The Not-The-World-Congress-of-Families Launches Moscow Conference

Jim Burroway

September 10th, 2014

No, not that. The other one.

No, not that. The other one.

Despite Russia’s illegal invasion of the Crimea and eastern Ukraine and its complicity in downing of a commercial aircraft filled with hundreds of innocent civilians, quite a number of American anti-gay activists are willing to look past all that in order to congratulate Putin’s empire for its growing campaign against its own LGBT citizens. A year ago, before the conflict in Ukraine exploded into armed combat, six American conservative groups signed on to a statement praising Russia’s so-called “anti-propaganda” law which prohibits persons and organizations from expressing their free speech rights for LGBT people. (Of course, free speech rights against LGBT people are fully protected while anti-LGBT violence is officially ignored.) Those six were Austin Ruse’s Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, Chris Carmouche’s GrassTopsUSA, Don Schmierer’s His Servants (of the 2009 Uganda Conference infamy), Linda Harvey’s Mission America, Steven Mosher’s Population Research Institute, and Larry Jacobs’s World Congress of Families, which had planned to hold its next World Congress in Moscow beginning today.

Larry Jacobs, speaking at a Watchmen On the Walls conference in Latvia, 2007.

Larry Jacobs, speaking at a Watchmen On the Walls conference in Latvia, 2007.

That Congress was set to take place in the Kremlin itself, with funding from Vladimir Putin’s allies and featuring a joint session with the Russian Parliament. The theme for the Congress was “Every Child A Gift: Large Families, the Future of Humanity.” Those plans were re-affirmed last March, even after fighting broke out in eastern Ukraine. A few weeks later, Jacobs announced that the World Congress in Moscow was suspended after several leading American anti-gay activists pulled out. At the time, WCF said, “The World Congress of Families takes no position on foreign affairs, except as they affect the natural family.” In June, WCF said in their newsletter that they were canceling the Congress altogether, citing “possible liability” arising from American and European sanctions against Russia and several targeted leaders, including some who were helping to organize the Moscow Congress.

Except now it appears that they didn’t exactly “cancel” their planned Congress in Moscow, but merely changed it’s name and, perhaps, some of its funding sources. The event is now the International Family Forum — with the old WCF theme, “Large Families, the Future of Humanity” — remaining intact. Until just last week, Jacobs and WCF communications director Don Feder were listed among event’s organizers. Their names have since been removed after J. Lester Feder’s Buzzfeed article called attention to the new conference. Jacobs denied to Buzzfeed that the new Forum was a World Congress of Families event and that “any one who calls it that is wrong, mis-informed or lying.” He denied that WCF was providing any funding and said that WCF president Allan Carlson would not be there to speak. Jacobs later confirmed to Mother Jones that he and Feder would be there and “speak as individuals and not as representatives of the World Congress of Families.” Austin Ruse, who also said he’d be there, had no doubts about the nature of the conference:

Austin Ruse

Austin Ruse

Austin Ruse of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, an American who was on the organizing committee for the Moscow meeting before WCF withdrew its sponsorship, said the local organizers decided to go forward on their own after the international organization pulled out. But he was planning to attend along with several other Americans active with the WCF.

“A lot of us are still going to over there and attend,” Ruse told BuzzFeed. “WCF will vocally support the meeting that is happening in Russia.”

Jacobs responded to Ruse’s comments by email, saying “Austin does not speak for WCF.”

Don Feder (left) speaking at the same <a href="">Watchmen On the Walls conference</a> in Latvia, 2007.

Don Feder (left) speaking at the same Watchmen On the Walls conference in Latvia, 2007.

And so the Totally-Not-The-World-Congress-Of-Families is meeting today in the very same venues as the “cancelled” World Congress of Families, with precisely the same theme, with much of the same program, with all of the same goals, and with many the same organizers. Duck metaphors are flying across the sky. Hannah Levintov at Mother Jones asks whether these American anti-gay activists have skirted U.S. sanctions on Russian:

Both (conference organizers Elena) Mizulina and (Vladimir) Yakunin are among WCF’s heartiest supporters. Mizulina sponsored both pieces of anti-gay legislation that caused international uproar in the run-up to the Sochi Winter Olympics in February. WCF has expressed support for these laws. She has met repeatedly with Jacobs, has attended a number of WCF’s Russian events, and has invited a WCF planning committee member to speak before Duma members about anti-gay policies.

The billionaire Yakunin helped pay for the 2011 Moscow Demographic Summit, the WCF’s first major conference in Russia. Last spring, he launched Istoki, a fund that backs three charities—two co-run by him, and a third headed by his wife, Natalia. All three organizations have ties to WCF’s work in Russia. Three of the Large Families conference’s five sponsors are affiliated with Yakunin: the Sanctity of Motherhood Foundation, the Center for National Glory, and St. Andrew the First-Called Foundation. The latter two are run by Yakunin and all three are funded by Yakunin’s Istoki fund.

Yakunin and Mizulina are currently on OFAC’s Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons list. Once someone is on the list, American citizens and businesses “are generally prohibited from dealing with them,” according to OFAC, which administers economic and trade sanctions. Sanction rules hinge on what counts as “dealing” with an SDN, which isn’t clearly defined. “If a US individual or entity wanted to deal with a sanctioned entity on the SDN list, we would encourage them to reach out to OFAC for guidance on a case-by-case basis,” a Treasury spokeswoman told Mother Jones. “Generally what is prohibited are ‘dealings’ with SDNs. Doing business or doing transactions—all of that is covered in the regulations. But dealings is a general term.” She said that the agency does not comment on specific cases.

The Human Rights Campaign is calling on the U.S. Treasury to investigate the WCF’s leadership for possibly violating U.S. sanctions against Russia.

Update: Janice Shaw Crouse, a WCF board member who may or may not still be the Executive Director of Concerned Women for America’s Beverly LeHaye Institute, is also in Moscow for the totally non-Congress:


Another Update: The Moscow Times updates us on the upstanding characters that Jacobs, Feder, Ruse and Crouse are consorting with:

The lineup of conservative crusaders also included “the Russian Soros,” Konstantin Malofeyev — founder of Marshall Capital Partners investment fund that has been linked to insurgents in Ukraine — and Yelena Mizulina, a conservative State Duma lawmaker who has championed laws banning the adoption of Russian orphans by Americans and banning the promotion of “nontraditional sexual relations” to minors.

Both were sanctioned by either the U.S. and EU — or both — over their alleged involvement in the Ukraine crisis and Crimea annexation.

Vladimir Putin sent his greetings via an emmisary as the conference got under way.


September 10th, 2014

“Large Families, the Future of Humanity.”

Considering the one of the most serious problems in the world continues to be overpopulation, that future will be pretty short.


September 10th, 2014

The large families thing is quite interesting. It shows how it isn’t just gay couples that are the wrong kind of family by their metric: It’s single people, childless couples, people with only one or two children, anyone who doesn’t fit into their very specific mold.

I can see how that message would be appealing in Russia, with its underpopulation problems, though.

Sharon B

September 11th, 2014

More news from the authoritarian liars for Jesus club.
Funny thing, the Russian Orthodox fathers would toss all these tossers into the Siberian gulags as heretics if they didn’t serve their immediate convenience.


September 12th, 2014

Don’t forget parentless children, katz. They also, probably, don’t just stand against gays and abortion, but also against birth control or any sort of responsible family planning. I often wonder how many of the people in the “pro-family” movement are parents of unexpected children who secretly hate being parents, and fear that, given a choice, no one would choose parenthood. So, they feel it is their responsibility to force people into becoming parents by taking away family-planning measures and forcing male-female couples into unendable marriage.

Priya Lynn

September 12th, 2014

Very interesting thought Nathaniel, I think there’s something to that. I remember when I was married to my wife my sister taking offense that we didn’t want children. She eventually admitted it was because she felt by us not wanting children we were disparaging her choice to have children.

Richard Rush

September 12th, 2014

Priya, I suppose it never occurred to your sister that by her choice to have children she was disparaging your choice not to want children.

Ben in Oakland

September 12th, 2014

Why do so many people think that something that has nothing to do with them is somehow about them?

Timothy Kincaid

September 12th, 2014

How very rude of her to have children!! Obviously she cares nothing about you or she wouldn’t have insulted you that way!!


Ben in Oakland

September 13th, 2014

It’s a curious thing that great privilege does not foster empathy, but rather self-pity, as if the realization that it’s easy to be unhappy while possessing what everyone else wants is the perfect excuse to act like a jerk.

I just read this this morning in a movie review. It seems appropriate here, and in a great many other places as well.

Straight Grandmother

September 13th, 2014

It’s very simple and I have read this on Homeschooling websites, Fundamentalist Christian Leaders have said their program of big family is simply a breeding operation, this is the way they grow their herd. Same as Catholics, more babies = more Catholics, they are intent on out breeding the Muslims.

Priya Lynn

September 13th, 2014

I’m sure she never thought of that Richard, wish I would have, it would have been a hilarious retort.


September 15th, 2014

SGM, I’m sure the modern anti-birth control movement among Protestants is founded in out-breeding the competition, but I feel the older history of the theology in Catholics has sincere roots in scriptural (mis)interpretation.

PL, when I hear people like Maggie Gallagher bemoan the decoupling of sex from its baby-making aspects as support for their crusades against things like birth control, and even same-sex marriage, there doesn’t seem to me to be any other way to understand them. Their distaste for parenthood translates into an assumption that nobody in their right mind would want children, therefore we must force everybody to have children, or we will go extinct. It is a perfectly logical conclusion, but is based on bad assumptions, incomplete data, and severe egomania.

Chris McCoy

September 15th, 2014

SGM wrote:

It’s very simple and I have read this on Homeschooling websites, Fundamentalist Christian Leaders have said their program of big family is simply a breeding operation, this is the way they grow their herd. Same as Catholics, more babies = more Catholics, they are intent on out breeding the Muslims.

The Quiverfull movement is one such group that gained headlines in the recent past.

Leave A Comment

All comments reflect the opinions of commenters only. They are not necessarily those of anyone associated with Box Turtle Bulletin. Comments are subject to our Comments Policy.

(Required, never shared)

PLEASE NOTE: All comments are subject to our Comments Policy.


Latest Posts

The Things You Learn from the Internet

"The Intel On This Wasn't 100 Percent"

From Fake News To Real Bullets: This Is The New Normal

NC Gov McCrory Throws In The Towel

Colorado Store Manager Verbally Attacks "Faggot That Voted For Hillary" In Front of 4-Year-Old Son

Associated Press Updates "Alt-Right" Usage Guide

A Challenge for Blue Bubble Democrats

Baptist Churches in Dallas, Austin Expelled Over LGBT-Affirming Stance

Featured Reports

What Are Little Boys Made Of?

In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.

Slouching Towards Kampala: Uganda’s Deadly Embrace of Hate

When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.

Paul Cameron’s World

In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.

From the Inside: Focus on the Family’s “Love Won Out”

On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.

Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"

The Heterosexual Agenda: Exposing The Myths

At last, the truth can now be told.

Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!

And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.

Testing The Premise: Are Gays A Threat To Our Children?

Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.

Straight From The Source: What the “Dutch Study” Really Says About Gay Couples

Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.

The FRC’s Briefs Are Showing

Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.

Daniel Fetty Doesn’t Count

Daniel FettyThe FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.