Russia

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":

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

World Congress Of Families Spokesman Defends Russian American Adoption Ban

In an interview with WorldNetDaily this weekend, World Congress of Families communications director Don Feder defended the author of Russia’s “gay propaganda” ban, also a key proponent of the ban on American adoptions, and claimed that she had been “punished” with sanctions because the Obama administration is “controlled by the gay lobby.”

Yelena Mizulina, head of the Duma’s committee on families and an organizer of the World Congress of Families’ upcoming Moscow conference, was among the Russian officials hit with economic sanctions after the seizure of Crimea. Along with her role promoting the propaganda ban and a crackdown on adoptions to countries that allow marriage equality, Mizulina helped push the 2012 ban on Russian adoptions to the U.S.

Feder told WorldNetDaily that Mizulina was “absolutely right” in her push to ban American adoptions because children could end up adopted by same-sex couples. “The Russians are very traditional people,” he added. “They have a strong religious orientation. They haven’t got caught up in the whole politically correct thing that has captured so many people in this country.”

“They don’t want to see Russian children placed with homosexuals,” he said. “Frankly, I don’t blame them.”

Feder claimed that the Obama administration used the Crimea crisis as a “convenient excuse” for “payback” against Mizulina.

“This administration is clearly controlled by the gay lobby,” he said. “Whatever organized homosexuals want, the administration gives them.”

He added that he was appalled by the Obama administration’s commitment to defending LGBT people around the world from violence and persecution: “You have to shake your head in wonder. Promoting gay rights is now a major US foreign policy initiative!”

Pat Buchanan Suggests 'God Is On Russia's Side'

Pat Buchanan is once again fawning over Russian leader Vladimir Putin. In a column today, “Is God Now On Russia’s Side?,” Buchanan hails Putin for leading “the counter-reformation against the new paganism” and “the same-sex-marriage pandemic.”

“In the culture war for the future of mankind, Putin is planting Russia’s flag firmly on the side of traditional Christianity” and against “the West’s capitulation to a sexual revolution of easy divorce, rampant promiscuity, pornography, homosexuality, feminism, abortion, same-sex marriage, euthanasia, assisted suicide – the displacement of Christian values by Hollywood values,” Buchanan writes.

The right-wing pundit even likens Putin to Pope John Paul II and calls on Putin to deliver the keynote at the recently suspended World Congress of Families summit that was supposed to take place in the Kremlin.

With Marxism-Leninism a dead faith, Putin is saying the new ideological struggle is between a debauched West led by the United States and a traditionalist world Russia would be proud to lead.

In the new war of beliefs, Putin is saying, it is Russia that is on God’s side. The West is Gomorrah.



Putin is entering a claim that Moscow is the Godly City of today and command post of the counter-reformation against the new paganism.



He is also tapping into the worldwide revulsion of and resistance to the sewage of a hedonistic secular and social revolution coming out of the West.

In the culture war for the future of mankind, Putin is planting Russia’s flag firmly on the side of traditional Christianity. His recent speeches carry echoes of John Paul II whose Evangelium Vitae in 1995 excoriated the West for its embrace of a “culture of death.”

What did Pope John Paul mean by moral crimes?

The West’s capitulation to a sexual revolution of easy divorce, rampant promiscuity, pornography, homosexuality, feminism, abortion, same-sex marriage, euthanasia, assisted suicide – the displacement of Christian values by Hollywood values.

Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum writes that she was stunned when in Tbilisi to hear a Georgian lawyer declare of the former pro-Western regime of Mikhail Saakashvili, “They were LGBT.”

“It was an eye-opening moment,” wrote Applebaum. Fear and loathing of the same-sex-marriage pandemic has gone global. In Paris, a million-man Moral Majority marched in angry protest.



But the war to be waged with the West is not with rockets. It is a cultural, social, moral war where Russia’s role, in Putin’s words, is to “prevent movement backward and downward, into chaotic darkness and a return to a primitive state.”

Would that be the “chaotic darkness” and “primitive state” of mankind, before the Light came into the world?

This writer was startled to read in the January-February newsletter from the social conservative World Council of Families in Rockford, Ill., that, of the “10 best trends” in the world in 2013, No. 1 was “Russia Emerges as Pro-Family Leader.”

In 2013, the Kremlin imposed a ban on homosexual propaganda, a ban on abortion advertising, a ban on abortions after 12 weeks and a ban on sacrilegious insults to religious believers.

“While the other superpowers march to a pagan worldview,” writes WCF’s Allan Carlson, “Russia is defending Judeo-Christian values. During the Soviet era, Western communists flocked to Moscow. This year, World Congress of Families VII will be held in Moscow, Sept. 10-12.”

Will Vladimir Putin give the keynote?

In the new ideological Cold War, whose side is God on now?

World Congress Of Families Suspends Kremlin Summit, Still Supports Russia's Anti-Gay Crackdown

The World Congress of Families announced in a press release today that it is suspending planning on an upcoming summit at the Kremlin due to concerns about “travel, logistics, and other matters” related to “the situation in the Ukraine and Crimea.”

The WCF’s planned Moscow summit – which was funded in part by advocates with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin –  came under increased scrutiny after Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine, with one American group, Concerned Women For America, publicly announcing that it would pull out of the event .

Adding another layer of complication, two of the primary Russian organizers of the event were put under US economic sanctions last week in response to the Ukraine invasion.

In the press release, WCF makes clear that it still supports Russian president Vladimir Putin’s crackdown on LGBT people. “At a time when Western governments are moving backward to a pagan worldview, Russia has taken a leadership role to advance the natural family,” it says.

As we have documented extensively, WCF has been active in pushing anti-gay laws in both Russia and Ukraine, aiding Putin’s effort to use anti-gay politics as a wedge issue against American and European influence.

ROCKFORD, Ill., March 25, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ -- Planning on World Congress of Families VIII - the Moscow Congress (scheduled for September 10-12, 2014) -- has been suspended for the time being. The situation in the Ukraine and Crimea (and the resulting U.S. and European sanctions) has raised questions about the travel, logistics, and other matters necessary to plan WCF VIII.

The foregoing is not meant to reflect negatively on the Russian people, churches or individuals who have taken a leadership role in the fight to preserve life, marriage, and the natural family at home and as part of the international pro-family movement.

We are proud of the accomplishments of our Russian Partners, and applaud the moves of the Russian people, through their elected representatives, to protect life, the family and the innocence of children. At a time when Western governments are moving backward to a pagan worldview, Russia has taken a leadership role to advance the natural family.

The World Congress of Families takes no position on foreign affairs, except as they affect the natural family. The family is above national concerns and should unite all people of good will who recognize the centrality of the family as the foundation of civilization. Our Russian Partners and others we have worked with in the Russian Federation have our prayers and encouragement in their pro-family work.

CBN Denounces Putin's Suppression Of Religious Freedom But Joins Anti-Gay Kremlin Summit

A top official with Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network is helping the far-right World Congress of Families (WCF) organize a summit with other anti-gay activists at the Kremlin in September, which the WCF is framing as a show of support for Vladimir Putin’s government and his recent crackdown on gay rights.

Justin Murff, the Grants & Foundations Manager for CBN International, is slated to speak at the first day of the pro-Putin gathering alongside Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage, Austin Ruse of the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute, Jim Daly of Focus on the Family and Allan Sears of Alliance Defending Freedom, and is on a panel the second day with Focus on the Family official Tom Minnery.

Other panels at the Kremlin conference include “Ex-Gay Movement,” “Case Studies from the Marriage Fight,” “Dangers of Sex Education” and “Roots of Sexual Revolution.” While many American Religious Right pastors, leaders and activists have become cheerleaders for Putin’s authoritarian government, CBN’s involvement in the Kremlin gathering is somewhat surprising because today the 700 Club aired a report from CBN correspondent Paul Strand about how Putin is rolling back the freedom of religion, particularly trampling on the rights of evangelicals and other Christians who aren’t members of the Russian Orthodox Church.

In 2011, CBN reporter George Thomas similarly reported that Baptists and Pentecostals are facing growing threats under Putin’s leadership.

CBN’s involvement in the WCF summit highlights the fact that other Religious Right groups are looking the other way and deliberately ignoring the threats to religious freedom in Russia in order to salute the country’s anti-gay policies.

Franklin Graham Endorses Vladimir Putin's Anti-Gay Crackdown

Add Franklin Graham to the growing list of Vladimir Putin’s American Religious Right cheerleaders. Religion News Service reports today that Graham defended the Russian leader in Decision Magazine, writing that his law on “homosexual propaganda” is “simply to protect children.”

Graham says that Russia is a better model of godliness and morality than America because of the Obama administration’s “gay-lesbian agenda” that “is contrary to God’s teaching.”

He also defended Russia’s support for Syria’s brutal Assad regime.

“Isn’t it sad, though, that America’s own morality has fallen so far that on this issue—protecting children from any homosexual agenda or propaganda—Russia’s standard is higher than our own? In my opinion, Putin is right on these issues,” Graham writes. “Obviously, he may be wrong about many things, but he has taken a stand to protect his nation’s children from the damaging effects of any gay and lesbian agenda.”

He concludes with a warning that the US is entering in its own phase of communism and will experience God’s judgment.

The Olympics were a $51 billion spectacle, but the days leading up to the Games were overshadowed by a controversial issue—a law Putin signed in 2013 to protect minors (children) in Russia from homosexuals promoting their lifestyle. Specifically, the law bans the “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors.”

American media and liberal activists were outraged that the Olympics would be allowed in such an “intolerant” culture. Even though Putin said that gays and lesbians would be allowed at the Olympics, the fact that he took a stand—simply to protect children—ignited a worldwide cultural firestorm. He further explained the law by saying, “We have a ban on the propaganda of homosexuality and pedophilia.”

In some ways, the Winter Olympics has become like the Cold War.

Lest we forget, it has not yet been 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the retreat of godless communism. Just a few generations ago, America held the high moral ground.

How the times have changed!

America’s response to Putin’s law was sadly predictable. President Obama intentionally included homosexuals in his official U.S. delegation to Sochi. Then his attorney general stole headlines from the opening weekend with an announcement to the Human Rights Campaign (a major gay-rights group): As far as the federal government is concerned, there is no longer any difference between traditional and same-sex marriage—even in the 33 states that outlaw those marriages.

It’s obvious that President Obama and his administration are pushing the gay-lesbian agenda in America today and have sold themselves completely to that which is contrary to God’s teaching.



I have never heard Putin quote the Bible, but during his 2012 election campaign, he met with church leaders in Moscow and vowed to protect persecuted Christians around the world. That is one justification for his support of the Assad regime in Syria.

Syria, for all its problems, at least has a constitution that guarantees equal protection of citizens. Around the world, we have seen that this is essential where Christians are a minority and are not protected. The radicals in Syria want an Islamic constitution based on sharia law.



Isn’t it sad, though, that America’s own morality has fallen so far that on this issue—protecting children from any homosexual agenda or propaganda—Russia’s standard is higher than our own?

In my opinion, Putin is right on these issues. Obviously, he may be wrong about many things, but he has taken a stand to protect his nation’s children from the damaging effects of any gay and lesbian agenda.

Our president and his attorney general have turned their backs on God and His standards, and many in the Congress are following the administration’s lead. This is shameful.

The world used to look to America for moral leadership. But those days are long gone.

Today, we’ve abdicated our moral leadership. We defeated communism, only to relax and see secularism and progressives take over our country. Secularism is as godless as communism. Secularists and progressives have taken over our schools, media, and local and federal government. And it has all happened in the twinkling of an eye.

William Murray: 'Morally And Spiritually, Russia Today Is The Nation America Was In The 1950s'

William Murray, head of the Religious Freedom Coalition and Government Is Not God PAC, writes in WorldNetDaily today that President Obama and the media have a “hatred for Russia” because “morally and spiritually, Russia today is the nation America was in the 1950s.”

He cites Russia’s harsh anti-abortion laws, ban on gays in the military, the influence of the Russian Orthodox Church in government, and flat tax.

Why do President Obama and the Western media have such hatred for Russia? What is all the Russia bashing really about?

In Russia the clergy are allowed to enter the schools to give instruction in the Bible. Prayer is allowed in the public schools in Russia, as well. It is against the law to sell or give pornographic literature to anyone under the age of 18. Marriage in Russia is allowed only between one man and one woman.

Last year President Putin signed a law outlawing advertisements for abortion. In 2011 Russia passed a law requiring health warnings to women before getting an abortion, and now the Duma is considering outlawing abortions completely unless the mother is in immediate danger of death. (In the old Soviet Union, abortion was the primary means of birth control).

There is no complicated tax code in Russia; they have the kind of flat tax the Republicans have pushed in the U.S. for years. In Russia everyone pays the 13 percent income tax regardless of how much they earn. The year after this flat tax was instituted in 2001, the Russian economy took off like a rocket and tax revenues increased as well. Russia is not a communist country any longer. Russia has as many or maybe even more millionaires than the United States. There is free enterprise; anyone can start a business, and many people do.

In the Russian Army the chaplains are allowed to preach the Gospel and pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Homosexual behavior is not allowed in the Russian military and punishable by court martial. (The U.S. military just held its first officially approved drag queen contest at the Kadena Air Base.)

Why do Barack Obama and the liberal media hate Russia so much but have such love for nations that are anti-Christian and repressive such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia? Morally and spiritually, Russia today is the nation America was in the 1950s.

Concerned Women For America Drops Out Of World Congress of Families Moscow Summit

As we’ve been reporting, the American Religious Right has found itself in a tough spot following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, since many Religious Right leaders have not only praised Putin’s anti-gay, anti-choice policies but are planning to attend a World Congress of Families summit at the Kremlin later this year.

Now, one such group that previously praised Putin has announced that it will pull out of the Moscow summit. Buzzfeed reported yesterday that Concerned Women for America will no longer be participating in the World Congress of Families event because, as the group’s CEO Penny Nance said, “I don’t want to appear to be giving aid and comfort to Vladimir Putin.”

CWA’s choice is especially surprising because its senior fellow, Janice Shaw Crouse, is amember of the board of the World Congress of Families and has been a vocal defender of Putin’s social policies. Last month, Crouse even appeared at a press conference promoting the Moscow summit.

Now the question becomes whether other American groups will follow Nance’s lead. An organizing meeting for the event in October included Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage, Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family, Benjamin Bull of Alliance Defending Freedom, Justin Murff of the Christian Broadcasting Network and Austin Ruse of the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute.

A draft program for the event that was obtained by Buzzfeed includes speeches by ADF president Allan Sears, Focus president Jim Daly, Mike Farris of the Home School Legal Defense Association, Brown, Ruse and Murff, among others.

In addition, the World Congress of Families receives funding from “partner organizations” including the Family Research Council, the American Family Association, and Americans United for Life.

The World Congress of Families’ Larry Jacobs said at last month’s press conference that members of the U.S. Congress would also attend the event, though he would not specify which ones since he said their confirmations were not yet finalized. The draft program also accounts for speeches from unidentified members of Congress. to speak.

As we’ve noted, the planned summit is more than just a trip to Moscow. It’s being held at the Kremlin with funding from key Putin allies and will include a joint forum with Russia’s parliament. In addition, the World Congress of Families itself has been working to support Putin’s crackdown on LGBT rights in Russia, along with his push to keep Ukraine out of the European Union. Riling up hostility to gay rights, in particular, has become a powerful wedge issue for Russian-aligned, anti-EU activists in Ukraine.

Ruse articulated the apparent attitude of many American groups when he told Buzzfeed that although the Ukraine invasion “muddied the water,” he had not been concerned about working so closely with the Putin regime until now, “because the Russian government has been quite good on our issues.”

Nance is aware of the message that her group’s participation in the summit would send. Will anybody else follow her lead?

How the World Congress of Families' Anti-Gay Activism Aided Anti-EU Propaganda In Ukraine

Late last week, Don Feder of the Illinois-based World Congress of Families sent out a press release announcing that his group was “concerned about the crisis in Ukraine” and would “pray for world leaders to come together to promote peace and resolve the conflict.” The group also announced that it would go ahead with a planned meeting in Kiev later this year; it did not mention whether its planned summit at the Kremlin in September was still on.

But the World Congress of Families’ involvement in relations between Ukraine, Russia, and the European Union is more complicated than Feder’s release lets on. Although WCF has distanced itself from Feder’s foreign policy opinions, Feder has been very clear where his loyalty lies in Ukraine’s unrest. In a column earlier this month, Feder attacked the “Maidan mob” that had ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych and bashed the EU’s “willingness to accept same-sex ‘marriage,’ abortion on demand, and anti-religion ethos.”

And the WCF itself has allied with anti-EU activists in Ukraine to push anti-gay causes, putting itself right in the middle of a powerful anti-EU wedge issue .

Many right-wing groups, including the World Congress of Families, have enthusiastically praised Russian President Vladimir Putin’s new focus on opposing gay rights and abortion access, promoting large families, and close alliance with the Russian Orthodox church, while conveniently ignoring the role these “family issues” play in his consolidation and expansion of power. When Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine two weeks ago, that dynamic became harder to ignore.

In fact, the World Congress of Families, an offshoot of the Howard Center on Family, Religion and Society, has done more than ally with Russia’s leaders as they seek to impose harsh anti-gay policies in their own country. The group has also brought its advocacy to Ukraine, where it has worked to push anti-gay legislation backed by pro-Russia, anti-EU groups in the lead-up the governmental crisis, which was precipitated by Yanukovych’s decision to back out of an association agreement with the EU in favor of a customs union with Russia. Putin strongly opposed closer ties between EU and Ukraine and offered Yanukovych’s government financial incentives to fortify its relationship with Russia.

In November, Buzzfeed’s Lester Feder (no relation to Don) published an extensive report on how Russia was pushing “homophobic nationalism” in Ukraine as part of its campaign to prevent the country from strengthening its association with the European Union. Those efforts were aided by pro-Russian lawmakers pushing a “homosexual propaganda” ban similar to the one passed last year in Russia. A similar bill had passed in parliament with wide support in 2012, but had become a potential sticking point in negotiations with the EU. An EU parliament member explained to Buzzfeed:

“I don’t think the more pro-Western [politicians] would necessarily be that much in favor of LGBT rights,” said Ulrike Lunacek, a member of the European Parliament from Austria and co-president of its intergroup on LGBT rights and sits on its foreign affairs committee. “But it’s very clear that the more pro-Russian side is using the … propaganda law that [means] you’re not allowed to talk about LGBT rights to enhance their political situation in the country. Very often the politicians in these countries … [use] the argument against LGBT rights to cover up problems that exist on the economic level.”

That is, Ukraine’s proposed “homosexual propaganda” law had support from advocates on both sides of the EU issue; but it was the anti-EU politicians aligned with Putin who were using it as a wedge issue to promote a larger geopolitical agenda.

In July, 2013, a pro-Russia Ukrainian lawmaker reintroduced the “homosexual propaganda” ban. Three months later, in October, WCF announced that Feder, the group's communications director, would travel to Kiev to meet with “key Ukrainian leaders, including members of parliament.” Speaking at a press conference in Kiev in October, Feder warned Ukrainians against following the US into the “abyss” of gay rights.

“Everywhere you look, from Washington to the United Nations to the European Union to the courts, the family is threatened,” he said. “There are forces in your country that want to put you on the road America’s taken. I urge you to resist them.”

He went on to warn that gay rights advances in the United States were leading to legalized pedophilia, “a campaign to abolish gender distinctions,” and ultimately “the criminalization of Christianity.”

“What starts by asking for tolerance ends by demanding obedience,” he warned.

The video below contains Feder's full speech; we have edited out the interjections of a translator.

Feder was surrounded at the news conference by Alexey Komov, WCF’s main organizer in Moscow, Fabrice Sorlin, a far-right French activist allied with WCF who has praised Russia for stopping gay rights advances like it fought off “Mongol hordes,” and by Aleksander Skvortsov of an NGO called the Parents Committee of Ukraine.

Skvortsov’s group doesn’t just oppose gay rights; it also pressed the Ukrainian government to reject an agreement with the EU because, as Skvortsov put it, “it will lead to the inevitable homosexualizing of Ukraine.” A couple of weeks after the press conference with Feder, Skortsov’s group burned a rainbow flag to protest the planned EU agreement. In November, when Yanukovych rejected the EU deal, tens of thousands of Ukrainians marched in protest; but Skortsov helped organize a flash mob dance in celebration of Ukraine’s rejection of  "homodictatorship.”

WCF was also involved in the effort to pass the gay “propaganda” bill that threatened to harm EU negotiations. In May, WCF’s “ambassador to European institutions” Pavel Parfentiev worked with Skvortsov’s group to write a memo to the Venice Commission defending the proposed “homosexual propaganda” bills in Russia and Ukraine, claiming such laws are “fully compatible with international human rights law provisions.”

In early November, shortly before Yanukovych rejected the EU deal, Parfentiev joined Skortsov at a press conference urging Ukraine not to sign an association agreement with the EU without amending it to prevent Ukraine from adopting gay rights laws. “I find it surprising that Ukrainian leaders did nothing to protect the family and family values ​​in the Ukraine Association Agreement with the European Union,” Parfentiev reportedly said, adding that EU gay rights protections present “a very real threat to the family and morality in Ukraine.”

“You need to work to change the treaty or simply refuse to accept it,” he said.

At the press conference, Skortsov also announced the creation of a campaign called “Stop It Now,” to counter “homototalitarianism” throughout the world. The campaign’s website contains various colorful materials educating readers about the myriad of dangers gay rights supposedly present to society.

The New York Times reported in December about how pro-government demonstrators were using opposition to gay rights as a wedge against an agreement with the EU:

"We are against the spiritual expansion of the West,” said another protester, Andrei A. Shyropov, a teacher. “We are against the Euro Sodom,” he continued, using a phrase rhyming with and mocking the name the supporters of European integration have given to their movement, the Euromaidan, which means “Eurosquare” in Ukrainian.

Valentin B. Lukyanik, an organizer of the march Friday, said the economic benefits of European trade were outweighed by “the expansion of European values that destroy the family.”

The World Congress of Families and the American groups it allies with– including Alliance Defending Freedom, Focus on the Family and the National Organization for Marriage – seem to be conveniently ignoring the role that anti-gay activism is playing in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s expansionist plans, including his efforts to wrest Ukraine’s loyalties away from the European Union.

Scott Lively Blames Gays For Ukraine Crisis, Lauds Russia As Human Rights Leader Of The World

Anti-gay pastor Scott Lively is standing with Russian president Vladimir Putin in the Ukraine crisis, hailing Putin’s government for cracking down on LGBT rights and becoming a “defender of true human rights.”

Writing today in WorldNetDaily, Lively said that LGBT equality in the US is destroying the Constitution and the rule of law, creating “special rights for favored groups” and putting America “in a death spiral of moral and ethical degeneracy.”

In contrast, he writes, Russia “has begun embracing Christian values regarding family issues.”

“And this is why the greatest point of conflict between the U.S. and Russia is the question of homosexuality (I believe even the conflict in Ukraine is being driven to a large extent by this issue, at least on the part of the Obama State Department and the homosexualist leaders of the EU.),” Lively writes.

It is therefore obvious why America is in decline and Russia is on the ascendancy in the matter of human rights. America has largely turned her back on God, reorganized her government and culture on a statist model and is plummeting in a death spiral of moral and ethical degeneracy. As our collective former (Bible-based) values of self-restraint and personal responsibility steadily decline, external controls and surveillance by the new police state increase. The rule of law becomes the rule of man, and equal justice under law becomes special rights for favored groups.

Conversely, Russia has begun embracing Christian values regarding family issues, albeit imperfectly, in stark contrast to its aggressively godless Soviet past. Repression in Russia is decreasing as rapidly as it is increasing in the U.S.

The crux of the human-rights debate is what it means to be human. Russia appears to be returning to its pre-Soviet understanding that humans are made in the image of God, and that our “rights” are really duties of respect and care for each other imposed on us by Him. This is why the first principle of both the Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights is the protection of the Christian church, from which the very concept of modern human rights emerged. And this is why the greatest point of conflict between the U.S. and Russia is the question of homosexuality. (I believe even the conflict in Ukraine is being driven to a large extent by this issue, at least on the part of the Obama State Department and the homosexualist leaders of the EU.)

There is no human right to sodomy to be found in nearly 4,000 years of human-rights jurisprudence. It is an invention of Cultural Marxists in the late 20th century and rests on their dangerous premise that the state, not God, grants us our rights. In fact, the “right” to sodomy is really an anti-right, because it can only be granted at the expense of the true human rights of religious freedom and family values. Thus, the first principle of the Magna Carta stood unbreakable in Britain for almost 800 years until the recent introduction of “sexual orientation regulations” (SORs), and the first principle of the First Amendment stood for over 200 years until SORs were passed here in the United States.

Today, both the Magna Carta and the First Amendment are deemed to be trumped by the “right to sodomy” in case after case, and pro-homosexual activist federal judges in the U.S. are striking down “Defense of Marriage” laws in the most morally conservative states in the union with brazen disregard for the Constitution and the will of the people.

I ask you, which is the greater threat to human rights: Russia’s law preventing homosexual activists from disseminating their propaganda to children, or the lawless decrees of these American federal judges? I submit that the former is not a threat at all, but a reaffirmation of true human rights (in that case the right of parents to raise their children according to their own values), while the latter is an egregious affront to liberty and an undermining of respect for the rule of law, which endangers all human rights.

Russia has a long way to go even to meet today’s tarnished standards in America, but if current trends hold, Russia will eventually supplant the U.S. as the greater defender of true human rights. Unfortunately, at the pace that our country is falling, that day may not be far off.

Feder: Gays In The Military, 'Armed With Vibrators,' Greater Threat Than Putin

World Congress of Families spokesman Don Feder writes today in the American Thinker that gays and lesbians in the military, Muslim executive branch officials and a president who’s not “an American in the White House,” threaten American interests more than Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Feder writes that he doesn’t blame Putin for resisting Ukraine’s moves toward EU membership, because that implies a “willingness to accept same-sex ‘marriage,’ abortion on demand [and] an anti-religion ethos.” A parallel situation in Canada would bother us too, Feder writes. “It would, that is, if there was an American in the White House.”

Feder goes on to list what he actually sees as a “threat to America,” including “Muslims in the Obama White House,” because “a Muslim who takes his religion seriously must put loyalty to Dar al-Islam above allegiance to an infidel state.”

Another “threat” he sees to America is the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: “If Putin doesn’t take us seriously, is it any wonder?... Perhaps we could deploy an elite unit, armed with vibrators, to the Crimea to counter Spetsnaz commandos.”

Putin is a power player who cares more about Russia’s national interests, and Russian minorities in his near abroad, than in that mythical force known as world opinion. Would that America had a president who cared more about our interests than in promoting globalism and the left’s social agenda.

The Russian-backed government in Kiev came to power democratically, but was ousted by the Maidan mob. We’re told that the interim government is pro-Western and pro-EU.

When Reagan was president, the expression pro-Western meant something. It meant pro-representative government, pro-human rights and pro-Western (Judeo-Christian) values.

Today, it means a willingness to accept same-sex “marriage,” abortion on demand, an anti-religion ethos – the agenda of the EU’s cultural commissars  -- and the economic dictates of the Brussels bureaucracy.
Putin doesn’t want to see the EU -- and, possibly, NATO --- on his doorstep. Do you blame him? If someone overthrew a democratically elected, pro-American government in Ottawa and replaced it with an interim regime hostile to our interests, that contained neo-Nazi elements and which immediately moved against English-speaking Canadians, it would irritate us too. It would, that is, if there was an American in the White House.

But don’t I care about a possible Russian annexation of the Crimea and Eastern Ukraine (with its Russian-oriented, Orthodox population), conservatives who are still fighting the Cold War ask me? Not really. I’ll tell you what does concern me:

...

Obama’s life style-friendly military -- If Putin doesn’t take us seriously, is it any wonder? The headline in the March 2 Stars and Stripes beams: “Gay, lesbian troops perform in drag at Kadena Air Base” in Okinawa. The publication disclosed that the drag show was “in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered troops.” Doubtless, this will do much for the morale of the non-LGBT troops. But as then-Army Chief of Staff George W. Casey, Jr. said at the time of the Ft. Hood massacre (which the administration still refuses to call a terrorist incident), diversity is the New Action Army’s most important product. Perhaps we could deploy an elite unit, armed with vibrators, to the Crimea to counter Spetsnaz commandos.

Muslims in the Obama White House -- including Arif Alikhan (Deputy Executive Director for Policy in DHS), Mohamed Elibiary (Homeland Security Advisory Council), Rashad Hussain (Special Envoy to the deeply anti-Semitic Organization of the Islamic Conference), Imam Mohamed Magid  (Obama’s Sharia Law advisor, on loan from the Islamic Society of North America, with its Brotherhood ties) and Eboo Patel (on the Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships). A Muslim who takes his religion seriously must put loyalty to Dar al-Islam above allegiance to an infidel state.

Obama’s metastasizing autocracy -- We fret about democracy in the Ukraine while Obama treats the Constitution as a series of suggestions. For the president, the three branches of government are him, his pen and his telephone.

Putin is a strong man. Obama is a weak man (except when it comes to bullying our allies). Obama venerates multilateralism. Putin is willing to go it alone. Obama is committed to the entire LGBT agenda (including gay “marriage”). He’s also the only sitting president to address Planned Parenthood, such is his commitment to abortion without borders. Putin believes the foregoing is the road to national annihilation.

Where does the threat to America lie?
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lively: Putin Will Restore Tsarism, Defeat 'Marxist' United States And 'Global Homosexual Agenda'

While Vladimir Putin’s government is hostile to evangelical Christians in Russia, U.S. Religious Right leaders are fawning over Putin in response to his crackdown on his country’s gay community. On Friday, American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer chatted with right-wing pastor Scott Lively about his anti-gay activism in Russia, and the two hailed Putin as a hero.

Lively said that Russia is rightfully returning to Tsarism: “They’re reaching back to the Tsarist model when the Russian Orthodox Church was very strong and they had Christian values in their society, and I think it’s a positive thing for the whole world.”

Putin also won accolades from Fischer, who said that “the leader of Russia now sounds more like somebody who supports and embraces Christianity than the President of the United States, which has always been a Christian country.”

“Our country is far more Marxist” than Russia, Lively insisted. “It’s like a role reversal and I think that if other countries in the world adopt the Russian policy, we can build a barrier against this global homosexual agenda and perhaps even start to roll it back here at home.”

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

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

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

The coalition’s statement says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Linda Harvey’s written statement sounded a similar tone:

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

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

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

Right Wing Leftovers - 2/20/14

  • Scott Lively and Peter LaBarbera are forming a new anti-gay group that will work to "more effectively oppose the now-global LGBT agenda" and "urge other nations of the world to follow the Russian example."
  • On a related note, Gary Bauer is not happy about all the attention Russia's anti-gay crackdown is receiving.
  • Also related, the "ex-gays" over at Voice of the Voiceless are not happy with Glenn Beck denunciation of people who hate gays.
  • Yay, Rick Santorum is plotting another run for president.
  • FRC's weekly prayer targets.
  • Finally, Glenn Beck does not know what to do about North Korea, but he is positive that God "is going to right this":

Pussy Riot's American Detractors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Share this page: Facebook Twitter Digg SU Digg Delicious