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Dorothy Patterson hopeful for 2004 int’l meeting on the family

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–At a time when the basic element of human society is under attack, Dorothy Patterson is active in an international organization dedicated to protecting “the cornerstone of society.”

Patterson, first lady and professor of theology in women’s studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, is a board member of the World Congress of Families, which first met in 1997.

The congress was created to call on governments and the United Nations to promote policies supportive of the traditional family. It also opposes U.N. policies on population control, abortion on demand; the sterilization of men and women in countries such as China and Vietnam; and any attempt by governments to define homosexual relationships as constituted families. The group’s 1997 charter declared that the family consists of “a man and woman bound in a lifelong covenant of marriage, as ordained by God.”

Patterson stated that the United Nations “has attempted to change the definition of the family to include any group of people. You cannot do that. You cannot revise that definition to suit a certain lifestyle.”

Numerous religious groups are involved in the congress, which will meet in Mexico City March 29-31, 2004, to study the family and its relationship to economic development, government and the international community.

That means that Jews, Muslims and Roman Catholics as well as evangelicals will be participating. Patterson noted, however, that her purpose would be calling the organization toward a specifically biblical definition of the family.

It is “one of those very rare family organizations where evangelicals work with the broader community for a common goal,” Patterson said. “But I think we have to go back to what is clearly stated in history as to the evolving of the family. I, as one who holds the Holy Bible in high esteem, believe that God established the family as the basic unit of society. Even before there were other societies or religions, the family was the first unit God chose to work in and through.”

Patterson also noted that the success of government is predicated upon the success of the family. The state, she said, is a type of familial environment in which those who govern determine law and order. “If a child disobeys the law of the land, it is the family who is going to call him in and make him obey the law. The state depends on the family,” she said.

“Today’s culture is emphasizing so much individualism and self-fulfillment. That’s where the downfall of civilization occurs. There is no concept of ‘otherness’ in the relationship. Without the family, without the love of others, people become self-serving and consumed with their own desires.”

Patterson said she and other delegates to the congress in Mexico City hope to challenge the rising tide of individualism to help secure the safety of children within the family for years to come. She noted that the first declaration of the congress claimed that children “innately long for a direct bond with their parents in whom they place their trust. Parents and their children constitute a unique natural community that is necessary to human spiritual, moral and intellectual development.”

President George W. Bush and Mexican President Vicente Fox, though not confirmed, have been invited to speak at the congress in Mexico City. The program will feature leaders in government, education and religion and is expected to attract hundreds from the Americas and around the world.

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  • Gregory Tomlin