International

Senate GOP Invites FRC's Tony Perkins To Politicize Hearing On 'Religious Freedom Abroad'

The Family Research Council announced today that its president, Tony Perkins, has been invited to testify at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing tomorrow on “protecting religious freedom abroad.”

The inclusion of Perkins threatens to turn a hearing about a critically important issue into a political sideshow. Perkins has consistently used the persecution of Christians abroad as a political bludgeon at home, claiming that LGBT rights in the U.S. are fueling religious persecution worldwide and falsely asserting that President Obama has done nothing to stop the oppression of Christians because he secretly sympathizes with Islamic radicals.

And, even as he accuses the Obama administration of ignoring the plight of Christians, Perkins has attacked international human rights efforts aimed at combating violence against and government oppression of LGBT people.

Perkins routinely trots out the claim that conservative Christians are being persecuted in America to blame the Obama administration and the LGBT rights movement for very real anti-Christian persecution throughout the world. In an interview with Rick Santorum in November, Perkins insisted that there is a “correlation” between the supposed persecution of Christians in America and violent attacks on Christians and churches in the Middle East and elsewhere. “They feel like if it’s not a priority for us to have religious freedom here at home, then certainly it’s not going to be a priority for us to speak out for the persecuted peoples abroad,” he said.

Claiming that nondiscrimination laws protecting LGBT people are in fact discriminatory against Christians, Perkins said in November that combating such laws “will give hope to far-away places around the world” where Christians are being oppressed by tyrannical governments.

He similarly blamed advances in LGBT rights in the U.S. for encouraging religious persecution in Iran and North Korea, citing the case of an Atlanta fire chief who lost his job after distributing an anti-gay book to claim that “tyrants abroad see an administration that is not only not interested in protecting religious freedom but actually persecuting.” At another point, he warned of “deadly consequences” for Christians abroad if marriage equality succeeds in the United States.

Last year, Perkins linked the case of Meriam Ibrahim, a Sudanese woman who was imprisoned for converting to Christianity, to an effort to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, saying “we keep our freedom of religion by working to keep our freedom of speech, and political speech is actually what’s under attack here.”

Perkins frequently brushes aside the evidence he is presented with to suggest that President Obama is ignoring the plight of Christians throughout the world. Throughout Ibrahim’s plight, Perkins insisted that the Obama administration had “done nothing” for her…even after sources including Fox News and a conservative Republican congressman told him that the administration had been working diligently to set her free. Even after diplomatic pressure led to Ibrahim’s release and she was granted asylum in the United States, Perkins claimed in a fundraising letter that there was “no evidence that the Obama State Department did anything to intervene.”

Also during Ibrahim’s ordeal, Perkins used his false claims about Obama’s indifference to advance whispered conspiracy theories that the President is secretly a Muslim radical.

Similarly, when the administration secured the release of Kenneth Bae, a Christian pastor held in a North Korean prison camp, Perkins used the opportunity to falsely claim that the administration was doing nothing to help another Christian political prisoner, Saeed Abedini, in Iran.

Perkins hasn’t just exploited the cases of persecuted Christians to attack Obama ­— he has also used them in an effort to lend legitimacy to his fight against LGBT rights in the United States.

He frequently portrays protecting LGBT people from violence and protecting Christians from religious persecution as an either-or choice…and, unsurprisingly, claims that Obama has chosen the former. In a direct mail piece in August, for instance, Perkins vowed to fight the administration’s “devotion to the cause of sexual immorality and their simultaneous indifference toward Christians suffering persecution for their faith.”

Perkins may portray the issues as mutually exclusive because he vehemently opposes any U.S. efforts to protect LGBT people from violence and persecution from their governments. Back in 2010, he defended a Uganda bill that would have imposed life imprisonment for consensual sex with someone of the same sex and the death penalty for so-called “aggravated homosexuality,” saying it was an effort to “uphold moral conduct.” When then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched an initiative to promote LGBT rights throughout the world, he accused her of promoting a “radical social agenda” including “special rights for homosexuals and homosexuality”… while claiming that she had remained “silent” on anti-Christian persecution.

Religious persecution around the world is certainly a worthy topic for the Senate to address. But including Tony Perkins in such a hearing is not the way for a committee to convey that it is taking this issue seriously.

NOM Praises Roy Moore For Standing Against 'Judicial Tyranny' On Marriage

On Friday, The National Organization for Marriage joined the growing list of anti-LGBT groups that are coming out in support of Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore’s attempt to convince his state to defy a federal court ruling overturning a ban on same-sex marriage.

NOM President Brian Brown, whose international petition site CitizenGo was already on record supporting Moore, wrote to NOM supporters on Friday that the many federal court rulings in favor of marriage equality in the wake of the Windsor decision represent not just “bullying” but “tyranny.”

“[T]his is the kind of principled stand we need more of our public officials to take—and we need to take such a stand ourselves, too,” he wrote.

We need to stand up to this kind of bullying whenever we encounter it, but especially when it comes dressed up in the robes of the state authority. Indeed, then we shouldn't call it merely bullying at all, but assign it the true name it deserves: tyranny.

Tyranny is precisely the word, for example, to describe the rash of judicial rulings that has swept across the country since the Windsor decision in summer of 2013 that overturned part of the Defense of Marriage Act. And that's not just my opinion: it's also the opinion of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama, the Honorable Roy Moore.

Justice Moore sent a letter to Alabama's Governor, Robert Bentley, this week urging him to "continue to uphold and support the Alabama Constitution with respect to marriage, both for the welfare of [the state of Alabama] and for our posterity."

Moore's letter came in the wake of a ruling by a federal judge in Alabama that claimed the state's "Sanctity of Marriage Amendment" is supposedly unconstitutional. The amendment was approved by 81% of voters in just 2006, winning every county in the State. The judge's decision is currently stayed pending review by higher courts.

Moore encouraged Governor Bentley: "Be advised that I stand with you to stop judicial tyranny and any unlawful opinions issued without constitutional authority" [emphasis added].

Marriage Supporter, this is the kind of principled stand we need more of our public officials to take—and we need to take such a stand ourselves, too.

In the same email, Brown touted his work pushing anti-LGBT laws overseas, lamenting that “the biggest threats to marriage are unfortunately coming from the West” and accusing Obama and LGBT rights activists of attempting “to export a radical view of marriage to the rest of the world.”

And as we work, let's remember that we're not alone in this fight! Lately, I have had a few opportunities to meet with marriage leaders throughout the globe, such as at the recent Vatican Colloquium on the Complementarity of Man and Woman. The experiences of these countries make it clear that we have a global fight to preserve marriage, and that the biggest threats to marriage are unfortunately coming from the West — led by the United States (and the lawless actions of President Obama) but also including some countries in western Europe.

It's nothing short of a new western imperialism for the Obama administration and his allies among gay and lesbian activists to attempt to export a radical view of marriage to the rest of the world. (Indeed, Pope Francis, on his recent trip to the Philippines, called it a kind of "ideological colonization.") There's something ironic in all this, seeing how President Obama's foreign policy strategy (to the extent he has one) is supposedly predicated on the idea that America must work in concert with the international community. You'd think that advice would apply to Obama's attempt to redefine marriage, as well, since the overwhelming majority of countries around the globe have rejected same-sex ‘marriage'...

And that leads me to a positive bit of news to share in closing this week: if you haven't already heard, the national parliament of Macedonia recently voted overwhelmingly (72-4) to create constitutional provisions limiting marriage to the union of one man and one woman. And the people of Slovakia are very likely to do the same in a national referendum in little over a week's time!

Brian Brown's CitizenGo Promoting Anti-LGBT Referendum In Slovakia

Next week, Slovakia will hold a referendum against same-sex marriage, and anti-LGBT groups from around the globe are getting into the game to support it.

Although Slovakia has already banned same-sex marriage in its constitution, the referendum would reinforce and expand the prohibition, asking voters, according to the Associated Press, “whether they agree that a marriage can be called only a union between a man and a woman, same-sex partners can't adopt children, and that children wouldn't have to attend school classes on sex education if their parents don't agree with them.”

Last year, a European representative of the U.S. group Alliance Defending Freedom filed a brief in the country’s constitutional court in favor of holding the referendum. ADF also supported a provision in that would have banned domestic partnerships for gay and lesbian couples, but the court rejected including that provision in the referendum.

Yesterday, CitizenGo, a Madrid-based group whose board of directors includes National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown, circulated a petition to its American email subscribers supporting Slovakia’s marriage referendum. The email sent to American supporters was signed by Josh Craddock, the head of Personhood USA’s international and United Nations work, on behalf of CitizenGo.

The petition, which has already gathered more than 45,000 signatures, encourages Slovak citizens to vote “yes” on the referendum in the face of what it calls “an aggressive foreign media campaign” against it:

The Slovak referendum is under attack from an aggressive foreign media campaign against the initiative. We cannot leave Slovak citizens alone in the face of these international pressures against marriage and the family.

By signing this petition, you will show your solidarity and support for marriage and family. Your signature will encourage Slovakia to vote in favor of these important values.

The November issue of the newsletter of the World Congress of Families, an Illinois-based group that connects international anti-LGBT and anti-choice activists, featured a plea from Anton Chromik, a leader the group spearheading the referendum effort in Slovakia, for support from international groups.

The Cato Institute’s Dalibor Rohac wrote in the Times last month that Chromik is warning that LGBT people don’t want “rights,” but to “shut the mouths of other people,” which he says could lead to “dictatorships” or “mass murders”:

Anton Chromik, one of the leaders of the Alliance for Family, claims that “homosexuals are not asking just for ‘rights,’ but want to shut the mouths of other people. They will be making decisions over other people’s lives, careers, and that has always in history resulted in dictatorships and sometimes even in mass murders.”

This rhetoric is reminiscent of the warnings peddled American anti-LGBT activists; as Political Research Associates has noted, the frame of LGBT people as the real oppressors is one that U.S. groups have been increasingly pushing in their work overseas.

Rohac also noted that the anti-LGBT referendum is tied up with Slovakia’s economic troubles and with its relationship with Russia, whose President Vladimir Putin has taken advantage of anti-LGBT sentiment to strengthen support for Russia in Eastern European and Central Asia:

For the government of Prime Minister Fico, the controversy is a welcome — though temporary — distraction from some very real problems facing Slovakia. While its transition from Communism was a success, the country is still plagued by rampant corruption, chronic unemployment — exceeding 30 percent in some regions — and by the intergenerational poverty of the sizeable Roma population.

The country has also seen a geopolitical shift following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with Mr. Fico becoming one of the Kremlin’s leading apologists. Unsurprisingly, Slovakia’s anti-gay activists have a soft spot for Vladimir Putin, too. Former Prime Minister Jan Carnogursky, a former Catholic dissident and an outspoken supporter of the referendum, noted recently that “in Russia, one would not even have to campaign for this — over there, the protection of traditional Christian values is an integral part of government policy” and warned against the “gender ideology” exported from the United States.

The Nativist Strategy Behind World Congress of Families' Anti-LGBT, Anti-Choice Work In Russia

Last year, a slew of American Religious Right activists traveled to Moscow to take part in an international conference called “Large Families and the Future of Mankind.” The conference was funded by top allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin and was organized by the Illinois-based World Congress of Families (WCF ended its official role in the event after the U.S. placed sanctions on some of its funders, but was still clearly the main organizing force behind it.)

The fact that the conference was dedicated to “large families” is important. In a new report for Political Research Associates, Cole Parke exposes how WCF has worked with Russia’s government to exploit fears of a European “demographic winter” and push for policies restricting abortion and LGBT rights. Parke illustrates that behind the “demographic winter” warning is a “cynical manipulation of racial resentments” — not the fear that the country’s population is dropping but that Russian identity might be “redefined as something other than White and Orthodox.”

WCF’s influence at the U.N. relies heavily on its longstanding ties with Russia, one of the five permanent members on the U.N. Security Council. Carlson’s work on the ”demographic winter”—the idea that abortion, birth control, homosexuality, feminism and other ”unnatural” deviations have led to dangerous population decline and a crisis for the ”natural family”—has proven to be particularly effective in garnering favor with Russia’s conservative leadership.

Carlson argues that declining birth rates threaten the decline of civilization—Western civilization. As researcher and journalist Kathryn Joyce puts it, “The concern is not a general lack of babies, but the cultural shifts that come when some populations, particularly immigrant communities, are feared to be out-procreating others.” Put another way, the demographic winter thesis cultivates racism and xenophobia in support of exclusionary “natural family” policies. A main objective of the WCF’s demographic scare tactics is to convert nationalism into natalism, and thereby mobilize a larger anti-abortion, “natural family” base. (Natalism prioritizes human procreation, including public policies that reward birthing children.)

This perspective is commonplace among WCF and its affiliates. Following WCF’s 1997 congress in Prague, Cathy Ramey, associate director of the U.S. anti-abortion organization Advocates for Life Ministries, explained what she’d learned: “As native citizens reject marriage and child-bearing, other non-native groups will simply move in and replace the historic population.” Speaking at WCF V, John Mueller, a researcher at the Ethics and Public Policy Center—a neoconservative think tank in Washington, DC, argued that “fertility would rise and remain above the replacement rate, not only in the United States but also most other countries, by ending legal abortion.”

In Russia and other parts of Europe, a combination of population anxiety and growing anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant sentiment has offered WCF a favorable political context in which to advance its anti-abortion, “natural family” agenda. Carlson and his network have fanned the flames of “demographic winter” anxieties throughout the region.

In June 2011, WCF hosted the Moscow Demographic Summit, describing it as the “world’s first summit to address the international crisis of rapidly declining birthrates.” More than 500 people attended, including Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church; Russian First Lady Svetlana Medvedeva; members of the Russian Duma; and a host of right-wing American scholars and activists.

Within two weeks of the event, President Medvedev—whose wife, Medvedeva, had recently teamed up with the Russian Orthodox Church on a new anti-abortion campaign—signed a law requiring abortion providers to devote 10 percent of any advertising to describing the dangers of abortion to a woman’s health, and making it illegal to describe abortion as a safe medical procedure. This was the first new legislative restriction placed on abortions in the country since the fall of Communism.

Four months later, in October 2011, the Russian Duma passed a law further restricting abortions to within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions for cases up to 22 weeks in instances of rape or medical necessity. The new law also tacked on a mandatory waiting period of two to seven days before an abortion can be performed, a common tactic used by anti-abortion activists in the U.S.

Parke explores how WCF exploits nativist and nationalist fears in order to push restrictions on reproductive rights and LGBT equality in its work in Africa and at the United Nations as well. You can read the full report here.

Brian Brown Tells Moscow Conference: Americans Reject 'New And False Vision Of The Family'

As we noted just now, we recently discovered that the website for the international conference of social conservatives hosted at the Kremlin in September has posted a number of English transcripts of speeches given at the event, including those of a handful of American activists.

One of those activists was Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, who had previously testified before a Russian parliamentary committee in favor of tightening the country's laws  preventing the adoption of Russian orphans by same-sex couples.

Brown warned the audience in Moscow that “[i]n the West especially there is an attempt to silence those of us who stand for the truth of marriage” but claimed that Americans in general oppose LGBT rights. Lamenting that “there’s a picture that is sometimes painted of the United States as if all of us in the U.S. are somehow embracing this new and false vision of the family,” Brown said that it is “unelected judges” who are “coming and simply throwing away the votes” of Americans who oppose LGBT equality, violating “our civil right to have our vote counted.”

Brown told the conference attendees that he was hopeful for the future of the “international pro-family movement” that would “stand in a united manner against the attempt to redefine the very nature of what it means to be a human being.”

It is a great blessing to be with all of you here, in Moscow. I must say I am obviously an American, and I have eight children. We do exist, there are Americans with large families, but I never thought, and after talking to so many other Americans that are here today, I don’t think any of us ever thought that we would be here in Moscow, uniting together with all of you and seeing the leadership in defense of the family that we’re seeing in this country, and God bless you for that.

There are three things I want to discuss today. I want to focus primarily on what the future of the international pro-family movement is. Because what is occurring here, and what is occurring around the world, with leaders coming together, and meeting, and thinking, and discussing, and planning, and organizing, is a historic moment. We have an opportunity, we have been placed here to make a change.

Of course we see all of the bad that’s occurring. We see the countries that are embracing a false notion of marriage, we see the depressing and horrible rates of abortion in countries around the world; we see the negatives from what goes on in the media, what we see in movies. But there’s also a great good occurring, and great opportunities, and I think this moment in history is the time in which people from around the globe who understand the truth of the nature of the family, the truth of the nature of human dignity, the truth about what we need to do to protect the unborn, – we have an opportunity to band together, even in places that might seem unlikely, even in new relationships that we haven’t had in the past, to stand in a united manner against the attempt to redefine the very nature of what it means to be a human being. Because that in fact is what the redefinition of the family is all about.

So I think there are three characteristics of this new movement that we should embrace as we move forward. Number one – I think we need a boldness, a willingness to speak. In the West especially there is an attempt to silence those of us who stand for the truth of marriage; there is an attempt to punish donors who’ve donated to protect marriage in states like California throughout the country, to get their names in public, to try and fire people who are standing up for their beliefs, from their jobs, simply because they are standing for the truth of the union of a man and a woman.

At this point in history, it’s not enough to shrug your shoulders and say, “Well, I’m not going to deal with that.” We have to deal with it, we have to stand for the truth, we have to be bold.

At the same time, I believe we need a humility in our interactions around the world. What I mean is, much of our mass media is telling us things that may or may not be true, and it requires humility to work together with those that you may have differences on other matters, on the key issues of marriage and life. It takes humility to say that there are other countries that have stood up, and there’s something we can learn from them, especially if there’ve been other historic differences. I look at France, and I see one million people in the streets. We need to learn from France standing up for marriage.

It also takes humility that there’s a picture that is sometimes painted of the United States as if all of us in the U.S. are somehow embracing this new and false vision of the family. That is not true. The reality is that when the people of state after state have been able to vote on the definition of marriage, they voted to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Only in a few states has marriage been redefined. In 32 states the people have voted, even in California, to protect marriage as the union of a man and a woman. When the people have been able to have their say, they’ve stood up for the truth! The problem is that we are now in a position when judges, unelected judges are coming and simply throwing away the votes of all of these millions of Americans! We have to stand up for civil rights, our civil right to have our vote counted!

So I think that when talking about the United States it’s important to understand that there are many-many people that are working to protect marriage, that are working to protect life and don’t accept the changes that are occurring at the higher levels of government.

Finally, I think we need to be faithful. Our Lord said that we would be persecuted if we stood up for righteousness; we are going to be persecuted, it is going to take a faithfulness for all of us that when we are persecuted and when there are attempts to divide us, that we stand together for the truth! There are many issues on which we may disagree; there are many issues of geopolitics that there may be differences of opinion in this room, but what we are united on is the fundamental truth that is at stake in this century, and that is the truth of the beauty and dignity of marriage and family.

And I believe, instead of fear, or being depressed, or being negative, we need an optimism with our faith, to say that no culture can long stand that neglects or denies the truth, the simple truth that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. No culture can long stand that denies the inherent dignity of each and every human being. We need to proclaim this truth, be faithful, and I believe, it may take five years, ten years, fifteen years, even decades in the future. If we are faithful, we will make a change. But above all that, whether the change occurs or not, we are all called to do this. This is our mission, this is our duty, and it is our honor to be a part of it at this time in history. Thank you, and God bless!

World Congress of Families Spokesman: 'Russia Is The Hope For the World Right Now'

Back in September, a number of American activists, including the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown , traveled to Moscow to take part in an international conference on “Large Families and the Future of Humanity” hosted at the Kremlin. The event, funded by a handful of close allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin, had originally been planned as the annual convention of the Illinois-based World Congress of Families, but WCF dropped its official sponsorship after Russia’s incursion into Ukraine led the U.S. to place economic sanctions on several of the Russian leaders involved in the conference.

Nonetheless, the conference went right ahead as planned, with two leaders of WCF — communications director Don Feder and managing director Lawrence Jacobs — attending in their personal capacities and speaking at an opening press conference along with two of the event’s top Russian funders, Natalia Yakunina (wife of Putin ally Vladimir Yakunin) and Konstantin Malofeev.

In addition, Feder and Jacobs both had the chance to give speeches at the event. Feder, never one to be shy about his extremism, posted a transcript of his speech decrying the “sexual revolution” on the conservative website BarbWire in October.

Coincidentally, today, just as Glenn Beck was warning his Religious Right allies against siding with Putin in his anti-LGBT crusade and blasting WCF for having “bought Russia's salesmanship that they are the new global champion of Christianity,” we came across the English transcript of Jacobs’ speech, which pretty much reinforces Beck’s point.

After being introduced by Yakunina, who called him “our old friend and ally in pro-family movement,” Jacobs heaped praise upon Russia’s leaders for resisting European trends toward LGBT equality and abortion rights, saying, “I think Russia is the hope for the world right now.”

“Russian Eastern European leadership, I believe, is necessary to counter the secular, post-modern, anti-family agenda and replace want I’m calling the cultural Marxist philosophy that’s destroying human society, in particular destroying the family,” he said.

The “radical population control people” and “the radical LGBT groups” are staging a “Marxist takeover” of the West through developments like legalized abortion, liberalized divorce law, and the abolition of “sodomy” laws, he warned, leaving Russia to lead the “spiritual battle.”

“I believe that now that you’ve emerged from the seventy years of oppression, culturally you are healthier than much of the West,” he said.

In particular, I wanted to just talk about why I think Russia is the hope for the world right now. In particular…really, to the importance of the future of the family and to the future of civilization.

Russian Eastern European leadership, I believe, is necessary to counter the secular, post-modern, anti-family agenda and replace want I’m calling the cultural Marxist philosophy that’s destroying human society, in particular destroying the family. I can’t think of a place that’s experienced the destruction of the Marxism more than Russia after seventy years of destroying the family and the church. So this is something, I think, all of you understand.

What is happening now is a cultural Marxism. You defeated communism here in Russia, but we inherited a cultural communism, a cultural Marxism. Many Western nations may have economic freedom, political freedom or democracy, freedom of speech, but they’ve lost the freedom of education and culture. Our culture has been taken over by the Marxist in America and in the West. Let me explain.

So where does this leave us, what is causing all of these problems that we discussed so eloquently today and yesterday, why is it that the family is under attack? Well, I believe that really the cultural Marxism and socialism has replaced communism as the new attack on society. Really, the socialist revolution in the West has been greatly influenced by an Italian communist that maybe you don’t know of, Antonio Gramsci. Right in the thirties, he said in particular about the culture of the West, “If we can take over the family and the church, we can remove the barrier what stands as robust obstacles to a communist economical and political takeover.” So what he was saying is, “Look, we don’t need violent revolution, we need a cultural revolution.”

He proposed the takeover of the cultural institutions, the destruction of marriage and family, and the church. This would achieve what I’m calling cultural political correctness, which is what we see, where the minority rules the majority. The majority of people believe that the family is the fundamental unit of society, but we’ve been taken over by a minority of people, sometimes less than one percent of the population, that produces their agenda and their values.

So, this means that socialists have been working tirelessly in the West, and this includes, you know, the radical population control people, the radical LGBT groups. They’ve been working on a takeover of universities and various socialist institutions, and taking over the education, the media, the churches, and destroying any structure that stands in their way, which is the family.

How has this happened? Well, they devalued sex, they devalued life, they devalued marriage. And ultimately, the destruction of the family has become the focus of these socialists and their leftist ideology.

This should demonstrate what they’ve been able to do through the sexual revolution. I call it a timeline of a cultural takeover of the family and the church, a Marxist takeover.

Unfortunately, some of this begins in Russia, in 1920, when the communists legalized abortion at all stages of a woman’s pregnancy. And it wasn’t just that particular moment in time. Of course, it was then the development of the technology of abortion and spreading that across Europe and across the world, to the United States as well.

Then, to go further, prior to 1930, all Christian denominations – Orthodox, Catholics, Protestants – all believed the contraception was wrong, that the pill or any form of contraception was against God’s will. That changed in 1930, with the Anglicans.

And as I go forward to more modern times, we look at the promotion of pornography, the legalization of the birth-control pill, no-fault divorce. You can see the gradual loosening of moral values, Christian values, until, in 1973, the US Supreme Court and their famous Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion in the United States.

And then we went beyond abortion to same-sex marriage, legalizing that in the Netherlands in 2001. And in 2003, we struck down the sodomy laws in the United States, which opened up same-sex marriage. And now we have to worry about polygamy and all kinds of other forms of marriage.

So why is it that Russia can combat what has really been largely a revolution in the West? Well, because you understand what the Marxists can do to culture and to society. And I believe that now that you’ve emerged from the seventy years of oppression, culturally you are healthier than much of the West. And what you need to do, I think, is really continue to share the values that make Russia strong, that made it strong historically.

There is also a spiritual element to this. This is a spiritual battle, and, I think, members of the church in Russia, members of civil society should think about a way to reverse what happened in 1920. Clearly, if we can’t respect the dignity of human life, how can we do… We can see what happens. All these other things happen. So we need to make sure that we’ve reversed the legalization of abortion, but not just legally. I think, spiritually, there needs to be a repentance. There need to be an asking of forgiveness, not only in Russia but throughout the world, but I think Russia can lead this. Abortion started here, it can end here.

I believe, if Russia apologizes, takes responsibility and changes its abortion laws, and tells the world why it’s doing it, why the focus on the natural family, and life, and the dignity of human at all stages, it will lead in a counter-revolution to what we’ve seen in the sexual revolution that spread so many horrible values throughout the West. In fact, I think only Russia can do this.

One final thought. It’s obviously a spiritual battle, but there is also a philosophical battle. And so when the church, I believe, takes the lead on this issue of abortion, there is one additional area we can’t forget, and that’s the philosophical ideas of what we are doing. The spiritual part is the most important, and then what follows C. S. Lewis spoke about. You know, people as C. S. Lewis, the great Christian writer, Anglican, he was in England, they said… Once he converted to Christianity, they said, “Well, why don’t spend your time evangelizing people, telling people about the good news of Jesus? Why not spend all of your time…” He was, you know, obviously, very intelligent man and excellent orator – why shouldn’t he go into the ministry, for instance? And he said this. He said, “To be ignorant and simple now – not to be able to meet the enemies on their own ground, would be to throw down our weapons, and to betray our uneducated brethren who have, under God, no defense but us against the intellectual attacks of the heathen. Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered.” And I believe, friends, that good philosophy must come from Russia.

Thank you.

New Report On Religious Right In Europe - And Its U.S. Backers

A new report from the Croatia-based Center for Education, Counseling and Research (CESI) examines the organized assault on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in Europe from the Catholic hierarchy and its conservative allies. CESI was founded in 1997 to respond to violations of human rights, particularly women’s and minority rights, as well as militarization and economic dislocation.

“Neo-Conservative Threats to Sexual and Reproductive Health & Rights in the European Union” examines the efforts of the Catholic hierarchy, its “satellite organizations,” and allied politicians to restrict access to abortion and LGBT equality in the European Union.  According to the report, “the Vatican hierarchy and its civil allies have recently re-organized and enhanced their efforts towards influencing public policies regarding family, sexuality and reproductive health.”

The report also references the mentoring role of U.S. groups that provide “inspiration and transfer of experience, tactics and strategies of action” to their European counterparts. As RWW readers know, we have been covering the support given by U.S. Religious Right groups and leaders, such as the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) and its European arm (ECLJ) and NOM’s Brian Brown, for anti-gay activism around the globe. “What we have here is a small, marginal, but very well organized and financed group of advocates for a fundamentalist religious-political agenda,” says the report.

According to the CESI report,

“Institutions in Brussels are now increasingly used as channels to promote Catholic values and fundamentalist ideology, creating an atmosphere of increased neo-conservative influence on the political institutions…this kind of extreme advocacy in defense of traditional, catholic values simultaneously aims to limit rights and discriminate against ‘the others and different ones’…”

The report documents the global interconnections among conservative groups and activists. For example, Luca Volontè is on board of patrons of U.S.-based C-FAM, and is among the European contributors to C-FAM’s “Turtle Bay and Beyond” blog.

In June of 2014, Luca Volontè, Ignacio Arsuaga – the president of CitizenGO and HazteOir, and Ludovine de La Rochère – the president of La Manif Pour Tous, have publicly supported “The March for Marriage” in Washington, an event organized by The National Organization for Marriage. In a meeting that was held behind closed doors, together with the representatives of some 70 countries, they have begun working on establishing an International Organization for Marriage.

The report notes the movement’s use of online communications and organizing strategies, including the online petition platform called CitizenGO.

CitizenGO presents itself as a global community of active citizens who use online petitions and actions to defend and promote life, family and (religious) freedom. They emphasize promoting active citizen participation in public and political life on local, national and international level, so this platform, based in Spain, operates in eight languages (Italian, German, French, English, Russian, Polish, Portuguese, and Spanish). Arabic and Chinese version are in the planning stage.

Skillfully using the principles of participatory democracy as a disguise, CitizenGo actually works as a politically intelligent instrument, gathering numerous prominent figures of neoconservative agenda in the EU and centralizing advocacy actions against the right to abortion, marriage equality, assisted reproductive technology and sexual education in schools. In organized advocacy efforts against adopting three reports on SRHR status and gender equality in the EU (Estrela, Lunacek, Zuber), they have managed to gather about 350 000 support signatures in few months, and, while lobbying for each individual report, they have mobilized citizens to send tensof thousands of e-mail messages to the representatives in the European Parliament. That kind of numbers in support, as well as the range of influence should mostly be credited to Ignacio Arsuaga, the president of the CitizenGO platform and the founder of the organization HazteOir, who spent many years adapting online organizing and advocacy techniques used by conservative groups in the USA to the political conditions in Spain and the EU.

NOM’s Brian Brown is on the board of CitizenGo, whose logo describes the group as a “Member of the ACTRight Family.” ACTRight was founded by Brown to raise money for conservative causes and campaigns.

In addition to conservative efforts Europe-wide, the CESI report also includes a focused look on political activities in Croatia, including the role of the Catholic hierarchy in support of a campaign for a referendum to put a ban on marriage by same-sex couples into the country’s constitution, the use of the U.S.-developed “TeenStar” abstinence-based sex ed program, and travel to the country by U.S. religious conservative activists Judith Reisman and Lila Rose.

Peter LaBarbera’s Terrible, Horrible Anti-LGBT Year

Voice of Christian Youth America’s Jim Schneider invited Americans for Truth About Homosexuality president Peter LaBarbera onto the “Crosstalk” program yesterday to discuss the events of 2014, which was full of disappointments for the anti-LGBT activist.

LaBarbera’s chief villain of the year appears to be Apple CEO Tim Cook, who came out as gay in October, writing, “I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me." LaBarbera told Schneider that because Cook “implicated our Heavenly Father in his sinful behavior,” he told “the biggest gay lie of 2014.”

“God has nothing to do with his homosexual behavior,” LaBarbera said. “So what he and the homosexual activist lobby are doing is they’re using, they’re trying to steal away Christianity and God to try to affirm their lifestyle because they’re so desperate to legitimize it.”

In a recent email to AFTAH supporters, LaBarbara accused Cook of “awful slander against God,” warning that if the Apple executive doesn’t renounce his homosexuality he “will spend eternity without Him in a place called Hell.”

LaBarbera was also frustrated by advances for LGBT people in sports, including the International Olympic Committee’s decision to require host countries to ensure LGBT nondiscrimination and NFL player Michael Sam’s coming out as gay.

LaBarbera, who traveled last year to Jamaica to urge the country to keep its criminal ban on homosexuality and has defended anti-gay laws inUganda and Russia, lamented that such a move would impede the Olympic hopes of countries that are “not as decadent as the United States.”

He warned that “it’s going to get to the point where you can’t take your son or daughter to a sporting event without risking the promotion of immorality to them at the game.”

LaBarbera illustrated this with a story about someone “sitting at a baseball game” when “a couple of lesbians start[ed] making out or necking, kissing each other, groping each other at the game. Well, we’re all against PDAs, public displays of affection, by anybody, but certainly homosexuality is a special case. Most parents don’t want homosexual behavior promoted to their son or daughter. And this is what’s going to happen to sports because of this.”

LaBarbera went on to lament the Obama administration’s efforts to promote LGBT rights abroad, which he said meant that “instead of being a force for good we became a force for evil.”

He boasted about his own anti-LGBT work in Jamaica, which he said was part of his refusal to “give up the truth” as illustrated by his “sexual sin substitution test.”

“Whenever you hear the word ‘gay’ or ‘homosexual,’ substitute another sexual sin in place of the word ‘gay’ and see if it makes sense,” he told Schneider. “We don’t go around scolding people for ‘incestphobia’ or for being ‘pornography-phobes,’ it’s only the homosexual issue which we try to grant some sort of special, approved status.”

Religious Right Cheers On Vladimir Putin As Anti-LGBT Violence In Russia Surges

While most of the news on Russia this week has been focused on the country’s ongoing financial collapse, it is important to highlight a report released by Human Rights Watch on Monday documenting the rise of anti-LGBT violence in Russia along with the ways the government, which recently passed new laws curbing LGBT rights, has ensured virtual impunity for the perpetrators of such attacks. Following the report’s release, Russia added a LGBT legal aid group to a list of NGOs that must register as “foreign agents.”

The uptick in violence against LGBT Russians certainly won't discourage Religious Right activists from supporting Putin, many of whom also seem more than willing to ignore his deadly incursion into Ukraine , support for laws curbing the freedoms of Russian evangelical Christians and other human rights abuses.

Nothing, it seems, can dissuade many of Putin’s American supporters, several of whom recently attended an anti-LGBT conference at the Kremlin, from believing that the U.S. should adopt anti-gay laws modeled on Russia’s, such as a ban on gay “propaganda” and adoption by same-sex parents.

In fact, many Religious Right activists in the U.S. believe that Putin is on a mission from God to save Russia, and the world, from the LGBT community.

Crush on Putin

It is no secret that many conservatives have fallen under Putin’s spell.

Matt Drudge has called Putin the “leader of the free world.” Sarah Palin has fawned over the Russian leader’s wrestling abilities. Franklin Graham has hailed Putin for “protecting children from any homosexual agenda or propaganda” and having “taken a stand to protect his nation’s children from the damaging effects of any gay and lesbian agenda.” Larry Jacobs of the World Congress of Families, the group that helped organize the Kremlin meeting, praised Putin last year for “preventing [gay people] from corrupting children.”

Religious Right leader and Iowa GOP kingmaker Bob Vander Plaats has upheld Putin as a world leader in morality. Josh Craddock, who represents Personhood USA at the United Nations, came back from the Kremlin conference cheering on Russia as a “light to the world.” Liberty Counsel chairman Mat Staver expressed offense last year that Obama would dare criticize Putin.One Fox News host wished that Putin could be president of the United States, even for just 48 hours.

Any violence against Russian gays, one Religious Right group explained, is probably “provoked by homosexual activists.” Massachusetts-based pastor Scott Lively, who has taken credit for inspiring Russia’s “propaganda” law, dismissed anti-LGBT violence in Russia as a “hoax” and told right-wing radio show host Linda Harvey that if violent anti-gay incidents occur, other gay people were likely the perpetrators.

God Will Favor Russia Instead Of America, Thanks Obama

Anti-gay activists think that God has decided to bless Russia, thanks to Putin’s leadership, while punishing the U.S. for passing rebellious gay rights laws. Pat Buchanan clearly articulated this mindset in a column in April titled “Is God Now On Russia’s Side?,” in which he likened the U.S. and Western Europe to Sodom and Gomorrah and cheerfully proclaimed that “Putin is planting Russia’s flag firmly on the side of traditional Christianity.”

In a February column, Don Feder of the World Congress of Families gushed that Putin had become the new Ronald Reagan: “As my friend and Russian pro-family leader Alexey Komov likes to say: 'Under Reagan, America helped to save us from communism. We'd like to return the favor.'”

Lively made the case last year that Putin is “the only world leader capable of standing up to the West” and could “inspire all the morally conservative countries of the world to adopt a similar law that he just adopted.” In the same interview, Lively called Obama the Antichrist.

“The country that’s acting like it’s part of the kingdom of the Antichrist is the United States of America, and Russia is standing against homosexual marriage, they’re standing for traditional family values,” Religious Right radio host Rick Wiles said in September. “The United States is exporting its wickedness, we’re using our power and might to force nations to change their laws to accept abortion, to accept homosexual marriage and homosexual rights, so which country is part of the Antichrist system and which is not?”

Wiles even predicted that the U.S. would soon go to war against Russia “with an atheistic, Jesus-hating, pro-homosexual, pro-lesbian, pro-transgender military and we're going to go up against another military carrying a Christian cross.”

Bring Anti-Gay Laws To The U.S.

Anti-gay activist Matt Barber said earlier this year that it was “encouraging” to see more anti-gay measures coming out of Russia, adding that he would like to see laws that “stop this homosexual activist propaganda from corrupting children in our nation and we need to see that right here in the United States.”

Peter LaBarbera called Russia’s “propaganda” law an “acceptable” and necessary way to stop companies like Disney from “promoting lesbianism to kids,” while American Family Association governmental affairs director Sandy Rios said the speech-inhibiting law was just “common sense.”

One of Putin’s most vocal cheerleaders, American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer, has called him a “lion of Christianity” and repeatedly demanded that the U.S. enact similar bans on gay “propaganda.”

Since the U.S. hasn’t embrace such an anti-gay crackdown, Religious Right activist William Murray writes, Americans are now “fleeing” to Russia in order to avoid LGBT equality at home.

Mat Staver To Headline Jamaica Conference Hosted By Group Defending Anti-Sodomy Laws

American Religious Right leaders Mat Staver and Judith Reisman are scheduled to be featured speakers at a conference in Jamaica this weekend hosted by a group that has been working to preserve the country’s criminal ban on consensual gay sex.

The annual conference, hosted by the Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society, will focus on how “[c]ontemporary society has become increasingly hostile to the traditional definitions of marriage and family” and Staver, the head of Liberty Counsel, will discuss “global legal trends impacting the institution of the family.”

JCHS’s conference has drawn prominent American anti-gay activists before. In 2012, two top lawyers for the Alliance Defending Freedom spoke at the conference, one of whom defended Jamaica’s anti-sodomy law, calling homosexuality “harmful not only spiritually and psychologically, but also physically.” Last year, Americans For Truth About Homosexuality’s Peter LaBarbera made an appearance at the conference, urging Jamaicans: “Do not be like us, do not be like Britain, do not sit idly by as so-called ‘LGBT activists’ manipulate words and laws to achieve dominance in your country.”

LaBarbera distanced himself from the U.S. State Department’s support for LGBT rights around the world, telling attendees (as transcribed by a Buzzfeed reporter who attended):

I do not stand with my government. I’m a patriotic American, but I do not stand with the current United States government in its promotion of homosexuality and gender confusion. But I do stand with the Jamaican people … I pray that you will learn from our mistakes and from lessons of history and avoid the inevitable moral corruption and health hazards and the danger to young people that come from capitulating to this sin movement that calls itself gay. It is almost now can be predicted with 100 percent accuracy, if the law is a teacher: If you take down this law, it will only lead to more demands. Appeasement does not work.

MassResistance’s Brian Camenker has also headlined a rally for the group.

The groups organizing the conference have opposed efforts to overturn the country’s anti-sodomy laws, which impose up to 10 years imprisonment for gay sex. Jamaica CAUSE, a cosponsor, organized rallies earlier this year to oppose an effort to overturn the law. The main sponsor, Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society, also supports keeping the laws. On its website, JCHS provides a document called “Frequently Asked Questions About The Buggery Law” that attributes homosexuality to “economic reasons, direct Satanic influence, media and entertainment enticement, and experiences during incarceration” and cautions, “If determining human rights is separated from morality and based on individual freedom without any restraints, all perversions will in due time become ‘rights’.”

In a section on countries with greater freedom for LGBT people, the group adopts the American Right’s persecution messaging:

Why is it so important to certain countries, such as the UK, that Jamaica removes the buggery law?

Homosexuals in those countries have gained political power and so are able to use the machinery of the state to achieve their ends. It is interesting to note that the aim in these countries is not just that the buggery law is repealed, but that all types of sexual behaviour, including pedophilia and bestiality, should be eventually legalized as alternative sexual orientations. Further, the removal of the buggery law often results in attacks on freedom of speech and religion so that those who speak out against homosexuality are discriminated against and victimized. They want all types of sexual behavior to be legal.

JCHS defends Jamaica’s anti-sodomy, or “buggery,” law this way:

Since the buggery law is difficult to police shouldn’t it be removed from the books? Laws have multiple roles. (i) instruction on right behaviour that benefit individuals and society (ii) deterrence against wrong behaviour (iii) punishment for wrong behaviour. The law of the land bears witness to that which the state approves. This is important because this determines, for example, what can and can’t be taught to children in schools. Laws against murder, littering and traffic violations have not prevented these activities but that is no reason for these laws to be removed. Because a law cannot be policed does not mean it should be removed.

The group also provides images like this as “media resources”:

Religious Right Leaders Join Vatican Man-Woman Marriage Event

Fresh off the synod on the family, at which conservative Catholic bishops rallied to assert ideological domination over the final report, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly known as the Inquisition) has announced that it will be hosting a colloquium this month on the “Complementarity of Man and Woman in Marriage.” Trekking to Vatican City for the event will be some American anti-equality advocates: Rick Warren, the Southern Baptists’ Russell Moore, right-wing Archbishop of Philadelphia Charles Chaput, and Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The November 17-19 event will be co-hosted by the Pontifical Council for the Family, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. The announcement of the colloquium says it will feature representatives from 14 religious traditions and 23 countries. Among them is Nicholas Okoh, the Anglican Archbishop of Nigeria, who has called homosexuality a manifestation of the devil and praised Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan’s “courage” in signing a harsh anti-gay law last December. Okoh said in January that people who oppose the law will face “disaster.”

The event will also premiere six short films about marriage; a trailer for the series is online now.

UPDATE: Russell Moore has explained why he's going to the Vatican:

Here’s what I hope comes out of the meeting. I hope that this gathering of religious leaders can stand in solidarity on the common grace, creational mandate of marriage and family as necessary for human flourishing and social good. I also hope that we can learn from one another about where these matters stand around the world. And I hope that those of us from the believers’ church tradition can represent well our views of how marriage is more than just a natural good (although it is never less than that), but is a picture of the gospel one-flesh union of Christ and his church.

Putin Ally Builds New Orthodox News Network On Fox Model

Slate’s Joshua Keating is out with a profile of Konstantin Malofeev, the Russian oligarch who has become a full-time activist and benefactor to “traditional family” causes in Russia and Europe. Malofeev worked with the Illinois-based World Congress of Families to organize last month’s social conservative conference at the Kremlin. In fact, Malofeev sounds a lot like an American Religious Right leader when he argues that Christians are facing totalitarian persecution in the U.S. and western Europe:  

“Just as Christians in the West in Ronald Reagan’s time helped us against the evil of communism, we now have to return our debt to Christians who are suffering under totalitarianism in the West,” he says. “This so-called liberalism, tolerance, and freedom, these are just words, but behind them you can see the totalitarianism.” 

Asked for examples of this totalitarianism, he cites legal battles over U.S. businesses not providing flowers or cakes for gay weddings and the use of tear gas against anti-gay-marriage protesters in France. “We saw all of this in the 1920s in the Soviet Union. We know how it starts when the protection of minorities becomes the policy of the state,” he says. 

Keating’s profile makes it clear that Malofeev, currently under sanctions from the EU and Canada for allegedly financing Ukrainian rebels, has big ideas. He is monarchist who wants to see a return of the Czars and the reconstruction of the Russian empire. “We the Russian people are a divided nation, just as the Germans were after the Second World War,” he told Keating.

One of his Malofeev’s big ideas is a new Orthodox conservative television network modeled on the Fox News.  “We want to show the news in the way that Orthodox people, who are 70 to 80 percent of the population, see it.” The Orthodox Church has been a valuable ally for Russian strongman Vladimir Putin’s nationalist and anti-gay policies, and it seems likely that Malofeev’s openly propagandist channel will not meet the same fate as other independent news networks under Putin’s regime.  

The new network is just a YouTube channel for now, but Malofeev has hired as a producer enigmatic former Fox News employee Jack Hanick. We first encountered Hanick when he joined National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown last year at a Moscow roundtable organized by Malofeev and opined that “God called on” Russia” to “stand up for traditional values” where the rest of the world had failed.

Hanick was part of the planning committee for the World Congress of Families event although he said in a recent interview that he was there as a journalist, not an activist. (World Congress of Families dropped its official role in the event after Russia invaded Crimea, although top officials from the group remained involved in their personal capacities, and other Religious Right leaders like Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage were not deterred from attending.)

In an interview with the Russian website Colta earlier this month, Hanick voiced his support for a Russian law banning the “promotion of homosexuality” to minors and said that he had thought that gay rights organizations would also support the law. He also praised Fox News founder Roger Ailes for pioneering of unabashedly biased journalism, envisioning a world where journalists act as lawyers, presenting either side of a case and clearly stating their allegiances.  Ailes, he gushed, “changed television forever.”

Alliance Defending Freedom Lobbies For Anti-Marriage Referendum In Slovakia

Alliance Defending Freedom, an Arizona-based Religious Right powerhouse, has urged Slovakia’s constitutional court to allow anti-gay activists to place a referendum on the country’s ballot that would reinforce the current bans on same-sex marriage, adoption, and domestic partner protections and add a provision making it harder for schools to offer sex education.

The National Law Journal reports:

The court is considering a petition seeking a referendum submitted by the Slovak Alliance for Family. The measure calls for a vote on four questions:

· The definition of a marriage as a union of one man and one woman.

· A requirement that adoptive parents be married.

· Prohibiting registered partnerships between gay and lesbian couples.

· Permitting parents to opt out their children from sex education classes taught at public schools.

"The people of Slovakia should have the freedom to preserve marriage and family if they so choose," said Alliance Defending Freedom senior legal counsel Roger Kiska, who filed an amicus brief with the court. "This referendum will allow Slovaks to affirm current Slovak law and important social values, which is perfectly acceptable under the Slovak Constitution."

The opt-out of sex education classes, however, is not existing law.

More than 400,000 citizens signed the petition supporting a referendum, according to Roger Kiska—more than the required number of signatures. However, Slovak President Andrej Kiska asked the Constitutional Court to review the measure because of a provision in the country's constitution that forbids holding a referendum to change "fundamental rights and liberties."

In June, Slovakia became the seventh EU country to ban same-sex marriage. Alliance Defending Freedom has a hefty budget for Europe, spending more than $750,000 on its European programs last year.

C-FAM Blogger Wonders 'Which Camp To Choose' Between Ukraine-Invading Putin And Sodomy-Promoting Obama

Last week, Austin Ruse, head of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), was among the Americans scheduled to speak at a conference in Moscow sponsored by close allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin that ended with a call for countries around the world to pass laws restricting LGBT rights. Ruse was a member of the planning committee for the event, which was originally organized under the name of the Illinois-based World Congress of Families — WCF dropped its official sponsorship after it came under pressure after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

So it was interesting yesterday to see Turtle Bay and Beyond, a blog sponsored by C-FAM, run a lengthy post by contributor J.C. von Krempach, in which he acknowledges that Putin is using anti-choice and anti-LGBT policies for cynical expansionist ends, but wonders if the Russian president's leadership is nonetheless preferable to President Obama’s support for LGBT equality and reproductive rights around the globe.

(He, like many of his fellow admirers of Putin’s embrace of the Russian Orthodox church, neglects to mention the devastating impact the Ukraine conflict is having on that country's evangelical protestants.)

“The problem with the US today is that President Obama has a religion of his own making,” writes Krempach. “That religion has abortion and same-sex 'marriage' as its most precious sacraments, and Obama is its messiah.”

“If Obama kept his religion for himself, that would not be such a great problem. In actual fact, however, he puts his position as the head of the executive of the world’s largest and most powerful democracy entirely at the service of this novel religion, promoting sodomy and child-slaughtering domestically and abroad.”

All of this, he writes, makes it difficult to “know which camp to choose.”

Definitely, we are living in strange times. Pro-lifers and defenders of marriage and family meet at a conference in Moscow, hosted by two men with close links not only to the Russian Orthodox Church, but also to Russian President (and former KGB-boss) Vladimir Putin just at a time when the latter is waging a war of aggression against neighbouring Ukraine (not to mention the very similar wars he has waged against Georgia and Moldova and, domestically, against the Chechens…). At the same time Barack Obama, supposedly the leader of the most powerful democratic country in the world, is not only the one of the world’s most active advocates of violence against unborn children, but also uses all the powers of his office to wage a full-fledged war, domestically and world-wide, against marriage and the family – which are the very fundaments of any democratic society. And we, perplexed, do not know which camp to choose.

[T]he state ideology [in Russia] has changed once more – and whatever one may think of the close union between Church and State we see today, this change is for the better. For all practical purposes Christianity is more conducive to the common good than Marxism-Leninism. And the promotion of stable families is certainly a better idea than promoting class struggle and collectivization.

If we now turn to look at the United States, we see the nearly opposite scenario. While Americans are (at least by comparison to most Europeans) a very religious nation, they have a secular (not “secularist”) State, with no established religion. The purpose of the clause that there be no established religion is not to fight against religion, but to guarantee religious freedom.

The problem with the US today is that President Obama has a religion of his own making. That religion has abortion and same-sex “marriage” as its most precious sacraments, and Obama is its messiah.

If Obama kept his religion for himself, that would not be such a great problem. In actual fact, however, he puts his position as the head of the executive of the world’s largest and most powerful democracy entirely at the service of this novel religion, promoting sodomy and child-slaughtering domestically and abroad. This includes, in particular, the funding of abortion in developing countries through so-called “development aid”, the use of diplomatic pressure on developing countries to legalize abortion or sodomy, or the public endorsement given by US diplomats to “gay pride” events and other displays of obscenity. These provocative activities have, among many other countries, also targeted Russia – in particular at the Sochi Winter Olympics, where the US foreign Office orchestrated a “LGBT-rights campaign”. But there, as elsewhere, they have not won over the population for Obama’s noble cause, but provoked astonishment and disgust.

And this is, I believe, where the heart of the matter lies. I don’t believe for a moment that Putin is a devout Christian, nor that he has any particularly strong convictions on homosexuality. But he is not stupid either. He has discovered that, by promoting abortion and sodomy as “human rights”, the US and other Western governments have within a very short period of time depleted all the moral capital they had accumulated during the Cold War. Instead with sympathy and admiration, the West is nowadays viewed with contempt in many regions of the world. For the US, this loss of moral capital is a political disaster of unspeakable dimension – and one doesn’t have the impression that Foggy Bottom is even aware of it. For Russia, by contrast, it is a golden opportunity: stand up for a proper understanding of marriage and the family, gain credibility on human rights (which, for quite different reasons, isn’t really due to them, and act as the leader of a world-wide coalition of countries (including most of Asia and Latin America, and nearly all of Africa) that grow increasingly wary of Obama’s bizarre set of “values”. Putin isn’t a democrat. He simply is a politician who understands that cultural issues can play a very important role in world politics, and who is clever enough to draw an easy profit from America’s moral and social self-destruction. It doesn’t cost him a dime.

There is a second reason for Putin to fight abortion promote “large families”. That reason is that Russia cannot be great if its population is dwindling. Russia not only has one of the highest abortion rates in the world, but she is (for a variety of reasons, which include widespread alcoholism, drug abuse, HIV/AIDS, economic problems, emigration, etc.) losing nearly 1 million inhabitants per year. To halt this decline, decisive action is necessary. It is a matter of survival for Russia as a nation (and hence for Putin as a political leader). Thus it seems to me that Putin is not necessarily fighting abortion out of a deep moral conviction, but for more profane reasons. But these reasons are, in and by themselves, certainly legitimate. One can do the right thing for the wrong reasons, and it still remains the right thing.

So whose camp do I choose, Putin’s or Obama’s? Neither. Both have, for very different reasons, a pretty bad human rights record. But both also do some good. When Obama sets out to restore peace and order in the Middle East, I do wish him the best of successes. And when Putin defends marriage and family at the UN, I also wish him all the best. There is not only black and white in this world. There are also many shades of grey.

Children Raised By Gay Couples Become Orphans, Says Prominent French Anti-Gay Activist

This past weekend, National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown was scheduled to stop in France on his way back from Moscow to train activists with the French anti-gay group Manif Pour Tous. Manif Pour Tous is the most prominent organization working against LGBT rights in France, and has strong ties with American groups, as evidenced by its president Ludovine de la Rochere’s appearance at this year’s March for Marriage in Washington, D.C.

So what was the Manif Pour Tous event that Brown participated in like? A reporter from the French publication Le Nouvel Observateur went to the group’s “summer university,” where she was barred from individual workshops like Brown’s, but did sit in on the general sessions, where she captured the following astounding quote from de la Rochere:

Depuis l’adoption de la loi du mariage pour tous, il y a eu 721 requêtes d’adoption par des couples homosexuels. Donc il va y avoir 721 enfants orphelins de plus, au nom de la loi!

Which translates roughly to:

Since the adoption of the law of marriage for all, there were 721 requests for adoption by homosexual couples. So there will be 721 more orphaned children, in the name of the law!

Yes, according to de la Rochere, children raised by same-sex couples end up as orphans.

This kind of rhetoric is similar to what Brown has been pushing in his travels, warning Russian lawmakers last year that adoption by same-sex couples deprives children of their “right to have normal parents: a father and a mother.”

Australian Politicians Back Out Of World Congress Of Families Event, Citing Far-Right Ties

A World Congress of Families event in Melbourne this week was supposed to feature speeches by three Australian government officials, including social services minister Kevin Andrews. Instead, all three have backed out in the face of criticism of the Illinois-based group’s promotion of harsh anti-gay and anti-choice laws around the world.

In addition, the Australian politicians had come under fire for the conference’s sponsorship by Catch the Fire ministries, a group run by far-right politician Danny Nalliah who has blamed wildfires on abortion rights and frequently lashes out against "multiculturalism." (Nalliah also happens to be an ally of bizarre birther WND columnist and RWW favorite Lord Monckton).

Andrews’ decision to back out of the WCF event is especially galling since the group had been planning to present him with its “Natural Family Man of the Year” award. In a somewhat confusing statement, Andrews criticized those asking him to back out of trying to “shut down debate” while agreeing with them that the WCF summit represented “intolerance.” The Sydney Morning Herald:

Mr Andrews issued a statement on Friday announcing he had decided not to attend the conference after learning it would be hosted by the far-right Catch the Fire Ministries.

"Tolerance is a critical value in a western liberal democracy like Australia. It was for this reason that I intended to address the World Congress of Families meeting in Melbourne tomorrow," Mr Andrews said in the statement.

"The calls for me not to attend demonstrate the intolerance of the Greens and the left - instead of arguing their case in the public arena they seek to shut down debate."

"Equally, I cannot support intolerance from other quarters. As I have been informed today that the event is now to be hosted by Catch the Fire, I have decided not to attend."

The World Congress of Families will be holding its next big conference in Salt Lake City next year. It will be interesting to see whether American politicians also choose to stay away.

Why Are 'Sexual Radicals' Accusing Poor Matt Barber, Rick Scarborough And Daniel Lapin of Being Anti-Gay?

In the latest installment of the right-wing victimhood saga, the Illinois-based World Congress of Families has released an open letter accusing “sexual radicals” of launching a “smear campaign” against them in advance of a planned conference in Melbourne later this week.

“Sexual radicals have launched a smear campaign to discredit the Melbourne conference, which misrepresents the international pro-family movement and the positions of the World Congress of Families,” the letter says. “Specifically, it is alleged that advocacy of the natural (or normative) family is somehow unfair to other families and that we ‘shame’ single-parent families, homosexual ‘couples’ and the divorced.” (Scare quotes in the original.)

"The goal of sexual radicals is to deconstruct marriage and marginalize the family, and thus to transform society into something unrecognizable to generations past," the letter continues. "Like all social experiments that attempt to create a 'new man,' these are doomed to failure."

Yes, who could accuse the signers of the letter of shaming LGBT people? Among the 80 signatories are such notable LGBT allies as Liberty Counsel’s Matt Barber, who started his very own website to publish off-the-charts anti-gay vitriol; Rabbi Daniel Lapin, who has said that homosexuality is a form of “barbarism”; Russian World Congress of Families activists Alexei Komov and Pavel Parfentiev, who have cheered on their country’s new spate of anti-gay laws; and Rick Scarborough, who claims that AIDS is God’s punishment for homosexuality.

Also joining the defense of the World Congress of Families are the Family Research Council’s Patrick Fagan, the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown, former House majority leader Tom Delay, the Alliance Defending Freedom’s Benjamin Bull, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, along with a number of international allies of WCF.

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Campaign has just released a new report detailing WCF’s support for repressive anti-gay laws throughout the world.

Mat Staver: LGBT Equality Means America No Longer 'Shining City On The Hill'

Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver lamented this week that the United States’ support for LGBT equality means that America is no longer “the shining city on the hill, the example for other nations to follow” and has instead become “the example of what not to follow.”

Staver and Matt Barber discussed their work pushing anti-gay policies throughout the world on arecent episode of Faith & Freedom Radio, including defending Scott Lively in a lawsuit involving his anti-gay work in Uganda, and efforts to stop sex education and marriage equality in Croatia, which Barber said he hoped “will set a trend in nations around the world.”

“[O]ther nations around the world are affirming marriage as the union of one man and one woman, while America is rejecting it,” Staver lamented. “It’s as ridiculous as rejecting the laws of gravity.”

Barber: We were deeply involved and had a hand in helping to reverse Croatia’s harmful sex education policies and supported Croatia’s constitutional amendment affirming marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and Lord willing, this will set a trend in nations around the world.

Staver: Yeah, it will. And it looks like some of the world, a lot of the world, is going the opposite way that America is. America used to be the shining city on the hill, the example for other nations to follow. Now it’s the example of what not to follow. And other nations around the world are affirming marriage as the union of one man and one woman, while America is rejecting it. It’s as ridiculous as rejecting the laws of gravity. But some judges think they have the audacity and the arrogance to do just that.

The Religious Right Makes Friends Across The Atlantic

BuzzFeed’s Lester Feder is out with an investigative report today on the rise of Europe’s own homegrown Religious Right. Feder cites People For the American Way’s research into funding going from American groups to the European Right — including from Alliance Defending Freedom, the American Center for Law and Justice, and, surprisingly, the fringe anti-choice group Personhood USA — but also notes that a lot of the movement’s energy is travelling in the opposite direction across the Atlantic.

Feder reports, for instance, that last month’s sparsely attended March for Marriage in Washington, D.C., was followed by a very well-attended gathering of representatives from about 70 countries who “met to discuss creation of an International Organization for Marriage.”

A review of tax disclosures conducted by the progressive advocacy group People for the American Way found that several U.S. groups — many of which boomed in the 1990s — had recently invested in conservative drives across Europe: The American Center for Law and Justice, founded by Pat Robertson, sent $1.1 million to its European branch, the European Center for Law and Justice, in 2012, which is the most recent year for which tax disclosures are available. Another group founded by well-known American social conservatives called the Alliance Defending Freedom spent more than $750,000 on European programs that year. The Federalist Society, which promotes conservative legal philosophy, reported spending nearly $800,000 in “conferences and seminars” in Europe that year. Personhood USA, a small Colorado-based group that has tried to pass ballot measures that would give fetuses the legal status of “persons” — a strategy for rolling back abortion rights that is controversial even among pro-life activists — poured $400,000 into Europe in 2012, just after one of its ballot measures went down in flames in Mississippi. (Personhood USA President Keith Mason declined to answer questions from BuzzFeed about which organizations received the funds or what they were used for.)

But while there are links to the U.S., the movement is very much homegrown. Arsuaga said neither HazteOír nor CitizenGo get funding from U.S. groups — and they don’t need it. Arsuaga said 99% of HazteOír’s 1.9 million euro ($2.5 million) annual budget comes from donations from Spanish citizens. CitizenGo has been raising 30,000 to 40,000 euros (roughly $40,000 to $55,000) each month from the 1.2 million members it’s signed up worldwide since its October launch.

Today, American ties seem much more about a shared vision to build a global conservative movement rather than leaning on stronger and wealthier U.S. partners for support. Arsuaga, Volontè, and La Manif Pour Tous President Ludovine de La Rochère were all in Washington on June 19 to support the National Organization for Marriage’s March for Marriage. Their more important business, however, might have been in a closed-door summit the next day, where representatives of around 70 countries met to discuss creation of an International Organization for Marriage, according to Volontè and another participant. A follow-up meeting is planned for next year.

Many LGBT rights supporters mocked the March for Marriage’s paltry turnout. So these Europeans appeared as if they were there to encourage a beleaguered movement, not the other way around — they now possess the vigor that has evaporated from the U.S. movement as opposition to marriage equality has collapsed.

We have reported on how American anti-gay groups, frustrated in their mission at home, are quietly working to form alliances with activists, politicians and funders in Europe, Russia and South America.

The strange case of Personhood USA’s $400,000 expenditure in Europe in 2012 —which represented more than one-third of its total spending that year — offers a clue that a similar dynamic may be happening in the extreme anti-choice movement. While Feder notes that most of the funding for recent viral anti-choice campaigns in Europe has been homegrown, and Personhood USA refused to say what its European shopping spree went toward, the personhood movement could be hoping that it can reclaim some of its energy by looking overseas.

It’s also important to note that the anti-gay and anti-choice movements on both sides of the Atlantic have significant overlap. One example: Last year, National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown — who has worked extensively with European and Russian anti-gay groups — joined the board of CitizenGo, a conservative platform modeled on MoveOn.org that Feder reports recently helped to defeat a comprehensive sex-ed proposal in the European Parliament.

Theme Of 2015 World Congress Of Families Conference Will Be 'Religious Liberty'

The Associated Press reports that the theme of the next World Congress of Families, which will be held in Salt Lake City next year, is “religious liberty.”

“Religious liberty” is the hot topic for the Religious Right these days, but it doesn’t mean the same thing to the World Congress of Families and its allies that it means to the rest of us.

WCF has defended oppressive laws throughout the world, including a pair of recent Russian laws that were so extreme that they were condemned by even U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom chairman Robert George —  a prominent opponent of marriage equality in the U.S. — as "part of the Putin government’s assault on freedom of religion and expression."

The group applauded Putin’s crackdown on LGBT people, saying, “The Russians might be the Christian saviors of the world” and helped to bring in American validators like the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown to encourage a spate of anti-gay laws. WCF and its allied activists in Russia promoted and defended the most notorious of these laws, a gag order on pro-gay-rights speech — or “propaganda” — to minors, and worked with the law’s author to plan the Kremlin conference.

WCF, nonetheless, had to cancel its conference at the Kremlin this year — which was to be funded by major Vladimir Putin allies — after participants started to back out fearing a foreign policy headache.

WCF board member Janice Shaw Crouse, who is also a senior fellow at Concerned Women for America, has defended Putin’s prosecution of the members of the band Pussy Riot, which led to the passage of a ban on religious blasphemy.

Earlier this year, WCF presented an award to its Africa regional director, who backed a ban on free association among gay people in Nigeria.

The Salt Lake City conference’s website says the event will be organized by the Sutherland Institute, a Utah-based group whose president, Paul Mero, used to be an executive at the Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society, which runs the World Congress of Families. Mero was the coauthor of WCF founder Allan Carlson’s book, “The Natural Family: A Manifesto.”

Last year, after the Supreme Court heard arguments in two marriage equality cases, Mero presented his view that freedom is incompatable with gay rights. Society cannot truly be free, he wrote, if our laws “codify bad behavior” like homosexuality, because “bad behavior is the enemy of freedom.”

However these two cases are ultimately decided, I have to wonder aloud if the average American today even understands the requirements of a free society. I’ll remind you of what I have stated repeatedly: A free society requires us to become our better selves. In other words, a free society cannot long endure an aggregate of bad behavior. If the people decide one day that stealing is actually fine, we would eventually lose our freedom. If the people decide one day that lying is okay, we would eventually lose our freedom. Or, if the people decide one day that infidelity in our most personal relationships is normal, we would eventually lose our freedom.

Bad behavior is the enemy of freedom. Yes, a free society is very patient and very forgiving. Individually, each of us has great liberties to work out our lives for the better. We stumble and we fail, but as long as we keep trying to better ourselves, in character and virtue, freedom remains undisturbed. It’s only when we give up on becoming our better selves, only when a majority of people argue that character and virtue don’t matter, only when a nation decides to redefine the best within us to mean anything we need it to mean in justifying bad behavior that our freedom is in jeopardy.

There’s a lot we could talk about there but the idea itself raises another question regarding “gay rights”: How does homosexuality help us to become our better selves? What benefit to society is derived from two men being able to marry?

Again, a free society is very tolerant by nature. Everyone has wide latitude in working out their personal lives – and every one of us behaves badly to one degree or another. That’s a given. It’s part of life. But what a free society can ill afford is when the people decide to codify bad behavior in the law. Our laws increasingly reflect our dysfunctional selves, not our better selves. The argument over “gay rights” and same-sex marriage is ultimately an argument over whether or not we enshrine bad behavior in our laws. Being “gay” might be about personal feelings and sexual attractions for some. But our laws only know human behavior – and a free society requires that our laws sustain and encourage the best within us, not our selfish worst.

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