Pat Fagan's demeanor was characteristically calm, thoughtful and reflective, adding even more power to his soul-penetrating words.
“We have become a Culture of Rejection,” he said. “In 1950, for every 100 babies born, only 12 experienced the rejection of their parents -- either through out-of-wedlock birth and their parents left, or because their parents divorced. In 2000, for every 100 born, it’s 60.
“On top of that, we’ve added another form of rejection that’s not in the figures -- and that’s abortion. For every 100 children conceived in the United States today, only 28 are going to reach 18 with mom and dad [still married]. The rest are going to experience rejection -- either the rejection of abortion or the rejection of their parents leaving. And we get weaker and weaker and weaker. America is no longer a 'Culture of Belonging'".
As The Heritage Foundation's William H. G. FitzGerald research fellow in family and cultural issues, Fagan has been at the forefront on family policy issues for more than 20 years. Recently The Heritage Foundation and BOND (Brotherhood for a New Destiny) sponsored the conference "Moral Recontruction: A Model for Urban Transformation," to explore ways to rebuild inner cities. To Fagan, the answers are brilliantly simple, and the consequences of maintaining the status quo humanly tragic.
America must create a "Culture of Belonging,” he says. And the formula for that is "work, wedlock and worship." According to the social science data, if these three fundamentals are in place, government social policy is virtually unnecessary.
Robert Rector, a champion of welfare reform and a senior research fellow in domestic policy at Heritage, has conducted research that reveals the miraculous impact that parental marriage alone can have on eliminating poverty for a child. As outlined in one of his studies and in another paper by Pat Fagan, 80 percent of children currently living in poverty in single-parent households would be out of poverty immediately if their fathers were to marry their mothers.
The impact of faith in practice within families is equally stunning. The data shows that a child in the inner city whose family goes to church every week will do as well in his or her education as if the entire family had moved into a middle-class neighborhood.