cover art by Brian Kershisnik
article by Gary and Joy Lundberg

We knew a little about the critically important international work Richard Wilkins, Managing Director of the BYU World Family Policy Center, was doing in promoting The Family: A Proclamation to the World, but only a little.  We had crossed paths November, 2001 when we spoke on the same program as he at a conference sponsored by United Families International in Mesa, Arizona, and were deeply impressed with his message regarding the dangers families throughout the world are facing.  Our passion has been to teach skills that strengthen marriages and families, which we have been doing through our books and seminars, with no emphasis on international policies or laws that may diminish the family.  We were somewhat in the dark about such “underground” workings.  Though we were aware of some political activists’ efforts that are unsettling here in the U.S, it seemed inconceivable that the United Nations was successfully creating documents and policies that can destroy the family-the very foundation of all societies.

Since these international policies attack the principles outlined in the Family Proclamation and dramatically affect the family values Latter-day Saints cherish, that is where the emphasis of the World Family Policy Center (WFPC) lies.  As Church service missionaries called to assist the WFPC, we work to help the Center stop the passage of family-destructive UN policies. We had to learn, and still are working hard at it, the phrases and the sentences that appear to be a good thing, but upon closer examination, are deadly to marriage and family.

Our first United Nations experience came in March when we were assigned to attend the two-weeks-long Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) meetings at the U.N. in New York City.  Richard and his WFPC staff, Executive Director Scott Loveless, Legal Director Renee Green, Administrative Director, Marya Reed, and Administrative Assistant, Emily Barlow did their best to prepare us.  We read documents, speeches and papers originating from or as a result of previous U.N. meetings.  We became fascinated and astounded by what we read.

Once we were there at the U.N. our first duty became clear: talk with as many delegates from as many different nations as possible.  And so we began boldly visiting delegates in the halls, on the assembly floor between sessions, in the cafeteria-anywhere we found one willing to stop and chat.  After discovering their position on marriage and family, we then shared our concerns and worked at persuading them to do all in their power to preserve the natural family with a mother and father protecting and guiding their children. 

We respectfully tried to help them understand the danger of allowing specific language to remain in the documents such as:

1.  “Forced pregnancy,” which is nothing more than a counterfeit term for “abortion on demand” for a girl or woman of any age.  At the onset it seems that forced pregnancy means that someone was forced to be pregnant by rape, and no one would want that to happen.  However, their meaning is that women or girls who are pregnant are forced into being pregnant if they can’t get an abortion any time they want one, ignoring the fact that abstinence and fidelity is the answer, not abortion. We tried to persuade delegates that abortion does not protect women; that it in most cases causes them serious damage physically and emotionally (statistics the media hides), besides causing the tragic loss of a precious child.  We wish we would have had the recent June 9, 2003 issue of Newsweek magazine, which we highly recommend, to help convince them that a fetus is a developing person with the right to live.  We encouraged the use of ultra sound in helping women and girls make such a drastic decision, to which radical NGO’s loudly protested as being too controlling.  We asked ourselves: Wasn’t the women’s movement about helping women make educated choices?  Statistics show that 90% of pregnant women seeking abortions who have an ultra sound cancel the abortion (National Institute of Family and Life Advocates).  Being educated as to what’s happening inside their bodies is the key.  Seeing a living baby in their wombs gives them the immediate realization that this is a real baby, a fact that abortion clinics minimize, calling it a “blob.”  The pregnant woman sees that it is not a blob, but a real baby and cannot bring herself to kill a living child.

We tried to give convincing argument that governments must not take away the rights of parents to make decisions regarding whether or not their unwed pregnant daughter will or will not have an abortion; that allowing their underage daughter to make the decision is destructive to her wellbeing and to the family in general.  We reconfirmed that parents are to teach and watch over their children, and must have that right protected, not usurped by governments.  Sadly, some states in the U.S. have already snubbed their noses at this sacred right of parents.

Another deceptive term with the same meaning as abortion on demand is “the right to reproductive health care.”  It’s simply one more way to trick delegates by causing them to focus on the noble cause of “health care,” without realizing that this phrase will open the door to government-funded abortions.

2) “The right to development,” which on first reading sounds generous and charitable because we want all countries to progress and be successful in their development of industry, agriculture, education, property, etc. presented another red flag.  Its definition is that a nation must have the right, not the opportunity to development, which means equal distribution of wealth without responsibility.  We talked to delegates about the importance of using language that insists on people taking responsibility for their own development, not expecting other more prosperous nations to provide it for them with no effort on their part.  Certainly there are ways to help nations in their development process, but this help must give them the responsibility and create self-reliance, much like the BYU Ezra Taft Benson Institute does for developing countries.  To develop industry with responsibility blesses all members of a family.

3) “Gender discrimination,” which has the underlying meaning of allowing for same-sex marriage, was yet another blow to the family.  Though we fully support that men and women deserve to be treated with equal respect and opportunity, we discovered that this was not the purpose of the liberal delegates and lobbyists.  Their goal was to convince all delegates that a man should have the right to marry a man and a woman to marry a woman, and to have children through artificial means or adoption.  The WFPC and the Church, according to the Family Proclamation, maintains that every child needs a mother and a father to have the best opportunity for full development and a happy life.  Social science statistics regarding the serious problems resulting from same-sex relationships are growing.  At future meetings we will be armed with these findings. Sadly, the recent Canadian court’s ruling in favor of same-sex marriage has poured more fuel on the fire. We can only hope that Canadians will voice their objections and that a successful appeal will be forthcoming. 

We also discovered aggressive action on the part of a majority of delegates to do everything in their power to eliminate the words “mother” and “motherhood” from all U.N. documents.  They reason that these titles diminish women and stereotype them into roles that limit their opportunities.  Their goal is to get women out of their homes and into the work force and let government-run day care centers raise their children.  Some even advocate eliminating Mother’s Day as a holiday because it demeans women.  These ideas are shocking, and it makes one wonder how their thinking could have become so skewed. 

4) “Religion.”  Whenever religion is mentioned in a U.N. document it usually implies control of government over religion, sometimes forbidding religions to teach values that may be contrary to government law, such as same-sex marriage or abortion.  We urged delegates to eliminate any language that included the word religion in it, unless it guaranteed the right to freely practice one’s own religion, which was never mentioned in any document.  These documents are more about control than freedom.

There is so much to do as we assist in keeping a watchful eye on the workings of governments regarding the sanctity of the family.  The destructive issues continue to raise their ugly heads and threaten families all over the world.  Though the United Nations cannot pass laws, they can create policies and put pressure on countries to make them into laws.

The need for all Latter-day Saints to be alert and vocal in a united effort to preserve the sovereignty of nations and families is more important than ever.  Sovereignty must be preserved so families can remain in tact and children can grow up with values of decency and faith; so the gospel can be preached and its principles can be lived throughout the world.  We need to keep in mind the words of the apostle Paul : “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Tim. 1:7) Each of us as members of the Church must be courageous and valiant in protecting the values within the Family Proclamation. 

Many members, upon hearing about the work of the WFPC regarding the U.N., have asked us how they can help.  We urge them and you to contact your government leaders regarding issues that threaten the family and make your wishes known.  If we stand idly by, aghast at what’s happening but not acting, then evil will prevail.  For information on what issues are currently being considered email us at [email protected] and we’ll email you the information, including the easiest way to contact your government representatives.  To help us recognize your request, on the subject line please type “Helping families.” 

Significantly important in this whole process is that we as Latter-day Saints become a “light on a hill,” that the world may see a living family proclamation in our own lives. That will be our most significant contribution.

[Gary and Joy Lundberg are authors of the books on improving relationships, I Don’t Have to Make Everything All Better and Married for Better, Not Worse, and the pocket-size guide for youth and young adults On Guard!  Seven Safeguards to Protect Your Sexual Purity.  The Lundbergs’ Web site is]


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