This examination of Judeo-Christian faith-based initiatives promoting responsible fatherhood explores the basic values and assumptions of such interventions and the characteristics of several successful programs. A number of barriers and challenges exist to faith-based fatherhood programs focused on improving the father-child-family relationship. The basic assumption of such programs is that to be a good father a man must become a man of God, the authors explain, and scriptures provide many examples and moral lessons about the behavior and character of a good father. Evangelical Protestant programs combine the fundamentalist view that the father is the head of the household and ultimate authority on family issues, while integrating more modern concepts of deep involvement with children and emotional expressiveness with wives. The Promise Keepers is the largest of these ministries, and focuses on seven basic principles for fathers, including accountability; spiritual development; sexual, moral and ethical purity; racial reconciliation; and sharing one's faith with others. Fatherhood programs in the Catholic Church and other mainline Protestant denominations are also described, as are smaller programs operated by local churches and ministries. Among the challenges facing father-centered programs is promoting a more traditional paternal role while respecting the autonomy of women and women's rights. The authors discuss how different denominational programs have approached this and other issues, as well as difficulties faith-based interventions have in demonstrating a positive impact on child well being and finding ways to collaborate with more secular fathering activities. Numerous references.
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