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The Origin of the Motto, ‘The Family That Prays Together Stays Together’

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By Tom Konecny

Have you ever heard the saying, “The family that prays together stays together”? It’s actually a trademarked slogan used the world over by religious clergy and families of goodwill. It speaks to the notion that prayer strengthens bonds in families. When that bond grows, love grows, and a loving family is the best way to help kids find happiness and love in their lives. No matter one’s faith, American families strive for nurturing, support, unconditional love, faith, stability and mentorship. Prayer provides that.

The saying came from a young ad executive and copywriter several decades ago. While donating his time to assist a popular national radio program, “Family Theater,” in 1947, Al Scalpone of New York wrote the ubiquitous slogan, along with another:  “A world at prayer is a world at peace.” The two catchphrases became mottos for the radio series and its founder, Father Patrick Peyton, as well as his organization, Family Rosary Crusade.

That same year, a Los Angeles outdoor advertising representative heard the “family” slogan on the radio and was taken by its message. His company offered to put the slogan on numerous vacant billboards around the city as a public service. His idea caught on with other advertising companies, who began to plaster the saying on billboards around the nation. Since then, advertising associations estimate the message has appeared on more than 100,000 billboards throughout America and has been seen more than 400 million times, all through donations by outdoor advertising associations and companies. It remains the oldest active billboard advertising campaign in history, according to Susan Wallace of Holy Cross Family Ministries.

As the decades passed, the messages changed into sayings like, “Troubled? Try Prayer,” “Don’t Give Up! Pray. It works,” “God Makes House Calls” – each followed by the “family” slogan. The campaign continues today driven by three new posters designed in 2001, and it received a record number of orders from billboard companies.

Courtesy Family Theater Productions

“Family Theater” was an immensely popular program and ended after an eight-year run on Mutual Radio. Despite its religious affiliation, the program really wasn’t recognizable as such compared to other dramatic anthologies, and it regularly attracted many Hollywood stars. It featured no commercials, only a standard appeal touting the power of prayer. Family Theater continues as a production company today, creating family, faith-based programs to entertain, mostly on digital platforms.

While the “family” slogan has been re-used in numerous ways and by countless groups over the decades, it’s interesting to know its origin and be reminded of its timeless sentiment. After all, there’s no more beautiful sight in the world than to see fathers and mothers raising children to live true American values and building a culture of love and unity in the home.

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