Conferees put premium on preserving family

The Washington Post/August 1, 1996
By Julia Dulin

The establishment and preservation of families are essential to maintaining a morally upright culture in the third millennium, participants at a conference on families said Wednesday.

Addressing about 1,500 participants at the inaugural world convention of the newly founded Family Federation for World Peace, several speakers urged the forming of a "public moral culture" to shore up the foundations of Western civilization.

They included Maureen Reagan, daughter of former President Ronald Reagan, who noted, in remarks delivered at the National Building Museum in Washington, the increasing percentage of female voters.

"The woman is essential to society. Deny her value and there's chaos," she said.

Comedian Bill Cosby lauded his grandparents and how they taught him to pray. "In talking about family values. We've got to keep those grandparents around, not for babysitting, but for wisdom," he said.

Founded by the Unification Church's Rev. Sun Myung Moon and his wife, Hak Ja Jan Moon, the three-day conference's twin purposes were described as the maintaining of "God-centered" families and the pursuit of world peace.

Co-hosted by the Summit Council for World Peace, the Washington Times Foundation and the Women's Federation for World Peace, the conference's stated aim was to "empower the family's moral leadership of society."

"There's nothing I feel about more deeply than the survival of the family," said former President Gerald Ford. "No civilization that neglects the family can survive for long."

He commended belief in a "Higher-power" to keep families intact, as well as "love, honor and reverence for things seen and unseen."

He added, "It may be fashionable to mock the values of yesterday, but I'll take 'Ozzie and Harriet' any day over 'Beavis and Butt-head,' comparing the 1952-66 situation comedy and a 1990s MTV cartoon.

Just getting back to basics won't suffice, said Sir Edward Heath, former British prime minister. Instead, "translating values into present and future circumstances will work."

The basic question civilization must face is how to take the present complex situation and reconcile it with the family values that worked in the past, he added.

Mr. Heath then described a world of almost instantaneous communication, of little lag time between events and their being televised around the world and the possibility of jetting across the Atlantic Ocean in as little as 3 ½ hours, as he did Tuesday.

Because lines of authority have blurred in recent years and a wealth of information is available to all ages, parents must direct their children more by influence than by direct command, he said. He added that families cannot expect their governments to exercise moral suasion over them.

"We must show tolerance to other people, especially in the field of religious beliefs," he said. "We tend to think ours is more important and others should accept that. Our young people are asking these days why should they accept that.

"In my own country, we don't explain to the younger generation why they should have faith," he said. "This is becoming more of a problem."

To prevent that problem from occurring here, America must develop an "aristocracy of the soul," Mr. Ford said.

"The torch of Atlanta may be at one point extinguished," he said, "but the torch of faith well never go out. It is a torch my generation is proud to pass onto you. Use it wisely and it will result in a freer and fairer 21st Century."

Mrs. Moon spoke yesterday morning on her view of "the principle of the providential history of salvation."

"Today we have come together to encourage all people to deepen their understanding of the importance of the family as the cradle of human life and the foundation for a peaceful world society," she said.

The conference continues today at the Sheraton Washington Hotel, with former President George Bush speaking at 9 a.m. Other speakers include former Mexican President, Luis Echeverria; former Australian Prime Minister Sir John Gorton; former Cameroon Vice President Solomon Muna; Olympic gold medalist and speed skater Dan Jansen; syndicated Boston Herald columnist Don Feder, Ralph Reed, executive director of the Christian Coalition; Beverly LaHaye, president of Concerned Women for America; former Pennsylvania Gov. Robert Casey; and Coretta Scott King, wife of the late Martin Luther King.

Rev. Moon speaks tonight at a farewell banquet, with entertainment provided by Pat Boone and family.

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