- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 12, 2015

Fifty years of alarming data about America’s families — especially black families — inspired a wealth of remedies Thursday at an event at a traditional values think tank.

Black families overwhelmingly pray and go to church, and if black pastors will step up and call their congregations to “biblical” morality in love and sex, they can change the fortunes of black families, Pastor Garland Hunt of Norcross, Georgia, told the Family Research Council.

“There must be repentance, revival and reformation in the black church and, subsequently, in the black community,” said Mr. Hunt. But “as the black church is healthy, America is healed.”

The Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI) released two reports, “State of the Black Family” and “Fifth Index of Belonging and Rejection,” at FRC offices Thursday.

Taken together, the reports show the social and personal repercussions of family upheaval in America, said MARRI Director Patrick F. Fagan, the reports’ lead author.

For example, it was normal in 1950 for high school-age teens to be living with their two married parents — 63 percent of teens reached age 17 in an “intact” home.

However, between 1950 and 2012, that norm eroded for children of every age and is now at the point where only a minority of high school teens — 46 percent — still live with their married parents.

Instead, some 54 percent of teens have experienced “rejection” in their homes, with a parent separating from, divorcing or never marrying the other parent.

Growing up with one’s own married mother and father has profound benefits for children, but the truth is that, every year, fewer children receive such benefits, said Mr. Fagan, a former official with the Department of Health and Human Services.

MARRI’s report on the black family is in honor of the 50th anniversary of the landmark report written by the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who was then an official with the U.S. Department of Labor.

Moynihan’s 1965 report, “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action,” lamented the then-shocking 25 percent unwed birth rate among black women. “At the heart of the deterioration of the fabric of Negro society is the deterioration of the Negro family,” wrote Moynihan.

Tragically, trends have only gotten worse, said Mr. Fagan: By age 17, only 17 percent of black teens live with their own married parents.

Moreover, blacks are overrepresented in abortion, single parenting and a host of other troubling indicators, said MARRI’s 86-page report on the black family.

Star Parker, founder of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education, told the FRC event that black communities should abandon the rhetoric of revenge and restitution and follow in the footsteps of Martin Luther King, who called for “repentance and revival” to solve injustices.

Ms. Parker also called for new public policies to undo the damage from the liberals’ “wars” on religion, marriage and poverty. New policies include “welfare reform 2.0” with block grants to states, vouchers in welfare housing to “bust up” the ghettos and assigning education dollars to a child whose family can use them in the public, private or religious school of their choice.

The “sexual and moral” crisis in the black family is also in the black church and black community, said Mr. Hunt, who recently stood up for Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran, who was fired for showing his professional colleagues a book he wrote about religious morality.

“Is the black church willing to step up to the plate and restore Christ’s teaching on the matters of sex and marriage?” said Mr. Hunt, warning that it means speaking out against premarital sex, abortion, divorce, homosexuality and pornography while calling people into lives of chastity, monogamy and marriage.

• Cheryl Wetzstein can be reached at cwetzstein@washingtontimes.com.

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