Focus on the Family lays off 200 employees, endangering marriages

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Recently, newspapers, magazines, and the internet have been buzzing with articles about the declining economy and its effect on relationships. Apparently, while there are numerous reasons for marital strife, most therapists agree that the biggest cause of friction between spouses is money. In fact, according to numerous surveys, the majority of divorced partners cite financial problems as the primary reason for their split.

This makes sense; after all, when things are going well, and a couple has enough money to cover all expenses and most discretionary purchases, relationships are easier to sustain. On the other hand, when money gets tighter, couples often have to make difficult decisions, putting their relationships to the test. Needless to say, the recent downturn in the economy has made these sorts of issues particularly relevant.

With winter coming on and Christmas on the horizon, money problems are looming large for many American families. This is especially true in Colorado Springs, where over 200 employees of Dr. James Dobson's Focus on the Family (FOTF) were recently fired. A non-profit, evangelical organization, FOTF describes its mission as "nurturing and defending families worldwide." In the pursuit of this goal, it produces radio programs, runs a "homosexual conversion" program, and heavily lobbies voters and politicians to pass laws in support of its agenda. In fact, FOTF does so many bulk mailings that it has its own zip code.Recently, Focus on the Family was in the news because of its aggressive support of California's Proposition 8, a ballot measure designed to change the California state constitution to de-legalize homosexual marriage. FOTF directly spent $539,000 to support the measure, and contributed a further $83,000 in "non-monetary support." Moreover, one of FOTF's board members, Elsa Prince, donated an additional $450,000 to the fight.

With a combined investment of more than a million dollars, no one can claim that FOTF was unwilling to go the distance in support of its beliefs. Thanks in large part to its efforts, the measure passed and California currently defines marriage as a legal bond that can only exist between a man and a woman. In the process, Prop 8 placed 18,000 same sex marriages in a legal limbo, as the courts attempt to decide if these bonds are still valid or if they are now legally annulled.

In light of their recent decision to lay off so many workers, it's worth asking how many of FOTF's 200 employees would still have jobs if Dr. Dobson had not put all of his organization's money behind attacking gay marriage. Moreover, in the coming weeks, as many of those 200 former workers find their own unions straining under the added stress of financial hardship, one can only hope that their bonds will find the strength that they need to endure. Regardless of the outcome for these families, it seems more than a little ironic that an organization that seeks to preserve the sanctity of marriage may have weakened the unions of so many of its own employees. Then again, after helping dissolve 18,000 marriages, what are a measly 200 more?

Bruce Watson is a freelance writer, blogger, and all-around cheapskate. With the economy headed south, he's wishing the best for ALL married couples.

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