Windmills of Faith, Family, and Freedom
I took my family to Tulip Time, in Holland, Michigan, recently. There we saw endless fields of colorful spring blooms and toured the reconstructed De Zwaan (The Swan), the last authentic Dutch windmill to be disassembled and shipped from the Netherlands.
De Zwaan is an active flour mill. The miller is a woman who was trained in her craft in the Netherlands. This trailblazer is the first American woman to be so trained. Our family eagerly bought sacks of flour from her.
Climbing up five stories on the tour, I was amazed to find my whole family paying rapt attention to the costumed interpreters. We had five stories of stories. We learned how Dutch settlers came to Western Michigan in the 1840s and how they brought their farming skills with them. They came to America so they could be free to worship God in accordance with their faith, and to raise their children in their church.
We learned that during World War II, this windmill was used by the Resistance forces in the Netherlands to send signals. It was a symbol of their refusal to give in to the Nazi oppressors of their country.
During our tour, our guides showed us the bullet holes made by German soldiers as they fired upon this Graceful Bird. Still, they could not kill the spirit of these brave Dutchmen, who stubbornly held out for freedom.
The descendants of those first Dutch immigrants to Western Michigan have made innumerable contributions to our American pageant. And their story -- like that of latter-day immigrants -- can inspire us to meet new challenges. Those settlers came here to reaffirm their devotion to faith, family, and freedom.
In making their way to America, those hardy Dutch settlers were not unlike the Vietnamese boat people who ventured out onto the South China Sea in leaking, overcrowded vessels a hundred forty years later. President Reagan paid handsome tribute to such freedom-seekers when he delivered his Farewell Address to the American people in 1989.
The president saluted these new Americans. He described how they approached a naval launch from the aircraft carrier USS Midway. The leader of the refugees yelled out: “Hey, American sailor! Hey, Freedom Man!”
We are facing a very different challenge to the ideals of freedom this spring. In this beautiful season of new life and new growth, the threat is a domestic one. And the threat is not an oppressive state ideology but a misapprehension of the true meaning of freedom itself. We Americans are being told we must adjust to a radical change in all we have been, in all we have believed about the family and the institutions that protect it. We are being ordered to accede to the ending of marriage in our country. If we do not yield, we are branded as hateful, as bigots, as people who are “extreme.”
And this lie animates many of the elites in our own country. These elites dominate the chattering class of journalists, academics, and entertainers. Instead of guns and tanks, we are assaulted with TV cameras, those weapons that Gen. Alexander Haig called the “siege engines of our time.” The forces of political correctness are threatening to roll over us.
The power of the Internet is unleashed against any who would resist the idea that marriage has an immutable core of meaning. Be prepared to be listed as a “hate group” and your thoughtful words dismissed as “hate speech.” At my organization, Family Research Council, we were even attacked by a gun-wielding young man who managed to shoot and seriously wound our building manager, Leo Johnson, before this brave, unarmed man took down the attacker. But for Leo Johnson’s courage, dozens of us in the FRC building that day in 2012 could have been murdered for believing what every generation up to our time knew to be the essential logic of the marital union. Even now, Americans are evenly divided on the issue according to recent Rasmussen surveys.
The truth is our position is so commonsense, so mild and moderate, that we could have passed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 without a single Republican vote! Even Democrats understood what marriage was then, less than 20 years ago. The difference today is that we have not “evolved” to what national elites think is best for us.
We need to be clear about what is being proposed. The MarriagEnders don’t simply want to expand the definition of what constitutes a legal marriage. They demand that we “fundamentally transform this country.” Those words of candidate Barack Obama are being lived out by radicals determined to make this country over in their own image.
It is not merely marriage that will be overturned by this revolution. Family is being undermined. Today, 48 percent of first-born children in America are born out of wedlock. These children may suffer many disadvantages in education, in health care, in safety from crime and abuse. Fortunately, many of their parents will eventually marry. And many others will find shelter in schools, child-care centers, and congregations created by America’s churches.
Still, powerful radicals are driving this change. Prof. Jonathan Turley told an audience of journalists, graduate students, lawyers, and congressional staffers in 2008 that he was in favor of polygamy. When the Supreme Court ruled against true marriage last year, Turley raced into a lower court and got a judgment favorable to polygamy. Other radicals, led by Georgetown University Law Professor Chai Feldlum and feminist activist Gloria Steinem, issued a manifesto calling for the end of marriage as an institution in America. They published their goals for all the world to see in www.beyondmarriage.org. In their view, any number of adults should be able to claim legal custody of any number of children. This is not a family for all, but a free-for-all.
Despite these radical notions, President Obama named Chai Feldblum to a critical federal position and he awarded Gloria Steinem the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Poll after poll is taken and publicized purporting to show that Americans favor these changes. The questions are often skewed and misleading. And pollsters never ask these questions:
1. Should marriage be ended?
2. Should fathers and mothers be abolished in law?
3. Should children be subject to being bought and sold through surrogacy contracts?
During the passionate debates over marriage in the French National Assembly recently, one Deputy -- Bruno Nestor Azérot -- rose to challenge the idea that this was a “progressive” change. Overturning marriage between one man and one woman reintroduces the practice of wealthy men paying poor women to carry their children for them. And if the woman who bears their child forms a motherly attachment to the child of her womb, she will be compelled under law to give it up to those who have paid for it.
This French Deputy was not a Christian conservative -- far from it. He is a black man and a member of a leftist political party (GDR). But he nonetheless put his finger on the truth:
Abolishing marriage as the union of one man and one woman reintroduces the core principle of slavery. Natural bonds will be sundered for the sake of economically powerful interests who eschew true freedom.
The Republican Party was founded to oppose the spread of slavery and the tolerance of plural marriages. The first Republican Platform dared to state that “slavery and polygamy are the twin relics of barbarism.” That was in 1856.
Today, more than 82% of Republican voters believe marriage should be between one man and one woman. What we need is for a similar super-majority of Republican officeholders to stand fast for marriage. After all, it is only because of the support they receive from those voters that they are officeholders in the first place.
We need leaders with the courage and vision to see the grave threat to America presented by the overturning of marriage and family. Nothing less is at stake than the future of families, peoples, and nations. Conservative philosopher and statesman Edmund Burke called the family that “little platoon in which we move in society.” Today, the federal government is attacking our little platoons with each passing day.
So when we stand up for Faith, Family, Freedom, we do not stand for ourselves alone. This is not just a struggle for our time. It is a struggle for a vast future. That historic windmill is a good symbol of resistance. When we find leaders who understand this, we can yet save our country.
Bob Morrison is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council.