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Posts for March, 2014

Crisis Notwithstanding, World Congress of Families Presses Ahead in Kiev, Moscow

Jim Burroway

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.

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

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.

In 2007, Jacobs was a key speaker at a Watchmen On the Walls conference in Riga, Latvia, which also featured  American anti-gay extremists including Don Federer and Scott Lively.

World Congress of Families is pressing ahead with its main congress this year in Moscow, at the Kremlin with finding 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.

NOM’s Brian Brown Joins International Anti-Gay Organization

Jim Burroway

January 15th, 2014

In 2012, the National Organization for Marriage watched in horror as voters in three states approved measures to grant marriage equality to same sex couples and defeated a constitutional amendment in Minnesota to write discrimination into that state’s charter. In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court, in two separate actions, struck down Section 2 of the Defense of Marriage Act and opened the way for Californians to resume marrying again. That same year, six more states voted to legalize same sex marriage. More recently, federal judges in Utah and Oklahoma have struck down those states’ constitutional bans on marriage equality.

In other words, it’s been a bad eighteen months for anti-gay activists generally and NOM in particular. No wonder NOM, like many others, is shifting its attention overseas. Jeremy Hooper at GLAAD discovered that NOM president Brian Brown has joined the board of directors of CitizenGO. Writes Hooper:

CitizenGO, which is based in Madrid (where Brian recently delivered a speech), is essentially a petitioning platform focused on global issues.  In addition to considerable focus on marriage inequality, CitizenGO also promotes and/or directs campaigns in support of speakers who claim that “homosexual activists have played a integral role in the rise of Fascist politics, including Nazism,” against the World Health Organization’s supposed “promotion” of homosexuality, against Canadian pride parades, and much more.  As you can see, CitizenGO has its eyes fixed all over the world and on all of the planet’s LGBT people…

CitizenGO even hosts a petition in support of radical international figure Scott Livelyone that describes homosexuality as ”morally wrong and harmful to individuals and society.”  It’s clear what kind of world CitizenGo is trying to create.  It is now all attached to Brian Brown and to NOM.

But wait, there’s more.  It turns out that Brian is not just on the board of CitizenGO.  Instead, it appears that the organization Brian runs in tandem with NOM, the conservative rallying platform called ActRight, has absorbed CitizenGO as its own.  The CitizenGo logo now reads, “CitizenGo: Member of the ActRight Family”.

You won’t be surprised to learn that CitizenGO, along with the Rockford, Illinois-based World Congress of Families, Linda Harvey’s Mission America,  is a huge supporter of Russia’s law banning so-called “homosexual propaganda.”

American Anti-Gay Extremists Claim Credit for Cancellation of Belgrade Pride

Jim Burroway

October 2nd, 2013

The Rockford, Illinois-based World Congress of Families is claiming credit for Serbia’s last-minute decision last week to cancel Belgrade Pride. In a press released issued yesterday, WCF described a rally they held in Saturday, September 28 (the day the Belgarde Pride march had been scheduled to take place), which brought together anti-gay activists from the U.S., France and Russia to celebrate the march’s cancellation:

A September 28th rally in the center of Belgrade was attended by several thousand pro-family activists. It was addressed by leaders of Dveri [a Serb anti-gay group], including Srdjan Nogo and Jugoslav Kiprijanovic.

World Congress of Families was represented by Communications Director Don Feder and Alexey Komov, WCF Representative in Russia and the CIS, and head of the organizing committee for World Congress of Families VIII, in Moscow, the Kremlin, September 10-12, 2014. Fabrice Sorlin, a French pro-family activist, also spoke.

Feder told the crowd: “Your fight is our fight. The fight for the family is a fight for civilization. World Congress of Families and its more than 40 Partners in 16 countries is proud to stand with the Serbian people for the natural family — the fundamental unit of society which is guaranteed protection under the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

Komov mentioned Russia’s adoption of a law banning the distribution of LGBT propaganda to minors and invited participants to Moscow next year for World Congress of Families VIII (www.worldcongress.ru).

“The Serbian people are not alone. There are millions of people on all continents supporting the natural family and traditional values. World Congress of Families is happy to be in Belgrade at this historic moment and to be helping to build an international pro-family movement,” Komov declared (see his full speech at www.familypolicy.ru).

Sorlin reminded the rally: “In France, more than two million people marched for the natural family and against ‘gay marriage.’ The assault on the family is a global phenomenon and must be answered by a global movement. Long live free Serbia! Long live free France.”

Don Feder

Feder reportedly “participated in two press conferences and a roundtable discussion at Belgrade’s international press center, as well as being interviewed by Swedish public radio. The day of the march, he was a guest on Focus, the nation’s largest radio station.”

Feder, who once described himself as making “the legendary Atilla look like a “a limousine liberal”, was a featured speaker at the Watchmen On the Wall’s 2007 conference in Riga, Latvia, alongside Massachusetts extremist Scott Lively. Fabrice Sorlin heads the French nationalist group, Dies Irae. In 2007, Sorlin stood as a National Front candidate for the National Assembly elections. According to a documenatry that aired on France 2 in 2010, Dies Irae, which takes its name from the 13th-century Latin hymn “Day of Wrath” which became a popular component of the Requiem Mass, had been working to create autonomous militias in France under the inspiration of American white nationalist Luther Pierce’s conspiracy-laden novel The Turner Diaries.

Six Conservative American Organizations Sign On To Support Russia’s Anti-Gay Law

Jim Burroway

September 4th, 2013

Six American organizations have joined an international coalition in a statement supporting 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.

Six American conservative groups have signed on: the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, GrassTopsUSA, His Servants, Linda Harvey’s Mission America, Population Research Institute, and the World Congress of Families, which will hold its next Congress in Moscow in 2014. The statement repeats Russia’s propaganda that the legislation is only meant to “protect (the) innocence and moral formation of children“: (PDF: 68KB/4 pages):

The signing entities below are highly concerned about the heavy attacks that the Russian Federation is facing due to its recent Federal Law of June 29, 2013 No. 135-FZ “On Amendments to Article 5 of the Federal Law On Protection of Children from Information Harmful to their Health and Development …” that protects innocence and moral formation of children by prohibiting propaganda of “non-traditional sexual relationships” among them.

We affirm that the natural family created through the marriage of a man and a woman is the foundation of any human society and is entitled to protection by society and the State as stated in the international Human Rights norms, including Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Art. 16 (3)). Any harmful initiative for the natural family is destructive for the society as a whole. We also affirm that the children need special protection due to their innocence and immaturity.

We acknowledge that the Russian law protects the innocence of children and the basic rights of their parents recognized in the international legislation and treaties. With its new law Russia is protecting genuine and universally recognized human rights against artificial and fabricated “values” aggressively imposed in many modern societies. We also note that the concepts of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” are not outlined in the existing binding international treaties and agreements.

We thus call for respect of the sovereignty of the Russian people and we invite all organizations and people who feel responsible for the protection of the innocence of children and their rights, the natural family and parental rights to stand up for Russia, as well as for Ukraine and Moldova suffering the same pressure due to similar laws.

The Watchmen In Riga, Part 4: “A Militant Army Marching Against Evil”

Jim Burroway

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.)

Watchmen On the Walls Conference in Riga, Latvia, Nov 14-18, 2007.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.

Scott LivelySome 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?

David SobrepeñaOn 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.

David SobrepeñaHe 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.

Alexey LedyaevIn 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.

Ainars ŠlesersThe 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.

Janis SmitsŠlesers 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.

Inta FeldmaneAnother 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.

Joseph MatteraThe 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.

Larry JacobsBut 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”