Rebecca Hagelin

Should we fear a man who prays?

Some liberals think that we should. They?re apparently comfortable, to judge from Father?s Day advertisements, with men who fish, golf, repair things and fix hamburgers on the grill. But one who goes to church every week, or who prays daily with his children, is viewed with suspicion, if not downright hostility.

W. Bradford Wilcox, a sociologist at the University of Virginia and author of ?Soft Patriarchs, New Men: How Christianity Shapes Fathers and Husbands,? made this point in a paper recently published by The Heritage Foundation. Some feminists and journalists believe that religion, especially Evangelicalism, is ?a key factor in stalling the gender revolution at home,? Wilcox noted.

?In 1998, in the wake of the Southern Baptist convention, journalists Steve and Cokie Roberts claimed that the conservative Protestant gender ideology ?can clearly lead to abuse both physical and emotional,? Wilcox said. ?John Gottmann, who is one of the leading psychologists of the family at the University of Washington, has argued that the religious right is pushing ?fathers toward authoritarian parenting in child-rearing.??

And those are the more moderate charges. Listen to groups such as the National Organization for Women (NOW) take on Promise Keepers, for example, and you?ll hear more hysterical charges. ?This organization breeds bigots,? NOW?s Web site says. ?Underneath the fa?e of Christian religion are the workings of the radical religious right, mobilizing men against the rights of women, lesbians, and gays.

Let's remember they blame women's equality for society?s ills.? Their agenda is one of ?submission, racism and homophobia.?

Professor Wilcox, on the other hand, has taken a cool-headed look at the data -- and found that it makes a strong case for religion as a positive force for families. Indeed, religion is a primary predictor of how men approach the world, fatherhood, household labor and marriage -- more than education, location or other factors. (Note: Although his work focuses on Protestants, Wilcox says similar patterns exist for traditional Catholics and Orthodox Jews.)

Wilcox?s book focuses on two concepts: familism -- the idea that family is society?s paramount institution and individuals have responsibilities to their family members -- and gender traditionalism -- the idea that men should be the primary breadwinners.

Rebecca Hagelin

Rebecca Hagelin is a public speaker on the family and culture and the author of the new best seller, 30 Ways in 30 Days to Save Your Family.
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