America is suffering from a pandemic that is not a virus, it “is a pandemic of fatherlessness.” That’s according to Pastor Kris Vallotton, author of the new book “Uprising: The Epic Battle for the Most Fatherless Generation in History.”
“Fifty-one percent of all children in America right now are born out of wedlock, 51%,” Vallotton, the senior associate leader of Bethel Church in Redding, California, says. “In 1950, 4% of Americans were born out of wedlock.”
The results of children growing up without fathers in the home are devastating, Vallotton says, with data revealing that “75% of all inmates grew up without a father,” and “63% of all youth suicides come from fatherless homes.”
Vallotton also points to a rise in transgenderism and gay marriage as a side effect of fatherlessness, because “when we embrace gay marriage … what we said is that you can have two mommies and two daddies, because mommies and daddies are interchangeable.”
Vallotton joins “The Daily Signal Podcast” to share his own personal story of losing his father as a young boy and how that affected his life, and to offer a hopeful solution for how children can experience the love of a father amid a fatherless generation.
Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript:
Virginia Allen: Arguably the greatest crisis in this generation is that of fatherlessness. It’s an issue that honestly affects every single sphere of society. Pastor Kris Vallotton’s new book “Uprising: The Epic Battle for the Most Fatherless Generation in History” addresses the crisis of fatherlessness, but also offers some really practical and powerful solutions for how we can overcome these challenges. And Pastor Kris joins us now. Thank you so much for being here today.
Kris Vallotton: Thank you for having me on.
Allen: Well, Pastor Kris, I know that those who are familiar with Bethel Church in Redding, California, some of them have maybe heard your story. But if you wouldn’t mind, just take a few minutes to share a little bit about your relationship with your own father, his passing, and how that affected you as a child.
Vallotton: Well, my mother got pregnant with me in 1954 out of wedlock, which, in those days, was connected to tons of shame. And my mother and father eloped. And three years later, my father drowned. So my mother was left with an 18-month-old daughter and a 3-year-old son.
And two years later, I’m giving you the quick story, two years later, my mother remarried to a very violent man who—yeah, he was violent. I can give you details, but grew up in a very violent home with an alcoholic. And she was married to him for eight years and then divorced him, and two years later, didn’t learn and married another violent man. And so that’s our upbringing. I moved out when I was 17.
I had an encounter with the Lord when I was 15. My mother was covered with psoriasis all over her own body. And I wasn’t raised to not believe in God, there was just no really religious upbringing whatsoever, spiritual upbringing, I would really say now. When I was 15, I said out loud, “If there’s a God, if you heal my mother, I’ll find out who you are and serve you the rest of my life.” And an audible voice said, “My name is Jesus Christ, and you have what you requested.”
And the next morning, my mother woke up completely well from psoriasis. And the voice came back again, said, “My name is Jesus Christ. You said if I healed your mother, you’d serve me. And I’m waiting.” So that started my journey. And when I was 18, I actually found the Lord, and with my girlfriend, now wife, wife of 47 years.
So that’s the very quick, three-minute update of my life.
Allen: Thank you so much for sharing that. Well, with your own personal story and then with the years, decades of ministry that you’ve done, you’ve watched a lot of young people go through various challenges in life. And you’ve also had the opportunity to serve in multiple different communities. And something that you speak very openly about that you’ve encountered over and over is young people who are growing up without fathers, the impacts of that. And especially in current culture and society, your book addresses what we’ve observed in recent years and the impacts of this increase of fatherlessness on society.
So if you would, talk a little bit about how we got here. We’re living in a point in time where 1 in 4 kids in America are growing up without a father in the home. And when you say that you can almost be numb to that, … which I think is also shocking. How did we get to this place where, one, there are so few fathers in the home, but then also, society is numb to the issue of fatherlessness?
Vallotton: Well, yeah, you’re right. Fifty-one percent of all children in America right now are born out of wedlock—51%. Just for contrast, in 1950, 4% of Americans were born out of wedlock. So think about, you want to talk about pandemic. This is a pandemic of fatherlessness.
And what we need to realize is that we live in the most fatherless generation in the history, in the history of the modern world, at least, since we’ve been keeping track of statistics, in which our fathers are alive but not home. And that has never happened in modern culture. In other words, we’ve had more fatherless generations in history, like during the Civil War, but our fathers died in war.
But what happened is, well, first of all, it depends on how far back we want to trace. But this exponential growth of fatherlessness really was birthed primarily, or maybe we could say tracked primarily, through the sexual revolution, when the theme song of Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young was, “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.” And basically, it just said, “Have sex with whoever you want. Don’t worry about commitment. It’s all about how you feel. There’s no responsibility.” And that seeded this, or maybe it accelerated this, culture of no responsibility.
And then we had in our school system, well, Darwinism was introduced in our school systems in 1920, but it never actually got any traction until the sexual revolution, when people were living like hell and didn’t want to answer to heaven.
And so the Darwinism gave people the ability to have, if you will, a clean conscience from the standpoint of there would be no creator to answer to. You are an evolutionized amoeba or you are, depending on what kind of evolution you believe in, you are an evolutionized ape and actually there is no real creator. You’re a chance.
And part of what happened in that is not only did you not answer to a creator, but you don’t have a divine destiny. If you’re a cosmic burp, you’re the fittest of a species, you don’t actually have an eternity. It’s like, “Why not party it up?”, because you have nobody to answer to.
And there’s lots of other things that happened in that. And now, we have the influence of homosexuality, transgenderism. And we have this whole idea, when we embrace gay marriage, and I’m talking about as a nation and as the nations, what we did, we may not have realized what we’re actually doing as far as a global expression. What we said is that you can have two mommies and two daddies, because mommies and daddies are interchangeable. So now, we have another dynamic that’s working in fatherlessness.
… I don’t know if you know this, Virginia, but we don’t keep fatherless statistics anymore. After 2017, the government doesn’t even release statistics about fatherlessness because we don’t actually need a father, because mothers and fathers are interchangeable. So now, you have toxic masculinity. You have the masculine women. You have toxic masculinity in men. You’re feminizing a generation.
Anyway, a lot to say. Sorry for taking that much time. But that’s where we’re at.
Allen: Well, it’s a big problem. It really is.
Vallotton: Big problem.
Allen: Now, what is the actual effect? When we look at what happens to a little boy when he’s growing up and he doesn’t have a dad present who’s involved with his life, what are the implications on that little boy’s life?
Vallotton: Let me give you some statistical implications so that we can look at statistics and then move backward. Seventy-five percent of all inmates grew up without a father. Just 63% of all youth suicides come from fatherless homes. So you’re five times more likely to commit suicide if you don’t have a dad.
Here’s another one. You’re 32 times more likely to be homeless if you don’t have a dad—32 times more likely. Here’s another one. You’re 20 times more likely to show behavior disorder if you don’t have a dad.
This is a huge one. You are 14 times more likely to rape a woman if you don’t have a dad. And I’ll give you this last one. Seventy-one percent of all high school dropouts are from fatherless homes. You’re nine times more likely to drop out of school if you don’t have a dad.
So these are the side effects of fatherlessness. Nobody’s talking about this. You don’t have to be a Christian. If you look at the statistics and you realize what’s happening, you would wonder why every spiritual leader, every political leader, every government leader, every teacher isn’t saying, “We have a pandemic on our hands. And it’s not just a biological virus. It is a spiritual and social virus that is destroying, really destroying a generation.”
Allen: Well, and one of the outgrowths of that that I was really glad to see that you went ahead and tackled in the book, because it might be one of the most controversial elements that you do tackle, is in Chapter 3. You argue that fatherlessness has led to this rise in gender confusion that we’re seeing.
Allen: Talk a little bit about that. Why do you think that is?
Vallotton: Well, I think I do a really good job in Chapter 3 that I probably won’t do in two minutes, but let me just give you just an overview of it.
First of all, what happens psychologically, spiritually, and mentally to a woman who’s been abandoned by a father? I’m talking about the mother. She’s been abandoned. There are some rare cases where these things aren’t true, what I’m about to say. But first of all, they have a view of men, right?
They’ve been abandoned. Maybe they have one kid, two kids, three kids. Lots of women, it’s very common for women to think, “I’m going to get pregnant and this man, whether he married me or not, this man is going to be committed to me because we have children together.” But what she finds is she’s betrayed and that he leaves and he’s an alley cat.
So what is mom’s view of men? Now, she has a child or maybe two or three daughters and sons. First of all, son has never seen healthy love between a man and woman because mom doesn’t have a man. And, “Mom is tainted, mom is angry, mom is bitter with men, and she’s raising me. Is mom trying to feminize me?” No. But it takes a mother to give birth to a boy, but it takes a father to give birth to a man. You can teach what you aren’t, but you can only impart who you are. So mom can’t make a man. She can make a boy, but she can’t make a man.
And now, she’s upset with men, right? She’s like, “Men are irresponsible. Men are this. Men are that.” So what is boy raised in? Not only do I not have a role model, but I actually have a tainted, “Mom does not masculine men.” This is the boy, right? This is the boy. “And I don’t know how to relate to women as lovers because I’ve not seen my father relate to my mother as a lover. So when I’m looking for love, I’m relating to love as sisters and mothers, but not as lovers,” if that makes sense.
And then the daughter has the same issue because she’s never related to a masculine man. She’s only related to a feminine woman. So how does she learn how to relate to someone she’s not?
And by the way, I do a lot better job in Chapter 3 clocking through this. But all of this is leading to, if you looked at all of the facts of culture and let’s say you were an alien and you were doing—if there’s a such thing as aliens, which I don’t know if there is, and you were doing a study on human behavior like we study rats, you would say, “This is going to lead to same-sex attraction because I have been raised to not like or trust men.” This is feeding homosexuality. It’s feeding transgenderism.
The second thing I’ll say is this, is that your dad gives you your identity. Think about it. His sperm determines your sex. And you typically take on the last name of a husband when you get married in almost every culture. It’s a prophetic declaration that fathers bring identity. Now, they’re not the only identifier, of course, but they’re the primary identifier.
What’s happening in culture when I don’t even know what sex I am is the ultimate identity crisis. So I think that this fatherlessness is feeding an entire generation of dysfunction.
Allen: Now, it’s really easy to look at the problem and get a little bit overwhelmed. And the obvious solution is, OK, we need good fathers back in the home who are present, who know how to raise their kids well, love their kids well. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. We can’t just snap our fingers and have that. What needs to happen in order to bring dads back into the homes so that they can be a part of that journey in the lives of sons, of moving them from being boys to being men?
Vallotton: … It’s a great question, by the way, and we try to handle that in the second half of the book, to say, “OK, what are the solutions?” Because here’s the crisis, what’s the solution? And first of all, I want to say, it took us 70 years to get here. OK? We didn’t get here overnight. It took us 70 years—50 strong years, 70 years total.
So there’s not a magic pill. “We’re going to take this pill. We’re going to vote for this person. We’re going to have this president. We’re going to have this governor. And thank God, we’re good. We’re going to change this law. That’s going to solve the problem.” No. We have to migrate back.
And by the way, I believe we’re in a Malachi moment where Malachi prophesied in Malachi 4, “In the last days, I’m going to send Elijah the prophet, and he’s going to restore the hearts of fathers to sons and daughters and hearts of sons and daughters to fathers.”
So right now, what we’re doing is we’re beginning to agree with heaven’s movement, which is, we call it the Malachi Mandate. But it’s beginning with Isaiah 58. You’re taking the fatherless into your home. Isaiah 61, “The broken are becoming the influencers of culture and restoring broken cities and the foundations of cities.”
So it begins with all of us who are fathers who can reach out and say, “I can coach a soccer team. I can be a mentor to boys and actually girls, too.”
Kathy and I, we had a ministry for five years. I call it a ministry. It was secular, where we had over 120 kids on an average day, twice a week for five years. And we played basketball and volleyball with them. And we had a halftime where we taught them life skills and we taught them biblical principles. Sometimes, we taught them right out of the Bible. And out of those kids, I had one kid who had a father at home, one out of 120 kids, one in five years.
And so this is the problem. And so we became a father and a mother. We became a family. Can I say we became a family to a bunch of orphans? And it was powerful and profound. And we loved it. They, at first, didn’t like us. But they didn’t know how to handle boundaries. But they fell in love with us and we were with them a lot of years.
So I think that Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, these are all organizations that, over the last 150 years, have become surrogate fathers and mothers to culture. And I think they’re incredibly important right now.
Allen: Now, when we talk about that shift and that change, one of the things that you talk about toward the end of the book “Uprising” is the importance of legacy and inheritance. And that’s something that’s not talked about too much in culture or in society, that importance of actually thinking about the next generation and, “What am I leaving for my kids, for my grandkids, and even for people in my community who I’m not related to but, like you and Kathy did, who I’m mentoring?” What is the role? How should we be thinking about legacy as we’re making choices in our life?
Vallotton: Virginia, we got to remember that we’re growing up in a global orphanage, a virtual global orphanage. So Proverbs says, “The righteous man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.” And the Bible’s teaching us to live future present, that God actually has a plan for a future for us, to give us a future and a hope.
And so the other thing that I’ll say that I didn’t mention, I don’t think it’s in the book, at least I didn’t highlight, is the suicide rate among people right now is astronomical, so No. 1 killer among young people right now. And when you take away legacy, you take away the hope for the future. When you take away the hope for the future, people live in despair. And so I think that it’s important for us to think about how our life is affecting the coming generations.
And I had an encounter, which we don’t have time to talk about, but I was literally in a vision taken a hundred years in the future. And the outcome of that, when I came out of that, and the outcome of that was God said to me, “I want you to stop your ministry and live for a legacy. I want you to live for a generation that you will never see.”
And so I think that it’s encumbered upon us. It is a paramount importance that we live for something beyond ourselves. Think about how many of our forefathers and mothers died for a—they literally went to war because they believed that if they laid their life down on a battlefield, it would make it better for another generation. It is in our DNA as Americans especially for us to lay down our life for the next generation.
And I think some of the challenge we have right now is that we live in an instant gratification generation, and we have forgotten that people bled to give us this freedom.
You and I, we have religious freedom right now. We’re talking about Jesus Christ. Somebody paid for that. Somebodies paid for us to have this conversation without fear of demise or rebuttal. We have rebuttals, but we don’t have demise. We’re not going to prison because we’re talking about sexuality, that we’re talking about morality. But somebody paid for that. A generation laid down their life so that you and I can have a free speech conversation.
And this is the way that fathers think. This is the way healthy fathers think. They don’t think 9 to 5, seven days a week. They think, “What am I leaving the next generation? What am I leaving? What will they say about me a hundred years from now? What is the effect of my life a hundred years from now?” And I’ll tell you, that conversation comes up four or five times a week in my circles and in my life.
Allen: Well, Pastor Kris, I would love to hear just from you. This is obviously an ongoing conversation and we’ve talked a little bit about solutions. But we know that this is a long game that we’re playing.
Vallotton: It is.
Allen: So share a little bit about, just before we go, share a little bit about what is next for you as you’re kind of continuing on this mission of saying, “I want to be a part of calling fathers back and actually seeing a fatherless generation shepherded and discipled and restored to a place where boys can be men.”
Vallotton: Well, we started an organization called BraveCo out of this encounter that I had three and a half, four years ago, that the book was written out of. And BraveCo is basically, think Promise Keepers, if you are old enough to remember Promise Keepers, but on steroids in that we have more technology now.
So what Promise Keepers didn’t have is they had no way to disciple nations. Can I say it that way? Because they didn’t have platforms like right now, what we’re doing right now. They didn’t have ways. They didn’t have the technology we have to have 2,000 men on a live conversation and discipling and having fantastic fathers be able to pour into sons who are on the other side of the world or in a different state.
And so it’s really become profound. It’s only a 2-year-old organization, but it is growing amazingly and rapidly. We had, I think, 1,000 men, 900 men, I think, graduate from our first BraveCo training that was 12 months long. So it was a big, like you say, it was a marathon. It wasn’t like a six-week course. It took a big commitment to be there. And then those men now, many of those men are part of our team that are helping to mentor other men and boys.
So I think that there’s no one person that’s big enough to solve the problem. But together, we can be an inspiration to other movements, to other churches, to other men, to other organizations, and say, “Hey, you can’t do everything, but you can do something. You can’t touch everybody, but you can touch someone.”
And if everyone just does their part, it’s the Isaiah 58. If you take the homeless, poor into your house, you make an effort to be an answer to someone. Sometimes you probably feel this way—I do, too. When I was writing this book, especially the first half, I wanted to be really clear on the problem, like what is it we’re trying to solve. And then the second half of the book is lots about solutions. But first half of the book, I finished that first half, and it was overwhelming. I’m like, “The problem is so freaking big. What can I do? It’s like I’m a drop in the ocean of—this is huge problem.”
But then I remembered God and I remembered I got saved in the Jesus movement, where the people that we wrote off, like, “These people will never love God,” the hippies, the drug-addicted hippies that were filling our nation, they just suddenly turned around. And in three years, there were so many baptisms that the only tank that would hold them was the ocean. And we saw a nation literally just turn on its heels over a very short period of time. And I’m like, “We’re in that Malachi moment now, and we can partner with that.” And I’m so excited.
And I just want to say, I said it in the beginning, but thank you so much for believing in this message and in my message, especially as a woman, that you actually have me on your show and you’re giving me the opportunity to share, I think, what the word of the Lord is, but what definitely is a message we’re carrying.
Allen: Well, we see the effects literally every single day in every sphere of society, what happens when you have a generation that is growing up without fathers in the home, and it’s devastating. And so Kris, we really thank you for your time.
For everyone listening, be sure to check out “Uprising: The Epic Battle for the Most Fatherless Generation in History.” And you can get the book on Kris’ website krisvallotton.com. And we also encourage you to check out Kris’ podcast “Kris Vallotton’s Podcast” wherever you get your podcasts. But Kris, thank you. We really appreciate you coming on today.
Vallotton: Thank you, Virginia. God bless you.
Reporting from The Daily Signal.