Allan Carlson and Paul Mero first published The Natural Family: A Manifesto in 2005 as a special issue of The Howard Center publication The Family in America. The idea was to elaborate upon a key phrase used in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 1948 document crafted by the General Assembly of the United Nations: “The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society.” Little did Carlson and Mero know that their work would generate such controversy. The non-profit group Unmarried Americans called the manifesto “un-American and abnormal,” while gay activist Ann Spaulding argued that its authors have “an unhealthy fixation on procreation.” And when the town council of Kanab, Utah, adopted a section of the document as a formal resolution, the travel editor of The New York Times urged Americans to boycott the small community.
So what does this contentious manuscript have to say? Well, in keeping with the manifesto genre, it is divided into three parts: an account of history, a statement of principles, and a program of action. But one need only read the principles to get an idea of the degree to which Carlson and Mero’s proposal runs counter to so-called progressive notions of the family’s role in society. Here they are in an abbreviated form:
We Affirm . . .
• that the natural family, not the individual, is the fundamental unit of society.
• the natural family to be the union of a man and a woman through marriage for the purpose of sharing love and joy [and] propagating children.
• that the natural family is a fixed aspect of the created order, one ingrained in human nature.
• that the natural family is the ideal, optimal, true family system.
• the marital union to be the authentic sexual bond, the only one open to the natural and responsible creation of new life.
• the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death.
• that the natural family is prior to the state and that legitimate governments exist to shelter and encourage the natural family.
• that the world is abundant in resources . . . [and that] overpopulation [does not] account for poverty, starvation, and environmental decay.
• that human depopulation is the true demographic danger facing the earth in this new century.
• that women and men are equal in dignity and innate human rights, but different in function.
• that the complementarity of the sexes is a source of strength.
• that economic determinism is false. Ideas and religious faith can prevail over material forces.
• the “family wage” ideal of “equal pay for equal family responsibility.”
• the necessary role of private property . . . as the foundation of familial independence and the guarantor of democracy.
• that lasting solutions to human problems rise out of families and small communities.
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