World Congress Of Families Spokesman: Rest Of World Should Be 'Horrified' By LGBT Rights In US

In Nairobi earlier this monthto speak at a World Congress of Families regional conference, WCF spokesman Don Feder joined a talk show on a Kenyan affiliate of the Christian broadcasting giant TBN, where he warned a panel of Kenyan and Nigerian activists that they should be “horrified” by the results of LGBT rights advances in the U.S.

Feder’s appearance on the program was promoted in a recent email from WCF president Brian Brown.

The host of the “Crosstalk” program, Vincent Kimosop, asked Feder what African activists could learn from the experience of the U.S. in the area of LGBT rights. Feder responded that Africans “should be horrified” by what they see in the U.S.

“The problem is this is a way people are living and they’re demanding that it be respected, they’re demanding that all of society be changed for their comfort and their convenience,” Feder said. “We’re not saying that these people have to be persecuted, we’re not saying that you can’t have compassion for them, of course you can, but you can’t let this be the role model and you can’t allow Christians and other religious people to be persecuted because they refuse to go along with this agenda.”

“You know, other people have demanded minority status based on their religion, based on their race,” he continued. “This is the first group that demands minority status based on what they do in their bedrooms. And that’s what makes it so dangerous. And if you look at the United States, I mean if Africans look seriously at the United States, they should be horrified at what’s going on.”

He went on to warn of the rise of “transgender bathrooms.”

Same-sex intimacy is currently illegal in Kenya, though there is an active movement to change that. Nigeria enacted a harsh anti-gay law in 2014 that hassparked vigilante violence; some American Religious Right groups backed that law or have spoken out against the Obama administration’s efforts to oppose similar legislation around the world.

NOM Draws Tiny Crowd To Protest Mexico Marriage Equality

The National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown has been attempting to mobilize U.S. support for activists in Mexico who are trying to stop President Enrique Peña Nieto from putting marriage equality into the country’s constitution.

However, like a lot of NOM’s recent efforts, this one doesn’t seem to quite be catching on.

Today, NOM hosted a rally in front of the Mexican embassy in Washington, D.C., along with the World Congress of Families, which Brown also now leads, and CitizenGo, an international petition platform whose board Brown sits on.

The rally drew a grand total of 11 people, not counting a handful of children in strollers, bystanders and reporters:

Brown, who has said he is traveling to Mexico City for anti-marriage-equality marches there this weekend, was not in attendance. One activist who was there was Gualberto Garcia Jones, a fetal “personhood” advocate who now runs an organization called the International Human Rights Group, which shares a Washington office with Brown’s CitizenGo.

At the rally, activists read a letter that they said they were delivering to the Mexican ambassador announcing that they were joining “in spirit” the protests this weekend led by the National Front for the Family.

The letter stated the group’s support for “natural marriage as a stable relationship between one man and one woman,” saying that “several scientific research studies” have shown that this is the best environment for children. It claimed that “extracting marriage from its procreative and educative purpose … weakens the legal, social and cultural fabric” of a society. The letter also included a reference to adoption by gay couples and a plea to keep “content and ideologies that do not belong to the public educative sphere” out of school curricula, instead demanding that curricula be based on “scientific criteria.”

Brian Camenker Takes His Anti-Equality 'War' To Mexico

We have previously reported that Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage and the World Congress of Families is lending his support to the growing backlash against marriage equality by religious conservatives in Mexico. Turns out the intensely anti-gay Brian Camenker of MassResistance is also helping out.

In a September 16 post on its website, MassResistance wrote that over the summer Camenker responded to a plea for help from organizers of Mexico’s National Front for the Family. Camenker sent the group digital files of the Spanish-language version of his group’s booklet, “What same-sex ‘marriage’ has done to Massachusetts: It’s far worse than most people realize” and a Spanish version of his group’s video, “What ‘gay marriage’ has done to Massachusetts.” (Among the “shocking” things the video mentions are requirements that insurance companies must recognize legal marriages by same-sex couples and lawyers must learn about legal equality.)

The National Front has invited Camenker to Mexico City for what the group hopes will be a massive anti-marriage-equality rally this Saturday, September 24, building on other rallies that have taken place across the country this month.

The post says that the California chapter of MassResistance is planning to hold a rally in solidarity at the Mexican consulate in Los Angeles and hopes that other chapters will get on board. The National Organization for Marriage has announced plans for an anti-marriage-equality rally at the Mexican embassy in Washington, D.C. this Friday, September 23. CitizenGo, a conservative platform for online organizing that has mobilized on behalf of anti-gay efforts around the globe, is also promoting the D.C. event.

Camenker was a speaker at an anti-gay summit that was held in Salt Lake City last October on the eve of a World Congress of Families summit. Camenker disagreed with people who urged anti-LGBT activists to always speak the truth in love. “I think there is a place for being insulting and degrading, and I think I can back that up by scripture,” he said. As we reported at the time:

Camenker said that in the Old Testament, “God has two sets of laws regarding how you treat your fellow man.” One is how you treat your neighbor, who you might work with and forgive. “There’s a whole different set of rules for people who want to tear down society, who want to push immorality, who want to tear down the moral structure of society.” That set of rules is “very brutal,” he said. “God says those people who want to do that must be destroyed.”

He said the LGBT movement is a “house of cards” that is “held together by force, intimidation, and propaganda” and can be destroyed by standing up to it, the way communism was. “We are in a war,” he repeated, saying of gay-rights advocates, “They would send us to concentration camps if they could.”

Brian Brown Mobilizing Support For Anti-Equality Campaign in Mexico

Marriage equality has been spreading across Mexico as activists have engaged in a long-term strategy challenging discrimination in the federal courts and state legislatures. But after President Enrique Peña Nieto announced this summer that he would like to put marriage equality into the country’s constitution, conservative religious leaders have been mobilizing a backlash. Now, U.S. anti-gay activist Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage, who became president of the anti-LGBT World Congress of Families earlier this year, is headed to Mexico to show his support.

Anti-equality activists at the National Front for the Family organized marches in multiple cities last weekend that were supported by Catholic Church officials. They’re following up with a national anti-equality march scheduled for September 24. Religious conservatives would like to amend the constitution to ban abortion and sex ed as well as marriage by same-sex couples.

In a Wednesday email from the World Congress of Families, Brown writes:

WCF is launching a petition drive to give you and citizens across the globe the opportunity to add your own voice to the National March for the Family in Mexico City. Even though most people can't be there in person, you can lend your name and voice to the effort to uphold marriage, protect children from "gender ideology" and support the right of parents to direct their children's education according to their own values and principles.

I will personally deliver this petition to the leaders of National Front for the Family, including my friend, Rodrigo Ivan Cortes, when I meet with them in Mexico City.

The National March for the Family has the potential of being the largest single demonstration of support for marriage, children and parental rights in history. Beyond its significance in the domestic affairs of Mexico, this march also can help advance the worldwide movement to support marriage, religious liberty and the truth of gender that we were made male and female.

Both Brown and the World Congress of Families have a long track record of promoting anti-gay policies around the world.

FRC's Agenda For President Trump's First 100 Days: Roll Back LGBT & Reproductive Rights

At a panel at this weekend’s Values Voter Summit, activists representing the event’s organizer, the Family Research Council, and other conservative groups laid out what they will press Republican lawmakers to do in the first 100 days of the next presidency.

Under a Hillary Clinton administration, the conservative activists said, Republicans in the Senate should do as much as they can to obstruct her nominees to the judicial and executive branch. If Donald Trump is elected, they had a wish list of priorities for his administration, focusing on rolling back advances to LGBT and reproductive rights that have taken place during the Obama administration.

Mandi Ancalle, the FRC’s general counsel for government affairs, reminded the audience that FRC had helped to shape the Republican Party’s ultraconservative platform at the GOP convention in Cleveland and was hopeful that a Republican president—i.e. Trump—would help to make much of it law.

Ancalle said that the FRC is “working to generate a comprehensive list” for the Trump administration of executive orders, executive guidance and administrative regulations that a President Trump should rescind soon after taking office, and of Bush-era policies that he should reinstate. She said that the group was working with contacts on Trump’s transition team to get their wish list into the GOP nominee’s hands.

Among the priorities that she said FRC is pushing for in the first 100 days of a Trump administration:

  • Rescind the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s guidance assuring that federally funded emergency shelters house transgender people according to the sex with which they identify.
  • Reinstate the Mexico City Policy, which bars U.S. foreign aid from going to groups that provide abortion-related services or advocate for abortion rights abroad, even when those services are not paid for by U.S. government funding. This so-called “ global gag rule” was rescinded by President Obama.
  • Reinstate a rule instituted by President George W. Bush that provided broad “conscience protections” for health care workers refusing to participate in care for religious reasons. According to the Washington Post, the rule “was widely interpreted as shielding workers who refuse to participate in a range of medical services, such as providing birth control pills, caring for gay men with AIDS and performing in-vitro fertilization for lesbians or single women.” In 2011, the Obama administration rescinded much of the Bush-era regulation but maintained conscience protections for health care providers who do not want to perform abortions. Ancalle noted that the FRC wants to make sure that new regulations allow physicians not to care for transgender patients by providing hormone therapy and other treatment.
  • Rescind President Obama’s executive order banning federal contractors from engaging in anti-LGBT discrimination.

Although Ancalle did not explicitly name them among FRC’s first-100-days priorities, she also criticized the Department of Education’s guidance on access for transgender students in public schools; the Department of Health and Human Services' contraception mandate; the “completely lawless” Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidance on access for transgender people in the workplace; and President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

She also indicated that the FRC would urge a President Trump to undo the Obama administration’s work pushing LGBT and reproductive rights abroad, saying that the administration has “in some ways become a lobbying organization” and that “ambassadors that are appointed and sent overseas to represent American values have not only kind of flipped on their head what Americans stand for, what you and I stand for, but have really begun to lobby governments in attempting to accept same-sex marriage, in attempting to accept this gender identity dysphoria and attempting to push abortion acceptance and pro-abortion legislation in those different governments.”

She reminded the activists in the room that executive branch nominees—including nominees for ambassador—can be confirmed or blocked by the Senate, and urged the Senate to broadly exercise its power to block these nominees, whoever becomes president.

“It’s important that as we maintain a majority in the Senate that we’re encouraging our senators to not defer to what the president—honestly, whether it’s a Trump or a Hillary Clinton presidency—not to just defer to the president,” she said. “We’ve heard some senators say ‘elections have consequences’ and just put their stamp of approval on any secretary, on any nominee, and it’s really important that senators are out here in Washington, D.C., representing you all as you’re back at home, and representing your views on who those heads of these very authoritative departments and agencies are.”

Brian Brown: 'Normalizing Pedophilia' Goal Of Obama Administration And 'Secular Left'

Brian Brown, the National Organization for Marriage leader who was elected president of the global social conservative network World Congress of Families earlier this year, sent out a fundraising pitch for the international group on Friday warning that the “secular left,” aided by President Obama, is bent on creating all manner of harm for the “natural family,” including “normalizing pedophilia.”

These “forces of darkness,” Brown wrote, are working through “western powers” to impose these values on the rest of the world.

All around the world, we see liberal secularists using the power of government to seek to undermine the natural family. Urged on by wealthy elites, western powers — especially Barack Obama — demand that nations change their laws and policies in profoundly unwise and dangerous ways to embrace the agenda of the secular left — abortion on demand, an abandonment of marriage, acceptance of polygamy, normalizing pedophilia, transgenderism, stripping children of their inherent right to a mother and a father, etc.

While we've accomplished a tremendous amount over the years, the truth is that WCF can't continue to hold off the forces of darkness, and put them into retreat unless we are able to expand and grow. …

This is a pivotal time in history for the natural family. Good people around the globe are willing to resist the demands of the secular left and the pressures of western powers to change their cultures and policies. But they need the leadership of WCF to continue to be effective and to help sustain the worldwide movement in support of the natural family.

Move Over, Putin: Scott Lively Has A New Anti-Gay Strongman-Crush

Like other Religious Right leaders, American globe-trotting anti-gay activist Scott Lively has long been a vocal supporter of Russian strongman Vladimir Putin and his anti-gay policies. A few years ago Lively wrote Putin a gushing fan letter praising his “moral leadership” and “firm and unequivocal stand” against “the seemingly unstoppable spread of homosexuality.” He even tucked in a copy of his infamous book, “The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party,” saying he hoped that the U.S. and Russia would be able to cooperate in the future and “redeem the future of mankind from a Fascist Leviathan, just as we did in World War II.”

But Putin is apparently no longer the only apple of Lively’s eye. On Monday, Lively posted a reflection about his latest authoritarian man-crush, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who Lively calls a modern hero of the Christian faith. Lively seems unconcerned about Orbán’s attacks on religious freedom.

Orbán makes no effort to hide his “illiberal” authoritarian nationalist vision. A year ago, in a Politico article titled “Europe’s New Dictator,” Colin Woodard wrote that Orbán’s “dictatorial tendencies” were laying “the course of a deepening tragedy at the heart of Europe with lasting implications for the west.” Woodard notes that Orbán and his party have purged the civil service, packed the courts with political loyalists, restricted freedom of the press, and rewritten the Constitution to give a sheen of legitimacy to all of his efforts. He’s also gone after government watchdog groups and other nonprofits.

Last fall, Foreign Policy’s James Traub published a series of articles on Hungary’s rightward shift, in which he labeled Orbán a “right-wing demagogue” and quoted an analyst saying that while Orbán is not religious, he “constantly invoked Hungary’s ‘Christian’ culture.”

Lively is particularly offended that former U.S. President Bill Clinton criticized recent anti-democratic trends in Poland and Hungary, “two countries that would not have been free but for the United States and the long Cold War.” Lively fumes:

First of all, it must be pointed out that Bill Clinton has absolutely no right to speak for the generation of Americans that liberated Europe because that generation, including its leaders, was Christian. The “democratic” values it fought to preserve and promote included quite prominently the right to life, the sanctity of marriage and the natural family, and the concept of national sovereignty. The “democratic values” of Bill and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are abortion, homosexuality, and global socialism.

If by “democracy” Clinton means the will of the people versus government tyranny he is doubly discredited. The people of Hungary (and Poland and Russia) overwhelmingly support family values and oppose open borders, while the Clinton/Obama cabal are blatantly, tyrannically and lawlessly ignoring the will of the American public by ramming “gay marriage” and the LGBT agenda down our throats and inviting third world invaders to illegally flood across our southern border by the millions.

Under the Christian leadership of Prime Minister Orban, the Hungarian constitution was revised in 2011 to state that human life begins at conception and marriage is between one man and one women. More recently, Mr. Orban had shown great courage in defying the European Union’s suicidal “open borders” policies, especially regarding the threat represented by Islamic “immigrants.”

If these Biblically consistent positions that the leaders of Hungary and Poland have taken on behalf of the majority of their citizens make them “Putin-like,” then perhaps the rest of the world should give Putin more respect in comparison to Clinton and Obama. If that’s what it means to be “Putin-like,” the intended condemnation is actually a compliment.

Lively encourages his readers to send Orbán “a note of support and thanks.”

NOM's Brian Brown To Lead Global Anti-LGBT Efforts At World Congress Of Families

The National Organization for Marriage announced today that its president, Brian Brown, has been elected president of the World Congress of Families, a global network of organizations fighting LGBT rights and reproductive freedom.

As Brown’s fight to stop marriage equality in the U.S. has become increasingly futile, he has taken a leading role in building international networks to stop the advance of LGBT rights around the world. Brown has worked with the World Congress of Families since at least 2013, when he fundraised for the group and, at their invitation, spoke in favor of anti-LGBT laws before the Russian parliament.

Brown attended 2014’s World Congress of Families in Russia (although the World Congress dropped its official sponsorship of the event under pressure after Russia invaded Ukraine), which ended with an appeal for more countries to adopt Russian-style bans on gay “propaganda.” According to NOM, Brown was elected to his new position atthe group’srecent conference in Tbilisi, Georgia.

In NOM’s press release, Brown laments that “secular leaders around the world have become obsessed with advancing so-called 'alternative' family structures,” asserting that in contrast “the natural family produces the best outcomes for society.” (The term “natural family” means something very specific to the World Congress.)

As well as turning his attentions to the global anti-LGBT movement, Brown has increasingly focused on fighting LGBT nondiscrimination measures at home, including getting fully onboard with the Religious Right’s transgender bathroom panic. American anti-LGBT activists seem to be setting the tone for the global movement with their insistence that policies preventing discrimination against LGBT people threaten religious freedom and with the related scapegoating of transgender people; one reporter at this month’s World Congress in Tbilisi noted that “every single speaker” mentioned a recent Obama administration directive on the equal treatment of transgender people in schools.

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.

World Congress Of Families Timed To Commemorate Anti-Gay Riot In Georgia

A number of American Religious Right leaders will be headed to the former Soviet republic of Georgia next week for the annual World Congress of Families, which is organized by the Illinois-based Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society. As Peter noted earlier this week, the event will coincide with the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, which the head of the Georgian Orthodox Church has designated the “Day of Family Strength and Respect for Parents.”

It’s not a coincidence that WCF will be in Georgia on that day, May 17, or that Georgian Orthodox leaders picked the anti-homophobia day to commemorate “family strength.” As Tbilisi-based journalist Giorgi Lomsadze noted in yesterday, the renaming of the anti-homophobia day and the timing of WCF coincide with the anniversary a violent attack on LGBT-rights protesters three years ago:

The convention, timed to coincide with the day of a violent 2013 mob attack on an anti-homophobia rally in Tbilisi, will be hosted by a Levan Vasadze, a dagger-sporting homophobic knight dressed in Georgian national attire. Vasadze participated and is alleged to have helped organize the 2013 attack that relegated Georgia’s nascent LGBTQ-rights movement to the periphery of national discourse.

To counter the symbolism of the May 17 anniversary of the mob attack on LGBTQ supporters as a day for celebrating gender and sexual diversity, Georgia’s Orthodox Church pronounced that date as the Day of Family. The Illinois-based World Family Congress subsequently announced its tenth annual conference would also coincide with the anniversary.

The New Yorker’s Natalia Antelava described the violence that erupted after a group of clergymen led a “huge mob” against a small anti-homophobia demonstration in Tbilisi in 2013, ultimately injuring 17 people:

“Fuck your mothers,” a priest shouted.

Another priest came armed with a stool. Their followers carried rocks, sticks, and crucifixes. “Kill them! Don’t let them leave alive,” they screamed.

They smashed heads, windows of shops, and a minibus in which activists tried to escape. Twelve people, including three policemen, were seriously injured.

“Before the van arrived, about ten girls—gay rights activists—were being taunted by a growing, frothing mob. A stone was thrown and split a girl’s head open.… This mob was the creation of the Georgian Orthodox Church and the Georgian government has so far been gutless in standing up to the Church to protect the rights of its citizens. Shame on you, Georgia. Shame on you,” Paul Rimple, a Tbilisi-based journalist, posted on his Facebook page. He later wrote about it for the Moscow Times.

The BBC captured footage of anti-gay protesters attacking a van carrying the anti-homophobia protesters.

Lomsadze notes that WCF’s cheerleading of anti-LGBT sentiment in Georgia, “wittingly or not, might be helping a Russian foreign policy agenda in the region” since the Kremlin has used the issue of LGBT rights in an effort stir up anti-Western sentiment and solidify its influence in the region:

As it descends upon Georgia, the World Congress of Families, wittingly or not, might be helping a Russian foreign policy agenda in the region. Fanning the flames of homophobia has long been Moscow’s soft-power way to urge its former Soviet satellites, including Georgia, to distance themselves from the West. Before Georgia signed an Association Agreement with the EU in 2014, the Russian propaganda machine was put into gear, describing the landmark treaty as essentially Georgia’s gay marriage with Europe. Brussels had to issue public assurances that the treaty, meant for political and economic harmonization, does not contain any fine print requiring Georgia to allow same-sex marriages.

In reality, same-sex marriage is a non-issue in Georgia, where LGBTQ people cannot gather safely in public much less demand marriage rights. Nevertheless, some of the country’s own politicians run on an anti-gay marriage platform, pandering to widespread conservative attitudes and the position of the much-revered Georgian Church. A pending parliamentary vote seeks to amend the Georgian constitution to state that lawful marriage is limited to opposite sex partners.

“Would you want such marriage in your family, men in bridal veils, hairy, bearded men?” asked Tamaz Mechiauri, of the Georgian Dream Party, when asked to explain the reasoning for the bill.

Religious Right Leaders Head To Republic Of Georgia For 'Pro-Family' Attacks On West

The World Congress of Families, a global network of organizations that oppose LGBT equality and legal access to abortion, will hold its annual summit in Tbilisi, capital of the former Soviet republic of Georgia, beginning on Sunday, May 15. Over the next several days, American Religious Right activists will meet with their counterparts from around the world to share and plan strategies for resisting and rolling back women’s and LGBT rights — often lumped together with opposition to sex education under the banner of fighting “gender ideology.”

This year’s summit is likely to feature a particular focus on siding with Putin’s Russia and the Orthodox Church as defenders of “Christian civilization” against a secular, decadent West. Georgia, which joined the Council of Europe in 1999, is front and center in what many of these activists see as a civilizational battle. Last October the EU and Council of Europe recommended policy changes to strengthen human rights protections in Georgia; the action plan to achieve them was launched this week. Back in 2014, with the encouragement of the EU, Georgia adopted a sweeping nondiscrimination law, which infuriated people like the WCF summit’s chair, businessman and philanthropist Levan Vasadze, who called the law part of “an international agenda” to “destroy the family.”

An anti-Western quote from Vasadze has been featured on the WCF home page this week:

The West is attacking our Christian culture with atheism, new forms of socialism and sexual radicalism — worse than what we saw during the last 25 years when we were part of the Soviet empire. This is why we need you to come to Tbilisi and work with us.

A WCF regional conference in Tbilisi in 2014 released a declaration criticizing Georgia’s adoption of the Law on Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination, calling the law “an unnatural and an artificial imposition of pseudo-morality upon Georgian traditional society.” The declaration is a screed against such nondiscrimination laws, saying they “lead to serious discrimination of people respective traditional moral and family values, especially Christians, and to the massive human rights violations.” More from the declaration:

We believe that pseudo-values connected with promotion of “sexual diversity” and favoring different kinds of immoral and perverse sexual behaviors, are harmful for the society and have nothing to do with the real foundational values of humanity and with the genuine and universally recognized human rights. They are contradicting the values and teachings of major great religions of our planet. These pseudo-values are designed to destroy the institution of the family, moral and spiritual foundations of the society and to drive human beings into solitude and enslavement to vulgar materialism and lust. Family statistics in Western Europe as well as unprecedented levels of debt for western population, alarming rise of consumption of anti-depressants, addictive medicaments as well as narcotics, rampant child violence and rising suicide rates are a vivid proof of that. To our despair, Western Europe in particular and western culture in general, seem now to be on the path to self-destruction through family demise and moral degradation.

That theme was helpfully echoed this week by the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), which ran a story titled, “Western Invasion: Inside Georgia’s Battle Against the Gay Agenda.” The story quotes Vasadze promoting “selective Westernization” and saying, “the opening must not happen at the expense of Georgia’s faith and family values.” Adds Vasadze:

“If you think indecent, radically sexual behavior is what you want to do — that's your choice. But if I think that this is an embarrassing sin, I want to remain a society which is allowed to say that …The frontline of that war is no longer found on the geographic map of this planet," he warned. "The frontline of this war is in every living room and in every bedroom where your wife and my wife and our children sleep.”

Pat Robertson, the televangelist and CBN founder, responded to the story by saying “the fact that the European Union and the U.S. is trying to impose this lifestyle on a little country like Georgia that wants to stay Orthodox is incredible.”

The CBN story aligns nicely with themes in anti-Western propaganda in Georgia, which is the focus of a report by The Media Development Foundation, a project of the United Nations Association of Georgia with the support of the U.S. Agency for International Development. The report finds that “anti-Western rhetoric is often applied in xenophobic and homophobic contexts and it is associated with unjustified fears, which is an accompanying process of modernization.” Another theme portrays the West as “a fighter against Orthodox Christianity.”

Another recent report on Russian influence on Georgian media and NGOs examines groups such as the Young Political Scientists’ Club, an initiative of the Eurasian Institute, noting that the group uses nationalist anti-Europe and anti-gay statements by clergy to promote anti-Western sentiments. The group declared that violence following the 2013 IDAHOT celebration, in which gay-rights marchers were attacked by Orthodox priests and their supporters, was the result of “western provocation.”  At the time, Patriarch Ilia, the leader of the Georgian Orthodox Church, distanced himself from the violence but said of the IDAHOT event, “It’s something that should not be propagandized.” One of the pro-Russian media outlets examined in the report is Patriot TV, founded in 2015, which “is based on the authentic Georgian traditions, useful for the future generation of our country. A television which serves the purpose of Georgian, ethical ideas and not anti-Christian, sodomite propaganda which, unfortunately, floods our media space.”

At last year’s WCF in Salt Lake City, the Mormon Church had a visible role, with an opening keynote featuring Russell Ballard, a high-ranking elder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The WCF summit in Georgia, the first in a predominantly Orthodox country, will include a similar address from Patriarch Ilia II, the country’s popular Orthodox Church leader. Ilia has designated May 17 — which will be celebrated around the world as the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia — as “A Day to Strengthen Families and Honor Parents.”

In Utah, the Sutherland Institute served as WCF’s local organizing partner; this year that role is being played by the Georgian Demographic Society XXI, founded and chaired by Vasadze, who appears to play a role in Georgia somewhat similar to the one played in Russia by Konstantin Malofeev, the Putin ally who funds Russian Orthodox Church ventures. The Vasadze bio posted on the summit’s website touts his role in defending “traditional society,” saying he is “the author of an October petition signed by 36 prominent Georgian intellectuals protesting a report by the EU’s Special Advisor on Human Rights, which criticized the nation’s treatment of so-called sexual minorities.”

The speakers’ list for this year’s World Congress of Families is, as usual, a who’s who of global anti-choice and anti-LGBT culture warriors, including many of the same people who spoke at the last WCF summit.

American speakers include, in addition to the WCF’s Doug Clark, Allan Carson, Don Feder and Larry Jacobs:

Other Americans speaking include Justin Murff of the Christian Broadcasting Network; Brian Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute; Fr. Josiah Trenham, member of the secretariat of the U.S. Assembly of Orthodox Bishops; Gregory Johnson, a board member of the National Association of Evangelicals; and Christopher Carmouche from GrasstopsUSA.

Prominent Europeans include:

  • Marion Maréchal Le Pen, granddaughter of far-right French politician and National Front founder Jean-Marie Le Pen and niece of the party’s current president Marine Le Pen;
  • Ignacio Arsuaga of Spain, founder of CitizenGo and HazteOir, groups meant to help European cultural conservatives deploy online organizing techniques in Europe’s current culture wars;
  • Luca Volonte, chairman of Italy’s Novae Terrae Foundation and an anti-gay and anti-choice activist, who was honored at last year’s World Congress of Families gathering;
  • Gabriele Kuby, a German sociologist engaged in battling “gender ideology” and author of The Global Sexual Revolution: The Destruction of Freedom in the Name of Freedom”;
  • Katalin Novak, Hungary’s Minister of State for Family and Youth Affairs;
  • and Antoni Szymański, member of the Polish Senate.

Russians scheduled to speak include:

Also speaking will be Theresa Okafor, WCF’s Nigeria-based African representative, who supports repressive anti-LGBT legislation in Africa and suggested that gay-rights activists are involved in a conspiracy with terrorist group Boko Haram to “silence Christians” and who was honored at last year’s summit.


Updated: George W. Bush To Receive Award From Anti-LGBT World Congress Of Families

The World Congress of Families, a loose alliance of organizations that seeks to stop advances in LGBT equality and reproductive rights throughout the world, announced today that former President George W. Bush will recieve an award at its annual event in Tbisili, Georgia, later this month.

Update: A spokesperson for Bush tells Buzzfeed’s Lester Feder that while the former president is “flattered,” he had previously declined an invitation to participate in the event and was “not aware of the award in question.”

Update II: Although he will not be attending the conference, Bush has penned a welcome greeting for the event:

Around the world, families provide that beacon of freedom and the source of help, hope, and stability for individuals and nations. As one of the pillars of civilization and the bulwark of liberty, families must remain strong and we must defend them. To ensure that future generations are prepared to face new opportunities and challenges, as President, I took steps to promote strong families, preserve the sanctity of marriage and protect the well-being of children. Laura and I have always believed in encouraging adoption and supporting the crisis pregnancy center programs to help us continue to build a culture of life.

I commend your efforts to recognize the importance of families in building nations. Your work improves many lives and makes the world better.

WCF, which is run out of the Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society, an Illinois-based think tank, has been holding conferences since 1997. But it attracted greater attention two years ago when it planned to hold its annual congress at the Kremlin in Moscow, hosted by prominent allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin and advocates of the country’s recent crackdown on its LGBT citizens . WCF’s leadership had supported Russia’s spate of anti-LGBT laws, including signing a letter in support of a law banning gay “propaganda” to minors. One WCF official, Larry Jacobs, said that the law was a "great idea” and that the “Russians might be the Christian saviors of the world.”

WCF eventually withdrew its official support from that conference after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, although the event went ahead as planned , with the participation of officials from WCF and other U.S.-based Religious Right groups. Last year’s conference was held in Salt Lake City, where organizers attempted to deny the organization’s work promoting homophobia globally, even as Rafael Cruz, the father of then-presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, used the event to warn that the LGBT community will “try to legalize pedophilia.”

Bush is set to accept the award at an event whose speakers include Putin allies, anti-LGBT extremists and a 9/11 conspiracy theorist.

Along with Bush, this year’s WCF will feature prominent U.S. anti-gay activists including the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown, who coordinated with WCF to travel to Russia to support the country’s anti-gay policies in 2013. Also scheduled to speak is Natalia Yakunina, the wife of former Putin ally Vladimir Yakunin, who was instrumental in organizing and funding the Moscow event, and Vladimir Mischenko, a top official at a foundation run by Yakunin.

The Tbisili event will also feature several speakers from WCF’s global network, including the Howard Center and WCF’s founder Allan Carlson, who helped define the idea that the organization promotes of a “ natural family” based on traditional gender roles. Also speaking will be WCF spokesman Don Feder, who warned at a previous WCF event that the human race is financing “ its own extinction” through birth control and who sidelines as an extremist anti-immigrant columnist.

WCF’s Russian representative, Alexey Komov, will also be speaking. Komov, an enthusiastic supporter of Russia’s anti-gay “propaganda” law, was a main organizer of the WCF Moscow event, and has reportedly helped to direct funding to a pro-Putin propaganda effort in the U.S. At a memorable press conference in Washington leading up to the Moscow conference, Komov lost his cool and started spouting conspiracy theories about the 9/11 attacks and the John F. Kennedy assassination.

Also on the docket is WCF’s regional director in Africa, Theresa Okafor, who at a previous WCF gathering said that “you wonder if there’s a conspiracy” between Western governments that support LGBT rights and the terrorist group Boko Haram to “silence Christians.” Okafor, who has promoted repressive anti-LGBT laws in a number of African countries, was honored with WCF’s “Woman of the Year” award at last year’s conference. Joining her will be WCF’s French representative, Fabrice Sorlin, a far-right politician who once compared Russia’s defense of “traditional values” to its repelling of “the Mongol hordes of Genghis Khan.”

Bush’s receipt of an award from the World Congress of Families makes some sense: The social conservative movement in the U.S. has been appalled by the Obama administration’s stated commitment to promoting protections for LGBT people around the world and is nostalgic for the Bush administration’s support for the Mexico City Policy, which blocked overseas aid to family planning groups that provide abortions.

But does the former president really want to be elevating the profile of a group that promotes repressive anti-LGBT policies like the Russian propaganda law?

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.

Sharon Slater: Sex Ed Is Planned Parenthood Plot To Make Money Off HIV Treatments & Condoms

Sharon Slater, the head of Family Watch International, which works to promote social conservative policies at the UN, recently released a documentary called “The War on Children: The Comprehensive Sexuality Education Agenda.” Slater joined “The Drew Mariani Show” on the Catholic radio network Relevant Radio on Tuesday to discuss it, explaining to listeners that sex ed in schools is a plot by Planned Parenthood to “sexualize children” so that they’ll eventually come back for contraception, abortion and STD treatments.

“What this means,” she said, “is that a business that makes money off of sexualizing children — because if they can sexualize children through the school system through their programs, they can provide them with sexual counseling, condoms, abortions, contraception, STD treatment, HIV treatment, etc., etc. — they’re making lots of money off of sexualizing children. So, they’re getting it into the classroom all across the United States and in countries all around the world.”

Mariani warned that it is indeed “deviant” to “have a five-year-old being taught what adults do,” especially since you “can change the direction of a child and their own appetites and things along those lines at that age.”

“What most people don’t understand,” Slater said later in the interview, “is that there is an intentional, targeted effort to get to your children and change the way they think about sexuality, to encourage them to engage in sexual activity, whether it be heterosexual or homosexual or self-stimulation, because if they can recruit children into this worldview and this sexual ideology, then they’ll have the future, if they can train up the next generation in all these radical ideas. And that’s what they’re after. In fact, even Hitler said, ‘He who owns the minds of the children owns the future.’”

This is why parents, she said, need to “make sure this is not in your school.”

Alliance Defending Freedom Brings Anti-Equality Former Australian P.M. Tony Abbott To US, To Plot Comeback With Rupert Murdoch?

The Alliance Defending Freedom, the huge Religious Right legal group that has been expanding its anti-gay, anti-choice work around the globe, is bringing former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to the U.S. this week for a secretive meeting in New York, where he will talk about “the importance of family.” ADF, a sponsor of the World Congress of Families, sent an official to Australia last year to address the national conference of the Australian Christian Lobby.

Nick O’Malley, U.S. correspondent for Fairfax Media, asked ADF about Abbott’s visit:

A spokesman for the group told Fairfax Media in a statement that Mr. Abbott, who has “been a strong advocate for marriage and freedom throughout his career,” had “graciously agreed to address our private event.”

But the spokesman declined to explain the nature of the event, say where or when it was to be held, or say if Mr. Abbott was being paid for his attendance.

As prime minister, Abbott stubbornly blocked efforts to move marriage equality legislation forward. Australian media has reported that Abbott, who has announced his intention to run again in 2016, will be meeting with right-wing media mogul Rupert Murdoch while he is in New York. Abbott was removed from his post after members of his own party replaced him with a more moderate rival who supports marriage equality.

Last year, investigative reporters Sofia Resnick and Sharona Coutts of RH Reality Check noted  that the website for ADF’s Blackstone Legal Fellowship stated that the  “Alliance Defending Freedom seeks to recover the robust Christendomic theology of the 3rd, 4th and 5th century” — ah, the good old days.  Robert George, intellectual leader of the anti-gay Religious Right, is on the fellowship’s advisory board.


C-FAM’s Austin Ruse: Give Me Money To Save Children From Satan’s Minions

Austin Ruse, whose group C-FAM fights against reproductive choice and LGBT human rights at the United Nations, says in a year-end fundraising appeal that giving him money is a way to “smack the dumb devil right in the nose.” The fundraising pitch is a great example of Ruse in action, portraying his opponents as minions of Satan who are “coming for our children.” It’s really best experienced in his own words, if they are his words:

We are coming down the wire on 2015. This week in the Friday Fax we will release our list of the five best and five worst moments of the year just concluding. 

The good outweighs the bad. But, the bad guys are coming. Abortion lovers. Radical homosexuals. Sexual revolutionaries. They are coming for our children. They want to win our children over for their nefarious causes that come from the very pits of hell. 

C-Fam is the watcher on the wall. We have stood atop this wall since the summer of 1997, sometimes all alone. That is 18 years of stopping a right to abortion, 18 years of stopping a redefinition of the family, 18 years of protecting a right to religious belief and practice. 

The new year will be just like each of the last 18, a pitched battle against powers and principalities who want to enslave mankind and send souls to hell. I do not say our worldly opponents are devils. They are merely but still dangerously slaves to their own sins and therefore confused. Our real opponents are the devil and his minions who prowl about the world seeking the ruin on souls. 

The Devil is well funded. God’s children, not so much. 

In the waning days of this year, we need to raise substantial funds in order to close our budget deficit and to begin the new year strong. 

Can you say a prayer right now so we may remain on that wall bravely fighting His fight. As you pray, ask Our Lord how much you should send to us right now to continue this fight. 

You can give a fully tax-deductible contribution by going to 

Please give as much as you can. 

Be Brave. 

Yours sincerely, 

Austin Ruse
Publisher/Friday Fax

PS Please know that my staff and I are utterly unafraid of the dumb Devil and his minions. We are utterly unafraid of the sexual revolutionaries, the abortion lovers, and the radical homosexuals. Utterly utterly unafraid to do the Lord’s sometimes dangerous work. Pray for us. 

Religious Right's Russian 'Pro-Family' Ally May Be Helping Fund Pro-Putin Propaganda

A leading Russian operative with the U.S-based World Congress of Families may be helping fund an English-language website dedicated to providing positive coverage of Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to a report today by The Interpreter, a website run by a think tank critical of Putin.

The Interpreter’s Anton Shekhovtsov reports on a series of leaked emails between the editor of Russian Insider, a new pro-Putin publication, and Alexey Komov, the World Congress of Families’ Russian representative, in which the editor seeks funding from Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeev for his website.

Shekhovtsov notes that both Malofeev and Komov have been involved in coordinating activities among European far-right groups, along with their “pro-family” activism:

The leaks reveal that Bausman, rather than relying on crowdfunding for Russia Insider, asks for money from Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeev via his associate Alexey Komov.

There were several interesting articles devoted to Malofeev in the international and Russian media. In the context of this blog, Malofeev is known for providing financial assistance to the pro-Russian extremists in Eastern Ukraine (for this very reason Malofeev was sanctioned by the EU, Norway and Switzerland), organising homophobic conferences in Russia, assisting French far right politicians in getting Russian money, and building European far right alliances.

Komov is a no less interesting figure. He is an employee of several organisations founded and funded by Malofeev, as well as a representative of the homophobic World Congress of Families in Russia. He is also an honorary president of the Lombardy-Russia Cultural Association, Russia’s front organisation in Italy established by the far right Lega Nord party. Komov even gave speech at the party’s congress at the end of 2013 that elected Matteo Salvini as its leader.

Malofeev is the one who brought together the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown and a number of French far-right activists in 2013 at a “traditional values” roundtable in Moscow that just happened to coincide with the passage of a spate of anti-LGBT laws in Russia. Komov was the leading organizer of the planned World Congress of Families in Moscow last year (which ended up dropping the World Congress of Families name), and, as Buzzfeed’s Lester Feder reported, was found to be feeding information about the event to Malofeev.

As we have noted, the rush to embrace “traditional values” has been an important part of Putin’s propaganda efforts in Russia and the region.

Sandy Rios: Putin Is Promoting 'God's Way' While Obama Leads US On 'Horrifying' Path

In comments last week, the American Family Association’s Sandy Rios joined the many Religious Right figures who have heaped praise on Russian President Vladimir Putin as he has attempted to paint himself as a hero of the Russian Orthodox Church, including backing a series of harsh anti-LGBT laws.

On Thursday, Rios broadcast an interview that she had conducted at the recent World Congress of Families in Salt Lake City with Vladimir Mischenko who works at a prominent Russian “pro-family” group.

Rios told Mischenko how impressed she was by Putin’s embrace of “God’s way” and the “natural family,” even as President Obama is leading America “on a trajectory that many of us find extremely horrifying.”

“It’s interesting to me that your president, Vladimir Putin, of course was a high-ranking member of the KGB, thoroughly absorbed in the communist system,” Rios said. “And he, now, has emerged as one of the most strong proponents of this whole family movement, whether it’s that marriage is between one man and one woman, the sanctity of human life.”

“Well, whatever his motivation,” she later added, “I think on this stuff he’s got it right and he has been a good leader. These are strange times, that the American president would be leading America, I’ll just say to you, on a trajectory that many of us find extremely horrifying and that Vladimir Putin after Russia was officially, governmentally our enemy for so many years, and certainly on these issues, should now be leading his people to more of God’s way, the natural family. It really is one of the great ironies that I’ve lived to see in my lifetime.”

Franklin Graham Praises 'Gay Propaganda' Law, Critizes US 'Secularism' In Russia Visit

In a trip to Russia last week, U.S. Religious Right leader Franklin Graham praised President Vladimir Putin’s protection of “traditional Christianity,” including the passage of the 2013 “gay propaganda” law that effectively criminalizes pro-gay-rights speech and advocacy.

In an interview with the Moskoviskij Komsomolets newspaper, Graham criticized President Obama for supporting “policies that contradict the teachings of God” and repeated his praise of Putin for “protecting Russian young people against homosexual propaganda,” adding that “homosexuals cannot have children, they can take other people’s children,” according to a transcript the newspaper provided of the interview:

I heard that you called Barack Obama ‘the leader of the antichrist movement.’ Is that true? What do you think about the current president of the United States?

I have met the president on several occasions. He’s a very nice person. But he supports and promotes policies that contradict the teachings of God. As a Christian I believe that abortion is murder, he supports it. Homosexuality and same-sex marriage — those are sins against God, and the president is promoting them. I’m not against homosexuals as people. But God commanded that marriage should be between a man and a woman. And I very much appreciate that President Putin is protecting Russian young people against homosexual propaganda. If only to give them the opportunity to grow up and make a decision for themselves. Again, homosexuals cannot have children, they can take other people’s children. I believe that President Obama (and I’ll repeat, he’s a very nice person) is leading America down the wrong road. He’s taking a stand against God.

In the same interview, Graham reportedly hailed Putin for his actions in Syria, where Russia has been targeting rebels supported by the U.S. and largely ignoring ISIS, saying, "I think that Russia’s involvement in this situation will bring about a political solution to the crisis."

Graham echoed the messaging of Putin, who as the Washington Post notes, “has anchored his political brand in religious nationalism, centered on the Russian Orthodox Church,” telling the paper that as Americans have been “losing many religious freedoms,” there have been “positive changes” in that area in Russia.

[T]he situation in the US regarding religion is in decline. Secularism, which is almost no different from communism, is an atheistic movement. Our country is becoming more and more secular, more atheist, taking God out of government, taking God out of schools. We are witnessing America losing many religious freedoms. In your country over the past 30 years, we have seen positive changes. But over this same period of time in the US, the changes have been negative.

In a meeting with Patriarch Kirill, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, which was widely reported in the Russian news media, Graham reportedly told the Orthodox primate: “When I was a young man, we worried that the world would become atheist under the influence of communism, but while communism fell, atheism didn’t go anywhere. Unfortunately my own president promotes atheism … I spoke about this with President Obama, but he did not understand. Unfortunately he does not have a Christian worldview.”

According to another report, Graham told Patriarch Kirill, “Many churches in America have started to support homosexuality. This is terrible, it’s a sin and it’s against God.”

“I call for prayers for the president of Russia, who is protecting traditional Christianity,” Graham reportedly said.

Graham took part in a forum on “religion and peace” with a number of religious leaders, and Graham and Patriarch Kirill announced their plans to organize an international conference on Christian persecution in the Middle East.

WCF Founder: Obama 'Hostile To Russia' Because It's A 'Pro-Family Voice'

Allan Carlson, the founder of the World Congress of Families, spoke yesterday with the American Family Radio’s Sandy Rios, who was broadcasting live from the event, which is being held in Salt Lake City this year.

Carlson, who retired earlier this year from WCF’s parent organization, the Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society, was feeling reflective about his decades-long effort to fight the “sexual left” throughout the world.

“Family questions, family issues today, including same-sex marriage, abortion, the retreat from marriage more broadly, those have become international issues,” he told Rios. “It’s a situation, a set of problems found around the globe. And even in third-world countries, they’re facing an aggressive effort by the European Union and now the United States government to abandon their attachment to traditional marriage, to large families, and to embrace [what] we’ll call the Western sexual revolution.”

Rios recalled attending the United Nations Conference On Women in Beijing in 1996 and being shocked to find a “tent on lesbian love-making” and people who were saying that there are “five genders,” and being even more shocked that these things are now in “mainstream thought.”

“Well, you could see it coming,” Carlson said. “It plays on human weaknesses. It tells people that’ve made bad choices that they made good choices. It tells people that they may have hurt their children with bad choices but, no, it’s okay, you’re free, you’re open. So I always knew that there was some very diabolical message that preyed on the human heart here. So I’m not surprised it’s grown. What is an encouraging thing is that opposition has now risen up to it, to this false message of human liberation. And that’s what this event is about, and it’s just one example of hundreds, of thousands of events that are happening and I think are going to grow.”

Carlson also reflected with surprise that Russia — which under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin has been staging a crackdown on its LGBT citizens and has been a leader in opposing protection for LGBT people and reproductive rights at the UN — “has become a very strong pro-family voice at the United Nations.”

“That’s an astonishing development,” he said. “And one of the reasons the Obama administration is so hostile to Russia today, I’m quite sure, it’s not just the Crimea, it’s also the fact that Russia has become a proponent — at least at the official level — of pro-family sentiments.”

“It is amazing,” Rios agreed. “And one of the strongest supporters of Israel. The whole world, really, in our lifetime has turned upside down, don’t you think, Allan?”

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