diverse political events as the property rights movement, the drive for term limits, the demand for tax cuts, and the flinty determination of those who will not surrender their constitutional right to defend their homes. It could very well represent the first stirrings of what can become a great national homecoming. Never before have so many Americans been so willing to stand up for the ideals of personal responsibility and limited government.
All across America, citizens are rising up, proving once again that we are what Lincoln called us, "an almost chosen people." He believed that the force of our example, and not the force of our arms, would make this country a beacon for liberty. He knew what we know: that faith in God is the foundation stone of nations and that "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty." Only when we return to that saving knowledge will this land be safe and happy and free. For, as President Lincoln wrote in his Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1863: "Those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord!"
May we all celebrate this special time of year by giving thanks. From the Bauer family to your family, may God's grace and peace shine upon you today and always.
Many of those elected earlier this month were swept in by a wave of anti-incumbent feeling. Some of them, regrettably, have little commitment to the pro-family cause even though they owe their elections to pro-family voters. We desperately need to help them see the light. That is why I hope you will continue to help us through your prayers, your encouragement, and your financial gifts. Together, I believe we can make the 104th Congress the most pro-family Congress in history.
FRC Monthly Support Newsletter provided by courtest of Mark Conty.
Document prepared by permission, NJB Team
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