Russia

Who Does Glenn Beck Really Stand With: Russian Gays Or America's Religious Right?

Shortly after Russia passed its new spate of anti-gay laws, Glenn Beck said he was so offended by one Russian commentator who called for the mass killing of gays and lesbians that he would “stand with GLAAD” against the growing tide of anti-gay bigotry and “hetero-fascism” in the country.

At the same time, however, Beck was heaping praise on anti-gay activists such as Mat Staver, the Liberty Counsel attorney who endorsed draconian anti-gay laws in Russia and Malawi.

Then, this weekend, Beck took the same stand against growing Russian “hetero-fascism” in his closing speech at the Values Voter Summit, even though many of the summit’s sponsors and his fellow speakers have openly backed harsh anti-gay laws in Russia and throughout the world.

To begin with, Tony Perkins, the president of the summit’s chief sponsor, the Family Research Council, defended Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill when it included provisions making homosexuality a crime punishable by life imprisonment or death.

Beck’s fellow Values Voter Summit speakers included not only Staver and Perkins but also Peter Sprigg, the FRC spokesman who called for the U.S. to export gay people and criminalize homosexuality. The American Family Association also sponsored the summit, and its spokesmen Bryan Fischer and Sandy Rios have also endorsed Russia’s anti-gay policies, with Fischer even backing Uganda’s law.

Maybe Beck was trying to hold Religious Right leaders at the summit to task for their support of brutal anti-gay policies. But if that’s the case, Beck should start confronting them directly when they come on his show, rather than singing their praises and appearing at their conferences while calling policies they support “fascist.”

Janice Shaw Crouse: 'Perhaps The Jihadist Are Right' About Weakness Of The Pro-LGBT 'Decadent West'

Janice Shaw Crouse, who until very recently was an official at Concerned Women for America, came back from the Putin-backed International Family Forum in Moscow last week, and was very impressed by Russia’s resistance to the European trends toward LGBT equality and reproductive rights and refusal to “capitulate[e] to western LGBTIQ fascists.”

In an essay for the American Thinker, Crouse recalls how Russia successfully resisted the advances of Napoleon and Hitler. “Now come Obama, Kerry, Clinton and the rest of the LGBTIQ's claque who bluster, sanction, and slander pro-family Russian leaders,” she writes.

“Meanwhile, the radical Islamist jihadist have taken the measure of the decadent West with its vast technological superiority (but moral and spiritual bankruptcy) and have decided they can with beat us with suicide bombers,” she continues. “And as long as we are led by thinkers who not only fail to recognize the importance of (but actively fight against) something as elementary and fundamental as the necessity to a society of having the foundational strength of families lead by a mothers and fathers, then perhaps the jihadist are right.”

“Perhaps we will simply, once again, capitulate to Jihadism just as we have to LGBTIQism and so many other hollow ‘isms,’” she writes. “But if after witnessing the miracle of Russia's unblinking repudiation of the blight and sorrows of its own Marxist experiment, I wouldn't bet on the Russians capitulating to western LGBTIQ fascists without a fight.”

We in the west have read a bit of Russian history, but know little of what is embedded in the DNA of the Russians from the first-hand experiences of generation after generation of those who struggled to survive one tragedy after another. Napoleon’s half a million strong army was able to reach Moscow but was turned back in defeat by the realities of the flames that consumed the city and the deadly cold of the Russian winter. Hitler learned nothing from Napoleon's folly. He had no comprehension of how tenaciously the Russians would defend their Motherland no matter how many millions of them he managed to kill with advanced German weaponry.

Now come Obama, Kerry, Clinton and the rest of the LGBTIQ's claque who bluster, sanction, and slander pro-family Russian leaders; these, however, are persons who see and understand the real threat to their homeland of the depopulation and demographic winter that follow when there is a failure of natural families to flourish. Now come the Human Rights Campaign and those who demonize and demagogue anyone who dares to speak Truth to power on these fundamental issues.

Meanwhile, the radical Islamist jihadist have taken the measure of the decadent West with its vast technological superiority (but moral and spiritual bankruptcy) and have decided they can with beat us with suicide bombers. And as long as we are led by thinkers who not only fail to recognize the importance of (but actively fight against) something as elementary and fundamental as the necessity to a society of having the foundational strength of families lead by a mothers and fathers, then perhaps the jihadist are right.

Today, after 80 years of the horrors of life under communism, Russia is working to restore family and Orthodoxy as the foundations of its culture and the means of its survival as a nation. Meanwhile, it remains to be seen how much stomach the west has left for a fight for survival. Perhaps we will simply, once again, capitulate to Jihadism just as we have to LGBTIQism and so many other hollow “isms.” But if after witnessing the miracle of Russia's unblinking repudiation of the blight and sorrows of its own Marxist experiment, I wouldn't bet on the Russians capitulating to western LGBTIQ fascists without a fight.
 

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.

Moscow Forum Attended By American Activists Ends With Call For More 'Gay Propaganda' Bans

UPDATED

According to the foundation run by Russian oligarch Constantin Malofeev, this week’s international gathering of anti-gay, anti-abortion-rights activists in Moscow ended with delegates issuing a proclamation that blasts liberal social policies in Western countries and calls for Russian-style “homosexual propaganda” bans to be passed throughout the world.

The forum in Moscow was originally organized under the name of the Illinois-based World Congress of Families, which officially “suspended” its planning of the conference after Russia invaded Ukraine, although two World Congress of Families officials were until recently listed as organizers on the event’s website and attended the gathering. National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown also spoke at the event yesterday, and American representatives from the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, the Christian Broadcasting Network, Personhood USA, and Family Watch International were also scheduled to speak.

It’s unclear if any of the Americans at the conference officially backed the resolution.

In the resolution — which was posted on the website of a foundation chaired by Putin ally Vladimir Yakunin, which also helped fund the event — the delegates express their “profound concern because certain countries are pursuing  tenacious policies and an unprecedented propaganda campaign, all of which is leading to the ultimate destruction of the Natural Family − an institution that in a civilized society is the foundation of order, state’s prosperity and social peace.”

In the resolution, delegates vow to "uphold the interests of children and to work for the adoption of legislative bans on all types propaganda concerning homosexual relationships in the environment of children and juveniles” and to support research on “the negative social and psychological effects of raising children in same-gender couples.”

The delegates also vow “demand initiatives and directives from the governments and heads of state to ensure protection of the natural family, childhood, and motherhood in both, domestic and foreign policies.”

UPDATE: Joe Jervis points out that an English translation of the resolution is available. I've updated the quotes above and you can read the whole thing here:

An Urgent APPEAL
To the Nations of the World

To all people of goodwill in the everywhere: To leaders of all faiths, To the architects of public opinion, To those at the helm of professional, women’s and youth organizations, To the UN General Assembly, To the heads of state and legislative bodies and To the mass media.

 We, the Participants of the Moscow International Forum “Large Family and Future of Humanity” (September 10-11, 2014), express our profound concern because certain countries are pursuing  tenacious policies and an unprecedented propaganda campaign, all of which is leading to the ultimate destruction of the Natural Family − an institution that in a civilized society is the foundation of order, state’s prosperity and social peace. 

 The preservation of mankind is based on a system of family and kindred ties that are formed through the bonds of marriage between a male and a female and the children born to them.  This and only this alone, is capable of ensuring the reproduction, stability and continuity of human civilization. All other kinds of sexual relationships or alliances intentionally that exclude the birth of children are meaningless for they are devoid of the notion set down in the very definition of the word “family.” And no political or economic interests can serve as a pretext for replacing the true and time-tested concept of “family” by any kind of surrogate.  

It is precisely this understanding that was set down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (adopted by the United Nations in 1948), as well as in the constitutions of more than 100 countries and reflected in the holy scriptures of various religions. This understanding determines the philosophy and creativity of humanists and thinkers of the past and the contemporary epoch.

  We regretfully declare that the systemic policy pursued by the ruling elite in the developed countries of the world in order to implement the “theory of the post-modern society” – in essence, a “society of unrestrained consumerism,” a policy of creating a society of individuals who are absolutely unconcerned about the future and who are focused only on satisfying their selfish desires of the moment. Actually, such a society is ultimately aimed at destroying faith in God, as well as belief in good. These post-modern policies focused on the material wealth are destroying what is human in the human being (as created by God), at wrecking the spiritual dimension in Man – all of which are his distinguishing features in Living Nature.

  We appeal to all people who acknowledge the significance and values of the Natural Family for preserving human civilization:

  • To unite before the threat of total dehumanization of society, to set up a barrier on the road of ideology-lined, state-supported interference in the private lives of people, in an attempt to foist specific sexual lifestyles and preferences of the minority upon the majority;
  • To strive to set forth legislative initiatives in the laws and constitutions of all countries that clearly define the naturally predetermined relationships in the Family as relationships between the male and female, their children and their relatives;
  • To advocate and support the Natural Family as the sole source of preserving the civilization, the life of Mankind;
  • To make use of all thematic international Days (…protection of children, the family, etc.) whose slogans and mottos refer to traditional values, for demonstrating their disagreement with and dissent for State-supported destructive tendencies in the sex and family life, especially of the young people, and consolidating the understanding of a Natural Family as the foundation of human life at the level of the individual, society, state and civilization;
  • To oppose  the cynical utilization of women as surrogate mothers in the interests of same-gender liaisons and alliances;
  • To uphold the interests of children and to work for the adoption of legislative bans on all types propaganda concerning homosexual relationships in the environment of children and juveniles;
  • To initiate and support scientific research to study the conditions  and prospects of developing a Natural Family, as well as studying the negative social and psychological effects of raising children in same-gender couples;
  •  To support public efforts aimed at ensuring integrity of human life from the moment of conception to natural death, to protect children from influences taken against their individuality, and to uphold the child-rearing rights of parents – both father’s and mother’s;
  • To demand initiatives and directives from the governments and heads of state to ensure protection of the natural family, childhood, and motherhood in both, domestic and foreign policies.

  We  urgently call upon the UN General Assembly, the UN Secretary General and the UN Supreme Commissioner for Human Rights that, while formulating the programs of the United Nations, to follow the letter and the spirit of Article 16 in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which underscores the understanding of the Human Family as the only possible and acceptable notion to human civilization, and to proclaim in the foreseeable future a Special Year or Program in support of the Natural Family.

  We call upon all people who agree with the given Appeal to sign it and support it for the sake of preserving life and civilization on our Earth.

 

 

American Religious Right Leaders Join Moscow Event, May Not Be Able To Avoid Foreign Policy

This week, a number of American Religious Right activists are participating an in international forum on “large families and the future of mankind,” which is organized and funded by a number of close allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin and kicked off its session at the Kremlin yesterday with the reading of a personal message from Putin himself.

Among the Americans speaking at the forum, according to a preliminary schedule, are the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown, the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute’s Austin Ruse, Family Watch International’s Sharon Slater and representatives from Personhood USA, the Home School Legal Defense Association and the Christian Broadcasting Network.

Janice Shaw Crouse is also scheduled to attend, although possibly no longer as a representative of Concerned Women for America, a group critical of the Moscow conference with which she seems to have parted ways.

The conference was originally organized under the name of the Illinois-based World Congress of Families, but after Russia invaded Ukraine, the group began to lose support from its American allies and announced that it had “suspended planning” on the event, noting that it “takes no position on foreign affairs, except as they affect the natural family.”

In reality, very little but the official name of the conference seems to have changed. World Congress of Families officials Don Feder and Larry Jacobs are attending in their personal capacities, and insist that their group is not “financially sponsoring” the event and would not have its name attached to it. But WCF’s sponsorship was always nominal — the group has a very small budget of its own and instead acts as an agent for bringing together better-funded activists and organizations. Even before WCF dropped its official involvement, it had given credit to a number of Russian allies for funding the conference.

Although the focus of the conference is the promotion of “large families” (and with it the resistance to LGBT equality and abortion rights), it may be impossible for attendees to ignore the foreign policy implications of the event.

As we have noted, Putin played up the supposed dangers of LGBT rights in his efforts to prevent Ukraine from joining the EU — a geopolitical ploy that had dangerous consequences for the LGBT communities in Russian and Ukraine.

Constantin Malofeev, the oligarch who helped to organize and fund the conference this week, brought this up in his speech to the event yesterday, presenting the “propagation of homosexuality and gay parades” as a defining factor in the battle over Ukraine:

In Ukraine, which is our fraternal country, association with European Union was not signed last year because, in this case, the Ukrainians learned that they had to allow propagation of homosexuality and gay parades. So, the new regime in Ukraine, the first thing they did was to allow a gay parade in Kiev. So we are defending our position. We are protecting fathers, mothers and children.

He also attacked the United States for including Yelena Mizulina, the force behind many of Russia’s harsh new anti-gay laws, on its economic sanctions list. (Putin ally Vladimir Yakunin, who along with his wife Natalia also spoke at and helped fund the conference, is another U.S. sanctions target).

And if we are part of the sanctions for Ukraine. But Madam Mizulina was included in the sanctions as one of the first, and this is just because she defends the family values.

And as Richard Bartholomew points out, today’s schedule includes a panel titled “Family Policy in Ukraine: Conclusions and Warnings for Russia.”

An ever-present theme at the first day of the conference was the idea of Russia as a bulwark protecting the world against the U.S. and Europe’s encroaching liberalism. The Moscow Times writes that the theme came up in both Yakunin and Mizulina’s remarks:

In choosing conservative values, Russia represents "the final hope" for the modern world, which has been corrupted by the Western debauchery of individualism, consumerism and globalization, participants of a Moscow forum agreed Wednesday.

Yakunin, whose wife Natalya moderated the proceedings, attended the forum, taking to the stage to talk about Russia's departure from the Western model of development that, according to him, does not lead to either material or spiritual well-being.

Mizulina, who chairs the Duma's committee on family, women and children's issues and has advocated a law requiring women to get their husband's permission in order to have an abortion, lashed out at the West.

"I am sure that in contemporary Europe it would not be possible to hold a forum like this," Mizulina told the audience after reading a welcome note from State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin.

"Even if they are held there, they are not hosted at the Kremlin, like in Russia, but somewhere on the outskirts," she said.

UPDATED: 'Cancelled' World Congress Of Families Kremlin Conference Begins Today, Possibly With Special Guest Star Brian Brown

Constantin Malofeev’s group has posted photos of one of today’s panels on Facebook, which show that Brian Brown did indeed present at the event.

Religious Right Hero Vladimir Putin's Forces Persecute Christians In Ukraine

The same Religious Right activists who accuse President Obama of persecuting Christians by supporting gay rights, have over the last few years hailed Russian leader Vladimir Putin as a hero and global leader of conservative Christians.

Religious Right leaders such as Franklin Graham, Phyllis Schlafly, William MurrayPat BuchananBryan FischerBrian BrownDon Feder and Scott Lively, among others, have lionized Putin as a fearless Christian leader who is bravely cracking down on gay rightsThe World Congress of Families even decided to hold its annual summit in the Kremlin this year (the group officially cancelled the event after Russia began its conflict with Ukraine, but its Russian partners are quietly going ahead with it).

Of course, while claims that Obama is persecuting Christians are completely manufactured by conservatives, there is ample evidence that Putin-sponsored forces in eastern Ukraine are violently persecuting evangelical and Ukrainian Orthodox Christians. The New York Times reports:

Embracing Orthodox Christianity as a force to unite these now divided Slavic lands and also their own fractured movement, the rebels, fortified recently by an influx of weapons and soldiers from Russia, used their period in power here purging Slovyansk of rival Christian denominations.



Among their principal targets were Christians defiant of the Moscow church’s claims of religious primacy and suspected of connections with the West.

“Their logic is simple: You are an American church and America is our enemy so we have to kill you,” said Mr. Dudnik, the evangelical pastor. No one at his center had been killed, he said but added that the rebels had murdered four evangelical Christians from another Slovyansk church.

Grabbed by pro-Russian gunmen in June after a Pentecost service at the Divine Transfiguration Church, all four victims were taken away for interrogation and were later found dead in a burned-out car.

We have previously noted that evangelicals in Russia, including Baptists and Pentecostals, are facing discrimination as a result of Putin’s drive to push minority denominations underground while growing the clout of the Russian Orthodox Church, which considers evangelical Protestants to be heretics.

While inventing never-ending conspiracy theories about Obama’s supposed crackdown on Christianity, Religious Right leaders don’t appear to mind the real attacks on Christians happening in Russia, under the watch of a leader who they see as an ally in the fight to turn back gay rights and reproductive freedom.

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.

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.

One Year After Passage Of Gay Propaganda Ban, American Right Continues To Look To Russia As A Guide

The Human Rights Campaign released a report today to mark the first anniversary of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s signing of his infamous ban on “gay propaganda” and related anti-LGBT legislation. HRC reports “an uptick in violent attacks on LGBT people” since the bills’ passage that has accompanied a spike in “anti-LGBT sentiment” in the public square.

Yet despite the dangerous consequences of the increasing use of LGBT people as scapegoats — both in Russia and in neighboring Eastern European and Central Asian countries — and the place of anti-gay politics in Putin’s expansionist agenda, many on the American Religious Right continue to celebrate Putin’s crackdown on gay rights and even to hail it as a model for the United States.

The issue has been divisive on the Right. For instance, Accuracy in Media’s Cliff Kincaid — hardly a fan of gay people — got into a memorable shouting match earlier this year with World Congress of Families representatives, who he accused of cozying up to Putin.

It has also put some groups in tough positions. The World Congress of Families was forced to suspend its planned conference at the Kremlin, which was to be funded by a handful of people close to Putin, after Russia seized Crimea and groups including Concerned Women for America started backing out.

But we continue to hear right-wing activists heaping praise on Putin for his enthusiastic anti-gay politics and increasing embrace of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Just last week, Phyllis Schlafly praised Putin for “warming up to religious freedom” as “Americans are rejecting it”:

And earlier this week, WorldNetDaily announced that people around the world are “fleeing” to Russia to escape homosexuality in their own countries .

American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer continues to push for the U.S. to adopt a “propaganda” ban like Russia’s:

Anti-gay activists including Pat Buchanan,Peter LaBarbera,Franklin Graham,Scott Lively,Keith Davies,Linda Harvey,Randall Terry,Gordon Klingenschmitt,Janice Shaw Crouse, Austin Ruse, Bob Vander Plaats , Rick Scarborough and, of course, the WorldCongress of Families have defended Russia’s anti-gay crackdown or called for similar laws in the U.S.

And, of course, some have directly lent their support to the passage of anti-gay laws in Russia: the World Congress of Families has an active network in Russia and Eastern Europe and just days before Putin signed the propaganda ban recruited the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown to warn Russian lawmakers about the risks of gay rights.

The support for laws that have dangerously scapegoated LGBT people in Russia is especially ironic coming from a movement that claims that the gay rights movement in the United States is persecuting them .

WorldNetDaily Pundit Thinks People Are 'Fleeing' To Russia To Escape Scourge Of Homosexuality

William Murray, the Religious Right activist and son of American Atheists founder Madalyn Murray O’Hair, is joining in the chorus of sympathy for Vladimir Putin, hailing the Russian leader in a WorldNetDaily column today as a bulwark against the increasingly Marxist and secular West.

Murray praises Russia for its “flat tax that encourages growth” — which he contrasts with “our president’s Soviet-style” economics — and policies to ensure that “individual achievement is honored and prayer and Bible instruction are welcomed in the classrooms.”

He criticizes NATO for “antagonizing” Russia and the U.S. for supporting gay rights.

“Recently, the ‘gay’ rainbow flag was hoisted at the American Embassy in Israel. At the Olympic Games at Sochi this year, it was Russia who was vilified by Western media for not being gay-friendly. A real turnaround from the 1960s for America,” he writes. “When my mother filed the lawsuit to remove prayer and Bible reading from America’s schools in 1960, the churches were full and the nation was at near full employment. Homosexual relations were considered unnatural by 90 percent of the people.”

He also seems convinced that there is a wave of people fleeing the socialist West to the conservative Christian, capitalist Russia: “Westerners are seeking Russian citizenship, but not to support Marxism. This time Westerners are fleeing the godless collectivism sought by my mother, the system that is fast becoming the new American norm.”

On June 17 of this year, the anniversary of that disastrous Supreme Court decision banning school prayer, I was part of a conference titled Advancing a Constructive Agenda for U.S.–Russia Relations. The title of the conference reveals that it was organized by academics, chief among them being Dr. Edward Lozansky, president of the American University in Moscow. The events over two days were held at several venues in Washington including room 902 of the Hart Senate Office Building ,which is a meeting/banquet hall of the top floor of the building with a view of the Capitol Dome.



A shut down of trade with Russia would cost many thousands of jobs in the United States as well as the loss of billions of dollars in American private investment in Russia. The planned NATO expansion into Ukraine after the overthrow of the elected government there in April was foolhardy at best, led to loss of life and did nothing to encourage continued integration of Russia into the West. Twenty years ago Vladimir Putin wanted to reform Russia and bring the nation into NATO. After 20 years of being treated as an enemy by the United States and NATO, he has become an enemy. Most of the experts at the conference from the left and the right acknowledge that the antagonism of Russia today is a direct result of NATO expansion to Russia’s borders, for what purpose, other than assuring jobs in the defense industry, is unknown.



The entire experience of the conference events took me back to the times of being raised in a Marxist home where the vodka did flow and America, free enterprise and God were despised. Having been a part of the decline in religion and morality that has come to America, I now look at Russia where individual achievement is honored and prayer and Bible instruction are welcomed in the classrooms. Recently, the “gay” rainbow flag was hoisted at the American Embassy in Israel. At the Olympic Games at Sochi this year, it was Russia who was vilified by Western media for not being gay-friendly. A real turnaround from the 1960s for America. Meanwhile Russia has a flat tax that encourages growth, while businesses in the U.S. struggle under a tax code that has many of our wealthy denouncing their citizenship and simply living on their yachts.

Some things do not change, however. NATO is still knocking on the front door of Russia as if it were still the Soviet Union, with Leonid Brezhnev and the old Politburo in power there. Despite pleas from Germany and France, the United States continues to alienate a resource-rich nation that just a few years ago wanted to be our ally, while refusing to recognize that our real enemies lie in the Middle East. The source of most of the evil in the world is financed by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, to whose despotic king our democratically elected president has publicly bowed. Meanwhile Russia, whose security agencies warned us about a coming jihad against us, is deemed our enemy. And worse than that, we supply arms to the jihadists in Syria who behead Christians, rape Christian women and enslave children. Incredibly, it is Vladimir Putin who stands nearly alone as a world leader in defending the Christians of the Middle East.

When my mother filed the lawsuit to remove prayer and Bible reading from America’s schools in 1960, the churches were full and the nation was at near full employment. Homosexual relations were considered unnatural by 90 percent of the people, and the new nation of Israel was praised as a shining light to the world, a final equality for the Jewish people. Today Israel is despised in the liberal churches that champion homosexuality, and one of every two people checking out at the supermarkets are using food stamps. Our president calls for Soviet-style equal outcome rather than equal opportunity. One thing that has changed: Westerners are seeking Russian citizenship, but not to support Marxism. This time Westerners are fleeing the godless collectivism sought by my mother, the system that is fast becoming the new American norm.

Phyllis Schlafly Claims 'Russians Are Warming Up To Religious Freedom Just As Americans Are Rejecting It'

It seems that Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly has gotten on board with the Religious Right’s admiration of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s increasing merger of his government with the Russian Orthodox Church.

In her radio address this week, Schlafly laments that it “certainly was a shock when the president of Russia lectured Americans that we are ‘becoming godless.’”

“Russians are warming up to religious freedom just as Americans are rejecting it,” she warns, claiming that “that the atheists are trying to censor all mention of religion out of every public place and event.”

Schlafly might want to speak to a few Russian Protestants before she celebrate’s Putin’s embrace of religious freedom.

It certainly was a shock when the president of Russia lectured Americans that we are “becoming godless.” In his last “state of the nation” speech, Vladimir Putin told Russia that the United States was moving away from Christian values. Back in the 1980’s, Ronald Reagan was making similar comments about Russia!

So is the United States still one nation under God? In a recent article, Dr. Ben Carson says yes. Americans still live in a culture that operates under many of Christianity’s basic assumptions about life. But with increasing numbers of Americans becoming reluctant to mention God in public, we are in danger of forgetting our roots and discarding our rights. The liberals are trying to use the 1st Amendment as a weapon to silence religious speech. But to whom is the 1st Amendment directed? It says “Congress shall make no law.” The 1st Amendment binds the hands of Congress: it doesn’t restrict the rest of us.

...

So if Russians are warming up to religious freedom just as Americans are rejecting it, what does this mean for the United States? It’s clear that the atheists are trying to censor all mention of religion out of every public place and event. If we do nothing, if we allow the atheists to eliminate God from our culture, we will be rejecting the principles that made our nation so great. But if we embrace our heritage, the principles that launched America will guide us strong into the future.

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.”

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.”

ACLJ: Blasphemy Laws For Me, But Not For Thee?

Yesterday, Miranda reported on the seemingly contradictory views of the American Center for Law and Justice’s European and Slavic affiliates when it comes to blasphemy laws. The ECLJ has been vocal in opposing blasphemy laws in Muslim-majority countries, but the SCLJ supported passage of a new anti-blasphemy law in Russia. The law provides for fines, “correctional labor” and up to three years behind bars for “public actions expressing obvious disrespect toward society and committed to abuse the religious feelings of believers.” SCLJ’s co-chairman Vladimir Rehyakovsky expressed some reservations about the final form of the law, but said it was “very important” to have such a law in place.

So, where does the ACLJ stand on blasphemy laws?  On one hand, it is proud of its opposition in international forums like the United Nations to blasphemy laws that are used by Islamist governments to restrict religious expression.  In 2011, the ACLJ said the UN’s Human Rights Committee endorsed an ECLJ-backed position that “no right exists to protect the reputation of an ideology, rather human rights belongs to individuals.”

But more than a decade ago, in response to an “Ask Jay” question posted on the ACLJ’s website, the group’s chief counsel, Jay Sekulow, said it was “an unfortunate situation” that states no longer have laws against blasphemy, something he blamed on “the ACLU and those who trumpet the First Amendment as a license to really degrade people.”  Sekulow bemoaned the fact that “religion lacks protection in the law.”

Joe from Rhode Island asks: In Black’s classic law dictionary, blasphemy is illegal. When did it become legal to mock a person’s faith in God?

Jay answers: Black’s is the standard of legal definitions that law students are given around the country and Black’s is still cited in Supreme Court decisions. Not only in English common law but also in most states in the USA, blasphemy was prohibited speech. Clearly, the ACLU and those who trumpet the First Amendment as a license to really degrade people have changed that and that’s an unfortunate situation. But you’re absolutely correct, Black’s Law Dictionary is right. There are many definitions like that in Black’s, but religion lacks protection in the law. Not only is religion seen as irrelevant, but religion is trivialized and even mocked. This behavior has become an accepted part of who we are as a people and in some cases the Supreme Court hasn’t been particularly helpful in that context. The composition of the Supreme Court is obviously something we’re always watching because we know that with the more conservative court obviously some of our values will be more protected. Things have changed drastically if you look at our history, and it’s not even old history. Our country is still very young, but things are very different since our founding. We’re continuing to hope here at the American Center for Law and Justice that history will continue to change in a way that protects the rights of religious people across America. This is what we’re working toward. Selection of Supreme Court Justices is critical in the interpretation of these kinds of cases.

So it appears that the ACLJ is ready to champion free speech when it comes to opposing blasphemy laws in Muslim-majority countries, but supports restrictions on blasphemy in place where Christians are in the majority.  Perhaps that double standard is not much of a surprise, given that the ACLJ, which portrays itself as a champion of religious liberty, helped lead opposition to the construction of a Muslim community center in New York that critics inaccurately called the “Ground Zero Mosque.”

The ACLJ is a legal group founded by televangelist Pat Robertson and run by Jay Sekulow and his son Jordan in a manner that is very lucrative for the Sekulow family.

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.

Bryan Fischer Urges US To Adopt Russian-Style Profanity Ban

American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer has found yet another policy of Russian President Vladimir Putin that he loves.

Fischer devoted a column and a segment of his radio show today to praising the law Putin signed this week banning profanity at “at arts, cultural and entertainment events.”

“Could a similar ban be instituted in the United States without violating the First Amendment?” Fischer asks. “Of course.”

Speaking on his radio show, "Focal Point," Fischer argued that “states are perfectly free under the Constitution to ban profanity if they choose to" because the First Amendment was designed “to protect political speech” and not “profanity, obscenity, vulgarity, or pornography.” In fact, Fischer said, the Founders would “would be absolutely aghast” at the thought “that they were crafting a document that would allow the unlimited use of the F-bomb in polite society.”

Scott Lively Urges Conservatives To Stand With Putin Against 'New World Order'

In a blog post Friday, anti-gay activist Scott Lively speculated that President Obama and the “New World Order” oppose Russia’s seizure of Crimea because of President Vladimir Putin’s “unequivocal stand against homosexual perversion.” Lively urged his fellow conservatives to back Putin in the Ukrainian conflict because Russia is “the only world power that is standing up to the LGBT agenda and embracing Biblical values on family issues.”

Lively – who has tried to take personal credit for Russia’s “gay propaganda” ban – was responding to the Daily Beast’s report that Putin had imposed secret sanctions on “Obama campaign fundraisers tied to the LGBT community.” Putin has used opposition to LGBT rights as a powerful form of political currency in his campaign in Ukraine.

I personally think Obama’s motives and timing in the Ukrainian coup (and subsequent push for war) are influenced at least in part by Putin’s unequivocal stand against homosexual perversion.

When the US and EU sponsored Ukraine coup occurred, following the Ukrainian government’s refusal to move closer to the EU, I pointed out that a significant factor for the Ukrainians was probably the LGBT agenda of the EU vs the pro-family agenda of the Russian Federation.

I think today’s story provides a slight boost to my hypothesis.

I caution US conservatives not to fall into line with Obama against the Russians. There is far more to this crisis than the war-propaganda and spin of the western media (including some conservative outlets) would have us believe. I for one will not take sides with the New World Order crowd against the only world power that is standing up to the LGBT agenda and embracing Biblical values on family issues. At least not over a geo-political crisis in which (IMHO) the Russians are clearly in the right.

Fischer: It's 'Inexcusable' That America Does Not Have Russian-Style Anti-Gay Laws

Bryan Fischer has made no secret of the fact that he wants to see Russian-style anti-gay "propaganda" laws passed in the United States, going so far as to praise Vladimir Putin as "the lion of Christianity" for leading his nation's crackdown on gays.

On yesterday's radio broadcast, Fischer again voiced his support for implementing such laws in America, declaring that it is "inexcusable" that these sorts of laws are not being put into place here.

"That's a policy we ought to have in the United States," he said of the Russian laws. "It's inexcusable that we allow vulnerable, innocent young children to be indoctrinated, brainwashed, propagandized into thinking that homosexual conduct is perfectly normal and absolutely benign behavior when it absolutely is not":

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