International

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.

Samuel Rodriguez: New General In Global Anti-Gay Culture War

Last month the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference announced that it was merging with Conela, a Latin America-based organization, to become “the world’s largest Hispanic Evangelical association” claiming to represent more than 500,000 churches. As Kyle reported, Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver had encouraged the NHCLC’s Samuel Rodriguez to expand into Latin America after Staver’s visit to Peru, where he encouraged legislators to resist legal equality for gay people and same-sex couples.

The wildly anti-gay Matt Barber, also with Liberty Counselpraised the merger as a way for the NHCLC to join the Religious Right’s global war against LGBT equality:

"And so NHCLC," Barber said, "is really putting up a firewall to protect Latin America from, unfortunately, this cancerous invasion of immorality and [this] exporting [of] radical homosexual activism and radical pro-abortion activism, ultimately a culture of death.”

In a new interview with the Christian Post, Rodriguez uses similar language about creating a “firewall against moral relativism” and discloses some details about the merger and the combined group’s plans. Rodriguez is the CEO of the new merged NHCLC/Conela, while Conela’s former President Ricardo Luna is the executive director.

Rodriguez says Conela had already adopted NHCLC’s agenda and so the new group can go to work immediately building out an infrastructure in Latin America.

Conela already has been functioning with the Lamb's agenda and our 7 Directives, so it's a matter of creating infrastructure and amplifying the media and messaging platforms in Latin America.

If the question is whether or not we are going to be as active on the social political front in Latin America as we are in America, the answer is yes, again, not in the spirit of political advocacy, but in the spirit of prophetic activism.

Let me give you an example. Two weeks ago, in Baja California, the Mexico chapter director met with the governor of Baja California with hundreds of pastors united to discuss the issues of religious liberty, to discuss the issues of the 7 Directives as it pertains to Mexico.

He says they’re still working out the structural details.

We are in the board restructuring phase right now and a number of events taking place. One in October in Panama and there's one in December with 1,000 pastors in Mexico, there's one taking place in Europe at the beginning of the year.

My objective is to travel around Latin America with Ricardo, get to know the key influential pastors and leaders as we structure this global network and provide the resources that national pastors and regional leaders need to advance the Lamb's agenda.

Rodriguez, in spite of his media treatment as an evangelical moderate, made crystal clear that his organization is part of the Religious Right political movement when it reached a formal agreement to make the far-right Liberty Counsel the NHCLC’s official legislative and policy arm, and when Staver became a board member and chief legal counsel to the group.

Rodriguez’s rhetoric doesn’t seem to be changing.

Theologically speaking, we are on the same track. We are committed to biblical orthodoxy. We are committed to biblical truth. We are committed to making sure that truth is never sacrificed on the altar of expediency. We are committed to Billy Graham's message of salvation through Christ alone and through Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s March for Justice. So, we are committed to both righteousness and justice. We are evangelical. We do embrace the Manhattan Declaration. We would sign on to that.

Merging Billy Graham with Martin Luther King is the standard rhetoric of Rodriguez’s stump speech. Rodriguez has built allies among more progressive Christians by advocating for immigration reform and signing on to the Circle of Protection, a call from religious leaders not to sacrifice programs for the poor in order to reduce the deficit. But Rodriguez has also signed onto right-wing declarations that oppose progressive taxation, and embraced right-wing rhetoric about people being “enslaved” by government and “uber-entitlements.” And, of course, he is utterly opposed to marriage equality and legal access to abortion.

 

Rodriguez is connected to the dominionist New Apostolic Reformation and was a founding board member of the Oak Initiative, though he resigned after being confronted about the group’s anti-Muslim rhetoric and activities. He clearly has big ambitions for the new group.

"We are not drinking the proverbial Kool-Aid that Christianity is in decline, that this is the last hour of the Christian global narrative in a significant matter," Rodriguez told The Christian Post recently in an exclusive interview about the merger that took place on May 1. "We are not drinking the Kool-Aid. As a matter of fact, we have a very strong sense of optimism … we do believe the best is yet to come….

"It may very well be the largest Protestant network in the world, meaning that after the Catholic Church, this may very well be the largest Christian network organization in the world," he said. "I believe it speaks accolades to the growth of the Latino Christian demographic. I think it speaks accolades to Latino born-again Christians around the world because if this is the largest network in the world and now we are leading the charge of global evangelicalism."

Matt Barber Praises Slovakia For Resisting 'Demonic' Marriage Equality

As RWW and others have documented, American Religious Right figures are part of a global anti-equality movement.  Groups like the American Center for Law and Justice, National Organization for Marriage and World Congress of Families are working with right-wing movements in Europe to resist advances in LGBT Equality.

Today, Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel praises this week’s passage of an anti-marriage-equality constitutional amendment in Slovakia, where there is no legal recognition of same-sex civil unions.

While the U.S. seems bound and determined to destroy natural marriage and family, other nations around the world have figured out that radically deconstructing these fundamental cornerstone institutions – institutions necessary to the survival of any healthy society – will have devastating effects in the long-term.

Slovakia is the latest such nation. Lawmakers there have constitutionally banned counterfeit “same-sex marriage.”

...Let’s pray that this pro-family trend across the world continues. As the radical “LGBT” agenda continues to weaken America, obliterate religious liberty and hurt and confuse countless children and families, we can at least take solace in the fact that much of the world has not been duped by this demonic incursion of sexual anarchy.

 

World Congress Of Families Funder Convenes Far-Right Group To Discuss Ridding Europe of 'Satanic Gay Lobby'

Yesterday, Andy Towle spotted a report in the Austrian Independent about a meeting in Vienna this week “discussing ways to rid Europe of the ‘satanic gay lobby’” that was “hosted by a Russian oligarch” and attended by far-right politicians from throughout Europe.

A secret meeting discussing ways to rid Europe of the 'satanic gay lobby' was hosted by a Russian oligarch and attended by a host of far-right MPs and ultra-conservative Eurasian ideologists in Vienna at the weekend - just across the road from where the Life Ball was taking place the very same night.

The meeting was hosted by Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeew and his Saint Basil the Great Charitable Foundation and was attended by nationalists and Christian fundamentalists from Russia and the West. These were thought to include the chief Russian ideologist of the Eurasian movement Alexander Dugin, the nationalist painter Ilja Glasunow, and MPs from far right parties including the Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache.

According to Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger, who say they managed to confirm the event tok place from two independent sources, the meeting was hosted at Vienna’s Palais Liechtenstein under conditions of extreme secrecy.

As it happens, the Russian oligarch who convened the meeting is Konstantin Malofeev, who is also heavily involved with the Illinois-based World Congress of Families. According to a talk WCF's managing director gave in February, Malofeev’s St. Basil the Great Foundation was to be a major sponsor of WCF’s since-postponed conference in Moscow this year and Malofeev was a member of the conference’s planning committee.

It was also Malofeev who hosted the meeting in Moscow that National Organization for Marriage president Brian Brown attended last summer, just in time to cheer on the Russian parliament’s approval of new anti-gay laws. (Brown had been invited to participate in the event by "Russian activists working with the World Congress of Families").

The Swiss paper Tages Anzeiger notes that Aymeric Chauprade, a newly elected member of the European Parliament from France’s far-right National Front party, also attended the event. (Chauprade confirmed his attendance to Le Figaro.) Chauprade, a foreign policy advisor to National Front leader Marine Le Pen, also participated in the meeting last year with Brown and Malofeev.

It’s hardly unusual for politicians and activists to have a private meeting, but the existence of this summit to combat the “satanic gay lobby” underscores the fraught role that anti-gay activism is currently playing in European and Russian politics. Many on the European far-right see Russia’s anti-gay crackdown as a key part of their resistance to the European Union and liberalism in Europe.

As Malofeev put it at the meeting last year, Russia is the “center of salvation for conservative, Christian, European values.” Or as Chauprade said, “Patriots around the world, as committed to the independence of nations as they are to the foundations of our civilization, turn their eyes at this time towards Moscow.”

Mark Creech: 'Hunger Is Rampant In India' Because 'False Religion' Makes People Vegetarians

North Carolina Religious Right activist Mark Creech has a theory about why “hunger is rampant in India.” It’s not that “they don’t have enough food,” the Christian Action League director writes today in the Christian Post. Instead, he claims, it’s because “false religion has a stranglehold on their hope for a better future.”

“Though I do not mean to disparage that beautiful country, it cannot be denied the two prominent religions, Hinduism and Islam, hold the nation back,” he writes. He argues that the vegetarianism of many Hindus and what he believes is Islam’s teaching that “human initiative amounts to nothing” are perpetuating hunger in India.

“The factor determining wealth is connected more to a people's belief system than anything else,” he concludes. We hope nobody tells him about Qatar.

Few people ever question why Western Civilization has experienced so much abundance in comparison to poorer nations around the world. The reason is inextricably connected to Christianity. The Bible says, "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he" (Prov. 23:7). What individuals believe, what nations believe has everything to do with their essence and determines whether they grow, multiply, and succeed.

I served as a short-term missionary to India on three different occasions and saw this principle worked-out first-hand. India's economy has been stagnated for centuries. Though I do not mean to disparage that beautiful country, it cannot be denied the two prominent religions, Hinduism and Islam, hold the nation back. Hunger is rampant in India, but not because they don't have enough food. Hinduism teaches that people who die come back as animals. There are plenty of cows and pigs that roam the streets freely, but no one will slaughter them, even if their child's belly is bloated with malnutrition. Moreover, two hundred million "sacred cows," eat up enough food to feed seven people, taking enough sustenance that could feed as many as 1.4 billion. Neither will they kill the mice and rats that devour much of the grain. For those who have embraced Islam, the fatalism of that religion stifles human progress by telling them Allah has fated all that there is and human initiative amounts to nothing. False religion has a stranglehold on their hope for a better future.

So the affluence of a people doesn't simply rest with the presence of natural resources as many seem to think. There are plenty of countries that have considerably less natural resources that are more prosperous than those who have more natural resources, but are still not as prosperous. The factor determining wealth is connected more to a people's belief system than anything else.

Brian Brown's Far-Right French Allies Working To Form 'Pro-Russian Bloc' In European Parliament

The New York Times and Slate this week reported on the European far right’s love affair with Vladimir Putin, which could lead to the formation of “a pro-Russian bloc” in the European Parliament following this week’s elections.

The Times story focused on the French National Front party, and in particular Aymeric Chauprade, a top advisor to National Front leader Marine Le Pen and himself a candidate for European parliament.

Chauprade was a member of the small delegation of French activists who traveled to Moscow last year with National Organization for Marriage leader Brian Brown to advocate for Russia’s adoption of a spate of new anti-gay policies. Brown later said that he was invited to participate in the delegation by activists working with the Illinois-based World Congress of Families. The apparent leader of the delegation was French far-right activist Fabrice Sorlin, a former National Front candidate who runs an NGO devoted to developing “better relations between France and Russia” and who was appointed last year [pdf] as the World Congress of Families’ representative in France.

In a speech to fellow activists and members of Russia’s parliament at the meeting Brown attended, Chauprade backed Putin’s anti-gay policies along with the Russian president’s bid for greater geopolitical power, saying, “In this new battle…those who do not want the U.S. anti-missile shield, the dominance of NATO, or the war against Syria and Iran are in the same camp as those who refuse the loss of sovereignty, population replacement on a grand scale, FEMEN, gender theory, homosexual marriage, as well as the further commodification of the human body.”

Chauprade repeated the theme in a speech quoted by the Times, in which he offered up Russia’s leadership as the way for Europe to break free of both the “technocratic elite serving the American and European financial oligarchy” and its “enslavement by consumerist urges and sexual impulses,” and attacks Eurovision Song Contest winner Conchita Wurst. Chauprade was an enthusiastic supporter of Russia’s incursion into Ukraine, and the Times notes that he joined a pro-Russian election monitoring outfit for Crimea’s vote to annex itself to Russia. The Economist characterized the observers as “a motley group of radicals” who “declared that the ballot, denounced by most Western governments as illegitimate, had been exemplary.”

Of course, Brown doesn’t subscribe to the views of everyone he’s ever been to a meeting with. But Chauprade’s activism illuminates an important subtext of the anti-gay activism that Brown and the World Congress of Families were aiding in Russia. For Putin and his far-right European allies, opposition to gay rights is part of a much larger project.

NYT:

While the European Union has joined Washington in denouncing Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the chaos stirred by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, Europe’s right-wing populists have been gripped by a contrarian fever of enthusiasm for Russia and its president, Vladimir V. Putin.

“Russian influence in the affairs of the far right is a phenomenon seen all over Europe,” said a study by the Political Capital Institute, a Hungarian research group. It predicted that far-right parties, “spearheaded by the French National Front,” could form a pro-Russian bloc in the European Parliament or, at the very least, amplify previously marginal pro-Russian voices.

Some of Russia’s European fans, particularly those with a religious bent, are attracted by Mr. Putin’s image as a muscular foe of homosexuality and decadent Western ways. Others, like Aymeric Chauprade, a foreign policy adviser to the National Front’s leader, Marine Le Pen, are motivated more by geopolitical calculations that emphasize Russia’s role as a counterweight to American power.

“Russia has become the hope of the world against new totalitarianism,” Mr. Chauprade, the National Front’s top European Parliament candidate for the Paris region, said in a speech to Russia’s Parliament in Moscow last year.

When Crimea held a referendum in March on whether the peninsula should secede from Ukraine and join Russia, Mr. Chauprade joined a team of election monitors organized by a pro-Russian outfit in Belgium, the Eurasian Observatory for Elections and Democracy. The team, which pronounced the referendum free and fair, also included members of Austria’s far-right Freedom Party; a Flemish nationalist group in Belgium; and the Jobbik politician in Hungary accused of spying for Russia.

Russia offers the prospect of a new European order free of what Mr. Chauprade, in his own speech, described as its servitude to a “technocratic elite serving the American and European financial oligarchy” and its “enslavement by consumerist urges and sexual impulses.”

The view that Europe has been cut adrift from its traditional moral moorings gained new traction this month when Conchita Wurst, a bearded Austrian drag queen, won the annual Eurovision Song Contest. Russian officials and the Russian Orthodox Church bemoaned the victory — over, among others, singing Russian twins — as evidence of Europe’s moral disarray.

At the National Front’s pre-election rally, Mr. Chauprade mocked the “bearded lady” and won loud applause with a passionate plaint that Europeans had become a rootless mass of “consumers disconnected from their natural attachments — the family, the nation and the divine.”

C-FAM Upset State Department Advocated For LGBT Rights On International Day Of Families

Wendy Wright of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM) is very upset that the Obama administration chose the UN’s International Day of Families last week to issue a joint statement with Finland on LGBT rights. In the statement, which was issued on May 15 in advance of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, the two countries vow to work together to ensure “the ability of LGBT persons to live safely, freely, and without discrimination.”

Wright tells CBN’s David Brody today that the timing of the statement showed that the Obama administration is attacking “the concept of male and female” and “triggering perilous consequences” by such actions as opposing Russia’s ban on gay “propaganda” to children.

The United States chose the International Day of Families to release a statement on “homophobia and transphobia.” The move underscores a priority in the “Obama Doctrine,” the President’s foreign policy that is racking up criticisms worldwide – and triggering perilous consequences.

Christian, Jewish, Muslim, academic and civil society leaders spoke at UN headquarters on Thursday on the virtues of the family for every society. Several attributed male and female distinctions, particularly in parenting, for its success in forming healthy individuals and societies. One warned that, despite agreement that unifies people around the globe, the family and the concept of male and female are “under attack.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. issued a joint statement with Finland vowing to focus on “combating human rights abuses against LGBT persons” and announcing Finland’s contribution of 1 million Euros to Obama’s global equality fund. The fund boosts lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activists in other countries and treats restrictions on homosexual and transgender activity, such as prohibiting promoting LGBT to children or requiring persons identify their accurate sex on passports, as human rights violations.

Religious Right 'Freedom And Liberty' Group ACLJ Backed Russian 'Gay Propaganda' And Blasphemy Bans

The American Center for Law and Justice, the group founded by televangelist Pat Robertson to be a right-wing counter to the American Civil Liberties Union, bills itself as a champion of the “ongoing viability of freedom and liberty in the United States and around the world.”

But the ACLJ – which has joined in the Religious Right chorus claiming that progressive policies are causing American Christians to lose their religious freedom – has never been so keen on the civil liberties of those with whom they disagree, especially in its work overseas. As we’ve noted in the past, the ACLJ led the fight to block the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” in Manhattan and through its African affiliate has backed efforts to prevent legalized abortion in Kenya and to keep homosexuality illegal in Zimbabwe.

And in recent years, the ACLJ’s European and Russian branches have also supported key parts of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s crackdown on gay rights and civil liberties, even as the group has served as a watchdog for Russia’s evangelical minority in the face of government persecution.

Both the European Center for Law and Justice (ECLJ) and the Slavic Center for Law and Justice (SCLJ) affiliates voiced support for Russia’s 2013 gag order on gay-rights advocacy. In addition, following the 2012 Pussy Riot protest, the SCLJ called for a law criminalizing religious blasphemy. One of its leading attorneys then helped draft one proposed version of the law.

In 2012, the last year for which records are available, the ACLJ directed $300,000 to funding the SCLJ with the “goal of protecting religious rights and freedoms of individuals and associations in Russia.” Its bigger overseas project is the European Center for Law and Justice (ECLJ), based in Strasbourg, France, to which it gave $1.1 million in 2012. The ACLJ’s chief counsel, Jay Sekulow, founded the SCLJ's overseas branches and serves as the chief counsel of the European affiliate. A handful of sources list him as the chief counsel of the Russian affiliate as well, although it is unclear if he still serves in that capacity.

The ACLJ did not respond to a request for comment on the work of its work in Russia.

Shortly after the feminist punk band Pussy Riot staged a protest at a Russian Orthodox cathedral – for which they were ultimately sentenced to two years in a penal colony for “hooliganism” – the SCLJ issued a press release endorsing the efforts of Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, an Orthodox Church official, to criminalize blasphemy, which at the time was punishable by just a small fine. The press release argued that “seemingly innocuous mischief of a few aggressive individuals led to real religious conflicts that posed a threat to people’s lives and health,” and recommending “harsh punishments” for people found guilty of blasphemy.

The press release called for Russian officials “to toughen laws against incitement of religious hatred and hostility, but also against insult to the religious feelings of the faithful and assaults against their shrines and temples. We also believe that there is an urgent need to introduce harsh punishments for disseminating such information on the Internet.”

The cynical, blasphemous actions in the Church of Christ the Savior that took place this week aroused a broad public outcry. The participants of the women’s feminist punk group Pussy Riot ran into the church wearing masks and performed a blasphemous song with a political subtext right before the altar. They recorded the “performance” on video. Based on these recordings, a video clip was put together and posted on social networks, after which a flood of blasphemous and anti-church comments appeared online.

SCLJ recently raised the issue of the danger of dissemination through social networks of blasphemous information that insults the religious feelings of the faithful, at times openly inciting interreligious conflicts. Today we see that this concern is becoming even more acute and urgent. Criticism of certain religious views and beliefs is undoubtedly possible; however, insult and humiliation of the dignity of individuals who hold them or profess any religion is simply unacceptable.

The main problem is that the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation does not currently contain adequate penalties for such acts. The maximum punishment that can be brought down upon the participants in this blasphemous act at the Church of Christ the Savior is that they will be cited for an administrative offense and required to pay a small fine. However, the consequences of their activities may be very serious.

It should be noted that such cases are not rare. SCLJ staff members have often come upon similar situations in other regions of the country. Moreover, in many cases, seemingly innocuous mischief of a few aggressive individuals led to real religious conflicts that posed a threat to people’s lives and health.

Law enforcement agencies typically respond to incidents of this nature by glossing over any anti-religious motives. No one wants crimes motivated by religious hatred and hostility. Therefore, officials strain to limit charges to “hooliganism” and sometimes refuse to open a criminal case at all.

In this regard, SCLJ supports the initiative of Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin to toughen laws against incitement of religious hatred and hostility, but also against insult to the religious feelings of the faithful and assaults against their shrines and temples. We also believe that there is an urgent need to introduce harsh punishments for disseminating such information on the Internet.

In September of 2012, members of the Duma introduced a bill that would criminalize “insulting citizens’ religious views and feelings.”

Despite SCLJ’s initial call for an anti-blasphemy law, the group’s co-chair Vladimir Rhyakovsky was apparently not thrilled with the first draft of the law. Rhyakovsky, a member of Putin’s Council on Civil Society and Human Rights, joined with a fellow council member to propose a revised version of the bill that proposed more moderate penalties for violation and created “zoned” free speech areas, but also, disturbingly, would have made the definition of “insulting religious feeling” even vaguer to cover such beliefs as “patriotism” and “commitment to traditional values.”

In June, 2013, Putin signed the final version of the blasphemy ban. The Moscow Times summarized its provisions:

The blasphemy law will punish “public actions expressing obvious disrespect toward society and committed to abuse the religious feelings of believers,” with potential punishment of up to three years behind bars, fines of up to 500,000 rubles ($15,430), and compulsory correctional labor, Lenta.ru reported.

It also stipulates fines of 80,000-300,000 rubles and a prison term of up to three months for hindering the activities of religious organizations and preventing religious rites from being conducted.

A fine of over 200,000 rubles can be levied for deliberate destruction of religious or theological literature.

Ryakhovsky – speaking in his capacity as a member of the human rights council – said after the Duma passed the bill that while he felt that it was “very important” to pass such a law and acknowledged that some of the human rights council’s proposals had been adopted, he was still concerned that “the problem of legal ambiguity remains,” which could “lead to arbitrary application and interpretation of the law, and willful use of it by law enforcement agencies.”

“Whenever the law, and especially criminal law, contains room for arbitrary interpretation, it is fraught with negative consequences,” he said. “I believe that this law is better than the one that was originally proposed, but on the other hand – it is not what it should be.”

That an ACLJ affiliate advocated for a blasphemy law – even if its leader offered only tepid support for the final product – is especially unsettling given that the group has strongly opposed blasphemy bans in its work at the United Nations. In a comment to the UN’s human rights committee in 2011, the ECLJ urged the committee to adopt a strong condemnation of blasphemy laws, such as those in Islamist countries. “Blasphemy prohibitions and laws regarding the defamation of religions violate the very foundations of the human rights tradition by protecting ideas instead of the person who hold those ideas,” the ECLJ wrote in a memo cosigned by its director, Gregor Puppink.

“Freedom of expression includes the right to be controversial, insulting, or offensive, even when such expression targets ideas that are devoutly held beliefs,” the group added.

The SCLJ and its leaders may have had mixed feelings about the final version of the blasphemy ban, but they offered more enthusiastic praise to another bill that Putin signed the same day: a ban on the distribution of “gay propaganda” to minors, essentially a gag order on gay-rights advocacy.

After the Duma passed the “propaganda” ban, Ryakhovsky’s fellow SCLJ co-chairman, Anatoly Pchelintsev, told Voice of America that although he would “refine” parts of the bill, it addressed an important problem. “You only have to turn on a few TV channels to become convinced: promotion of homosexuality is there in both direct and hidden forms,” he said.

Co-chair of the Slavic Center for Law and Justice Anatoly Pchelintsev told Voice of America that he believes there is such a thing as homosexual propaganda, and that it must be combated as much as possible. “You only have to turn on a few TV channels to become convinced: promotion of homosexuality is there in both direct and hidden forms.”

However, Pchelintsev believes there is no need to apply the law in all cases, since it is primarily minors who need protection against homosexual propaganda. “Adults are capable of understanding what is good and what is bad,” added Pchelintsev.

Pchelintsev says that he shares the opinion of Sergei Nikitin about the necessity of refining some of the terminology used in the bill. “You have to know what “propaganda” is before banning it.”

Pchelintsev told another outlet that he was “very pleased” about the move toward adopting the law because LGBT people should be allowed to “live as they want to, but without propagandizing their way of life.”

“I’m against homosexual propaganda, especially among minors. I am for strong families, but in this case I admit that there may be some kind of anomaly, it’s difficult to say in what way exactly—psychological, biological, or something else, but the problem exists—there are people like this. And let them live as they want to, but without propagandizing their way of life,” believes the scientific director of the Institute for Religion and Law, lawyer Anatoly Pchelintsev. “So I’m very pleased about the adoption of this law on the federal level. The key will be that it works and guarantees some kind of punishment. In my view, citation for an administrative offense is sufficient, violations like this do not fall under the purview of criminal law.”

The ACLJ’s European affiliate also voiced support for the “propaganda” ban. In an essay last year, ECLJ’s director, Gregor Puppinck, wrote that the law was “intended to protect children from messages about LGBT practices” that portray homosexuality as “favorable to or equivalent to marital relationships.” He portrayed Russia’s suppression of gay rights as a beacon of hope to France and the rest of Western Europe, showing that the trend toward gay rights is “strong, but not inevitable.”

ECLJ has worked closely with a number of French groups that have been touting Putin’s social conservative crackdown as a model for Europe. Last month, Puppinck joined a delegation of French activists in a visit to Russia to meet with leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church and members of parliament to discuss partnering in “protecting traditional values.”

Although participants in the meeting said that they avoided foreign policy subjects, the visit by the delegation just a few weeks after Russia’s seizure of Crimea provoked some controversy in France, including criticism from a French Catholic leader who said, “If they think that Russia protects human rights, they should go for a tour of Crimea.” The magazine Nouvel Observateur accused the delegation of endorsing Putin’s propaganda of “Russia as a paradise of Christian values.”

In response to the Nouvel Observateur piece the president of the leading French anti-gay group Manif Pour Tous denied that anybody of authority in her group had participated.

But the ECLJ was far from shy about its own participation. According to the Russian Orthodox Church’s representative in Strasbourg, it was Puppinck who requested that he organize the delegation of French activists who support “the traditional concept of the family and oppose abortion, euthanasia, etc.”

We haven’t been able to find any detailed accounts of the visit, but one member of the delegation, the Russian Orthodox church’s representative in Strasbourg, repeated the idea of Russia as the moral protectors of Europe. “Russia is a unique country in Europe,” said Abbot Philip Rybykh. “It seeks to protect the natural order of life, and not the various deviations from it.”

Another report notes that the delegates reached the conclusion that “Western societies would do well to emulate” Russia’s “religious awakening.”

Puppinck reportedly said during the visit that he was “very impressed” by Russia’s newly established “moral” policies, specifically citing the drop in the country’s abortion rate. Russia’s anti-gay policies and protecting Europe from the “contagion” of gay rights were also reportedly objects of discussion.

BarbWire Defends Brutal Anti-Gay Laws In Uganda, Nigeria, Ethiopia

Jeff Allen, senior editor of Matt Barber’s BarbWire website, today defends harsh anti-gay laws in Uganda, Nigeria and Ethiopia, which he calls “maliciously mischaracterized” and “a matter of national survival.”

In Nigeria, where gay sex is illegal – and punishable by death by stoning in some Islamic states in the north of the country – a new law criminalizing gay clubs and organizations, even banning gay people from meeting in groups of two or more, has led to an official crackdown on LGBT people and encouraged vigilante violence.

Earlier this year, Uganda passed an infamous bill punishing gay activity with sentences of up to life in prison. In Ethiopia, where gay sex is also criminalized, a bill preventing the president from pardoning anyone convicted of homosexuality was recently dropped.

Yet to Allen, these laws are merely resisting “the West’s imposition of ‘sexual rights’ on these countries.” In a review of a 2012 documentary by Family Watch International that blames the AIDS crisis in Africa on Western aid that emphasizes family planning and gay rights, Allen writes:

The maliciously mischaracterized anti-‘gay’ laws in countries like Uganda, Nigeria, and Ethiopia are actually a matter of national survival. The documentary makes the case that the West’s imposition of “sexual rights” on these countries erodes their religious and cultural values, leading to social chaos through the demise of the natural family unit and the deaths of millions by AIDS-related illnesses.

Russian Anti-LGBT Crackdown Exporting Homophobic Violence Throughout Region, Experts Warn

Russia's ban on gay "propaganda" and copycat laws throughout the region have created a "license to commit violence against" LGBT people, "give the permission" for "street violence" and "create legitimacy for violence," according to human rights advocates working in Russia, Ukraine, Moldova and Kyrgyszstan who spoke last night at a panel at Columbia University.

Russia's spate of anti-gay laws has quickly influenced neighboring countries, part of what Columbia professor Tanya Domi called "the Putin project" of solidifying Russia's influence in the region.

American activists including National Organization for Marriage president Brian Brown, anti-gay agitator Scott Lively, and the World Congress of Families – which receives support from a who's who of American anti-gay groups – have lent support to Russia's anti-gay laws.

Matthew Schaaf, a Russia expert at Freedom House, said that while there were plenty of logistical questions about the enforcement of the ban on gay "propaganda" to minors that was passed last year, one effect of the law is clear.

"What we've actually seen is that this law in Russia and other restrictions on LGBT people and people who advocate for LGBT rights is essentially a license to commit violence against them, to discriminate against them," he said. "It creates an environment where these people are positioned as being others, as not being us, as an influence that we need to control and to destroy."

Schaaf said that the anti-gay bills are "part of an overall crackdown on civil society in Russia."

He mentioned the newly released Russian state cultural policy, which explicitly rejects "the principles of multiculturalism and tolerance" and denies state support to "cultural projects which impose alien to society values."

"What is common to all of these different issues is a rhetoric of some kind of external, existential threat to Russia, to Russian culture, to Russia as a country, to the borders of Russia, to the Russian people, to the Russian economy, and so on," Schaaf said. "So, if you're hearing this message, you're hearing a message that's frightening: that the country is under assault by these horrible, horrible forces."

"This is what Russia is exporting to other parts of the world, and they're aggressively pushing this agenda on many, many, many levels," he added.

Olena Shevchenko, who chairs the Ukrainian LGBTI advocacy group Insight, said that pushing anti-gay laws is part of a "Russian foreign strategy" as Russia is "pushing this border between [its] traditional values concept and human rights in Western Europe."

Anna Kirey of Human Rights Watch put it in terms of LGBT rights being a unit of geopolitical "currency."

"It feels like it's this big political game where Russia is creating this certain currency that they sort of use politically…to mobilize supporters," she said. "LGBT rights now in this region are definitely one of these currencies to create opposition to the West and more support for the Eurasian Customs Union in different countries."

Shevchenko noted that Russia's move toward anti-gay legislation "influenced Ukraine immediately."

In late 2012, Ukraine – which was the first former Soviet republic to decriminalize homosexuality – took the first step toward passing its own "propaganda" ban imposing fines or up to five years in prison for "any positive depiction" of LGBT people.

The BBC interviewed the pastor of an evangelical church in Kiev who had pushed for the bill, which he described as a "national security" measure. "Here's the issue," he told the BBC. "In a real democracy, my freedom and rights are limited by the freedom of someone else."

Shevchenko said that a similar sentiment was behind wide support for anti-gay laws in Ukraine. "Many people think that equality for LGBT people will be a threat to the rights of majority," she said. "Basically it will be a threat to the right to discriminate."

She added that anti-LGBT hate speech from politicians and the media essentially "give permission [for] street violence towards LGBT people" and lead to the "legitimization of violence."

"Basically, they think it allows them to go on the streets and discriminate and to beat them and to rape, when it comes to LB and transgender women," she said.

Kirey, a researcher at Human Rights Watch who has done extensive work in Kyrgyzstan, spoke of a similar situation in that country, where a Human Rights Watch report in January found a pattern of police violence and extortion against gay men.

Kyrgyz authorities met the HRW report with denial and even laughter, she said…and then two months later introduced their own Russian-style gay "propaganda" ban.

"Right now in the region, any conversations about LGBT rights are immediately put in the box of 'propaganda,'" said Kirey. She added that such legislation not only "create[s] legitimacy for violence" but also "shrinks the space where LGBT activists are able to raise their concerns, which is very upsetting."

"Literally, people are now thinking that they have the permission of the government to continue these homophobic crimes, which is a very scary development," she said.‚Äč

Will American Religious Right Groups Go Ahead With Their Kremlin Summit?

As President Obama and world leaders debate whether to go ahead with this year’s planned G-8 meeting in Sochi after Russia’s military incursion into Ukraine, American Religious Right leaders are facing a diplomatic dilemma of their own.

In September, social conservative leaders from around the globe, including representatives of several major American Religious Right groups are planning to hold the annual World Congress of Families gathering at the Kremlin. The gathering is supported by political leaders in Russian Orthodox Church and will include a joint session with the Russian parliament.

American social conservatives have rallied – with varying levels of enthusiasm – to support Russian President Vladimir Putin as his government has passed aseries of anti-gay laws and joined with the church to take up other “family values” issues. These activists, in praising Russia’s renewed push on issues such as gay rights, have largely chosen to ignore the role that social issues are playing in Putin's larger plans.

Issues such as gay rights, abortion rights, and population growth aren't a side project for Putin – they're closely entwined with his tightening grip on power and what Julia Ioffe calls his “appetite for expansion.” For instance, as Buzzfeed's Lester Feder has reported extensively, Russia and its allies in Ukraine and throughout Eastern Europe have riled up anti-gay sentiment as part of a larger agenda of fomenting distrust of the EU and the West. Putin’s anti-gay crackdown has also been useful in promoting nationalist sentiment within Russia and to provide a useful scapegoat as he tightens his grip on power.

When Larry Jacobs of the Rockford, Illinois-based World Congress of Families gushes that “the Russians might be the Christian saviors of the world” or when former Fox News producer Jack Hanick, who has been active in anti-gay causes in Russia, says that “God called on” Russia to “stand up for traditional values,” they are playing into Putin’s own narrative.

In October, leaders from major U.S. Religious Right groups including the National Organization for Marriage, Alliance Defending Freedom and Focus on the Family traveled to Moscow for a planning meeting for the upcoming conference, where they met with Yelena Mizulina, a member of parliament at the head of the Kremlin's social conservative push and coauthor of the infamous "gay propaganda" bill.

In addition, nearly every major Religious Right group in the country is an official paying “partner” of the World Congress of Families; groups including the Family Research Council, the American Family Association, Concerned Women for America, Alliance Defending Freedom, Focus on the Family and the National Organization for Marriage, pay an annual $2,500 fee to support the organization, which is an offshoot of the Illinois-based Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society.

The American Right has found Putin's Russia to be an ally of convenience as they work to build an international movement opposing gay rights, choice, and religious pluralism. But how far are they willing to take the relationship?

Scott Lively's New Anti-Gay Coalition: Governments Should Suppress LGBT 'Propaganda'

Anti-gay activists Scott Lively and Peter LaBarbera held a press conference today to announce the formation of a new Coalition for Family Values to fight the “destructive” LGBT agenda around the world. They were joined by “ex-gay” activist Greg Quinlan and Diane Gramley, president of the American Family Association of Pennsylvania. Linda Harvey of Mission America sent a supportive statement.

And don’t worry about calling these guys anti-gay. The rationale behind their new coalition seems to be that too many other Religious Right leaders will only speak out against marriage equality but not against homosexuality itself for fear of being labeled a hater or bigot. That approach, said Lively, is “unprincipled.”

The coalition’s statement says:

“…the vast majority of the people of the world do not accept the notion that sexual deviance should be normalized. It is time that these voices are heard on the world stage before the so-called elites of the Western powers impose their inverted morality on everyone through the manipulation of international law, which they clearly intend to do.”

To explain why a new coalition was needed – after all, it’s not as if there aren’t already plenty of groups pushing anti-gay policies overseas -- Lively said:

“We believe that the pro-family movement is not being well represented at the moment. Because most of the people that are in the leadership positions are afraid to speak the plain truth because of the media….We’re not against gay marriage and gay adoption because they’re just bad public policy. We’re against them because homosexuality itself is harmful to the people who practice it and to society. 

The organizing statement written by Lively and signed by his new coalition partners says,

“Let us pray for healing for those who choose the LGBT path, and (within reason) respect their right to be wrong in their private lives. But let us not allow the LGBT political movement to transform the world in its own distorted image.”

For Lively, respecting “within reason” people’s right to be “wrong” seems to be limited to society not persecuting gay people who have sex in private. He says he doesn’t believe people should go to jail for what they do in their own bedroom, as long as they aren’t trying to move society away from what he believes is a biblical approach to sexuality – what he calls the “one flesh paradigm.” He said, “And that if you’re going to be engaged in that kind of behavior, then stay in the privacy of your home and not try to transform the mainstream culture according to your sexual values.”

Another point of the press conference was to praise Russian anti-gay laws. Says the coalition statement, “we want to praise the Russian Federation for providing much-needed leadership in restoring family values in public policy, and to encourage the governments of the world to follow the excellent example that the Russian government has set in 2013 and 2014 by banning LGBT propaganda to children and limiting the adoption of children to natural families only.” Peter La Barbera cited a poll saying that 74 percent of Russians say homosexuality should not be accepted in society, adding, “Good for the Russians.” 

Lively said his goal is not the criminalization of homosexuality. But, he said, the government has “an affirmative duty to protect the natural family and to discourage all sex outside of marriage.” He says he’d like to return to the days “when adultery was a criminal act.” Such laws, he says, would be lightly enforced, but would help discourage sex outside marriage. What really bothers Lively, he says, is that pro-LGBT ideology has “infiltrated” the government; there needs to be a “separation of LGBT and state” so that the government is not allowed to advocate for “the homosexual perspective.”

Pushed by conservative activist Cliff Kincaid about the ways the anti-gay “propaganda” law in Russia is being used to suppress free speech and freedom of the press, Lively said he didn’t favor that. But he said he was “torn.”

“There is a zero sum equation here – that you’re either going to have society that believes that sex belongs inside of marriage only, or that it’s really anything goes within the principle of mutual consent. Those two ideas are mutually contradictory. In Russia, the Russian policy is to favor the pro-family perspective and suppress the speech of those who are against it. In the United States, it’s the pro-gay perspective that’s favored and anything against that is being suppressed.”

When Kincaid challenged that claim, noting that Lively was holding a news conference and, unlike gay rights advocates in Russia, he wasn’t been arrested or beaten, Lively said, “I wish there was a good balance that could be struck.”

“I try to make all of my policies based on principle, and my principle is, the most important thing in dealing with this issue is that we need to affirm the biblical standard of one-flesh sexuality. All sex outside of marriage is harmful to society. Now, right now, the challenge to the Russians is how far are they going to let aggressive homosexual propagandists get a foothold in their society. And they’re looking at the United States, and they’re seeing what’s happening here.

When we started extending tolerance to these activists -- you know in the 1950s, Dale Jennings of the Mattachine Society said the goal of the gay movement was the right to be left alone – that’s a direct quote. And as soon as we extended tolerance, then they began demanding more, and more, and more. You give ‘em an inch and they take a mile.

If there were some balance we could have, in which people who want to live discretely in a gay subculture can articulate their views in context, in which it’s not going to be tearing down the fabric of society, then I’m all for that. But if the only choice is suppressing a harmful propaganda, and giving it free reign, I’m going to choose the suppression of the harmful propaganda. Because we’ve seen in our country the consequences of not doing that.

Lively complained about businesses being punished for refusing to provide services to same-sex couples. “This is what the homosexual activists do. They are the worst bullies in society. If you dare to stand up to them, even if all you say is that I believe marriage is between a man and a woman, they try to destroy you.”

Lively made a similar point about the anti-gay law in Uganda. He claimed to have encouraged parliamentarians there to focus on “prevention” and “treatment” of homosexuality rather than punishment, and said he believes the law is overly harsh. He even said he had turned down a Ugandan who wanted to join the new coalition. But, he said, he was asked, “If you could only choose between the Ugandan law minus the death penalty, or complete freedom for the homosexual agenda in Uganda, which one would you go with?” His answer: “And I said, well, I would have to with the restriction, because you have to put the children ahead of the adults. And that’s what Russia is doing…it’s the lesser of two evils.”

Both Lively and LaBarbera were contemptuous of the notion that same-sex couples with children could be considered a family. In response to a question about children with gay parents, Lively said he rejects the premise that they are a family.

“I think there’s a false premise in your question, that these are families. I don’t believe that they are families. I think when two people who define themselves by a type of sexual behavior put their own sexual interests ahead of the interests of children, that that is not a family.”

Lively said same-sex couples are “posing” as mothers or fathers.  LaBarbera denounced “the bizarre concept of subjecting innocent children to households that are intentionally motherless or intentionally fatherless.”

Gramley from the Pennsylvania AFA affiliate said that children exposed to “homosexual propaganda” in schools, books, video games, and entertainment are like “lab rats” or “guinea pigs.” Said Gramley, “We recognize the outcome of this war on the family will determine the very future of humanity itself.”

Linda Harvey’s written statement sounded a similar tone:

“To be a faithful Christian in many of today’s U.S. public schools means for many students that they walk into a daily atmosphere of sexual anarchy, institutional bigotry and widespread deceit….Our next generation in the U.S. is being deliberately corrupted through such wayward guidance from deviant adults. We applaud the steps Russia is taking to ensure this is not the path for their students, and we encourage more countries to make the same wise choice, to say ‘no’ to homosexual activism.”

Lively seems unwilling to entertain the idea that his years of travelling the world to denounce LGBT people as threats to children could be in any way responsible for violence against LGBT people. “We unequivocally condemn any violence against anyone, including homosexuals,” he said. LaBarbera chimed in to say neither Lively or other activists he works with have ever espoused violence or hatred. Really. 

Lively said he only put out the word to get coalition members two days ago and that responses are flooding in from around the world. Among the recognizable Religious Right figures who signed up are Matt Barber, Tim Wildmon, Bryan Fischer, Gordon Klingenschmitt, Janet Porter, and Sally Kern. No haters there. 

Pussy Riot's American Detractors

Two members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot, who in 2012 were sentenced to two years in a penal colony for staging a protest in a cathedral, were detained again in Sochi, Russia, today. The two were released after a few hours, during which they say that they were beaten by police .

While people across the world have held up the Pussy Riot prosecution as an example of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s human rights abuses, the group has had some strong detractors in the American right. Just as with Russia’s recent crackdown on LGBT people, the ordeal of Pussy Riot has divided the American conservative movement. While Texas senator Ted Cruz, a Tea Party hero, last month criticized the prosecution of the band (whose name he nevertheless wouldn’t say), some of his allies on the Religious Right have cheered Putin on.

Shortly after the sentencing of Pussy Riot’s members, Janice Shaw Crouse of Concerned Women for America – also a board member of the Rockford, Illinois-based World Congress of Families – wrote a column arguing that the band was guilty of “religious bigotry” and should “accept responsibility for [their] actions.” At a World Congress of Families event earlier this month, Crouse repeated that she had “no problem whatsoever” with the Pussy Riot prosecution.

The Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), a close ally of the World Congress of Families that works to oppose gay rights and reproductive rights advances at the United Nations, has repeatedly defended the Pussy Riot prosecution on its blog, calling them a "small group of female hooligans" and comparing them to 1960s political "terrorists."

Conservative columnist Pat Buchanan also defended Putin’s actions against Pussy Riot, praising the Russian president for “trying to re-establish the Orthodox Church as the moral compass of the nation it had been for 1,000 years before Russia fell captive to the atheistic and pagan ideology of Marxism.”

The American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer praised Putin’s supposed protection of “Christian values,” calling him a “lion of Christianity.”

As we discuss in our “Globalizing Homophobia” report, the anti-gay part of Putin’s agenda has caught the imagination of American social conservatives, who have rallied to support the Russian president’s defense of “Christian values.”

Putin’s targeting of Pussy Riot is closely linked to this crackdown on gay rights that has been enthusiastically embraced by American conservatives. Both are part of a broader campaign to stir up popular sentiment against minority rights: On the very same day that the Russian parliament passed its infamous “homosexual propaganda” ban, it also responded to the Pussy Riot controversy by imposing an anti-blasphemy law that imposes a three-year prison sentence for “offending religious sensibilities.”

World Congress Of Families Spokesman: Putin Will Save America From 'Heady Elixir Of Sexual Rights'

World Congress of Families spokesman Don Feder is once again defending Russian President Vladimir Putin’s crackdown on LGBT people. In a column posted at GrasstopsUSA yesterday, Feder defends Russia’s ban on “gay propaganda,” saying it merely prevents “two homosexuals” from standing “outside an elementary school with a banner that says: ‘Hey kids, sodomy is swell – and you should try it!’” (In fact, journalists have been fined under the law for reporting about openly gay people). He also claims that Russia is interested in cracking down on LGBT people in order to prevent HIV.

Feder echoes the assertion of Alexey Komov, a Russian anti-gay activist and the main organizer of WCF’s upcoming Moscow conference, that Putin is the new Reagan, come to “save” America from “communism,” including the gay-rights rulings of American judges “drunk on the heady elixir of sexual rights.”

There should be an event at the Sochi Olympics where advocates posing as journalists, celebrity nitwits and politicians can compete to see who can wail the loudest and longest about the supposed horror of Russia's dreaded anti-gay law, while Pussy Riot plays in the background. Extra points will be awarded for absurd and offensive analogies to the Holocaust.

A word about that law, which wasn't initiated by Putin and passed the State Duma without a single dissenting vote: It does not outlaw homosexuality. Dozens of gay clubs operate openly in Moscow. The only prohibition is publicly promoting homosexuality to minors.

For example, two homosexuals are not allowed to stand outside an elementary school with a banner that says: "Hey kids, sodomy is swell – and you should try it!" Each violation by an individual is punishable by a fine that's the equivalent of $50.00. Violations of the Nuremberg laws, which had nothing to do with Jewish parades in Berlin, were punished by imprisonment and hard labor.

Why would Russia, with a declining population, be concerned about promoting these "non-traditional lifestyles" to children? Might it have something to do with the British medical journal The Lancet's report that a male homosexual is 18 times more likely to contract HIV than a heterosexual – or those notorious homophobes at the Centers for Disease Control disclosing that in 2010, men who have sex with men (as they delicately put it) accounted for 63% of new HIV infections in the U.S.?


The left believes in popular sovereignty – within narrowly defined limits. In the United States, between 1998 and 2012, the voters of 32 states passed constitutional bans on same-sex marriage. This represents 50 million votes for maintaining the integrity of the institution on which civilization depends. On average, the referenda passed by two-to-one majorities.

Despite that overwhelming expression of popular sentiment, state and federal courts (SCOTUS included) have been working overtime to negate the will of the people. When he's through remaking Russia, perhaps Rushdie will help to "bring about a healthy democracy" in America.

Christians who refuse to participate in a travesty that violates their deeply held beliefs are pulverized by judges and bureaucrats drunk on the heady elixir of sexual rights .

When did engaging in non-traditional sexual relations become a human right? Where is the sodomy clause in the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution or U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights?


In a recent address, Putin observed: "Many Euro-Atlantic countries have moved away from their roots, including Christian values." The Russian President admonished, "Policies are being pursued that place on the same level a multi-child family and a same-sex partnership, a faith in God and a belief in Satan. This is the path to degradation." Putin could never make it in U.S. politics, being too grounded in reality.



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."

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