The Michigan Family Forum is a Lansing-based religious right organization that is connected to the national Focus on the Family organization, a major player in the national religious right. Its recent priorities have included work “strengthening marriage,” “promoting responsible fatherhood,” “protecting children,” and “honoring our elders.” The Michigan Family Forum is a major religious right organization in Michigan and counts among its victories the 2004 effort to ban same-sex marriage and the legal birth definition act (source).
According to Russ Bellant’s The Religious Right in Michigan Politics, the group focused much of its work in the early 1990s on mobilizing voters in conservative churches. These mobilizations were made through Community Impact Committees that encouraged political participation at the local, state, and national levels. The Committees were established after a Focus on the Family Community Impact Seminar is held to train participants using manuals such as “A Biblical Case for Social Involvement” that states that the Bible requires Christians to be socially in politically active as well as a manual explaining how to establish and maintain a Community Impact Committee. The Seminars recommended that people contact a variety of far right groups including Operation Rescue, Concerned Women for America, the American Family Association, and the Eagle Forum while recommending that participants read the ant-gay book Gays, AIDS, and You published by Father Enrique Reuda and the Free Congress Foundation. According to Bellant, Research and Public Policy Director Dan Jarvis helped to connect the group to the religious right through recommended readings, voter guides, organizing manuals, and advocacy of right-wing legislation. The group also maintained the Michigan Prayer Network that encourage people to use organization produced “tools” to target prayer towards specific legislators who were might later be targeted by connected lobbyists. Because all of this politic activity was coordinated primarily through churches, the group has maintained a fairly low profile even as it attacked Michigan’s no-fault divorce law.
The Michigan Family Forum is funded by the Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation, the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation, the DeWitt Families Conduit Foundation, the Cook Charitable Foundation, the Eagle Foundation, the C. John and Reva Miller Foundation, the Jack and Mary DeWitt Foundation, and the John and Judy Spolehof Foundation.
Leaders, Members, and Others Associated with the Organization
- Emile Wierda, Executive Council, The Eagle Foundation
- Jack and Mary DeWitt, Board Members, Jack and Mary DeWitt Foundation