Roger Marsh: Since the 1970s, Dr. James Dobson has made it his mission to defend the family. Culture has done its best throughout the years to attack this sacred institution and undermine its importance. But today on Family Talk, Dr. Dobson will identify the threats to the family through a speech he gave nearly two decades ago.
Back in 2004, Dr. Dobson was invited to speak at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. This event is attended by journalists and communication professionals from across the country and the media landscape. Now, Dr. Dobson walked through his decision to leave the University of Southern California in order to preserve the family and its values. He also explained why feminism and same sex marriage are actually decaying the framework of society.
We're sharing this relevant and wise message for the first time here on Family Talk, so we hope you'll enjoy it. We'll begin after Dr. Dobson's introduction by then president of the National Press Club, Sheila Cherry. Here now are Dr. Dobson's remarks on this Family Talk broadcast.
Dr. Dobson: Thank you, everyone. Thank you, and thank you Mrs. Cherry for those very kind comments and that warm welcome. It is a pleasure to be here, although I would like to tell you, Mrs. Cherry, I've been speaking for 30 years. It's the first time I've ever been invited here, and I think it's about time, myself. So, I am really delighted to be here and appreciate you all coming as well.
I would like to clarify something from the beginning. I appreciate that extensive introduction that Mrs. Cherry gave, and I certainly don't need to go into great detail there, but there are a couple of things I'd like to clarify. Many members of the press, not many, but some, continue to refer to me as a televangelist. And I would be happy if that were my credentials if I was a pastor or a minister or a reverend, or what have you, but I'm not, and yet people continue to think that, and I think it's probably appropriate to clear that up.
It didn't help that Larry King has called me reverend for 21 years when I've been on his show, but that is not my background. And Frank Rich of a New York times has kind of gotten my identity messed up too. He called me the Godzilla of the right and said that I was the kind of guy that if you met me face to face, I'd be likely to smack you in the mouth. The last time I had a fight was when I was a senior in high school, and as I recall, I was the one that got smacked in the mouth. So, that's not who I am either.
But my background as you heard is with USC School of Medicine in the academic area, and I enjoyed my work there and could have easily enjoyed staying there the rest of my life, but I noticed something was happening. At that time, I was writing the books that you heard about, and they were very well received. And so I was in touch with families and I was counseling families and speaking for families in addition to my work at the university, and I noticed something that was taking place. This is 1977. The family was starting to unravel. It became very clear. I saw where it was going. I got a very clear perspective on what was going to happen in the future.
Now, I don't want to say I'm some kind of seer or certainly not father time or what have you, but I was very concerned about the family. And so I did one of the scariest things I've ever done. I resigned from that position at the university and opened a little two-room office, and I called it Focus on the Family and I had a halftime secretary. It was a very humble beginning. And I started a radio program that was heard on 34 stations once a week, pretty meager beginning, and I was totally unprepared for what happened because the response was overwhelming. I mean, almost immediately I was getting hundreds, and then thousands, and then tens of thousands of letters with problems that people were sending in, requests for advice on raising children. And it was clear that I had struck a nerve.
And so I began hiring people to try to help me with all this. I didn't know what to do with all this mail. It takes a long time to answer a single letter. And so I started hiring people, and within just a few years, I had 500 employees, and I expected it to settle down or plateau and it never did, and it just kept growing through the years.
And finally, toward the end of the 80s or early part of the 90s, we were not able to buy enough land, it was too expensive, and so we packed up 75 semitrailer trucks and headed for Colorado Springs and bought an 83 acre campus across from the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and it just continued. Ms. Cherry told you we're on 116 stations, and around the world, we're on 160 now and it's just continuing to increase. Why? Because the human family is a very small community and that we all have the same problems. In China, they're dealing with teen sexuality, and they're dealing with drug abuse, and they're dealing with divorce, and all the same things that are being experienced here in the United States. It's pretty much the same everywhere and those same ideas are applicable. So, that's how we got from there to here.
Now let me go back to 1977 because this is of relevance to where we are today. I not only observed that the family was falling apart, but that public policy and politically correct ideas were impinging on the stability of the family. One of the reasons that it was wobbling is because of some of those policies that had come along. And the first one, really, was out there in California in 1969, when some social innovators thought that we ought to change the laws with regard to divorce. And so with their help, we passed the... "We..." The legislature passed the No Fault divorce law. And for the first time, it undermined the meaning of "till death do us part." And you could get out of marriage after that more easily than you could get out of a contract to buy a refrigerator. And it should have been predictable where that would lead. And it did.
Social researchers today say that that single piece of legislation, which is now in all 50 states, increased the divorce rate by 34%. And we just saw that in the 70s, just almost instantly it occurred. And it has continued down to this time with all of the implications for children, for single parents, for children raised without fathers, which is I think a major problem, and the other things that took place, including the difficulties that single mothers have with trying to raise children, poverty, other things. So, that was the first thing.
But that same year, 1969, Congress, in its wisdom, decided that there ought to be a marriage penalty tax. So, you've got a situation now where those who are raising children, those who are trying to share the resources that they have to pay for the expenses of raising children, and are doing homework with them, and giving them their baths, and feeding them, and loving them, and binding up skinned knees and all the other things that parents have to do, and praying with them, and putting them in bed at night, those people paid higher taxes than those who were cohabiting. Does that make any sense to anybody? It certainly didn't to me. That started in 1969, 35 years ago, and it continued through all administrations, Republican and Democrat, until this year where some changes were made. It's still there. So, there were policies like this that came along.
And another one that has been of major concern to me that happened right at that same time had to do with an intrusion into the authority and the independence of parents. It, for 200 years, has been the parent's responsibility to take care of the medical care of their children. That's been the way it is for more than 200 years. You cannot give an aspirin to a child even today or put a bandage on a wound. If the parents don't like it, you can be charged with battery. That's true today. Parents have held that responsibility. But in 1979, and 1976 is where it started, the Supreme Court decided that children should be able to get an abortion without their parents' knowledge or permission. And after that, a 13 year old girl can go to school and announce to a counselor that she is pregnant, and that counselor or somebody at the school can transport her off campus to an abortion clinic... you know this, and she can go through an abortion, and the parents not only don't have the right to stop it, they have not the right to know about it.
And so that girl comes home at night to the parents who have had the responsibility for her care and her medical wellbeing, she comes home that night, she can continue to bleed, she could have additional complications, she could have an infection, she can have all kinds of problems, including, for some kids, emotional problems. This is an event she will remember for the rest of her life, and the parents don't know about it. That was a tremendous invasion into the authority and the independence of parents, but is yet another public policy that came along.
One other that I think has had maybe a greater influence on children, which is my major concern, than any other, had to do with the notion by the feminist movement in the late 60s and 70s, that males and females are identical except for the ability to bear children. That was a totally innovative idea. That had never been floated before, certainly not in this culture or in most of the other places around the world. And yet the media, if you allow me to say it, the media went crazy with this.
That perspective would still be going on today if it were not for the medical technologies that were developed in the late 80s and early 90s, when, for the first time, by the use of MRIs and CAT scans and PET scans and other equipment, you could see the brain in operation without opening the skull. People were a little reluctant to volunteer for that kind of research prior to that. And so they examined the brain, and lo and behold, would you believe, the brains of males are very different than females in function and structure. You may know that about eight weeks of age, testosterone flows over the male brain and changes it forever. It even changes the color. It gets a grayer look to it. And especially, it changes the ability of the left brain to communicate with the right brain. And that linkage there, that rope of fibers is called the corpus callosum, and this testosterone damages that, so that never again will a boy or a man be able to feel the same things that a woman feels. Now, when a woman says that men are brain damaged, there's some validity to that.
But we're different. We're very, very different. It's not patriarchal methods of child rearing, we are very, very different. And without being offensive to anybody, especially those who held to this position, we have to ask why somebody hasn't said, "Oops." Why hasn't somebody said, "Oh my, we were wrong about that. We've been telling parents wrong"? I guess being politically correct means never having to say you were wrong, but they were dead wrong on this, and now people don't believe it anymore, but boy, they believed it for 20 years and it had a great impact on the way children, and especially boys, were raised. There's a whole philosophy that has grown up around the way we raise boys, and still there are schools that still are trying to teach boys to be more like girls, be more sensitive, not to run in the halls, all those things, boys are like that. Boys are like that and we really do need to acknowledge it.
I don't have time to develop this, but I can tell you that because of this and other things, boys are very confused today about what it means to be male. They sure don't know what it means to be a man, and they're confused about what masculinity is all about. And one of the reasons is because of this confusion in the culture about males and females. Boys are the ones that are in trouble. It's not the girls. There was a report done by the American Association of University Women in 1992 that said girls were the ones that needed help. "Girls are being shortchanged. Girls are not getting their fair share in the schools." It was not true. It was based on bogus research. And instead, it's boys that need help. Boys are six times more likely to have a learning problem, they're three times more likely to be emotionally disturbed, they're four times more likely to be on drugs. They are 12 times more likely to kill somebody. Five out of six suicides are among boys. It's boys that are having trouble.
And yet the Congress, again saw a political heyday coming, and so they passed something called the Gender Equity Education Act. Heaven help us when the Congress tries to solve educational problems. They put money into this. They took it out of this pot and put it in that one. It's a zero sum game. And so the money was given to girls when boys were struggling mightily. And so there were all kinds of programs for girls. Donna Shalala developed something called Girl Power. You ever hear of that? Still out there today. It helped girls develop self-esteem. It was a good thing. It still is a good thing, but where's the comparable program for boys? It doesn't exist. It's not there.
Tell me why on April 22nd, we have a national program to take your daughter to work day? Can you think of any reason why it isn't take your children to work day? What's going on here? Do boys not need to know where their fathers work, or their mothers? There's tremendous bias here, and it continues to this moment. The most dangerous national policy being considered now, of course, is same sex marriage, where we're going to completely redefine what constitutes marriage. This is the most intrusive of all the ideas that have come along and it will have the same effect. Marriage has been the bedrock of civilization for 5,000 years. I know people say that marriage is an outmoded Christian idea. Well, not true. First of all, it started with the garden of Eden and it started with the Jewish perspective, but it is neither Christian nor Jewish. It is universal. It is every continent on earth, there's Asia - and has been on all recorded time. Asia, and Africa, and Europe, and North America, and South America, and Antarctica, everywhere where human kind has taken root, the marriage has been what it has been.
Now, admittedly, there has been tolerance for homosexuality in other places, other times, Sodom and Gomorrah, Greece, Rome, so I'm not denying that, but marriage has been defined as being between men and women for 5,000 years. Now, we're going to throw that on the ash heap of history? This is the most serious social experiment that will ever have been perpetrated. And if it occurs, it will have incredible effects on the family. In fact, it will destroy the traditional family. And we don't have to guess about that. Scandinavian countries have already been there. Norway, Sweden, Denmark, in the 90s began permitting homosexual unions. And so we've got this experience. What's happened? Marriage has been destroyed. It's essentially gone. In Norway, there are some areas where 80% of the children are born out of wedlock, and for the Scandinavian countries generally, it's 60% born out of wedlock. When given a choice, when you change a definition, people don't marry, they co-habit, and that's what is taking place in the Scandinavian countries, and it will also happen here.
And there is great concern about children in particular. Once again, that's my heart cry. More than 10,000 studies have confirmed that children do best when they have a committed mother and father. 10,000 studies have showed this. Social scientists argue about everything, they don't agree about anything. This one they agree about, that children do best under those kinds of stable circumstances.
The findings have revealed that the child who has those characteristics at home, mother, father, committed, are less likely to be on drugs later on, they're less likely to be held back in school, they're less likely to drop out, they're less likely to be in juvenile crime, for the girls, they're less likely to get pregnant as teenagers, and they're more likely to be healthy emotionally and physically. That's what the research shows, and yet we're going pell-mell into a social experiment with, at the very best, unpredictable results. But some of us think we know where that is going.
This is why we support the Federal Marriage Amendment. We would like to protect the family and the institution of marriage. And there is no other solution to it. Some members of Congress are running to the tall grass. They're scared to death of this issue. They don't want to touch it with a 10 foot pole, and they're giving all kinds of answers for why not. And most of them are just phony. Well, one of them is that, "We ought to leave it to the states. It's a state's issue." Well, you know and I know that it only takes one decision by the Supreme Court to overturn everything the states do. That's not going to protect it. It doesn't even have to be the Supreme Court, it can be a lower federal judge that could make this decision. The only way to protect the family and the institution of marriage is with a federal marriage amendment, and that's why we are fighting for it every way we can, and why I see it as the latest in a long line of tampering efforts with the institution of marriage.
I'll close because my time's gone, just by saying that this is the most important social issue that we will ever face. The family is the ground floor, it's the foundation underneath all of society, all of civilization. Western civilization itself seems to hang on this issue. And if you undermine it, if you weaken it, if you tamper with it, you necessarily threaten the whole superstructure. That's what I believe. You can check the evidence and see what happens when families start to fall apart, and children do not do well, and then they get into difficulty. So, this is the thing that we care about most, and we pray that we will be able to protect this institution while there is still time, and we dare not fail. Thank you all. I appreciate you being here.
Roger Marsh: Well, what a moving and passionate speech given by Dr. James Dobson at the National Press Club back in 2004. You're listening to Family Talk and we are only halfway through this classic broadcast. Following his formal presentation. Dr. Dobson took part in a lengthy Q&A session, so be sure to tune in tomorrow and you'll hear that lively and insightful discussion.
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Well, that's all the time we have for today. Again, be sure to tune in again tomorrow for the conclusion of Dr. Dobson's appearance at the 2004 National Press Club event. I'm Roger Marsh. Thanks for listening to this edition of Family Talk.
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