by Betsy Kerekes – Director of Online Publications, The Ruth Institute

“This was a smashing event. I am ecstatic,” said Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, founder and president of the Ruth Institute, regarding its first annual gala, held June 2nd at the Town and Country Resort in San Diego.

In addition to the food, the camaraderie of groups from diverse religious backgrounds joined together by a common concern for the state of marriage, was exceptional. The fellowship began in the foyer with vendor tables set up so guests could become informed and support one another. Vendors included radio programs, Christian grammar and high schools, and pro-life organizations.

Inside the dining room, guests were greeted with music by the lively bluegrass band, The Ruth Roots. The multi-talented and popular Catholic radio personality, Patrick Coffin, the evening’s emcee, kicked off the event with a magic trick involving large, intertwining rings, which he artfully used to demonstrate the importance of marriage, family, and God as the creator of both.

Former counter-terrorism FBI agent turned Hollywood adviser Tim Clemente, who gave the key note address, “showed what we’re up against, and lit a fire under people,” Coffin said. Clemente gave examples of current television shows with their overt attacks on religion and traditional marriage. One of the most poignant of these examples was from Glee where a teenage couple, involved in foreplay, stopped to pray before continuing their sexual romp. Visible on the wall above them was a depiction of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. To further mock Christianity and family values, the female character was also made the president of the high school’s celibacy program.

Another example was Modern Family where the homosexual parents are shown as competent while the straight married couples provide comic relief with their bumbling ineptitude, Clemente said.

Clemente compared television shows past and present. In the 60s and 70s, there was an allegory of the seven deadly sins in the form of the castaways in Gilligan’s Island, the island representing hell. Today we have Jersey Shore with real-life examples of the seven deadly sins in this “basest form of television,” he said. In the past we had Little House on the Prairie, while today we have the Kardashians. Little House also showed a strong father figure and manliness which is nearly impossible to find in television these days, Clemente added.

“But there is hope,” he continued, citing a recent television series on The Bible which had the highest viewer ratings of all time. Another example of a hold-out of virtue is the reality show “Duck Dynasty” which exemplifies family values and prayer.

Consumers can demonstrate their preference for more wholesome programming by watching exemplary shows and inviting their friends to do so as well. Supporting movies with positive values, such as The Blindside starring Sandra Bullock, in theaters, particularly on opening weekend when producers pay the most attention to viewer turn-out, lets movie-makers know what people care about and want to see more of. Thanks to word-of-mouth, The Blindside stayed in theaters for three months, Clemente told the audience.

The other highlight of the evening was the live auction, with bid cards bouncing in the air for items such as autographed sports paraphernalia by Chicago Bears greats Walter Payton and Brian Urlacher, a week’s stay at a luxury condo near the Pacific Ocean in Carlsbad, a golf weekend in La Costa, exquisite framed art work, and a tour of the San Diego Union Tribune newsroom including lunch with resident political cartoonist and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, Steve Breen.

Prizes including an electric guitar, a basket of decadent Godiva chocolates, and an assortment of gourmet coffees from HIS Coffee Co. were also raffled off.

Toward the end of the evening, Dr. Morse introduced each of the 40 students attending the 5th annual “It Takes a Family” Conference, for which this gala was the culminating event. These students came from universities around the country, and from South America. Auctioneer Rick Warner invited them to stand in front of the stage as he began the “ITAF Angel” program, where attendees took advantage of the opportunity to pledge funds to help promote the mission of the Ruth Institute and to help provide for next year’s conference.

At the end of the night, when it was time for everyone to go home, the students were sad, Dr. Morse said. “The students had bonded with each other during this conference, and they hated to leave.”

For more information about the Ruth Institute, it’s mission to promote life-long married love, and to see how you can become involved, please visit

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