Brian Brown, Sharon Slater Are Also At Moscow’s Totally-Not-The-World-Congress-Of-Families
September 11th, 2014
Brian Brown is on the left. According to this online program, (Google translate here), he is spoke at a plenary panel this morning on “The Family, its Present and Future” at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior’s main hall. Patrick Buckley, an anti-abortion activist from Ireland, Thomas Ward of Britain’s National Association of Catholic Families, and John Weston of Canada’s Lifesite News were also on the panel. Just to give you an idea of the kind of company they’re keeping, other panel members include Abdolreza Azizi of Iran’s Islamic Consultative Council.
The program indicates that Austin Ruse is speaking today on “the status of life and family issues at the United Nations,” ex-gay promoter and anti-abortion activist Miriam Grossman will present on whether “reproductive freedom frees procreation,” CBN’s Stephen Weber will speak on “restoration of paternity transformation of culture” (Google Translate may have mangled this), Janice Shaw Crouse will speak on “successful communications strategy,” and Family Watch International’s Sharon Slater will speak on the “protection of children and families in the United Nations.”
Sharon Slater is a particularly ugly piece of work. Her organization, Family Watch International, which has managed to obtain consultative status with the United Nations, proudly features Ugandan Pentecostal pastor and “kill-the-gays” bill supporter Martin Ssempa as an African Coordinator for FWI. She has also spoken out in favor of Uganda’s horrific Anti-Homosexuality Bill, as well as similarly draconian laws in Nigeria and elsewhere. She has also worked closely with ambassadors from Syria and Iran to push her anti-gay agenda in the United Nations.
At least a couple dozen other Americans, Canadians and Europeans are speaking at the Totally-Not-The-World-Congress-Of-Families despite American and European sanctions against several of the conference’s Russian sponsors over the illegal annexation of Crimea and the Russian military’s incursions into Eastern Ukraine. Two of the American organizers of the Totally-Not-The-World-Congress-of-Families, World Congress of Families’ managing director Larry Jacob and communications director Don Feder, have prime speaking slots — although, ostensibly, they aren’t representing the World Congress of Families while speaking at the Totally-Not-The-World-Congress-of-Families conference. They are speaking on behalf of Jacobs Consulting and Don Feder Associates, respectively, which I think are similar in nature to Burroway Consulting and Timothy Kincaid Associates.
The Totally-Not-The-World-Congress-Of-Families is taking place in several venues in the Kremlin and at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, in the very same venues as the previously cancelled World Congress of Families, on the same dates, under the same theme, and with many of the same line-up of speakers. But remember: it’s not the World Congress of Families. Which is fitting, when you think about it. The Totally-Not-The-World-Congress-Of-Families is taking place in the land of the Totally-Not-Invading-Eastern-Ukraine. Authoritarian demagogues with totally-unbelievable propaganda machines seem to have a way of finding each other.
The Not-The-World-Congress-of-Families Launches Moscow Conference
September 10th, 2014
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.
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 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.”
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.
Crisis Notwithstanding, World Congress of Families Presses Ahead in Kiev, Moscow
March 13th, 2014
The crisis in Crimea will naturally continue to consume the world’s attention. Forgotten, of course, is last month’s report of proposals before Ukraine’s Parliament to institute a Russian-style anti-gay “propaganda” law. With the new Ukraine government still trying to find its footing and expending every energy on the ongoing crisis, this legislative effort appears to have fallen off everyone’s radar. Well, almost everyone. Here’s an email from the Rockford, Illinois-based World Congress of Families that landed in my inbox this morning.
World Congress of Families managing director Larry Jacobs today called on the international pro-life and pro-family network to pray for peace in Ukraine. “We are concerned about the crisis in Ukraine and pray for world leaders to come together to promote peace and resolve the conflict,” Jacobs said. “We echo Pope Francis’s prayer, ‘that all parts of the country work to overcome misunderstandings and to build together the future of the nation.’ “We have many Christian friends and pro-family leaders of all faiths in all regions of Ukraine. We pray for their safety and their important work to promote authentic human rights, encourage the natural family, and protect human life from conception to natural death.
Jacobs announced that planning for a special World Congress of Families event in Ukraine’s capital city of Kiev would continue. “After speaking with our friends and supporters in Ukraine, we are pleased to announce that they are continuing their efforts to organize a World Congress of Families regional meeting in Kiev this summer in collaboration with WCF leaders from Eastern Europe and Russia to promote the natural family as the fundamental unit of a free and stable society that transcends all political differences and the interests of nations and armies,” he said.
World Congress of Families is pressing ahead with its main congress this year in Moscow, at the Kremlin with funding from Vladimir Putin allies and a joint session with the Russian Parliament. Planned participants in Moscow are said to include 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.
Uganda’s “Kill Gays” Bill Still Has American Defenders, Death Penalty And All
January 10th, 2010
Grove City College professor Warren Throckmorton has a rundown on several American evangelicals who support Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill, with some even supporting the death penalty or explaining it away by lying about its application. One post by Joel McDurmon appeared on the American Vision web site, appropriately titled “A Perfect Hatred.” He writes:
Where God says a civil crime deserves the death penalty, I propose that we keep in step with the first greatest commandment and recognize His total sovereignty in heart, soul, strength, and mind…. Now, it just so happens that God revealed that the homosexual act is a civil crime, and it just so happens that He revealed that the homosexual act as a civil crime deserves the death penalty.
Larry Jacobs of the World Congress of Families rushed to defend Exodus International board member Don Schmierer, but offered not one word of criticism of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill which came on the aftermath of Schmierer’s March 5-7 conference in Kampala. He didn’t even bother to mention the death penalty provisions.
Warren also noted one article by Cliff Kincaid which earned a LaBarbera Award from BTB’s Timothy Kincaid (no relation), but that’s not the only example from this guy. In another post Cliff Kincaid complains that criticizing the wide-ranging bill amounts to “bashing” Uganda’s Christians, metaphorical language that is insulting in the extreme to those gays and lesbians who have actually been physically bashed bodily, sometimes to death.
If you know of other examples of American supporters of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, feel free to leave them in comments at Warren Throckmorton’s web site.
The Watchmen In Riga, Part 4: “A Militant Army Marching Against Evil”
December 10th, 2007
(This series on the Watchmen On the Walls conference in Riga, Latvia held Nov. 14-18 is based on the videos posted on the New Generation web site. Translations from Russian were generously provided by Ruslan Porshnev of the Russian LGBT web site Anti-Dogma.)
So far, our coverage of the Watchmen On the Walls’ conference in Riga, Latvia has focus on their depictions of the so-called dangers that homosexuality poses to civilization. They claimed that Christian society is besieged by the “homosexual movement,” by those who follow “the father of lies” who hold closely guarded secrets that they keep from the rest of the world, and whose actions have the moral equivalence of throwing innocent children into the furnaces of Nazi Germany.
But the Watchmen didn’t gather in Riga to just moan and groan about a world overrun with evil. They also wanted to impart a plan for combating this supposed scourge. We touched on one part of that plan — American holocaust revisionist Scott Lively’s call to his Russian-Latvian audience to come to Springfield, Massachusetts as missionaries.
But their greater plan was to prepare the way for the New Generation church movement to become more directly involved in political activism from the very top. I believe that the statements at the conference, combined with statements made by Watchmen leaders, illustrate a desire to create, at the very least, a theonomic-based system of governance not only in Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa, but in the West as well — including right here in America. And as always, I don’t ask that anyone take my word for it. Instead, I’ll simply offer you a generous sampling of their own words so you can judge your yourself.
Some of the positions advocated by Watchmen founders and spokespersons — including those of American Watchmen — run distinctly counter to the values of America’s founders. For example, American holocaust revisionist and Watchman founder Scott Lively wrote an open letter “to the Russian people” a month before the Riga conference, in which he offered this recommendation:
…[C]riminalize the public advocacy of homosexuality. My philosophy is to leave homosexuals alone if they keep their lifestyle private, and not to force them into therapy if they don’t want it. However, homosexuality is destructive to individuals and to society and it should never publicly promoted. The easiest way to discourage “gay pride” parades and other homosexual advocacy is to make such activity illegal in the interest of public health and morality.
Of course, Russia does not have the First Amendment freedoms of speech, assembly, and redress of grievances that we enjoy in the U.S., and recent events show that Russia doesn’t really need much encouragement along these lines. And so it’s very disturbing to see an America lawyer advocating totalitarian solutions for other countries, and one wonders what sort of country his movement would like to see here in the U.S. if they were to have their way here.
So how do the Watchmen see the role of church and state — or more specifically, their church and state?
On Thursday evening (November 15), evangelist David Sobrepeña, Senior Pastor of the Word of Hope Church in Manila, Philippines, gave a talk on “the promises of God.” This talk was in many respects a continuation of the theme of “spiritual weapons” that Ledyaev opened the conference with the night before. As Sobrepeña spoke on Matthew 16:18 (“On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”), he described a militaristic vision of God’s promise that he said that passage represents:
I began to picture a militant army marching against the forces of evil. A great and vast army, very powerful, marching against the forces of hell. Do you know that the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is greater in number and more powerful than the combined air force and military force of the United States, of Russia, of China, and all the other countries in the world?
The armies of the world are no match for the powers of Satan. But tonight, let me tell you brothers and sisters, that Satan trembles at the sight of God’s army we call the church. Over one billion committed Christians in the world today. God promised power to the church.
He then spoke about the need for Christians to become active in government because that is where the real exercise of power takes place. As an example, he described his efforts to get a born again Christian appointed to the Philippines Supreme Court. This, he believed, was evidence that God ordained the church to wield political power:
The homosexual agenda, all the other agendas of this world by liberal politicians, don’t be afraid of them because the church will emerge victorious. The church will emerge victorious. Even though many times it seems like the power of darkness is covering our society and many people are backsliding. In the end, the church will emerge as victorious because Jesus promised a victorious church, a church without spot or wrinkle.
As the conference continued, a picture emerged which shows that their message is often an uncomfortably close fit to the Dominionist or Christian Reconstructionist movements in the U.S., and it directly follows the political stance of Alexey Ledyaev’s New Generation church movement. And while the Watchmen do not have an official statement on the role the church should play in a democratic society, it appears that many speakers at the Watchmen conference shared Ledyaev’s political views.
In 2002, Ledyaev wrote a political manifesto he called The New World Order. (A rough English translation was posted online by the New Generation church in Springfield, Massachusetts, Scott Lively’s new home.) In The New World Order Ledyaev says that the church needs to be the spark for a great revival.
But unlike most Christian denominations, he doesn’t place much value in promoting an evangelical revival among ordinary people — those “from the bottom,” as he puts it. Instead, Ledyaev, says that it’s far more important for this revival to take place among political and social leaders, “from the top.” He believes that if political leaders undergo a revival, then all of society will begin to change from the top down. The advantage of focusing on revival at the top, says Ledyaev, is that the kind of reform he seeks is not as likely “to be bogged down in a couple of years.” He writes:
When the government bows its knees before the name of Jesus Christ then the country will be Christian. It cannot be otherwise, because the God of the kings will sooner or later become the God of their nations. This is how life is.
And Ledyaev cites the United States as an example:
After a short break and a fierce election struggle God has once again restored Christian Government in USA. The born again president of the country, his administration that mostly consists of Christians on the key positions of authority – it is a great victory.
Advent to power of the Christian government does not mean that the whole country will at once automatically become puritan. It means that the country will have all preconditions for it, because in such circumstances church receives an unprecedented freedom to influence and to act.
George Bush Jr. is more of a preacher, than a politician. However, it is exactly this quality that determines his political insight, pragmatism and invulnerability.
The Watchmen’s hopes for creating a “Christian government” for Latvia was on full display at the Watchmen conference. Just before David Sobrepeña took the stage, Ledyaev introduced three members of the Latvian government, all of whom are members of the Latvia First Party which is closely associated with New Generation. The first, Ainars Šlesers is one of the Latvia First Party’s founders and currently serves as Minister of Transport. He is also a member of New Generation and reportedly one of the wealthiest people in Latvia. He talked about the success he had in having Christianity taught in the public schools, and the importance of political engagement in the state.
Šlesers was then followed by Janis Smits, who is a Latvia First member of parliament and, paradoxically, the chairman of that country’s Human Rights Committee. He also spoke out for the need for direct engagement against the gay rights movement in Latvia:
We’re living in a real world with real spiritual enemy. There is a spiritual war going on. Not only those people who gathered on the Square have their rights. We also have our rights: to raise our voice, to protect our government elected by us, our parliament, our deputies and our faith. Let’s not stand aside of this. Let’s actively participate in it.
…We can do it because we are the majority, we are united in our faith and our beliefs.
Another Latvia First member of parliament, Inta Feldmane, addressed the crowd that night:
We’re living in a global world where borders are vanishing. Through these borders not only people are moving, not only finances, services, but also philosophies, religions, false teachings and there’s a new enemy now: secularism and humanism, which places into its center not God and the Ten Commandments, but a human being, his wishes and will. I’d also like to say – sinful lusts.
Now it’s a struggle for that will and these wishes should become laws by which all people must live, including religious people. I thank God for Latvia being a chosen land, for these churches existing.
And she spoke about the constitutional separation of church and state:
They say that the Constitution separates Church and State and that’s why the Church is unable to speak and publicly protect its interests. It’s all a lie. The constitution only says that there should be no state church and that government can not interfere with church business and church can not interfere with governmental business.
But we do have a right for dialog. We have a right to express our opinion – publicly, in media and on such conferences. And we should know this. We will not allow our mouths to be silenced. We will not allow ourselves to be placed in a certain framework, stuck inside the walls of the church.
The theological underpinnings for all of this were cemented on Friday afternoon when Joseph Mattera, senior pastor of Resurrection Church in New York City, spoke to the conference. Basing his talk on John 1:1 (“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”), he said:
That means the Word of God is the starting point for all living and nonliving things. The Word of God is the starting point for mathematics, the starting point for biology, the starting point for grammar, for language, for science, for education and philosophy, for social structures.
The reason why the church is fighting the battle it is today is because a few hundred years ago, we forgot what I just said. We have given up the arts and the sciences. We’ve given up education and we’ve given up the study of nature to those who are secular humanists.
And so the church needs to be on the leading edge of all of these disciplines of life, because if all we’re doing is morality, then we will be trying to catch up for the next hundred years.
But the talks weren’t all political theory or theology. Larry Jacobs, of the World Congress of Families, was on hand on Thursday afternoon (Nov 15) to lay out a concrete strategy for confronting gay activists. It was a rather sketchy strategy, but it illustrates what the World Congress of Families sought to do in Warsaw last May. That strategy includes:
- Shifting the anti-gay movement “from defensive to offensive.”
- Changing the language, questions and parameters of debate (for example, say “natural families” a term which he says “drive(s) homosexuals crazy because if you’re not part of the natural family then you’re unnatural.”)
- Finding ways to be seen as progressives, touting a better way of life for the economy and society.
- Building new alliances among different Christian groups, whether they are Orthodox, Catholic or Pentecostal.
- Using scientific data which “supports Biblical Truth” (Jacobs exclaimed, “The exciting thing about this is if we use this data it sounds like Scripture but the world listens to the scientists.”)
- Reaching the next generation (For example, through children’s books and cartoons like The Veggie Tales).
- Using the World Congress of Families, Watchmen On the Walls and others for networking, direction, encouragement and to celebrate the family.
To illustrate some of these efforts, Jacobs announced that they received a proposal from the Russian government to bring the World Congress of Families to Moscow in 2009. Several others mentioned planning for various conferences in various countries of the former Soviet Union as well as a Watchmen conference in Africa for 2008. While details of this African conference weren’t disclosed, there is a strong likelihood that it might be planned for Lagos, Nigeria, home of the Revival Assembly whose pastor, Anselm Madubuko, spoke at the Watchmen’s conference in Novosibirsk and who closed the conference in Riga.
And Scott Lively announced that his holocaust revisionist book, The Pink Swastika, will be released in a Russian translation in 2008, which will only serve to fuel the flames of hatred of gays and lesbians further in Russia and among Russian-speaking communities in Eastern Europe and the U.S.
Until the past few months, the Watchmen have largely flown under the radar. A quick round of private message to national gay-rights groups here in America has found that few people here know anything about them. The language barrier seems to have something to do with it, along with the fact that the Watchmen movement is a relatively recent phenomenon. But it appears to be an aggressive and growing movement, with the potential for serious repercussions internationally as well as here at home.
When Scott Lively spoke Thursday morning, he warned his audience that “We have to understand that we are being watched by people all over the world. There are probably even homosexual spies in this room.” And he said that those “spies” would like nothing better than to catch them saying something ugly or hateful. And then, of course, the Watchmen put videos of their conference on the internet for all the world to see. No “spying” is needed to see what this organization is all about. Their own images and words can now speak for themselves. All we have to do is watch them. And we will.
(Thanks to Ruslan Porshnev of the Russian LGBT web site Anti-Dogma, for generously providing the English translations of the Russian speakers at the conference. You can read more about his work here.)
See all the posts in this series:
The Watchmen In Riga, Part 1: “Become A Missionary To America”
The Watchmen In Riga, Part 2: From Babylon To Jerusalem
The Watchmen In Riga, Interlude: A Pastor’s Prayer
The Watchmen In Riga, Part 3: The “Secrets” Of Homosexuality
The Watchmen In Riga, Part 4: “A Militant Army Marching Against Evil”
Watchmen On The Walls Conference Coming To Riga, Latvia
October 30th, 2007
The Watchmen On The Walls have announced their next conference in Riga, Latvia for November 14-18. Speakers include:
- Scott Lively, revisionist holocaust author of The Pink Swastika.
- Vlad Kusakin, publisher of the Russian language “The Speaker” in the United States.
- Joseph Mattera, also from the United States.
- Alexei Ledyaev, the Ukrainian- Kazakh-born pastor of the influential “New Generation” megachurch in Latvia.
- Andrei Tischenko, a Bishop association of churches which operate under the “New Generation” umbrella in Ukraine.
- Larry Jacob, vice president of the World Congress of Families.
- Don Feder, author of Who is afraid of the Religious Right?
- David A. Sobrepeña, senior pastor of the Filipino Word of Hope Church in Manila and head of “Transformation Philippines,” a conservative political lobbying group in the Philippines.
- Anselm Madubuko, founder of an evangelical church in Nigeria.