Human Life International

Anti-Gay Activism Trumps Religious Freedom At UN 'Family' Event

Religious Right activists say they’re fighting to save religious liberty in America from the gay rights movement, but many of the same leaders are happy to partner with the most religiously repressive regimes in order to resist advances toward LGBT equality around the world.

Consider Monday’s “Uniting Nations for a Family Friendly World” event at the United Nations. It was sponsored by anti-gay and anti-choice groups like the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-Fam, formerly known as the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute) and Family Watch International, which work to keep LGBT-friendly language out of international documents and agreements. Their cosponsors included the 25 countries that make up the Group of Friends of the Family (GoFF), a coalition of UN member states created last year to “reaffirm that the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.”

Among the freedom-loving members of GoFF whose representatives spoke at Monday’s “high-level event” was Iran, which the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom has just accused of seeking to “eradicate” the country’s Baha’is.

In fact, there’s a lot of overlap between GoFF members and countries identified by the Commission, currently chaired* by social conservative strategist Robert George, as the worst in the world for religious freedom: Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Malaysia, Egypt, and Iraq. Also included in GoFF are countries where anti-LGBT religious and political leaders have been generating hostility and threatening the lives and freedoms of LGBT people, including Nigeria, Uganda, Indonesia, and Kyrgyzstan.

But there was no talk of that unpleasantness at Monday’s three-hour event, which featured GoFF delegates pushing to have the U.N. emphasize “pro-family” policies in the implementation of sustainable development goals. The GoFF “Statement in Support of the Family” was presented by Valentin Rybakov, deputy minister of foreign affairs of the Republic of Belarus, where, according to Human Rights Watch, authorities “pressure and arrest human rights activists and critics on spurious charges” and “regularly harass independent and opposition journalists.” Of course, there’s a similar situation in Russia, which doesn’t keep American Religious Right groups from swooning over Vladimir Putin’s anti-gay policies.

One of Putin’s defenders is C-Fam’s Austin Ruse. In a Monday email to his supporters, Ruse bragged that C-Fam “was asked by a number of Member States to organize this conference,” adding that “the family is under extreme pressure at the UN from those who want to redefine the family and to accept the notion that two people of the same sex can create a family and adopt children.”

At the UN, Ruse singled out Sudan and Saudi Arabia for praise, citing situations in which their representatives had “saved” UN documents from unwanted language on the family. For the record, the USCIRF calls Saudi Arabia “uniquely repressive” when it comes to religious freedom and says Sudan’s government “represses and marginalizes the country’s minority Christian community.”

During his remarks at the event, Ruse said the powerful force that “family” advocates are up against is the sexual revolution, which portrays family as a “patriarchal prison where pleasure and freedom go to die.” Without any apparent sense of irony, he declared that “tyrants have always known” that the family is “the real enemy to what they want” and its destruction is “how they get to the individual.”

Ruse announced the creation of a new coalition, Civil Society for the Family, which he said would be active in supporting GoFF’s work in defense of “traditional morality.”

The event also featured remarks from C-FAM’s Susan Yoshihara, Family Watch International’s Sharon Slater, the Family Research Council’s Peter Sprigg, Human Life International’s Shenan Boquet, CitizenGo and HazteOir’s Gregory Mertz, the Institute for Family Policy’s Lola Volarde, and anti-marriage-equality activists Sherif Girgis and Helen Alvaré. Religious leaders who spoke included California pastor and anti-gay activist Jim Garlow, Imam Shamsi Ali of the Jamaica Muslim Center in Queens and Catholic Bishop John O’Hara of the Archdiocese of New York, who assured the group that they have Cardinal Dolan’s “enthusiastic support.”

A few highlights from other speakers:

  • Sharon Slater, representing Family Watch International and the UN Family Rights Caucus, said she is deeply concerned about the “global assault” on the “health and innocence of children” from comprehensive sexuality education, which she called a “war on children and our families.”
  • FRC’s Peter Sprigg said that attempts to create a new definition of marriage that distances it from its roots in the “order of nature itself” are inconsistent with countries’ responsibility to protect and support the institution. Marriage, he said, “predates all other forms of government” and “it is not the place of government to redefine or interfere with the natural family.”
  • Gregory Mertz, representing what he said are the 4.3 million members of CitizenGo and HazteOir, online organizing platforms for social conservatives, said the definition of family is “routinely under attack” and that the U.N. ignores its obligation to protect it. Last year when GoFF’s creation was announced, CitizenGo asked people to sign a petition praising these “brave governments” in order to “show these courageous countries” that “we stand behind them 100 percent.”
  • Sherif Girgis, co-author with Robert George and Ryan Anderson of a book on marriage, said that undermining the “stabilizing norms of marriage” will hurt “every aspect of the common good that a stable marriage serves.”
  • Susan Yoshihara told a story about being shut down by school officials when she wanted to opt her young daughter out of a reading of a book that talked about families with two dads or two moms. She said there would have been more of a conversation before the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling, but that officials’ attitude now is “we won, you lose” — which she said was an example of why the law matters, and why it is important to resist changes in international law.
  • Helen Alvaré described defense of the family as both a rational and noble calling and said one can simultaneously affirm the “radical equality” of men and women while also recognizing their intrinsic complementarity, the topic of a 2014 Vatican conference for which Alvaré served as spokesperson. 

The statements from GoFF representatives were short and often repetitive statements about the centrality of the family to achieving the UN’s sustainable development goals.

The Russian delegate discussed Putin’s promotion of “traditional family values” and noted that the Commonwealth of Independent States, a confederation of former Soviet republics, has named 2017 the Year of the Family. The Russian representative also said it is important to UN organizations to stay within their mandates and for countries that support traditional families to speak up so that silence isn’t considered an acceptance of “dangerous trends.” He made a reference to pro-LGBT stamps issued by the UN Postal Administration in February, which infuriated some “traditional family” supporters. He said supporters of the traditional values need to be more active at the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The representative of Sudan also talked about the divinely created complementarity inherent in “the nature of each sex.” He complained that many international documents on women do not recognize the natural family but “deliberately seek to weaken and erode it.” Efforts to promote alternative forms of the family are incompatible with universal principles in human culture “which distinguish us humans from the rest of God’s creation.”

The event had a bit of theater as well. A short video from Family Watch International showed a succession of people saying nice things about families, including Janice Shaw Crouse and Alexey Komov — who are currently attending another global social conservative event, the World Congress of Families in Tbilisi, Georgia — among others. In addition, half a dozen children took turns reading “A Declaration on the Rights of Children and Their Families: A Call from the Children of the World,” a document promoted by the UN Family Rights Caucus that they say has been signed “by thousands of children from every continent of the world.” Among its claims: Every child has a right to a married mother and father and the “right to innocence and childhood”— which is cited to attack sex ed programs and could be used to defend the kind of anti-gay “propaganda” laws that Russia and other countries are using to squelch advocacy for equality in the name of protecting children.

* UpdateHouse Speaker Paul Ryan announced on May 18 that Robert George has completed his second term and has been replaced on the Commission by the executive director of the Becket Fund, Kristina Arriaga de Bucholz.

Anti-LGBT Groups Unite To Prevent UN Recognition Of Same-Sex Families

A group of anti-LGBT organizations, including leading American groups, have banded together to sign a joint platform meant to “push back against UN entities attempting to redefine the family to include same-sex relations.”

C-Fam, a U.S. group that pushes social conservative policies at the UN, says in a press release that it was joined in organizing the platform by the National Organization for Marriage, the Family Research Council and Human Life International. Also among the organizing groups is CitizenGo, an international petition platform that counts NOM president Brian Brown as a member of it board and HazteOir and Derecho a Vivir, two Spanish organizations led by CitizenGo’s president, Ignacio Arsuaga.

The platform states that any reference to the family in UN documents should be interpreted only as “a man and a woman united in marriage, and relations that are equivalent or analogous, including single parent families and multigenerational families.”

It makes clear that this specifically excludes families headed by same-sex couples: “Relations between individuals of the same sex and other social and legal arrangements that are neither equivalent nor analogous to the family are not entitled to the protections singularly reserved for the family in international law and policy.”

The platform concludes that any language that “implicitly or explicitly attempts to dilute, erode, or undermine” this definition of the family is “incompatible with international human rights law.”

Brown, as marriage equality has become entrenched in the U.S., has increasingly worked to form global alliances to prevent the advance of LGBT rights.

Religious Right Teams Up With Anti-Gay Governments at United Nations

American Religious Right groups are teaming up with anti-choice and anti-gay governments and organizations from around the world in order to prevent a new United Nations development proposal currently being negotiated from including language that might lead to some recognition of families headed by same-sex couples, a possibility the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-FAM) describes as “tragic.” (C-FAM was formerly known as the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute.)

C-FAM’s “Friday Fax” warns:

Leftist governments, including the United States, are trying to convince the General Assembly to discard family language from the Universal Declaration [of Human Rights] and instead use phrases that critics consider to be ideologically freighted, specifically “all families” and “various forms of the family.” These types of phrases have been rejected in recent years but the Obama administration has made it a priority to have them used in this important development document.

C-FAM argues that language declaring that “the family is the natural and fundamental unit of society” must be kept in place to prevent Europeans and Americans from having any “wiggle room” to “promote same-sex relations as families through the UN system.”

C-FAM reports that a group of African and Arab nations are leading efforts to strip language about “all families” from the final draft of the “Post-2015 Summit outcome” by proposing language that “EXCLUDES any international recognition to relations between persons of the same-sex as a ‘family,’ as in the case of homosexual civil unions and so-called gay marriage.”

Among the Religious Right organizations fighting tooth and nail to prevent even a possibility that same-sex families might gain recognition at the UN are: C-FAM; National Organization for Marriage; Alliance Defending Freedom Global (ADF was formerly known as Alliance Defense Fund); Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society (sponsors of the World Congress of Families); Human Life International; Personhood USA; Christian Family Fellowship; Family Research Institute; and the American Center for Law & Justice’s European affiliate, ECLJ.

Right Wing Bonus Tracks - 5/26/15

  • Right-wing Catholic leaders are not happy that Ireland overwhelmingly voted to legalize gay marriage last week, with Deacon Keith Fournier declaring that "when an entire country freely chooses to reject both the laws of nature and of nature’s God, there will be consequences" and Father Shenan J. Boquet of Human Life International warning that "there is no sustainable peace for those who reject God’s law, and the effect on the traditionally Catholic nation of Ireland will be severe."
  • When Rick Perry makes his presidential announcement, he'll be surrounded by a gaggle of high profile Navy SEALS.
  • An interesting battle is shaping up between the NRA and right-wing pastors in North Carolina who support the state's ban on hunting on Sundays.
  • Matt Barber tells parents that they have been warned that gay Boy Scout leaders will molest their children: "If you leave your children in the Boy or Girls Scouts of America, anything that might happen is on your head."
  • Peter LaBarbera has now set his sights on The Leather Archives & Museum: "It glorifies the most heinous perversions, including pedophilia and incest. And nobody knows what's going on in there except the homosexual movement – and they try to keep it hidden."
  • Finally, last week, Cindy Jacobs' Generals International sent out an urgent message that "a prophetic intercessor was warned in a dream of a severe attack from ISIS, possibly targeting the Memorial Day Parade in Washington DC." No such attack took place, so we'll probably hear from Jacobs soon about how their prayers prevented it.

A '9/11 Every Day': The Radical Anti-Contraception Ideology That Links The Duggars And The Anti-Choice Right

The sex abuse scandal engulfing the Duggar family has put yet another unwanted spotlight on Quiverfull, the radical self-proclaimed Christian “patriarchy” movement of which the Duggars are the most prominent spokespeople. But what is too often missed in the fascination over Quiverfull beliefs and the lives of its reality-star adherents is how closely this radical anti-feminist ideology is tied to the policy priorities of the anti-choice Right and its increasingly vocal opposition to contraception access.

The Quiverfull ideology, as Kathryn Joyce explained in her fascinating book “Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement,” is shared by a loose coalition of families living out a theology of “male headship and female submissiveness” in which a woman is expected to submit fully to her husband’s leadership while giving birth to, raising and homeschooling as many children as possible in order to repopulate the Earth with what one proponent called “warriors for God.”

Joyce published her book in 2009, well before the Supreme Court decided in the Hobby Lobby case that for-profit corporations could find “religious objections” to allowing their female employees insurance coverage for birth control. But she presciently linked the “mainstream” Right’s attacks on birth control to the “patriarchy” movement’s belief that stopping any child from being conceived, much less born, is an affront to God — and that it is a woman’s duty to bear and raise as many children as she can possibly produce.

Joyce writes that “most prospective Quiverfull parents actually learn about the Quiverfull conviction through the movement’s literature…And most of these people find these books after hearing the theory…that birth control pills are an abortifacient. That is, that hormonal contraception such as the pill can cause the ‘chemical abortion’ of accidentally fertilized eggs.”

This belief, that certain contraceptives cause abortion, was at the core of the Hobby Lobby decision. It is also wrong. But, as Joyce writes, Quiverfull and its allies aren’t just concerned about stopping the destruction of fertilized eggs — they view pregnancies that are prevented at all as murder.

As one speaker at the Pro-Life Action League’s 2006 “Contraception Is Not the Answer” event put it, potential lives “lost” through contraception amount to a “9/11 every day.”

Joyce writes:

…This is one of the strongest ties between the Quiverfull conviction and the larger Christian right, connecting a radically expanded prolife agenda that has broadened its political interests from abortion to birth control and sexual abstinence to international pronatalist movements.

As the political power of the antiabortion movement has grown, emboldened activists have moved toward a purer ideological line, making birth control the next target of the prolife movement. Employing the same “chipping away” political strategy they successfully used to diminish abortion rights, anticontraception activists have moved from defending individual “conscientiously objecting” pharmacists seeking to refuse contraceptives on moral grounds, to extending the same “right of refusal” to corporate entities such as insurers, to an out-and-out offensive against birth control as the murder-through-prevention of three thousand lives a day and the future of undoing Western civilization.

The latter two points were made in Illinois in September 2006 by British demographer Andrew Pollard, a speaker at the “Contraception Is Not the Answer” conference. Calling contraception “societal suicide,” Pollard calculated the reduced number of births due to contraception equivalent to a “9/11 every day for thirty-five years.” Pollard argued that “this year, about 1.6 million will be lost because of contraception and sterilization in [the United states]… [F]or every child lost through abortion, another is lost through contraception and sterilization. Countries cannot survive in the long run if they kill, or restrict, so many of their young shoots.”

Also speaking at that 2006 anti-contraception conference was Allan Carlson, a Quiverfull proponent whose World Congress of Families links anti-gay, anti-choice groups throughout the world, and Father Tom Euteneur, then the head of Human Life International, a Catholic group that opposes reproductive rights at the UN and in US foreign aid.

The Hobby Lobby case was an important milestone in the Religious Right’s campaign to weaponize religious liberty protections. But it was also a very public victory for the movement that is seeking to move beyond abortion restrictions to restrict contraception as well. By taking this ideology to the extreme, the Quiverfull movement shows just what’s at stake for women.

UPDATE: We should also note that the connections between Quiverfull and the Hobby Lobby case aren’t just ideological — the owners of Hobby Lobby have been major funders of the work of prominent Christian patriarchy writer Bill Gothard, who resigned from his post at the organization he founded last year following accusations of sexual harassment and covering up child abuse.

US Groups Warn Ireland: Marriage Equality Means 'Homosexual Activists' Will 'Censor' & 'Punish' Christians

Ireland is voting today on a referendum that, if successful, would make the country the first in the world to institute marriage equality by popular vote — a development that has alarmed marriage equality opponents around the world, including in the U.S.

On Wednesday, a group of U.S. and Canadian marriage equality opponents sent a “ message of caution to the Irish people ” warning them that the progress of LGBT rights in the United States has “produced serious and troubling consequences for religious freedom” and led “homosexual activists” to “censor, silence, coerce, and punish religious believers who criticize, oppose or resist them.”

Signatories of the letter, which was published on the website of the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts, include Brian Camenker of MassResistance, Human Life International President Shenan Boquet, John Horvat of the group Tradition, Family and Property, and John-Henry Westin, editor of the Canada-based LifeSiteNews.

The examples of supposed anti-Christian persecution cited in the letter include fines imposed on businesses that refuse service to gay and lesbian customers (which are the result of nondiscrimation laws, not same-sex marriage), a misprepresentation of an exchange in the recent Supreme Court marriage arguments about discrimination by religious schools, and the fact that employers have to provide spousal benefits to their legally married gay employees.

American groups seeking to stop LGBT rights initiatives abroad are increasingly leaning on the “religious liberty” messaging that they are using at home. In fact, the ways that LGBT equality and abortion rights supposedly trample on the religious freedom of their opponents will be the theme of the next World Congress of Families gathering in Utah.

From the Catholic Action League’s press release about the letter to Ireland:

“The progress of same gender marriage in the United States has produced serious and troubling consequences for religious freedom in America, including limitations on free speech, discrimination against Catholics and other religious believers, and state sponsored coercion, characterized by harshly punitive measures against Christians and others who refuse to violate their consciences in this matter,” the signatories said in a statement released earlier today.

“Among the examples of injustice directed at those who support the perennial understanding of marriage are the following:

  • Printers, photographers, bakers, florists, innkeepers and others have been the objects of lawsuits by homosexuals, and investigations, resulting in fines---some as high as $150,000---and other civil penalties, by administrative law, government enforcement agencies, for refusing to service same gender marriage ceremonies;
  • The Solicitor General of the United States, in arguments before the U. S. Supreme Court, admitted that religiously affiliated institutions, such as schools and charities, could lose their tax exempt status if they refuse to recognize same gender unions as marriages;
  • Military and naval chaplains have faced warnings and disciplinary proceedings, for counseling members of the Armed Forces that homosexual behavior is sinful;
  • In Massachusetts, a federal judge has ruled that public schools must instruct the children attending them, without parental notification or consent, that same gender marriage is the equivalent of traditional marriage;
  • In states where same gender marriage has been legalized, employers, including religious employers, must provide spousal benefits to the partners of homosexuals who have contracted civil marriages.”

“For three decades now, homosexual activists have portrayed themselves as victims of intolerance who are only seeking to end discrimination and achieve equality. The reality is very different. Wherever the homosexual agenda has prevailed, homosexual activists have sought to use the authority of the law, the power of the government, and the money of the taxpayers to censor, silence, coerce, and punish religious believers who criticize, oppose or resist them.”

“We respectfully urge the people of the Republic of Ireland to weigh carefully the implications of same gender marriage to their own freedoms, and to re-affirm the millennia-old definition of marriage by voting No on Friday.”

Anti-Choice Activist: Gays Demand Acceptance Because They Feel Guilty About Their 'Horrible Lifestyle'

Late last month, Molly Smith of Cleveland Right to Life and the National Personhood Alliancehosted Brian Clowes, the director of education and research at the Catholic group Human Life International, to discuss not their mutual opposition to abortion rights but the topic of LGBT rights, which Smith believes is inseparable from the anti-choice fight.

Over the course of 45 minutes, the two activists ran through an encyclopedia of anti-gay myths, including that gay men are prone to molest children, that people become gay because of abuse or neglect in their childhood, and that gay people have dramatically reduced lifespans.

Despite the fact that all of these claims have been thoroughly debunked, Clowes backed them up by saying, “The main principle to keep in mind is that every principle the Catholic Church teaches about sexual morality can be backed up by science, hard science and a lot of it.”

“Interestingly, you’ll find that if you get out of the homosexual lifestyle, you’ll be a lot happier,” he said. “If you’re living under God’s law, God wants us to be happy, so it’s going to be like that.”

The two went on to compare homosexuality to alcoholism, drug abuse and obesity.

“The term ‘gay’ certainly doesn’t apply here,” Clowes said. “It is a horrible lifestyle and it will kill you in the end. And those last few years of your life are not going to be happy because you’re going to be extremely sick, dying of cancer, HIV/AIDS, heart disease, whatever.”

Earlier in the interview, Clowes claimed that LGBT people are demanding tolerance and acceptance because they are “involved in all kinds of sinful, but extremely unhealthy activities and their conscience is bothering them.”

“If they feel bad about themselves, it’s the church’s fault, it’s the homophobes’ fault,” he said. “You know what I’m talking about here? So the only way they can get rid of that nagging little voice of guilt is to have everybody say, ‘It’s all right that you’re gay, we support you in your choice.’ And they will never be satisfied until everybody who opposes them is simply shut up.”

Right-Wing Activists Urge Catholic Church To Deny Communion To Pro-Choice Politicians

Dozens of anti-choice activists meeting in Rome this week are urging Catholic bishops to deny communion to politicians who support abortion rights.

Speaking at the International Pro-Life Conference in Rome, the American Catholic leader Cardinal Raymond Burke renewed his call for bishops to deny communion to pro-choice politicians. Fifty-two activists joined the cause, signing a petition asking “the Bishops of the Catholic Church to withhold Holy Communion from pro-abortion politicians as an act of love and mercy towards those same politicians.”

Among the American signers of the declaration were Preston Noell, director of Tradition, Family and Property, Marie Meaney of Heartbeat International, Joseph Meaney of Human Life International (the group that spawned the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, and which organized the Rome conference), “conceived in rape” activist Rebecca Kiessling, Dawn Eskew of Personhood New York, Michael Hichborn of the American Life League, Carlos Polo of the Population Research Institute, and Bernice and Brian Follett of The Life Foundation. Also signing the petition was Luis Losada of CitizenGo, a Spanish organization whose board includes National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown.

The declaration reads in part:

WHEREAS Catholic politicians who support abortion are already in grave sin, and in receiving Holy Communion their sin is compounded by sacrilege;

WHEREAS by being given Holy Communion such Catholic politicians may well believe that they are spiritually healthy and thus not in need of any remedy;

WHEREAS distributing Holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians causes scandal to the rest of the faithful in that they come to believe that support for abortion is not too serious a sin, and thus undermines pro-life work;

WHEREAS being refused Holy Communion is an effective wake-up call to return to an authentic life of faith;

WHEREAS it is unmerciful to allow our brothers living in obstinate public sin to languish there without warning;

We the undersigned ask the Bishops of the Catholic Church to withhold Holy Communion from pro-abortion politicians as an act of love and mercy towards those same politicians.

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