Sunday, June 20, 2010

How the War on Poverty has Destroyed Fatherhood, the American Family, and Especially the Black Family and has Increased Poverty

In 1963, 93% of children were born to married parents. Today, the percentage has dropped to 59%. 1 Some see no problem with fatherless families. American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino goes so far as to calls single-parent motherhood "a badge of honor." In "Baby Mama," Fantasia sings, "It's about time we had our own song. Don't know what took so long." While single parenting may work financially for a hit recording artist, most single moms and their children don't fare so well as we will see.2

In Genesis 2:18-24, we see that God created families to have one father and one mother however. Could it be that God knew what environment would best facilitate raising children? Could it be that children raised by both a father and a mother generally fare better than those raised by only the mother?

The Heritage Foundation found that the poverty rate for single parent families is 80% greater than married couples with parents, and the differences don't end with finances. The Heritage Foundation report goes on to show that children born into single family homes are:
  • More than twice as likely to be arrested for a juvenile crime;
  • Three times more likely to end up in jail by the time they reach age 30
  • Twice as likely to be treated for emotional and behavioral problems;
  • Roughly twice as likely to be suspended or expelled from school; and
  • A third more likely to drop out before completing high school.
  • Girls from single-parent homes are more than twice as likely to have a child without being married, thereby repeating the negative cycle for another generation.
  • Children living in single parent homes are 50 percent more likely to experience poverty as adults when compared to children from intact married homes.1

As bad a the breakdown of families is in the Nation, black families fare much worse. In 1963, 77% of black children were born to families with both a father and a mother. Today, nearly 70% of black children are born out of wedlock.3 What has happened since 1963 that has caused such a shift in the American family in general and the African American Family in particular?

Certainly, several factors have played a role. In the 1960s, we had the sexual revolution, followed by values free pro-condom sex education. We've also seen a shift in the American population away from applying the truth of God's word to our everyday lives. But I believe that the biggest factor has been the welfare state. You see 1963 was the year President Lyndon Johnson launched his War on Poverty, designed to end poverty. Politicians like Johnson may have mean well, but their tactics were flawed. In creating programs that compensated single mothers for the loss of income in not having a spouse, these programs actually rewarded single mothers, and what ever you reward, you will get more of. As Economist Thomas Sowell has pointed out, the war on poverty has been able to accomplish what slavery, Jim Crow Laws, and other forms of discrimination has not: it has largely destroyed the black family.4

To rebuild the American family, we must stop rewarding illegitimate child birth and slothfulness with welfare checks, end no fault divorce, and return to the Biblical principals of waiting to engage in physical intimacy until marriage and keeping covenant with our spouses after marriage. For more on this subject, listen to my sermon entitled How the War on Poverty has Destroyed Fatherhood, the American Family, and Especially the Black Family and has Increased Poverty.

1Married Fathers: America’s Greatest Weapon Against Child Poverty, Robert Rector, Heritage Foundation, retrieved June 20, 2010, from

2Children having children, Larry Elder, retrieved June 20, 2010, from

3The Welfare State Versus Values and the Mind, by Andrew Bernstein, retreived June 20, 2010, from

4Sowell, Thomas (2005). Black Rednecks and White Liberals, Unabridged. Blackston Audio (audible version from

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