Russia

While Trump Champions The Alt-Right In America, Putin Spreads Its Ideology Through Europe

For years, the GOP has been moving away from its identity as a traditional center-right party and morphing into something that more resembles the populist fringe parties of Europe.

Donald Trump’s candidacy has all but completed this transformation. If anyone still had doubts, Trump’s hiring of Breitbart News chief Steve Bannon was the clearest sign yet that the Republican Party has become a vehicle for what in the U.S. is known as the ‘alt-right’ movement.

The alt-right thinks the mainstream conservative movement has been compromised by feminism, racial tolerance and “globalism,” and that only a reactionary, populist movement that speaks to the plight of white men can save America from political correctness and multiculturalism. The alt-right is drenched in racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and misogyny. But that didn’t stop Bannon from calling his outlet “the platform for the alt-right.”

While avowed white nationalists have always had a place in the conservative movement—most recently, Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa proudly detailed his white supremacist views to a cable TV audience—Trump has thrown such forces into the mainstream.

Trump’s view of America as a weak, crime-ridden and chaotic place would resonate with any regular reader of Breitbart’s news coverage.

Breitbart News depicts an America where white people are under attack from the Obama administration, anti-Christian feminists and LGBT rights activists, African Americans who seek to discriminate against white people, Latino immigrants obsessed with rape and violence, and Muslim refugees who support terrorism.

The U.S. isn’t the only country experiencing a surge in the alt-right’s ideology. Anti-immigrant ethnic nationalists are on the rise in Europe, and European far-right leaders from France’s Jean-Marie Le Pen to the Dutch politician Geert Wilders have jumped aboard the Trump Train.

This is all good news to one of the European far-right’s most enthusiastic backers: Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russia under Putin’s leadership has been promoting ultraconservative political groups in Europe with the goal of weakening the EU and the liberalism, democracy and cultural pluralism that comes with it. The National Front, a French political party rooted in Holocaust denialism and anti-immigrant sentiment, is open about its financial links to Russian banks, and neo-fascist parties including Jobbik of Hungary, Vlaams Belang of Belgium and the Northern League of Italy likewise have Russian ties.

“As European far-right leaders openly voice their support for Moscow, it would be wise to remember that Putin’s Russia is not just another ‘meddling power’ lobbying for its interests,” writes Alina Polyakova. “It is a government hostile to the West and the value system—democracy, freedom of expression, political accountability—that it represents.”

The Syrian refugee crisis has presented a great opportunity for these far-right movements in Europe to spread their messages of xenophobia. Russia, whose bombing campaigns in Syria have ravaged the civilian population, has been happy to help promote the anti-refugee message. Russian state-sponsored media outlets have enthusiastically fanned the flames of anti-refugee suspicion, bolstering the far-right’s criticism of how the EU and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have approached refugee resettlement.

The Russian government has also sponsored a global right-wing effort to portray the U.S. and Europe as victims of cultural rot due to homosexuality, abortion rights and secular government, and Russia as the protector and preserver of traditional Christian values. In 2014, major conservative groups from the U.S. and Europe convened at the Kremlin to praise the government’s crackdown on LGBT rights advocates while lamenting the social liberalism in their home countries.

Trump, who aspires to be the Russian president’s “new best friend,” has praised Putin as “a leader, unlike what we have in this country,” and has seemed to side with Putin’s position on the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria and shared in fueling doubts about the future of the EU and NATO. Trump’s campaign is stacked with officials with Russian ties and, at least according to his eldest son, his businesses have seen “a lot of money pouring in from Russia.” Merkel, on the other hand, has been a frequent target of Trump’s attacks, and the GOP nominee has dubbed Clinton “America’s Angela Merkel.” (Just to show how far to the right the GOP has drifted, Merkel is the leader of Germany’s main center-right party).

Beyond his expressed support for Russian policies, Trump seeks to govern in the same illiberal, authoritarian manner that Putin has demonstrated, itching to dilute the freedom of the press and laws barring war crimes and human rights abuses and deport undocumented immigrants and refugees legally settled in the country. Like the Religious Right activists who have rallied behind Putin, Trump believes that Christians have been sidelined and marginalized in America, promising to return them to their rightful positions of power.

Such contempt for civil rights, diversity and democracy pervades the alt-right, which calls for a more “masculine,” racially chauvinist response to a society it sees as weak and rootless. One alt-right meme shows “President Trump” congratulating Putin, both decked out in military garb, “on retaking Constantinople.”

While Trump and the alt-right emerged without the help of the Russian government, Putin’s display of authoritarianism and aid to far-right movements have helped bring their ultraconservative designs into the political mainstream.

(This post also appears on the Huffington Post).

Gay American Pastor Expelled From Russia: 'Get Religion' Says What’s The Story?

The website GetReligion.org has been around in various permutations for more than a decade, providing a home for conservative-leaning criticism of mainstream media coverage of religion and, more specifically, news coverage that misses or ignores the importance of religion to a story. “The press…just doesn’t get religion,” is the site’s tagline, a quote from journalist and political analyst William Schneider. But a recent post by contributor Jim Davis seems to fall solidly in the “not getting it” category.

In a post about a gay American pastor who was detained by police and expelled from Russia, Davis writes that the Associated Press “blows a minor incident into a major issue.” Davis may be trying a little too hard to strike a snarky tone. Here’s how his story starts:

Don’t read this yet. Get yourself a chair. Put down that cup of whatever you're drinking.

The Associated Press reports that  Dun-dun-DUNN! — Russia doesn't like gays. And especially pro-gay-rights churches.

I know, right? That might have knocked your socks off.

AP learned this terrible truth as a missionary of the Metropolitan Community Church was arrested, then ordered out of Russia. Try to get through this without fainting...

The Associated Press story strikes me as a pretty straightforward recounting of what happened to Jim Mulcahy, an American pastor with the gay-friendly Metropolitan Community Churches. According to the story, Mulcahy was sitting around a table with friends when four uniformed police showed up at the door, took the teacup out of his hand, and took him to the police station, “threatening to handcuff him if he refused to cooperate.” He was ordered out of the country on vague charges of engaging in unspecified religious activity (according to the story, police had said they heard he was planning to conduct a wedding for a gay couple).

Davis responds: “What? They took his teacup? The threatened to cuff him? The monsters!”

If I were unexpectedly arrested in a foreign country, denied access to important medication, and ordered out of the country, I don’t think the experience would feel like a big joke. I don’t know Davis but I expect the same would hold true for him. But Davis goes on with a tone that suggests Mulcahy should have known that the Russians don’t like gays, and so he shouldn’t be surprised at what happened to him. And he says AP is making a mountain out of a molehill.

OK, maybe I've been a bit cavalier with this. I wouldn't be amused if, say, a Jew or Baptist were arrested just for trying to practice their faith. I fully get the right for freedom of expression for everyone, including those with whom I disagree.

Still, on a scale of religious persecution, the Mulcahy-Samara story rates somewhere below a 2. Cloddish cops, stringent laws, a flinty judge, those are all there. But shootings, hate speech, mass expulsions – or throat cuttings, as happened to an elderly priest in France yesterday – this story doesn't come close. I suspect that if it weren't about gays, it might not have gotten AP's attention at all.

This comparison doesn’t make sense. It’s not as if the extensively-covered killings he mentions were ignored by the AP so they could run with Mulcahy’s story. In fact, what got the AP’s attention was that “the arrest was filmed by state-controlled channel NTV, whose reports often take an especially truculent, pro-Kremlin stance.” That suggests the arrest was staged to provide an anti-gay and anti-American propaganda boost for the Russian government. That makes it newsworthy, especially since strongman Vladimir Putin is participating in a mutual admiration society with Republican presidential contender Donald Trump.

The AP story doesn’t ignore the religion angle, reporting on Russia’s growing intolerance of free expression by LGBT people, and on new restrictions on public expression of religion by any churches other than the Russian Orthodox Church, which is closely aligned with Putin's government.

As we have noted before, many American religious conservatives have been willing to overlook Putin’s crackdown on dissent, free speech and religious freedom because they admire his anti-gay policies and his defense of “Christian civilization” against the secular democracies of Western Europe.  

To paraphrase Davis, if this story were about the arrest and expulsion of an American pastor who wasn’t a gay man, I suspect Davis and Get Religion wouldn’t have been so dismissive of it.

Donald Trump Calls On Russia To Hack Hillary Clinton's Emails

Responding to reports that a Russian intelligence operation was behind the hacking and release of emails from Democratic National Committee staff members, Donald Trump today urged Russia to commit cyber-espionage and hack emails that have not been recovered from Hillary Clinton’s server.

Following his press conference, Trump made similar comments on Twitter:

Trump has deep financial ties to Russia and has spoken warmly of Vladimir Putin, defending the Russian president from accusations of committing human rights abuses and siding with him when it comes to issues like the future of NATO. Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, is a former adviser to the former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, who is living in exile in Russia following the Euromaidan protests, and other advisers have Russian ties as well.

As we mentioned in our report on Trump’s many conspiracy theories, the GOP presidential nominee once called on hackers to hack President Obama’s college records to find out his real birthplace.

GOP Rep: Trump Foreign Policy Is 'A Very Scary Thing,' Could Lead To Russian Invasion Of Allies

Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-Wisc., said that a Donald Trump presidency would be “a very scary thing” when it comes to foreign policy, reacting to Trump’s latest comments to The New York Times that he wouldn’t necessarily honor NATO’s Article V if Russia invaded a NATO member.

“There’s no question in analyzing Donald Trump, the toughest thing to agonize over is what he’s going to do on foreign policy,” Grothman said while speaking today with radio host Charlie Sykes, adding that he was hopeful that vice presidential nominee Mike Pence “would have a lot of influence” in a future Trump administration so that Trump would not endanger global safety.

A dumbfounded Grothman, a Trump supporter, warned that Trump’s suggestion that the U.S. should not abide by its commitments to allies would create a less safe world and invite a Russian invasion of its European neighbors.

“I think you could almost say it’s a very good chance we’re going to see Russian tanks” in Europe, Grothman said.

Sykes noted that if President Obama made the same comments about NATO and the turmoil in Turkey, Republicans would be up in arms.

Religious Right Hero Vladimir Putin Cracks Down On Religious Liberty In Russia

For years, American Religious Right activists have lavished praise on Russian President Vladimir Putin, praising him as a culturally conservative bulwark against the values of the decadent West thanks to his crackdowns on LGBT rights, in particular laws curbing adoption and free speech.

Religious Right leaders including Franklin Graham and Brian Brown have gone to Russia to hail Putin’s resistance to LGBT equality, while keeping quiet about how the Russian government has stifled human rights, including the rights of Protestants, sponsored militias that violently target Protestants in Ukraine and allowed Sharia law to be practiced in Chechnya. At the same time, these Religious Right activists level bogus charges against President Obama and other U.S. officials whom they accuse of quashing religious freedom in the U.S.

Now, in a move that will likely be greeted with silence by Putin’s American allies, the Russian president has signed a counterterrorism law that watchdog groups warn will stifle religious liberties. One Russian Protestant leader said that the law “creates the basis for mass persecution” of Christians who don’t belong to the Russian Orthodox Church by making it a crime to evangelize unless they receive “a special permit” from the government.

The Religious Right claims that because President Obama supports LGBT rights, he is hostile to religious liberty. At the same time, many of the same activists seem content to ignore real religious freedom violations at the hands of Putin simply because he shares their anti-LGBT views.

Mike Eckel reports:

The legislation, signed into law earlier this month by Russian President Vladimir Putin, had already drawn scorn from critics in and outside of Russia.

Known as the "Yarovaya Law," the measure includes new police and counterterrorism measures that directly echo the sweeping powers wielded by the KGB to stifle dissent and repress opposition activists throughout the Soviet era.

But one largely overlooked aspect of the law is garnering new scrutiny and worry: tight restrictions on the activities of religious groups, particularly smaller denominations.

The new restrictions "will make it easier for Russian authorities to repress religious communities, stifle peaceful dissent, and detain and imprison people," said Thomas J. Reese, who heads the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a federal government agency that monitors religious expression around the world.

"Neither these measures nor the currently existing antiextremism law meet international human rights and religious freedom standards," he said in statement released last week.



For religious groups, the new law requires people to get official permits through a registered religious group and bars things like prayer meetings from taking place anywhere except for officially recognized religious buildings. That would potentially forbid house churches.

Members of a religious group would also potentially be barred from e-mailing invitations to people interested in services, according to Christianity Today, a web-based news service focused on religious issues.

Violators could be fined, or potentially expelled from Russia.



Sergei Ryakhovsky, a Pentecostal church leader and co-head of an organization of Protestant churches in Russia, said in an open letter co-signed by him that the law contradicted the Russian Constitution.

"The obligation on every believer to have a special permit to spread his or her beliefs, as well as hand out religious literature and material outside of places of worship and used structures, is not only absurd and offensive, but also creates the basis for mass persecution of believers for violating these provisions," said the letter, which was posted on the Russian-language religious website Portal-Credo.

"This law brings us back to a shameful past," it said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump Praises Putin In Interview With Far-Right Conspiracy Theorist

Donald Trump has made no secret of his admiration for Russian president Vladimir Putin, and the feeling seems to be mutual. So Trump naturally brought the subject up again in an interview with far-right conspiracy theorist radio host Michael Savage after speaking to the GOP state convention in California today.

“Look, you know, Russia can do a lot of good for us,” Trump told Savage. “I mean, when I heard six months ago they wanted to bomb the hell out of ISIS and maybe they had other things in mind also — because, you know, they have a different view on Syria than our so-called leaders and, you know, frankly, they start to start thinking, our people ought to start rethinking their whole policy. But ISIS, they want to bomb it and we’ve got people saying, ‘We don’t want them to bomb ISIS,’ and I’m saying what are these people thinking about?”

The Republican presidential front-runner then repeated his boast that Putin had called him a “genius.”

“Here’s the thing, Michael,” he said, “wouldn’t it be great if we got along with Russia? You know, Putin said very nice things about me but it has zero influence — he actually called me a genius, but that’s okay, has zero influence on me, Michael, zero.”

Jim Bakker: Satan Using Fire Alarms To Silence Me

Yesterday, televangelist Jim Bakker and radio host Rick Wiles launched into a discussion on the topic of pornography, which was abruptly stopped when a fire alarm sounded in Bakker’s television studios. Bakker, of course, promptly blamed the fire alarm on Satan.

“That’s a signal that the Devil’s mad,” Bakker said. “Whenever we hit a subject that really stirs hell and Satan, the fire alarm, that goes off, every time.”

Bakker and Wiles went on discuss the conflict in Syria and their failed doomsday prophecy around September, 2015.

Bakker and Wiles were both involved in promoting claims that the month of September of last year would be filled with cataclysmic events: Wiles said that the Dow Jones would crash during the month (it actually went up), while Bakker said that America risked not only a financial collapse but also typhoons, earthquakes, bombing and an attack involving Pope Francis’ tour of the U.S.

Wiles, however, said that something noteworthy did happen in September: the Russian bombing campaign in Syria against anti-Assad rebels.

“God bless Russia,” Wiles said, praising Russia for curbing online pornography and banning gay pride parades and speech deemed “gay propaganda.”

“It’s illegal to say ‘God bless America’ in schools,” Bakker added.

Wiles then claimed that God may use Russia in a future war against America, where he said Christians will soon move underground. “Russia is turning to God,” he said. “America has walked away from God. America is losing her leadership in the world and Russia is becoming the leader of the world. If we don’t understand it in this context, we’re going to keep talking about, ‘Bad Russia, they’ve got to be attacked, they’ve got to be brought down.’ No, you don’t understand it, God may use Russia to attack evil America. We’re the Christians that are going underground, like they did in Russia.”

Trump And The Right's Crush On Putin

No one was surprised yesterday when Donald Trump boasted about the kind words he recently received from Vladimir Putin, even playing down Russian president’s record of persecuting journalists and dissidents.

“He’s running his country and at least he’s a leader,” Trump told Joe Scarborough. “You know, unlike we have in this country.” Trump did eventually get around to condemning Putin’s more repressive actions and his invasion of Ukraine with the bold declaration: “Oh sure, absolutely.”

Trump has been heaping praise on Putin throughout his presidential campaign, even insisting that he met the Russian president when they appeared in the same 60 Minutes segment despite the fact their interviews took place on separate continents.

He specifically has hailed Putin’s “amazing” intervention in Syria, thanking him for “bombing the hell out of ISIS,” even though Russian planes rarely target the terrorist group and much more frequently attack the rebels fighting against ISIS.

Putin, of course, has led a widespread crackdown on political and religious freedom in his own country. Earlier this year, a former top government official and opposition leader was assassinated next to the Kremlin in a mysterious case that was likely the work of a government-tied death squad.

Beyond just propping up the brutal Syrian dictatorship, Putin oversaw Chechnya’s transformation into a mini despotic state governed by Sharia law, which may surprise Trump since he has made anti-Muslim bigotry a central part of his campaign platform.

And, of course, Putin has backed an all-out assault on the LGBT community, even criminalizing speech in favor of gay rights if it’s deemed to be “propaganda” aimed at children.

This anti-LGBT crusade may explain why so many U.S. conservatives conveniently ignore the attack on Protestants by the Russian government and Russian-backed forces in Ukraine while railing against the phony persecution of Christians in America. As we’ve mentioned before, Putinphilia has taken a hold over the Religious Right:

Evangelist Franklin Graham hailed Putin as a hero for taking “a stand to protect his nation’s children from the damaging effects of any gay and lesbian agenda” even as “America’s own morality has fallen so far on this issue”; Bryan Fischer called Putin a “lion of Christianity” and called upon U.S. lawmakers to adopt similar speech prohibitions; Matt Barber marveled that Putin was able to “out-Christian our once-Christian nation”; Sam Rohrer called Putin “the moral leader of the world”; Scott Lively lavished praise on Putin for “championing traditional marriage and Christian values”; and Rush Limbaugh applauded Putin for stopping “a full-frontal assault on what has always been considered normalcy.”

Officials with the World Congress of Families have lauded Putin as a savior of the entire world. The group organized a meeting for conservative activists at the Kremlin, which also played host to Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage, who traveled to Russia to defend the country’s anti-LGBT crackdown in face of a Western “attempts to silence those of us who stand for the truth of marriage.”

Several activists have called for the U.S. to adopt the same speech codes as Russia.

Putin also has support from Fox News pundits, Trump’s pal Alex Jones and conservative talk radio hosts, including one who is contemplating a move to Russia because “it seems to be the best country left on the planet, run by a decent leader.”

The Russian leader is also trying to fund neo-fascist parties in Europe like France’s National Front, the far-right party whose leader says that Trump’s bigotry goes too far.

Seeing that Russia is propping up hard right parties, it’s no surprise that Putin and Trump are fawning over each other.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Utah Event Revives The Strange Case Of The Moscow World Congress Of Families

This is one in a series of posts about the upcoming World Congress of Families gathering in Salt Lake City, Utah. Read our introduction to the World Congress of Families here.

Social conservatives from around the world will gather next week in Salt Lake City at the World Congress of Families, an event being held in the U.S. for the first time this year. In the background of the event will be the specter of last year’s World Congress in Moscow, which sort of did and sort of didn’t happen.

In 2013, when Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law prohibiting “propaganda” of homosexuality to minors, human rights groups were aghast but many in the Religious Right cheered. While Putin’s crackdown on LGBT people and free speech was widely regarded as a cynical effort to stir up nationalist sentiment at the expense of sexual minorities, his allies in the U.S. Religious Right did not see it that way.

Among the strongest supporters was the World Congress of Families. WCF, along with several other American groups participating in the Utah conference, signed a statement of support . WCF’s Larry Jacobs called the Russian law a “great idea” and said that the “Russians might be the Christian saviors to the world” for their leadership in “standing up for these traditional values of family and faith.” WCF’s representatives in Russia likewise hailed the law and worked with American activists including the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown to advocate for a law tightening the country’s ban on adoptions by foreign nationals who live in countries where gay marriage is legal.

The World Congress of Families was taken with Putin’s enthusiastic embrace of social conservatism that it planned to hold its 2014 congress at the Kremlin in Moscow, with the financial support of top Putin allies. The planning got off to a rocky start after we reported on WCF’s support of Putin’s anti-LGBT policies, and things got even rockier when Alexey Komov, the WCF’s Russian point-man waded into 9/11 trutherism at a press conference promoting the event.

Those plans began to fall apart when Russia invaded Ukraine, prompting U.S. sanctions against at least two of WCF’s key Russian allies. WCF formally “suspended” the event, but the Russian organizers went ahead and held the conference anyway. A number of the U.S. activists who were planning to go to the original conference, including the National Organization for Marriage's Brian Brown, went to the replacement. WCF’s Don Feder and Larry Jacobs, officially attending in their personal capacities, spoke at an opening press conference. At the end, conference-goers passed a resolution advocating the passage of “gay propaganda” bans modeled on Russia’s throughout the world.

Underlining the fact that the Moscow conference was never really cancelled, WCF’s point-man in Russia, Alexey Komov, was until recently scheduled to host a training session at the Utah event on “Hosting a WCF Conference”:

The training has since been removed from the event’s schedule.

Also speaking at the conference will be Vladimir Mischenko, a top official in a foundation run by Vladimir Yakunin, the Putin ally who helped to fund the Moscow conference. (Putin has since kicked Yakunin to the curb .) The World Congress of Families will also be presenting its “International Pro-Life Award” to Father Maxim Obukhov, who helped to bring the event to Moscow last year.

The World Congress of Families’ executive director, Janice Shaw Crouse, has gushed about the Moscow conference , calling it “a tremendous success, inspiring and excellent in every regard,” saying she “regretted the necessary decision to cancel our partnership with our Russian friends.”

She added:

We have many dear colleagues in Russia, and many of them are leading members of the Russian Orthodox Church. They saw their country devastated by Communism. After the fall of Communism, they recognized that if their nation was ever to rise to greatness again, it would be because of a strong family structure. These Russian friends have fought to re-establish the family as the foundation of Russia. We support their efforts, we encourage them, and we are proud of their efforts.

The Moscow event was supposed to be something of a homecoming for the World Congress of Families, which grew out of an alliance between the Howard Center on Family, Religion and Society's Allan Carlson and Russian activists concerned about a “demographic winter” of low birthrates in their country. Those ties have remained strong, especially since President Vladimir Putin has cozied up to the Orthodox Church and put new stock in social issues as part of his efforts to consolidate control in Russia and expand his power throughout the region.

Meet The World Congress Of Families, The International Conservative Network Meeting In Utah Next Week

by Miranda Blue, Isabel Carter-Kahn and Peter Montgomery

This is the first in a series of posts about the upcoming World Congress of Families in Salt Lake City, Utah. In this post, we provide an introduction to the event’s hosts and recipients of its awards for international activism. Subsequent posts will explore the World Congress of Families’ organizing against LGBT equality and women’s rights and its role in growing international social conservative networks.

Next week, hundreds of activists from around the world will gather in Salt Lake City for the ninth World Congress of Families, a gathering of individuals and organizations promoting what organizers call the “natural family.”

The World Congress of Families is a project of the Illinois-based Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society, founded in 1997 by conservative historian Allan Carlson. The Howard Center has a relatively small budget — less than half a million dollars in 2013 — but works with organizers and funders in host countries to throw what it calls the “Olympics” of social conservatism. This is the first time the Congress has been held in the U.S. and will count as guests the governor of Utah as well as Rafael Cruz, father of Texas senator and Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz. The event is set to honor activists who advocated for laws criminalizing homosexuality and even meetings between gay people, free speech in favor of gay rights and abortion.

The vision of the “natural family” promoted by WCF is one that excludes LGBT people and precludes reproductive rights. In 2005, Carlson and the Sutherland Institute’s Paul Mero released “The Natural Family: A Manifesto,” a call to arms against the societal changes that resulted from the twin developments of “industrialism and the assault of new, family-denying ideas.”

They offered instead a vision of a return to an economy run by large families operating as independent economic units — a potentially appealing thought until you realize what the economy they envision means for women. In Carlson’s and Mero’s “natural family” dream, they “envision young women growing into wives, homemakers, and mothers; and we see young men growing into husbands, homebuilders, and fathers.” For women, this involves rejecting what they call the “contraceptive mentality” and opening their homes to “a full quiver of children” — a nod to the “Quiverfull” ideology promoted by the self-proclaimed “Christian patriarchy” movement. They insist that “culture, law, and policy” should take into account that “women and men are equal in dignity and innate human rights, but different in function” — a separate-but-equal ideology that drives women out of public and economic life and rejects the rights of those who do not fit into this narrow view of gender roles.

It is this vision that WCF aims to promote around the world, through government policies aiding the “natural family” and in resisting international efforts to protect the rights of women and LGBT people.

The U.S. event offers WCF an opportunity to reestablish itself after the debacle of the last Congress, which was meant to be held in Moscow — home of a spate of new anti-LGBT laws — but was abruptly “suspended” after Russia invaded Ukraine and some of the conference’s organizers were hit with U.S. sanctions. The conference went ahead, but without the official World Congress of Families label. Instead, WCF leaders attended in their personal capacities. The executive director of the Utah event is Janice Shaw Crouse, a former Concerned Women for America official who appears to have parted ways with her former employer over the wisdom of participating in the Moscow summit.

Hosting the World Congress of Families gathering in Salt Lake City is the Sutherland Institute, which describes itself as “a conservative public policy think tank” whose mission is “to shape Utah law and policy based on a core set of governing principles.” The Sutherland Institute, whose budget is about $1.5 million, is affiliated with the State Policy Network, a group of right-wing think tanks. While the Institute is not formally affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the LDS or Mormon Church), it promotes conservative views influenced by LDS theology, sometimes staking out policy positions to the right of the Church itself. The Institute is named for George Sutherland, a U.S. Supreme Court justice from Utah who joined other conservative justices to overturn progressive legislation in the 1920s and led a group known as “The Four Horsemen” who struck down FDR’s New Deal for several years.

Sutherland describes seven principles of “authentic conservatism” – personal responsibility as the basis of self-government; family as the fundamental unit of society; religion as the moral compass of human progress; private property as the cornerstone of economic freedom; free markets as the engine of economic prosperity; charity as the wellspring of a caring community; limited government as the essence of good government. The Institute brags about its work to weaken unions and calls for the abolition of the state income tax on corporations.

In other words, the Institute promotes both the Tea Party’s hostility to government regulation and the Religious Right’s desire to use government to promote “traditional” views of family, parenting, and marriage.Sutherland helped pay for the legal counsel hired by the state to defend its anti-gay-marriage amendment.

The Institute called the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling an “abdication” of the rule of law. Then-President Paul Mero, argued that freedom is incompatible with gay rights, because “bad behavior is the enemy of freedom.” Sutherland supports Sen. Mike Lee’s First Amendment Defense Act, which would allow broad anti-gay discrimination in the name of religious liberty. It also wants to do away with no-fault divorce laws.

In 2014 the Institute produced a 10-page defense of a Utah law requiring restaurants to erect a “Zion Curtain” or “Zion Wall” to prevent restaurant-goers from being able to witness the preparation of alcoholic beverages. Although Sutherland was criticized for supporting what many considered “nanny-state” legislation, former President Paul Mero said the law “disrupts a culture of drinking” and promotes a “culture of sobriety.”

The Sutherland Institute has strong ties with WCF’s sponsor, the Howard Center for Family, Religion, and Society. Mero, the founding executive vice president of the Howard Center, reportedly helped attract the WCF to Salt Lake City. After 14 years as Sutherland’s CEO he was asked to step down by the Institute’s board last August, for what were described as operational rather than philosophical differences. Mero reportedly agreed to continue to serve on executive committee for the WCF. Sutherland board chair and interim president Stanford Swim serves on the boards of the Howard Center and the State Policy Network.

This year, the World Congress of Families will present its Woman of the Year Award to Theresa Okafor, Familia Et Veritas awards to Luca Giuseppe Volonte and Andrea Williams and an International Pro-Life Award to Father Maxim Obukhov. The backgrounds of these four activists provide insight into the values that the World Congress of Families seeks to promote around the world.

Theresa Okafor

Okafor, from Nigeria, is the World Congress of Families Regional Director in Africa. In 2009, she was successful in bringing a World Congress of Families event to Nigeria. She is the CEO of Life League Nigeria and the director of the Foundation for African Cultural Heritage.

The Foundation for African Cultural Heritage is a coalition organization that encompasses 20 “family values” organizations such as Association of Concerned Mothers, Nigerian Association for Family Development, Doctors Health Initiative, Life League Nigeria, the Christian Association of Bishops Conference of Nigeria and the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Nigeria. Her groups have supported and lauded Nigeria’s Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, which banned all same-sex relationships and gay people gathering in groups of two or more. The act led to the arrest of dozens of people.

The Foundation for African Cultural Heritage releasedvideos of a press conference it organized to support the bill, during which speakers called homosexuality “abhorrent” and compared it to alcoholism. At a World Congress of Families annual gathering in Madrid in 2012, Okafor speculated in a speech that Western countries advocating for gay rights in Africa were involved in a “conspiracy” to “silence Christians” with the terrorist group Boko Haram:

Unfortunately, in Nigeria where I come from, we have these fundamentalists, the Boko Haram – I’m sure you’ve heard about them in the news – bombing churches. They seem to be helping some people in Western countries who are out to silence Christians. The Boko Haram are targeting Christians in Nigeria, so you wonder if there’s a conspiracy between the two worlds.

In the speech she also speculated that efforts to promote LGBT rights in Africa are “another ploy to depopulate Africa,” a sentiment she expresses repeatedly.

Okafor also has ties to the American group Family Watch International, which works to stop advances in LGBT equality and reproductive rights at the UN, cosponsoring the group’s Global Family Policy Forum in Gilbert, Arizona.

Luca Giuseppe Volonte

Luca Volonte is an Italian politician and the president of the Novae Terrae Foundation, which states on its website that it is committed to “promot[ing] human rights from the religious point of view.” The “Goals” section of the group’s mission page emphasizes its focus on contrasting Christianity with “Islamic culture.”

Volonte serves along with the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown on the board of trustees of CitizenGo, an international organization that promotes petitions backing conservative positions, including opposition tosame-sex marriage and abortion rights. In response to Target’s decision to stop segregating its toy aisles by gender, CitizenGo released a petition saying the new policy was a result of “sexual radicals ” who “want to erase distinctions between male and female, and promote transgenderism among children.”

In 2010, Volonte won the chair of the European People’s Party in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. As chair, Volonte led the successful effort to withdraw a report on "discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.”

Volonte was appointed chairman of the anti-LGBT Institute for Human Dignity, a Catholic NGO based in Rome, in 2013. The institute released a declaration defining human dignity as:

That man is made in the image and likeness of God; that this image and likeness proceeds in every single human being without exception from conception until natural death; and that the most effective means of safeguarding this recognition is through the active participation of the Christian faith in the public square.

This declaration was adopted by the European Parliament's Working Group on Human Dignity , a coalition that promotes Europe’s “Judeo-Christian” heritage, as their foundational document.

In 2015, Novae Terrae announced a partnership with the European Large Families Confederation.

Andrea Williams

Andrea Williams is the CEO of Christian Concern, a United Kingdom based group that promotes a “Christian voice” in government. In the “About” sections of Christian Concern’s website, the organization states that it pursues these goals because “ ...in the last few decades the nation has largely turned her back on Jesus and embraced alternative ideas such as secular liberal humanism, moral relativism and sexual licence. The fruit of this is rotten, and can be seen in widespread family breakdown, immorality and social disintegration.” The organization attempts to move policy on “abortion, adoption and fostering, bioethics, marriage, education, employment, end of life, equality, family, free speech, Islamism, religious freedom, the sex trade, social issues and issues relating to sexual orientation.” Christian Concern has campaigned against numerous pieces of LGBT anti-discrimination legislation, citing that they would create discrimination against Christians.

Williams encouraged Jamaica to keep same-sex intimacy (still referred to in the country’s legal code as “buggery”) illegal at a conference organized by the Jamaican Coalition for a Healthy Society and the Christian Lawyers’ Association in Kingston that she attended with extreme American anti-LGBT activist Peter LaBarbera. At the conference, she suggested Olympic diver Tom Daley is gay because his father died, and that “sometimes a level of abuse” is responsible for one becoming gay.

Williams is the director of the Christian Concern offshoot Christian Legal Centre, whose website says it “defend[s] many Christians who have suffered for their beliefs,” in a similar fashion to the American Alliance Defending Freedom. The Christian Legal Centre has provided legal support to a woman who sued an art gallery for displaying an image of Jesus with an erection and to a man who was relieved of his position as a police officer after sending homophobic emails.

In concert with Alliance Defending Freedom, Christian Concern also runs the Wilberforce Academy, which says its aim is to “train and equip the invited students on what it means to proclaim Christ in public life.” Williams has said this on the Alliance Defense Fund:

The ADF are a fantastic organization. We have been inspired by their work and that of the Blackstone programme, which seeks to raise a new generation of lawyers to defend Christianity in the public sphere. They've got some of the best attorneys in this field and we have the great privilege of hosting them, but they don't pay anything towards the academy.

In 2010, Williams was elected to a five year term as a member of the Church of England General Synod.

Maxim Obukhov

Father Maxim Obukhov is credited by Religious Right leaders as the founder of the pro-life movement in Russia and led the effort to bring the World Congress of Families to Moscow last year. He was instrumental in convening a World Congress of Families “demographic summit” in Russia, which resulted in a statement addressed to world leaders. Part of the statement read:

We call on the governments of all nations and on international institutions to develop immediately a pro-family demographic policy and to adopt a special international pro-family strategy and action plan aimed at consolidating family and marriage, protecting human life from conception to natural death, increasing birth rates, and averting the menace of depopulation.

In 2009, Obukhov drafted an official proposal for WCF to come to Moscow, and the plan was solidified. However, the conferencewas cancelled in response to backlash over President Vladimir Putin’s actions in Crimea. An “International Family Forum” sprang up in its place, and many of the same pro-family leaders from the United States and around the world were in attendance.

Obhukhov created the Zhizn Center, an organization connected with the Russian Orthodox Church that dedicates itself to the “dissemination of Christian views on questions of family and marriage” and against abortion rights . He is also secretary of the Church’s bioethics committee and an expert on bioethical issues for the Moscow Patriarchate. World Congress of Families claims the Zhizn Center runs more than 30 crisis-pregnancy centers.

Obhukvhov was part of a group established by the Duma’s committee on family, women and children in 2010 for the purpose of drafting anti-choice legislation. Parts of the legislation drafted by the group, which included no medical professionals, were used in a health reform bill signed by President Dmitry Medvedev in 2011. Proposals that did not make it into legislation attempted to end federal support of all abortion services, require that women receive the approval of their spouses before having an abortion, and require prescriptions for the morning-after pill. Obukhov opposes hormonal birth control.

Obukhov has told LifeSiteNews that he believes the Obama administration’s sanctions on Russian lawmaker Yelena Mizulina, author of the infamous “gay propaganda” ban, following the Ukraine conflict were evidence of Christian persecution. Obuhkov said, "President Obama is using the economic sanctions against Yelena Mizulina to send a very clear message to Russian Christians. There is much talk about a cold war, but President Obama has openly declared war upon Christians who oppose the culture of death both at home and abroad."

Far-Right Pastor: US Turning Into Gay Dystopia, Unlike Putin's Christian Russia

End Times preacher Carl Gallups spoke to WorldNetDaily yesterday about the Shemittah prophecy of something bad happening in September, citing an article from a Russian government-owned news agency, Sputnik, claiming that the U.S. is “gearing up for onrushing economic collapse.”

Despite the fact that the Russian media has been a mouthpiece for President Vladimir Putin’s government, which is attacking Protestants in Russia and occupied Ukraine, Gallups praised the “reliable” Russian media for covering the Shemittah prophecy (actually, the article doesn’t mention it at all) and the government’s “infusion of ‘Christian influence’ in Putin’s ‘new’ Russian culture.”

Carl Gallups, a pastor, former law-enforcement officer and author of the upcoming book “Be Thou Prepared,” observes: “With the onslaught of predicted ominous events scheduled to occur in or around September of this year, as well as the actual scheduled events possessing possible prophetic overtones, a lot of people certainly are tuned in to the end of this year with a laser focus. Sadly, it sometimes seems the Russian media is more reliable and eclectic in its reporting than is the American media. Given the fact that the United States media often seems loathe to report on anything biblical or Christian in nature, unless it is excoriating or marginalizing them, this should not surprise us.”

Gallups says the Russian media’s focus on September may reflect a political and even religious agenda. After all, he notes, “Russia and Putin have made a big deal lately about the infusion of ‘Christian influence’ in Putin’s ‘new’ Russian culture.

In a separate interview with the far-right outlet, the preacher attacked a public school in San Francisco for organizing a gay history class, claiming that the classes won’t tell students about “the history of the major civilizations that ultimately met their demise concurrent with the rise of rampant sexual promiscuity and deviancy within those cultures, especially embracing and accepting homosexuality.”

Describing homosexuality as “one of the most dangerous sexual lifestyles on the planet,” he lamented that “this is just the beginning of the social rot that is to come.”

Carl Gallups, a pastor, former law enforcement officer and author of the upcoming book “Be Thou Prepared,” accuses teachers of ignoring the real history of homosexuality.

“One has to wonder if that class will include the history of the major civilizations that ultimately met their demise concurrent with the rise of rampant sexual promiscuity and deviancy within those cultures, especially embracing and accepting homosexuality,” said Gallups.

Gallups referenced the treatment of ancient societies in the Bible that condoned homosexuality, including the Canaanites, and Sodom and Gomorrah. “After all,” said Gallups, “those documents have been a monumental part of world history and history classes the world over for many thousands of years.”

Gallups also expressed doubt the writings of the Apostle Paul would find their way into the class.

Gallups asked: “If the complete and unwashed history of homosexuality is to be taught in government schools, with taxpayer money – should not the gay history that is ultimately taught be accurate and comprehensive? Or will it simply be a watered down mishmash of cherry picked topics designed to support, promote, and prop up the new politically correct homosexual lifestyle, despite the historical warnings against it and the health dangers that accompany one of the most dangerous sexual lifestyles on the planet? Sadly, I think we all know the answers to these questions.”

Gallups charged Americans are witnessing nothing less than “government-sponsored social engineering courses.”

“America should not be surprised, and certainly not shocked, by its public schools formulating gay history classes; and this is just the beginning of the social rot that is to come,” he said.

World Congress Of Families Feigns Ignorance About Supporting Anti-LGBT Extremism

The World Congress of Families, a project run by a small conservative think tank in Illinois, which links social conservative groups around the world in an effort to promote what it calls the “natural family,” issued a report last week attempting to debunk what it contends are unfair smears about its anti-gay politics.

In particular, WCF has received criticism for its support of a spate of new anti-LGBT laws in Russia, as we outlined in our 2013 “Globalizing Homophobia” report. The group's work around the world has come under additional scrutiny since it began planning its first U.S. conference, scheduled to take place in Salt Lake City in October.

In its new report, WCF contends that it harbors no “animus toward people who choose a gay lifestyle,” and “only takes issue with LGBT activists in their attempts to undermine the natural family by redefining marriage in the law and to ignore or distort the overwhelming social science, psychological, medical, and demographic evidence that the two-parent, mother-and-father family is the optimal unit for social stability and raising children” (italics are theirs).

Yet, in its report, WCF acknowledges and reaffirms its support for laws that go far beyond stopping LGBT rights activists from “redefining marriage.” The report reaffirms the group’s support of a Russian law banning gay “propaganda” to minors:

The truth is WCF supports efforts in Russia, and anywhere else, to protect children from destructive activities and propaganda to engage in drug use, alcohol, pornography, gambling, prostitution and solicitations for “non-traditional sexual relations,” which are dangerous, as shown by statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

WCF then blames anti-gay sentiment in Russia on the LGBT rights movement itself and on the feminist punk band Pussy Riot, whose members were jailed after staging a performance in a cathedral:

As the homosexual activist movement in Russia became more visible and demanding, Russians became more aware that their most deeply held beliefs were under attack. The invasion of cathedrals by self-styled sexual radical groups like Pussy Riot have contributed to the public perception that homosexuality is “morally unacceptable.” A Pew Research survey shows that despite three decades of nonstop homosexual propaganda in the Western media, schools, and the corporate world that has moved public opinion in those nations toward acceptance or non-opposition to homosexuality, people in a large number of nations, including Russia, consider homosexuality immoral.

WCF also defends its role in organizing a letter objecting to the U.S. embassy’s participation in Prague’s Gay Pride parade in 2012 in which it stated, “We can not imagine a worse form of cultural imperialism than Washington trying to force approval of the ‘gay’ agenda on societies with traditional values.”

The group is also disingenuous about its role connecting "pro-family" activists around the world, claiming that it had “nothing to do” with a "large families" conference held in Moscow last year. The conference began as a World Congress of Families event, financially backed by a number of top allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin. After facing a storm of criticism in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, WCF backed out of its official role in the conference, but little else seems to have changed . In fact, World Congress of Families officials Larry Jacobs and Don Feder, although they said they were there in their personal capacities, were on hand at an opening press conference along with the conference’s major Russian funders.

WCF runs into a similar problem when it disputes the Human Rights Campaign’s report that it “inflamed concerns” in Ukraine that “joining the European Union would force the country to accept marriage equality." WCF claims: "All statements in Ukraine were made by individuals in their personal capacities as experts."

HRC was presumably referring to these statements by WCF’s Don Feder, who introduced himself at a press conference in Kiev as “representing the World Congress of Families.”

WCF also tries to distance itself from Feder, who along with his work with the group has a sideline as far-right columnist, saying that he is merely an "unofficial spokesperson" for the WCF and is no longer the group's communications director.

This speaks to the difficulty of pinning down WCF's position. The group notes that it is very small, but that belies its important role in bringing together a global movement in opposition to reproductive rights and LGBT equality. WCF exists to bring together alliances of social conservatives around the world; it can’t feign ignorance when those alliances end up providing cover for bad policies.

WCF took a similar tone back in 2013 when Sen. Mark Kirk, who had provided them with a room for a press conference on Capitol Hill, withdrew the offer after he learned of the group’s support for anti-LGBT extremism. Provided with a room at the last minute by House Speaker John Boehner, the group’s founder Allan Carlson compared criticism of his work to fascism in the 1920s and 1930s. Speakers then proceeded to heap praise on Russia for its anti-gay crackdown.

Rick Joyner Apologizes To Putin And Islamists For America Becoming 'A Gay Nation'

Speaking at a “prepper” event at Jim Bakker’s megachurch in Missouri last month, televangelist Rick Joyner lamented that people like Russian President Vladimir Putin and Islamist leaders hate America because we have become “a gay nation.” This, Joyner said, was very true and deserved an apology, which he offered on the spot.

“One of the things [the Russians] really hate is what they think we have become, a gay nation,” he said. “It’s the main reason why Islam, by the way, calls us the ‘Great Satan.’ They think we’re, we say we trust God, we put that on our money, but we export the worst kinds of perversion all over the world.”

“And of course they have their own perversion, they have — but they see us as the source of the worst spiritual and moral pollution in the world. And, you know, we can’t disagree with that. That shouldn’t be happening here.”

“You know, when I spoke to a meeting of many of the top mullahs and imams at the World Public Forum, I apologized for that,” he continued. “And I will apologize. I am really sorry for the moral filth and pollution that is coming out of America, and this is happening on our watch too. You know, there are a lot of reasons why the nations hate us, but mainly they see hypocrisy on a level unprecedented. We say one thing and do the other.

Joyner, who was helping Bakker sell the survivalist goods that he markets through his ministry, went on to warn that the Obama administration is now working with the Council on American-Islamic Relations — falsely claiming that a U.S. court designated it as a terrorist group — to treat Christians in the U.S. as terrorists while completely ignoring Muslims plotting attacks.

“This is either naiveté, incompetence on a level unheard of in history, or it is treason, this is an inside job,” he said. “We’re letting them cross our border, we’re letting them fly into our thing. Now there are many being stopped, there are many great agents doing their job in spite of being handcuffed by regulations, orders coming down, memos, everything else. Our FBI was forbidden from investigating Muslims.”

Now, Joyner warned, the government has “started targeting … Christians, veterans, Second Amendment rights groups,” and saying that “we’re the terrorist threat, not the Muslims.”

“There’s a meltdown going on, America is being melted down, it’s being destroyed from within,” he warned. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Share this page: Facebook Twitter Digg SU Digg Delicious