Last week, we reported that National Organization for Marriage president Brian Brown had just gotten back from a Moscow planning meeting for the 2014 World Congress of Families gathering in Russia. Brown confirmed his participation to Rachel Maddow, telling her “we are proud to work with our allies in Russia and around the world to protect marriage as the union as one man and one woman.”
We now have a clearer idea of who those allies are. In a press release yesterday, the World Congress listed many of the participants in last week’s planning meeting. They included leaders of several major American religious right groups including Brown, Benjamin Bull of the Alliance Defending Freedom, Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family, Justin Murff of the Christian Broadcasting Network, and Austin Ruse of the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-FAM).
Also on the list is Fabrice Sorlin, the far-right French activist who led a delegation joined by Brown to testify before the Russian parliament in May in favor of a broad ban on the adoption of Russian orphans by gay couples and single people living in countries that allow same-sex marriage. Sorlin is the one who told members of the Duma that Russia’s efforts to repel advances in gay rights (or “the suicide of our civilization”) was just like its role protecting Europe from the “the Mongol hordes of Genghis Khan” in the 13th century.
Also attending the meeting was Jack Hanick, the former Fox News employee who has surfaced as an activist and “consultant” in Russia.
According to the World Congress’ press release, these activists not only discussed topics for the upcoming summit (including “declining fertility and the origins of the sexual revolution, the ideological roots of the anti-family lobby, the protection and promotion of marriage [and] countering the radical sexual rights agenda”) but also met with Russian legislator Yelena Mizulina to discuss a “WCF parliamentary forum” for September 2014.
Mizulina is the head of the Duma’s committee for family, women and children and coauthor of Russia’s new ban on speech in favor of gay rights to minors. The World Congress has been one of the most vocal international defenders of that law. The fact that the World Congress and its members are working directly with her to plan an exchange with members of the Russian parliament shows that the summit’s location in Moscow isn’t just an accident of geography.
In fact, as we have reported, WCF has built up a structure of activists in Russia to push anti-gay, anti-choice policies throughout Eastern Europe in the year’s leading up to the 2014 summit, and it was “activists working with the World Congress of Families” who invited Brown to speak to the Duma in favor of the adoption ban.
WCF’s managing director went so far as to say, shortly before Russia’s parliament passed the “gay propaganda” bill, that “the Russians might be the Christian saviors of the world.” As Political Research Associates has noted, the very idea for the World Congress of Families came from a meeting of the group's founder with Russian Orthodox activists, so the upcoming events in Moscow are something of a homecoming for the group.
The Family Research Council hosted a panel discussion Wednesday on religious liberty in America. If you have paid any attention at all to the frantic warnings from FRC’s Tony Perkins that tyranny is on the march, you could have guessed what was coming. The overall theme of the conversation was that the HHS mandate for insurance coverage of contraception is a dire threat to religious freedom in America. So are the advance of marriage equality and laws against anti-gay discrimination – or the “sexual liberty agenda.”
The panel featured three lawyers: Adele Keim of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, Kellie Fiedorek of the Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly known as the Alliance Defense Fund) and Ken Klukowski of the Family Research Council.
Keim talked about Becket’s client Hobby Lobby, which is suing the Obama administration over the contraception mandate. Or as Keim insisted on calling it, the contraception/abortifacient mandate. Keim argued that business owners are no less deserving of religious accommodation than churches or religiously affiliated nonprofits, saying “Americans do not lose their First Amendment rights when they go to work.” Of course by the standard she was invoking, many Americans could find their own rights and access to health care dictated by the religious beliefs of their employer.
The ADF’s Fiedorek focused on the “great peril” to religious liberty posed by the “agenda to expand sexual liberty and redefine marriage.” She said in the conflict between sexual liberty and religious liberty, "people of faith" are "the ones being marginalized." She recounted a litany of such “persecution,” including now-familiar stories of a New Mexico photographer and a Colorado baker who were penalized under state anti-discrimination laws when they declined to serve same-sex couples celebrating commitment ceremonies. Fiedorek compared cases in which businesses are required not to discriminate against gay couples to requiring an African American photographer to take pictures at a KKK event or a Jewish baker to create a cake decorated with a swastika. She called it “particularly atrocious” that Catholic social service agencies were being required to abide by anti-discrimination ordinances – and were being “forced” to close. She began and closed her presentation with quotes from the movie Chariots of Fire, ending with one that includes, “Don’t compromise. Compromise is a language of the devil.”
Klukowski talked about the role of religious freedom in the settling of America and the founding of the U.S. And he recycled ridiculous religious right charges that the Obama administration believes not in freedom of religion but in the narrower “freedom of worship,” a notion that he said would be “profoundly disturbing” to the founding fathers.
The most interesting question from the audience focused on implications of the Bob Jones University case, and on whether the racialist Christian Identity movement could make the same religious liberty claims the lawyers were defending. Why, the questioner asked, couldn’t the “conscience” rights the lawyers wanted for business owners not be claimed by a Christian Identity-affiliated business owner to deny doing business with African American people or interracial couples?
After a moment of awkward silence, Klukowski said that in the Bob Jones case, the Supreme Court had said the university could continue its racially discriminatory policies, but that its tax exemption was a benefit conferred by the government and could therefore be removed, especially in light of the post-civil war constitutional amendments addressing racial discrimination. Klukowski did not directly address whether and how that principle could, would, or should apply to the current conversation about anti-gay discrimination. He gave a confusing statement about what he said was the right of a business owner to throw someone out of their store for wearing a certain T-shirt or carrying a Bible. The First Amendment, he says, allows people to be jerks in their private lives, but it was not clear whether he meant that the relationship between a business and its customers was “purely private” or falls into the category of public accommodation.
With the Boy Scouts of America board planning to vote Wednesday on whether to allow local troops to accept gay members, Religious Right activists are ramping up their efforts to keep the ban in place. And Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel believes that Satan is the real culprit behind the potential shift in policy.
Barber blamed “spiritual pressure” from Satan — “the Prince of the Earth” — for the potential decision of the BSA board and claimed that Jerry Sandusky may soon “join the jamboree.”
The Prince of the Earth seeks to corrupt and ultimately destroy all that is righteous, honorable and good. It’s little wonder, then, that for years the Boy Scouts have faced a malicious and unrelenting assault at the hands of those “who call evil good and good evil.”
If the BSA, with its proud tradition of teaching millions of young boys how to become honorable young men, gives in on this, the organization is toast. Oh, it might limp along as something else – something entirely different, worldly and weak – but its long history as an upright, ethical and God-honoring safe-haven for boys will come to a disgraceful close.
Still, under immense socio-political – indeed spiritual pressure, the Boy Scouts appear poised to play a very dangerous, self-deluded game of “the Scoutmaster wears no clothes.” They’re flirting with the queer idea of an about turn – of betraying both absolute truth and the very boys they serve.
Instead of teaching young men to stand up to the bully, they would model surrender – teach them that, when you reach an adversarial fork in the road, take the primrose path of least resistance.
But it’s much worse than all that. We mustn’t ignore the pink elephant in the room; the Penn State factor. Should the BSA cave beneath the weight of sexual anarchist intimidation, Scoutmaster Sandusky joins the jamboree.
Liberty Counsel joined the Liberty Institute and Alliance Defending Freedom in a letter to the BSA insisting that any change in policy will undermine their “religious liberty and First Amendment rights.” Meanwhile, the American Family Association said that “the homosexual machine will continue to attack” the BSA until no troops have bans on gay members.
Liberty Counsel’s posted a graphic on its Facebook page that says that Boy Scouts will compromise their ability to “participate in healthy activities without fear of predation or moral confusion.”
The Iowa-based Family Leader warned of “sexual abuse” in the Boy Scouts if the ban is lifted:
The Boy Scouts of America, under intense financial pressure from homosexual activists, are considering changing their 100-year old policy of not allowing openly homosexual Scout leaders and Scouts. This pressure tactic is an attack on religious liberty, would teach our youth the wrong lessons, and should put every God-fearing individual on alert.
The Scout oath includes promises to keep oneself “morally straight,” and to be courageous. If the Boy Scouts’ leaders compromise on moral principles under political and financial pressure, it will only teach boys cowardice, not courage.
The current policy is also designed to protect Scouts from sexual abuse. How will parents be able to entrust their children to the Boy Scouts if they trade the well-being of the boys for corporate dollars?
Janet Porter of Faith 2 Action also argued that the Boy Scouts will “put boys at risk” in her radio alert:
Will the Scouts put boys at risk by inviting homosexual activists to become the scoutmasters at their campouts in the woods?
While the Boy Scouts of America have for many years taken a protective stand against homosexual scoutmasters, they are inviting public opinion on whether to put impressionable boys at risk by changing their policy.
They are “discussing potentially removing the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation.”
We need to call before their board meets and likely decides this week at 972-580-2000. Urge them to stand firm in the best interest of the boys in their care, rather than the interests of homosexual activists. Then, ask others to call at 972-580-2000.
The AFA’s Randy Sharp told the group’s leader Tim Wildmon that including gay Boy Scouts is “a very dangerous and unhealthy thing.”
Wildmon: Who is putting pressure on them?
Sharp: Mostly it’s the homosexual lobby in America, the Human Rights Campaign, groups like these that are trying to pressure the Boy Scouts into opening up their membership to open homosexuals to serve not only as leaders and mentors but also to boys who may be questioning their sexuality or have claimed to be openly gay. The Boy Scouts find that when you’ve got the homosexual leaders it’s a very dangerous and unhealthy thing.
Wildmon: That’s the reason they’ve always had the policy. That’s the Boy Scout pledge, isn’t it, “morally straight”?
Sharp: Absolutely, it’s in the oath.
Wildmon: That means “morally straight” sexually too and being homosexual would not be being straight.
Sharp: It’s not being very moral either.
Buster Wilson of the AFA last week went on a tirade against the Human Rights Campaign and maintained that “there is a day of reckoning that will come” to them for creating the “Boy Scouts of Gay America.”
Folks, in any other avenue in American life that would be called extortion. In any other venue of American existence that would be seen as villainous and as extortion. The Human Rights campaign, for all humans except those that are not gay, it’s a joke. They ought to be ashamed and there is a day of reckoning that will come.
If the Boy Scouts cave to the extortion-demands of the Human Rights Campaign through all of the corporate sponsors they’ve threatened then we will lose this venerable group for good. It will be a trophy on the wall of Big Gay and their agenda and we will see one more portion of moral American life gone.
If they wilt under the pressure of the Human Rights Campaign and they fold like a cheap tent they will cease to exist. Let me tell you what the Boy Scouts of America will become, if they change their ruling and they give into the pressure and the extortion of the Human Rights Campaign this is what’s going to happen: the Boy Scouts of America will falter and fall and become nothing in the end but the ‘Boy Scouts of Gay America’ because that’s the only folks that’ll support them.
Alliance Defending Freedom, formerly the Alliance Defense Fund, has been working with Focus on the Family to put together an “anti-bullying yardstick” that provides quite weak and watered-down measures to fight bullying. But backing ineffective measures to combat bullying may be the point, as the Religious Right has fiercely opposed comprehensive anti-bullying policies because of protections that would help curb anti-LGBT bullying, even to the point of supporting loopholes for bullies. Ironically, just today the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) released a report detailing the disproportionately high rates of bullying faced by LGBT youth, and how such bullying is less likely to materialize in schools with stronger anti-bullying policies.
ADF attorney Matt Sharp appeared on The Janet Mefferd Show yesterday to denounce “oppressive” anti-bullying policies, and while Sharp insisted that the campaign is not linked to either the ADF or Focus’s anti-LGBT advocacy, it probably didn’t help that he was speaking to a talk show host who has consistently denounced LGBT rights and people. Just before Sharp appeared on her program, Mefferd criticized the Democratic Party for backing marriage equality by asking, “where’s the lightning?”
Sharp said that gay rights groups are using bullying as “an avenue for them to insert their homosexual agenda into the schools” and promote “the re-education of students.” He claimed ADF and Focus will provide an alternative to “the propaganda of homosexual activist groups that seek to promote their agenda in the schools,” describing their “propaganda” as books that dare to recognize the reality that some children are raised by same-sex couples!
Sharp: It’s important for schools to have proper respect for the First Amendment rights of students to express their views on religion, politics and other subjects without fear of being labeled as bullies or being punished by an oppressive anti-bullying policy that violates their rights.
Mefferd: Definitely, so we’ve seen a lot of these activist organizations getting involved in the schools, GLSEN is one that comes to mind because they’re been so big and have been so active, talk a little bit about what they have done in the way of anti-bullying policies?
Sharp: Yeah, we’ve seen several instances where they will come into schools and place pressure upon schools to adopt their model policies that are really just an avenue for them to insert their homosexual agenda into the schools. We actually saw a situation not too long ago up in Iowa where the group was promoting the re-education of students and tolerance training and all of this stuff that was meant to normalize same-sex marriage in these books they were giving to young elementary students portraying a family with two daddies and two mommies and things like that. The school district really didn’t know how to respond so it was important for us to get involved with them and help them to know that you don’t have to cave into these groups, there’s alternatives, that’s why we’re really excited about teaming up with Focus on this to provide an alternative to schools, to help them know what a proper anti-bullying policy that protects all students equally looks like without having to accept the propaganda of homosexual activist groups that seek to promote their agenda in the schools.
Sharp later asserted that groups like GLSEN “focus upon specific characteristics and elevate those to say ‘bullying against this is really bad and we don’t want that in school but other types of bullying may be tolerable.’” Actually, that is exactly what the ADF is doing by supporting religious exemptions for bullying. He even speak about bullying as almost only dealing with physical harm, which again ignores the serious harm posed by verbal abuse, cyber-bullying and harassment.
His argument is that enumeration, the policy of mentioning certain distinguishable characteristics tied to bullying to help combat bullying not only after it occurs but also to prevent it from happening in the first place, somehow doesn’t protect all students. For example, research shows that students with mental and physical disabilities are more likely to face bullying, and therefore enumerated anti-bullying policies frequently list ability as a highlighted characteristic. Similarly, studies demonstrate that LGBT and LGBT-perceived youth have a higher likelihood of being bullied.
Policies that mention sexual orientation and gender identity, along with ability, race, class, sex, national origin and religion, as characteristics that are linked to bullying help strengthen anti-bullying programs and don’t leave anyone out, as Sharp implies.
But ADF and Focus don’t really have a problem with enumeration, they just have a problem with anti-bullying plans that may be used to protect LGBT students. If ADF or Focus simply took a principled stand against enumeration in anti-bullying policies, then why haven’t these groups denounced them before they began including characteristics like sexual orientation and gender identity?
Indeed, putting an added emphasis on factors that are commonly connected to bullying does not make any student less protected—or as Sharp baselessly argues, allow for other cases of bullying—but help reduce bullying and create a safer climate for all students.
Focus on the Family’s CitizenLink, the Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly Alliance Defense Fund), the Family Research Council and the Ohio-based Citizens for Community Values are planning six seminars in Ohio over the coming months to train Culture Impact Teams and “answer the cry of a culture that needs help.”
While FRC’s Tony Perkins and Focus on the Family founder James Dobson won’t be attending in person, they have sent messages, including this one from Dobson condemning an effort to repeal the state’s ban on same-sex marriage by referendum in 2013:
Traditional marriage is on the line. Will your church help guarantee its future?
Will you help us organize and mobilize your county to answer the cry of a culture that needs help?
Will you join a growing network of Ohio Pastors, church staff and laymen to be a witness in a hurting culture and defend issues that threaten our families, our faith, and our freedom?
SIX, FREE training seminars for pastors, church staff and laymen to launch a Culture Impact Team (CIT). Learn alongside other church leaders how to defend family, faith and freedom during this critical election year.
Confirmed guest speakers include: Attorney Matt Rawlings (Alliance Defending Freedom, formerly Alliance Defense Fund), former Congressman Bill Redmond (Focus on the Family), and National Field Director Randy Wilson (Family Research Council), Pastor J. C. Church, former Representative Seth Morgan and CCV President Phil Burress.
Additional perks: Hear about Watchmen on the Wall, an FRC ministry that supports the local pastor. –Access to sermon starters and research on the issues facing our families and culture. –CIT
Manual to multiply your leadership and influence in your church and community-A Voter Impact Toolkit DVD, containing 12 high quality videos you can pick from to encourage your church, as well as all you need to do a Christian Citizenship Sunday.