Ruth Speaks Out

This blog is maintained by the Ruth Institute. It provides a place for our Circle of Experts to express themselves. This is where the scholars, experts, students and followers of the Ruth Institute engage in constructive dialogue about the issues surrounding the Sexual Revolution. We discuss public policy, social practices, legal doctrines and much more.

NBC News and SPLC Spread Fake Hate

stop fake hate, fake hate damages lives and livelihoods, fake hate, traditional christianity is not fake hateIn response to a December 9 NBC News story alleging the Ruth Institute is a “hate group,” the Institute’s President, Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse Ph.D., called the charge “an outrage.”

“The Ruth Institute is a global, non-profit organization leading an international, interfaith coalition to defend the family and build a civilization of love,” Morse said. “If fighting sex abuse, pornography, and divorce makes us a hate group, so be it.

“The Ruth Institute has done two thorough statistical analyses of clergy sex abuse in the Catholic Church, pulling no punches, sparing no sacred cows. Meanwhile, NBC News has a terrible record on sexual abuse. Ronan Farrow credibly claims that they ordered him to stop investigating the Harvey Weinstein story.”

The NBC story that provoked Morse’s comments concerned the Paycheck Protections Program, designed to provide relief to small businesses affected by the coronavirus lockdowns. NBC reported that 14 organizations – designated hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center – got a total of $4.3 million in disaster relief administered by the Small Business Administration.

“NBC relies on the Southern Poverty Law Center for the ‘hate group’ designation. This just means the Ruth Institute is a group the SPLC hates. Big deal. They raise a lot of money with their hate-mongering tactics. In 2018, their net assets were a half billion dollars,” Morse said.

Like NBC, the SPLC has its own credibility problems on sexual issues. According to PJ Media’s Tyler O’Neil, author of the book, Making Hate Pay, SPLC: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center, SPLC Founder Morris Dees has been accused of harassment and creating a difficult environment for female employees.

The NBC story also quoted “experts” who are “troubled” by these “extremist groups” receiving federal stimulus money.

Morse noted: “The NBC article is a thinly veiled call for more government oversight of these loans. The reporters sought experts who would muse aloud about whether the government should forgive Paycheck Protection Program loans to these groups subjectively designated as ‘hate groups.’ The Ruth Institute received roughly $30,000 through the Paycheck Protection Program. That’s a fraction of the funding received by Planned Parenthood affiliates.”

Additionally, according to Reuters, dozens of strip clubs qualified for between $11.5 million and $27.95 million in COVID disaster relief. “We fight the idea that women are merchandise. They promote it,” Morse said.

She concluded: “The Ruth Institute has done as much as anyone to keep the issue of clergy sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in the public eye. In addition to our statistical analyses, we have given a platform to victims of clergy sexual abuse. Both the SPLC and NBC are morally compromised on sexual issues. Those creeps have a lot of nerve going after us.”

Jennifer Roback Morse is the author of The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies Are Destroying Lives.

The Ruth Institute is a global, non-profit organization leading an international, interfaith coalition to defend the family and build a civilization of love.

To schedule an interview with Dr. Morse, contact



Internet Child Porn Issue Transcends Left and Right--Ruth Inst.

“We commend New York Times writer Nicholas Kristof and U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) for exposing and fighting the plague of the sexual exploitation of children on the internet,” said Ruth Institute President Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D.

In a December 4 story, Kristof focused on the pornography distribution site Pornhub. Morse commented: “The writer noted that a search on the site for ‘girls under 18’ and ‘14yo’ each yielded more than 100,000 videos.”

She charged: “The Pornhub videos include the rape of children, as well as revenge pornography, strangulation, and other vile acts. The mega-site, which attracts more than 3.5 billion visits a month, making it the 10th most-visited website in the world, does nothing to police its content. It has no incentive to do so. Like other sex-traffickers, it monetizes the suffering of children.”

Along with Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Thom Tillis (R-NC), Hawley has filed the Survivors of Human Trafficking Fight Back Act, creating a private cause of action for victims of rape and sex trafficking – as well as those whose intimate images are distributed without their consent -- to sue websites that profit from their suffering and degradation.

The act would allow victims to sue websites that knowingly depict forced sex acts, criminalize the knowing distribution of videos of coerced sex acts, criminalize revenge porn, and require sites like Pornhub to create notice and takedown procedures.

“This is an issue that transcends liberal and conservative, left and right,” Morse said. “It’s about justice for the victims of child sex abuse and fighting a plague that’s eating away at the soul of our society.”

The Ruth Institute is a global non-profit organization, leading an international interfaith coalition to defend the family and build a civilization of love.

Jennifer Roback Morse is the author of The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies Are Destroying Lives.

See also:

Ruth Inst: “Cuties” Proves Need for Presidential Debate on Family Issues

Virtue Signaling Without Virtue: porn industry brags about its voluntary shutdown over coronavirus

Melea Stephens “The Pornography Effect: The Problems Reach Further Than You Could Imagine”

Dr. Don Hilton “Can We Actually Lose Our Empathy? What Pornography Does to The Mind”

Melea Stephens "Everything you need to know about porn, dangers and side effects

Chris McKenna "Protecting Young Eyes"

To schedule an interview with Dr. Morse, contact


Circuit Court Lifts Same Sex Attraction Therapy Ban

therapy, therapy for same sex attracted individuals, ban on therapy for same sex attracted individuals, ban on therapy for same sex attracted individuals, ban on therapy for same sex attracted individuals lifted in Florida

A U.S. federal court just ruled that two people have the right to talk about whatever they want to talk about. “What?” you may say, “why is this even an issue?” Good question.

In Otto v. City of Boca Raton, therapist Robert Otto sued the Florida city of Boca Raton for the right to talk with clients, in the privacy of his office, about their feelings of sexual attraction, the impact those feelings may be having on their lives, and strategies for improving the quality of their lives. Why did Mr. Otto need to go to court over this, you may ask?

The City of Boca Raton and the county of Palm Beach, at the behest of certain activist groups and professional societies, had passed an ordinance banning “conversion therapy” or “reparative therapy” or, to use a more neutral term, “Sexual Orientation Change Efforts.” The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta overturned these ordinances.

But why would a city government ban a particular therapeutic practice in the first place? Why would an activist group want them to ban private speech?

Supporters of the Sexual Revolution are committed to the belief that sexual orientation is an innate, immutable trait, comparable to race. If the activist groups can convince the law that being gay is like being black, then the entire anti-discrimination legal structure can be used to treat self-described “sexual minorities” as a legally protected class. This is why the claim that people have no meaningful choice over their sexual orientation is so politically important. These ideological groups not only claim that change is impossible. They go so far as to claim that trying to change sexual orientation will be actively harmful.

So that is why cities are banning certain types of therapy: They are trying to prop up a false belief that happens to be useful to politically powerful groups. If this ban were left in place, therapists like Robert Otto and his colleagues would be unable to provide help to people who come to them seeking an alternative to the politically popular view.

Here is the problem: It is simply not true that sexual orientation is an immutable trait. There is no “gay gene.” Being gay is nothing like being black.

African Americans know full well that this is true. A person’s race is immediately obvious. A person’s sexual orientation may not be. The thoughts, feelings and behaviors covered under the umbrella term “sexual orientation” include many items that are chosen. Skin color is not chosen in any way. In fact, many African Americans are deeply offended by this high-jacking of the moral authority of their civil rights movement. In the immortal words of Rev. Charlene Cothran, “You can see that I’m black from a block away. I can’t change my skin color.”

In fact, sexual orientation is an ambiguous term, not a well-defined scientific category. Sexual orientation is a complex multidimensional phenomenon with numerous meanings and interpretations. Scientists from various disciplines have used the term to refer to sexual desires, sexual activity , sexual fantasies that involve mostly imaginary partners of the same sex, self-identification as “gay,” or some combination of these. In their 2016 article, psychiatrist Paul McHugh and biostatistician Lawrence Mayer review this issue, going all the way back to the first major systematic statistical study of sexual orientation in 1994. The team of University of Chicago researchers found “While there is a core group (about 2.4 percent of the total men and about 1.3 percent of the total women) in our survey who define themselves as homosexual or bisexual, have same-gender partners, and express homosexual desires, there are also sizable groups who do not consider themselves to be either homosexual or bisexual but have had adult homosexual experiences or express some degree of desire.” More recently, Dr. Lisa Diamond, a well-respected researcher and a self-described lesbian, has stated: “There is currently no scientific or popular consensus on the exact constellation of experiences that definitively quality an individual as lesbian, gay or bisexual rather than curious, confused or maladjusted.” Presumably, some of the “curious,” “confused” or “maladjusted” might voluntarily show up in a therapist’s office, hoping for help.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit actually examined the evidence about sexual orientation change efforts. The court stated:

“[The Defendants] present a series of reports and studies setting out harms of SOCE (Sexual Orientation Change Efforts.) But when examined closely, these documents offer assertions rather than evidence, at least regarding the effects of purely speech-based SOCE. Indeed, a report from the American Psychological Association, relied on by the defendants, concedes that ‘nonaversive and recent approaches to SOCE have not been rigorously evaluated’” (page 21).

The court’s careful look at the evidence is very important, in my opinion. But even more importantly from a legal perspective, the bans on therapy are bans on speech. After all, the therapist is simply talking with the patient about his or her problems. Prohibiting speech is a dangerous business. In legal terms, “content-based regulations” of speech are subject to “strict scrutiny,” meaning, a government better have a darned good reason to restrict speech based on the content of that speech. The 11th Circuit said, “because the ordinances depend on what is said, they are content-based restrictions that must receive strict scrutiny” (page 6).

In fact, the court said that the ordinances are even worse. Not only are these content-based regulations, but these ordinances also indulge in what is called “viewpoint discrimination.” The therapy bans prohibit some viewpoints while permitting others.

The majority decision found viewpoint discrimination in the exceptions that the ordinances contain. “Counseling that provides support and assistance to a person undergoing gender transition,” is not considered “conversion therapy,” and so is permitted. The court observed, “No such carveout exists for sexual orientation. The ordinances thus codify a particular viewpoint — sexual orientation is immutable, but gender is not — and prohibit the therapists from advancing any other perspective when counseling clients. That viewpoint may be widely shared in the communities that passed the ordinances, but widespread agreement is beside the point; the question is whether a speaker’s viewpoint determines his license to speak” (page 12).

Banning therapy surrounding a condition that is not scientifically well-defined is way too broad. Speech-based sexual orientation change efforts have not been proved to be harmful. Content-based regulations of speech are unlawful. Viewpoint discrimination is unlawful. These ordinances are unconstitutional and bad public policy.

Counselors in these Florida jurisdictions at least, can now feel free to discuss issues of same-sex attraction and sexual identity with their clients. That is why is why I am grateful that the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled as it did. I will let the court have the final word:

“We understand and appreciate that the therapy is highly controversial. But the First Amendment has no carveout for controversial speech.”

Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., is founder and president of The Ruth Institute. Her latest book is The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies are Destroying Lives (and how the Church was Right All Along). The full citation for the University of Chicago study is: Edward O. Laumann et al., The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994). Chapter 8 examines homosexuality. The quote is from pp. 300-301, based on information in Figure 8.2 and Table 8.2.


This article was originally published at the National Catholic Register


Ruth Inst. Outraged by Australian Drag Queens’ Suit Prohibiting Criticism

Ruth Institute Founder and President Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., said a lawsuit by two Australian Drag Queens, “shows just how far the Sexual Revolution will go to silence dissent.”

The “performers” are suing Christian leader Lyle Shelton (former managing director of the Australian Christian Lobby) over his blog posts about the picketing of a Drag Queen Story Hour at the Brisbane Library. Shelton referred to the duo as “dangerous role models.”

Morse observed: “Now these men who dress as women claim their professional careers have been damaged, and they suffered emotional harm. They’re demanding $20,000 in damages, an apology, and removal of the postings. They also want Shelton permanently enjoined from making such comments in the future – in effect, gagging him for life.

Lawfare has increasingly become the favorite tactic of the Sexual Revolution,” Morse said. “Finding a compliant court to embrace even the most outrageous cause of action is easier than arguing their case in the court of public opinion or duking it out in the legislative arena. Instead of a debate, they want to punish speech. They’ll use any excuse to involve their critics in expensive and protracted litigation. Even if the cause of action is implausible, they hope they can force family advocates to amass huge legal bills to defend themselves, in anticipation of an out-of-court settlement.”

Morse drew parallels between this Australian case and the American case of pro-life investigative journalist David Daleiden. Last year, a California jury ordered Daleiden and others to pay $1.5 million in damages for exposing Planned Parenthood’s sale of aborted baby body parts.

“Across the English-speaking world, the Sexual Revolutionaries seem to be playing from the same playbook,” Morse remarked. “Planned Parenthood never denied the illegal transactions. They simply alleged that Daleiden had invaded their privacy and caused them substantial harm. Every time someone like Lyle Shelton or David Daleiden loses, the rights of all of us are in jeopardy.”

See Morse’s interview with Daleiden’s attorney, Paul Jonna, here.

UK Judges: Kids Can’t Know Consequences of Puberty Blockers

by Rodney Pelletier

This article, which quotes Dr. Morse, was posted at on December 4, 2020.

LONDON - So-called transgender children must get a court order for puberty blockers, according to a new British judicial ruling.

On Tuesday, a three-judge panel on the U.K. High Court called into question "whether a child under 16 or a young person between 16 and 18 can give the requisite consent" for puberty-suppressing drugs and directed that children must obtain a court order.

The court determined the U.K.'s National Health Service does not go far enough to establish whether a child seeking to transition understands the:

  • Immediate consequences of the treatment in physical and psychological terms
  • Fact that the vast majority of patients taking puberty blockers go on to cross-sex hormones — a pathway to much greater medical interventions
  • Relationship between taking cross-sex hormones and subsequent surgery, as well as the implications of such surgery
  • Possibility that cross-sex hormones may lead to loss of fertility
  • Impact of cross-sex hormones on sexual function
  • Highly uncertain evidence base for this treatment

Keira Bell, one of two claimants in the case, was given puberty-blocking drugs at 16 years old and underwent a double mastectomy at 20. Now at 23, she's regretting her so-called transition.

She told a group of reporters outside the court, "I wish (the judgment) had been made before I embarked on the devastating experiment of puberty blockers. My life would be very different today."

Founder and president of the pro-family organization the Ruth Institute, Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, commented to Church Militant:

I applaud Keira Bell for her courage and persistence in making her case. Her (mis)treatment by the medical establishment is truly tragic. This ruling by a U.K. High Court makes it less likely that young people will be railroaded into irreversible treatments that harm rather than help them. I hope this ruling will have ripple effects on this side of the pond as well.

The lawyer for the other claimant, the mother of a 15-year-old girl with autism, testified: "A child still going through puberty is not capable of properly understanding the nature and effect of (puberty blockers) and weighing the consequences and side effects properly."

Keep reading.

Actress’s Name Change Doesn’t Alter Reality, Ruth Inst. Says

“The most depressing thing about actress Ellen Page’s announcement that she has ‘come out as transgender’ is the way the media fawns over her,” said Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., founder and president of the Ruth Institute.

“Since Page’s announcement that she is now a man named ‘Elliot,’ media outlets have been scrupulous about changing feminine pronouns to masculine pronouns. Page has a problem, and instead of trying to help her, the culture is eager to accommodate her,” Morse observed.

She added: “The ‘X-Men’ actress announced that she ‘finally feels free to finally love who I am enough to pursue my authentic self.’ But wherein does that authenticity lie? Page was born a woman and will remain a woman until the day she dies, regardless of what she chooses to call herself or do with her body.

“People are born men or women, not gay or transgendered or one of the myriad genders created by activists,” Morse said. “Reality can’t be altered by changing pronouns.

“Going along with a fantasy isn’t helpful or healing – in fact, quite the opposite. Page has certain notions which are, quite frankly, opposed to reality. Who knows what trauma led her to embrace this illusion – that she is a he called Elliott. But enabling her only keeps her from getting the help she needs.

“It’s the Emperor’s New Clothes with a gender twist. It’s also the latest milestone in the Sexual Revolution, which started with the lie that you can have sex without consequences. It then evolved into the lie that you can change your gender with a simple declaration, and that those who refuse to go along with the fantasy are hateful bigots ruining the lives of those who want what they can never have.”

To schedule an interview with Dr. Morse, contact


Brits Ban Puberty Blockers: Ruth Inst. Cheers

A High Court in the United Kingdom ruled it unlikely that minors suffering from gender dysphoria are able to give informed consent for hormone-blocking drugs. Ruth Institute Founder and President Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., was greatly encouraged by this ruling.

“Keira Bell, one of the plaintiffs in the case, was given the drugs at age 16 after only three one-hour appointments. At 20, she had a double mastectomy. Now at 23, she’s in the process of de-transitioning,” Morse said.

Bell said that, at the time, she believed the treatment would help her “achieve happiness.” When she began trying to reverse the process last year, she confessed, “It was heartbreaking to realize I’d gone down the wrong path.” Bell said the drugs “irreparably damaged” her body and likely left her sterile.

“Often those who experience gender dysphoria as children have other psychological issues,” Morse noted. “These children are pushed into life-altering decisions by activists intent on promoting a cause.”

In a story for The Christian Post, Brandon Showalter reported that the court asked the Tavistock clinic to provide statistics on the percentage of patients on the autism spectrum. However, the clinic did not provide this data. The high court called this lack of data analysis and apparent lack of record keeping of children with autism, "surprising."

A trans-critical group based in the UK, Transgender Trend, also applauded the ruling, saying, “The government needs to take action to remove all transgender guidance and resources from schools and social service departments to safeguard children and prevent any further teaching of the ideology to children as fact.”

Morse concluded: “The British ruling will help bring reason into a debate often clouded by emotion and the rhetoric of victimhood.”


The Ruth Institute is a global non-profit organization, leading an international interfaith coalition to defend the family and build a civilization of love.

Brandon Showalter spoke on “Reporting on the Transgender Movement” at the Ruth Institute’s 2020 Summit for Survivors of the Sexual Revolution.

Jennifer Roback Morse is the author of The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies Are Destroying Lives.

To schedule an interview with Dr. Morse, contact

Ruth Inst. Applauds SCOTUS Decision Upholding Religious Liberty During COVID-Crisis

“The United States Supreme Court struck a blow for religious liberty in enjoining enforcement of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s restrictions on attendance at religious services in the name of disease control,”* said Ruth Institute Founder and President Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D. Morse also noted, “Given the disparity in treatment of secular and religious entities, you have to wonder if more than brainless bureaucracy was at work here.”

In what are designated “red zones” (where the number of COVID cases is highest), attendance at religious services in the state was limited to 10 people (25 in orange zones) regardless of the size of the hall – for instance, St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The suit was brought by the Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and an Orthodox Jewish social service organization.

Morse observed: “There were no similar caps on the number of customers at some retail establishments and businesses providing personal services, like big-lot and pet stores and acupuncture parlors – which would suggest that the State of New York considers shopping more important than praying.”

“The 5-4 decision was along liberal/conservative lines,” Morse added. “Some reports claimed Chief Justice John Roberts ‘joined the Court’s liberals.’ In fact, Roberts – an enormous disappointment to constitutionalists -- is by now a certified member of the activist bloc. All three Trump appointees voted for religious liberty, along with Thomas and Alito. If the president waited until after the election to fill the Ruth Bader Ginsburg vacancy, the decision would have been a 4-4 tie and the regulations would have remained in effect.”

Morse wonders: “Could there be a connection between the harsh treatment of churches and synagogues and progressives’ disdain for Biblical morality? Whether it’s Catholic churches, Orthodox Jewish congregations, or other traditional denominations, the religions hit the hardest all espouse sexual morality.

“Like most leaders of his party, Cuomo is a dogmatic advocate of abortion on demand and same-sex marriage. He once told an interviewer that right-to-lifers and marriage proponents ‘have no place in New York.’ The denominations he singled out for punishment respect life and support man/woman marriage. Can this be a coincidence?”

In conclusion, Morse affirmed, “While reasonable restraints are to be expected during a pandemic, treating religious institutions and commercial enterprises differently is anything but reasonable, and smacks of a special animus toward faith.”

* 20A87 Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo (11/25/2020) (

The Ruth Institute is a global non-profit organization, leading an international interfaith coalition to defend the family and build a civilization of love.

Jennifer Roback Morse is the author of The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies Are Destroying Lives.

To schedule an interview with Dr. Morse, contact


Jewish Roots of Thanksgiving

Thankgiving, Thanksgiving is the essence of Judaism

This piece was originally published at Front Page Mag

When we form a mental image of the Pilgrims at this time of the year, it’s usually sitting at a table laden with food (even though they starved their first year on New England’s rocky coast) or walking to church in the snow, a Bible in one hand and a blunderbuss in the other.

A picture of the Pilgrim fathers lighting menorahs and spinning dreidels does not come readily to mind.

And yet, Thanksgiving has Jewish origins. Its roots are Biblical. Philosophically, it expresses the essence of Judaism.

The first Thanksgiving took place not at Plymouth in the 17th century but in the land of Israel more than 3,000 years ago.

In Deuteronomy (26:1-4) Moses tells the Children of Israel: “When you have entered the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance and have taken possession of the land and settled in it, take some of the first fruits of all that you produce from the soil of the land” to “the place the Lord your God will choose” and give them to the priest who will place them on the altar. This is called an offering of thanksgiving.

Who were the Pilgrims thanking? Not King James (they were fleeing his persecution) or the captain of the ship that brought them to Cape Cod, but the God who led them to that “good and spacious land.”

The Pilgrims strongly identified with their predecessors.

Like the Israelites, they believed they had wandered in the wilderness (Anglican England), traversed a wasteland (the stormy Atlantic in Autumn), accepted God’s sovereignty (acknowledged in the Mayflower Compact), and settled a savage land to build something not for themselves alone.

Like Judaism, the Puritans’ faith was founded on the idea of covenant. Thus, John Winthrop, the Colony’s first Governor, admonished that if they kept faith with Him, “we shall find the God of Israel is among us, but if we deal falsely with our God… we be consumed out of the good land whither we are going.” As for the Israelites who turned their backs on God, The Torah speaks of the land “vomiting” them out.

There is a direct line running from Sinai and the Torah to the Mayflower Compact (the beginnings of republican government in America), to the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution.

Today, each of us should give thanks in our own way – not to Macy’s for parades, or the turkey industry for juicy birds or to cranberry farmers, but to the Power who sustained us for 400 years.

Expressing gratitude is a Jewish thing to do.

Many of our holidays consist of thanking God for saving us – Purim (from Haman), Passover (from the Pharaoh and slavery in Egypt), and Hanukkah (from the Syrian Greek occupation). Rosh Hashanah thanks God for Creation and His loving kindness.

Sin starts with ingratitude. When the first man committed the first sin (eating the forbidden fruit) he blamed his Creator indirectly. (“The woman that You gave to be with me – she gave me from the tree and I ate.”)

The rebellion in our streets is another expression of ingratitude. The criminal anarchists who are causing so much chaos were born in the freest, richest nation on earth.

The lives they live were built on the sacrifices of millions who came before them – settlers and pioneers, those who fought our wars, built our economy and shaped the institutions that have served us well for most of our national existence.

Instead of thanking them, the ideologues indict them as racists, oppressors and exploiters. They would destroy what it took centuries to achieve. (“No borders! No walls! No USA at all!”)

But it’s not just the mob, indoctrinated in a murderous, godless creed. In the last election, millions of Americans voted for a party and a candidate that condones their crimes – that calls arson and assault peaceful protest.

In America today, we cultivate an attitude of ingratitude – in our schools, colleges, popular culture and political institutions.

Whatever you have, it’s not enough, they tell us. You deserve more. You deserve a “living wage,” not because you’ve earned it, but just because, well, you deserve it. You deserve everything from a college education to universal health care – at someone else’s expense.

The left should be barred from celebrating Thanksgiving. Their bible is a manifesto. Their God is revolution. Their turkey has been declared the president-elect.

- Don Feder

The First Thanksgiving, the Pilgrim Family was Everything

Thanksgiving 2020 commemorates the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims arriving at Cape Cod and their creation of the Mayflower Compact. Much has been said about the Pilgrims and their journey, from their rejection of communism, to the gratitude they gave God for sparing them from the King, the elements, and unfriendly neighbors. Little, though, has been said about how important the Pilgrim family was.

The first example of how important the Pilgrim family was, was the sacrifice these Separatists made as they traveled from Scrooby, England in 1608-1609, to escape the intolerance of the king, grew to 300 strong in Leiden Holland. Later they sacrificed for their families again, by removing themselves and their children from Holland to protect them from the loose morals of neighbors.

Pieterskerk, Pieterskerk church, burial place of pilgrim pastor John Robinson 

Pieterskerk, Leiden the Netherlands. Burial place of Pilgrim pastor, John Robinson

William Bradford, Mayflower passenger and second governor of the colony, said of their departure, “But that which was more lamentable, and of all sorrows most heavy to be borne, was that many of their children, by these occasions and the great licentiousness of youth in that country, and the manifold temptations of the place, were drawn away by evil examples into extravagant and dangerous courses, getting the reins off their necks and departing from their parents.” Even in the 17th century, parents were concerned about how their children were being raised and acted to protect them from negative influences.

The small number that boarded the Mayflower in 1620 sacrificed again for the Pilgrim family. The 102 passengers, the “saints” and “strangers”, sailed for 66 days on an old merchant (cargo) ship, eating biscuits in the dark so they wouldn’t see the weevils, made this sacrifice for their families. The group that landed more than 250 miles north of their destination in Virginia and then fell on their knees to thank the Lord for their safe arrival; the 41 men, including 2 indentured servants, who gathered on board the Mayflower in November of 1620 and joined together in agreement to be answerable to God and to their fellow men, to govern themselves by consent in a civil body; did it all for family.

The second example of putting their immediate families first came when they decided to change from their original commune-style living, imposed on them by the company that financed their voyage. William Bradford, and the rest, soon saw that by sacrificing their families for the company, the colony was failing. In 1623 they changed the arrangement so that every man could have his own plot of land and care for his family first.

Bradford wrote, “At length, after much debate of things, [Governor Carver]...gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves; in all other things to go in the general way as before. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number.”

Tom Bethel of the Hoover Institute wrote about the change, “The colonists immediately became responsible for their own actions (and those of their immediate families), not for the actions of the whole community Knowing that the fruits of his labor would benefit his own family and dependents, the head of each household was given an incentive to work harder. He could know that his additional efforts would help specific people who depended on him.” The men of the colony saw that their immediate families could benefit, were more motivated and productive after 1623.

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse has put this familial relationship eloquently in her Thanksgiving message, “The family is bigger than government. God created the family in the Garden of Eden. He created the first social institution: the Married couple. The family can stand on its own and is a potential threat to any totalitarian plan. Every little household created by a man and a woman can sustain itself, provide for itself and protect itself. Fathers are natural authority figures. Mothers are natural objects of loyalty and affection. Totalitarian governments hate both mothers and fathers.” The pilgrims at Plimouth needed both their families and the fruit of their labors to survive. The change made in 1623 from collectivized living to private property allowed the structure of the family to survive and flourish.

The pilgrims were also concerned about generations yet unborn and the big picture. They showed their commitment to the future by staying put. When the Mayflower finally departed New England shores on March 21,1621, the captain offered to return the remaining weary and diseased pilgrims. Not a single one left. They stayed planted. They understood that their mission was “to plant the First Colony.”

Mayflower II, Mayflower replica, Mayflower the ship that brought the pilgrims across the atlantic

Their commitment to the future was also shown by how they spoke. They used the words “seed,” “root and branch,” as well as “planting,” “tree,” “covenant,” “blood,” “lineage” and “nations” when they talked about the future of their families and the colony. They built their settlement to house their posterity permanently.

They looked for a Heavenly city, Bradford explained, and sought that which was promised the “heirs”: a promised land and liberty to worship according to the dictates of conscience. Contrary to popular belief, the Pilgrims didn’t limit freedom of conscience to their own members. By enacting the Mayflower Compact in they produced a civil government which protected both the Pilgrims and the strangers.

Monument to the Pilgrim Fathers, Plymouth Massachusetts


The Forefathers Monument memorializes that commitment. It states “Erected by a grateful people in the remembrance of their labors, sacrifices and sufferings for the cause of civil and religious liberty.” This protection even extended beyond protestant faiths. Uniquely for Puritan New England, Governor Bradford, and other members of the colony, received a Canadian Jesuit Priest who made a tour of Massachusetts in 1650. The priest was even given fish on a Friday, in deference to his religion.

They extended that freedom of conscience to their Indian neighbors as well. Richard Pickering, Senior Historian at Plimoth, explained that archaeological evidence shows they interacted almost daily the first year. By treaty, the pilgrims and the Wampoanog tribes under Massasoit kept peace for over 50 years, helping each other against enemies, starvation, and disease. When Massasoit contracted typhus, and was on the verge of death, Edward Winslow scraped the furry bacteria from the chief’s tongue, fed him soft foods and nursed him back to health. The chief said, “Now I see the English are my friends and love me.”

Pointing to the long-lasting influence of the Pilgrims’ concern with their descendants, Richard Pickering said their ideas were later incorporated into the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution with the stated purpose to “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” They were able to instill these virtues because they thought about and acted for their posterity.

This Thanksgiving, let us be grateful for the Pilgrims and their sacrifices. Their focus on family permitted them to survive the first few harsh winters. Their focus on their posterity, blessed not only their neighbors, but also all Americans who enjoy the blessings of liberty. And it all happened because of family.

- Written by Julie Maddox, friend of the Ruth Institute.


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