World Congress of Families

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.​

Don Feder Angry 'Noah' Didn't Blame Flood On Gay People

World Congress of Families spokesman Don Feder is upset that the movie “Noah” focused on climate change, suggesting that the flood actually represented divine punishment for homosexuality.

Feder joins the many anti-gay activists who insist that gay people are to blame for the biblical flood.

“Try to imagine Hollywood making a movie that inveighs against sexual immorality, when the entertainment industry goes Lady Gaga over gayness and presents cohabitation, adultery and abortion as lifestyle choices,” Feder writes.

Instead, he says that the film's message against human-induced climate change is proof that “warmingism” is a religion that treats its critics as “heretics.” He adds that “Enviros would have auto-da-fes in front of the United Nations building if not for concern about pollutants released by burning flesh.”

Scripture is a bit vague on the reasons for the flood. The Bible explains: "Now the earth was corrupt before God. And the earth became full of robbery. And God saw the earth, and behold it had become corrupted." (Genesis 6:11-12).

Corrupt in what way? Would God destroy the world over larceny? Later in Genesis, the Canaanite cities of Sodom and Gomorrah are blotted out, this time by fire, over sexual deviancy. The term "sodomite" doesn't refer to someone who knocks-over convenience stores.

Try to imagine Hollywood making a movie that inveighs against sexual immorality, when the entertainment industry goes Lady Gaga over gayness and presents cohabitation, adultery and abortion as lifestyle choices.



The cult of global warming has all of the characteristics of a religion – prophets (Al Gore, Hollywood savants, and scientists in mad pursuit of government research grants), evil (the internal combustion engine, coal-fired plants, population growth), good (measures designed to curb CO2 emissions) and salvation/redemption (draconian fines for carbon-polluters, severe limits on human reproduction – to erase carbon footprints – and eventual repeal of the industrial revolution). Dissenters aren't merely wrong, they are heretics labeled climate change "deniers." Enviros would have auto-da-fes in front of the United Nations building if not for concern about pollutants released by burning flesh.



Although adherents won't admit it, warmingism is also based on faith – a belief in the depravity of industrial society and the evil of progress. Unfortunately for its proponents, warmingism is demonstrably false and is increasingly refuted by reality. The earth isn't getting warmer. The ice caps aren't shrinking. The rise in sea-levels is insignificant and ecological doom is nowhere on the horizon. …

After spending decades (centuries if you want to go back to the French Revolution) trying to destroy religion, the left is now using religion to advance its pet causes. Coming soon, "Sodom and Gomorrah: The True Story" – wherein destruction is visited on the Mesopotamian metropolises for their homophobia, sexism and income inequality.

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!”

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.

Two Russian Officials On Sanctions List Closely Involved In Upcoming World Congress Of Families Summit

Two Russian officials whose places in President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle have made them subject to US economic sanctions are also intimately involved in the upcoming World Congress of Families summit at the Kremlin, organized by the Illinois-based World Congress of Families and supported by a number of prominent US Religious Right groups.

It’s hardly a coincidence that two major backers of the summit would end up on the sanctions list. As we have reported, Putin and his allies have leaned on social conservative causes, especially opposition to gay rights, to solidify support at home and provoke anti-EU hostility in Ukraine. It’s not surprising that the World Congress of Families summit, which brings together anti-gay and anti-choice groups from around the world, has proved a popular cause among some of the Russian president’s greatest allies.

Yelena Mizulina, a member of parliament who was the force behind Russia’s infamous “gay propaganda” ban, was among the seven Russian officials on whom the White House imposed economic sanctions last Monday. Mizulina has worked closely with the organizers of the upcoming World Congress of Families summit: She joined an organizing meeting for the event in October and is scheduled to lead a panel discussion on “pro-family legislation” at the conference.

Mizulina has made no secret of the fact that her focus on opposing gay rights is closely intertwined with her interest in distancing Russia from the United States and the European Union. At an event in Moscow in June, which was also attended by the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown, Mizulina framed Russia’s crackdown on gay rights as a battle between Russia’s protection of “traditional family identity” and a decadent Europe that has embraced “sexual minorities”:

[T]oday the whole world is looking at Russia with hope that Russia will hold fast and not give in to this unusual pressure from European governments and will conserve its own traditional family identity. It’s perfectly clear that Europe today, faced by the collision of two very serious values—the right of children to a family and the right of sexual minorities to a family—is making its choice in favor of sexual minorities.

A few days after the White House announced its sanctions on Mizulina, it imposed sanctions on a number of other Russian officials, including Vladimir Yakunin, a close ally of Putin who is also a major funder of the World Congress of Families summit.

At a recent press conference promoting the upcoming gathering, World Congress of Families director Larry Jacobs went out of his way to thank a list of the event’s major sponsors, including two groups connected to Yakunin: the Saint Andrew the First-Called Foundation, which is headed by Yakunin, and the Sanctity of Motherhood program, which is run by Yakunin’s wife Natalia Yakunina. Both Yakunin and Yakunina are on the “Russian organizing committee” for the WCF summit, and brochure for the event features the two alongside Putin as staples of the “pro-life and pro-family movement in Russia."

As Wayne Besen pointed out shortly before the sanctions were imposed, Yakunin is “one of Russia’s most outspoken America-bashers.”

So far, just one American group, Concerned Women For America, has dropped out of the summit in response to Russia’s siezure of Crimea. (Although it’s unclear of CWA senior fellow Janice Shaw Crouse, who is also a member of the board of the World Congress of Families, will remain involved.) We wonder if the presence of two of the event’s organizers on the sanctions list will cause any other American groups involved in the event – including Focus on the Family, the National Organization for Marriage, Alliance Defending Freedom and the Christian Broadcasting Network – to drop their support as well.

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.

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.

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?

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.”

World Congress Of Families Spokesman: Putin Will Save America From 'Heady Elixir Of Sexual Rights'

World Congress of Families spokesman Don Feder is once again defending Russian President Vladimir Putin’s crackdown on LGBT people. In a column posted at GrasstopsUSA yesterday, Feder defends Russia’s ban on “gay propaganda,” saying it merely prevents “two homosexuals” from standing “outside an elementary school with a banner that says: ‘Hey kids, sodomy is swell – and you should try it!’” (In fact, journalists have been fined under the law for reporting about openly gay people). He also claims that Russia is interested in cracking down on LGBT people in order to prevent HIV.

Feder echoes the assertion of Alexey Komov, a Russian anti-gay activist and the main organizer of WCF’s upcoming Moscow conference, that Putin is the new Reagan, come to “save” America from “communism,” including the gay-rights rulings of American judges “drunk on the heady elixir of sexual rights.”

There should be an event at the Sochi Olympics where advocates posing as journalists, celebrity nitwits and politicians can compete to see who can wail the loudest and longest about the supposed horror of Russia's dreaded anti-gay law, while Pussy Riot plays in the background. Extra points will be awarded for absurd and offensive analogies to the Holocaust.

A word about that law, which wasn't initiated by Putin and passed the State Duma without a single dissenting vote: It does not outlaw homosexuality. Dozens of gay clubs operate openly in Moscow. The only prohibition is publicly promoting homosexuality to minors.

For example, two homosexuals are not allowed to stand outside an elementary school with a banner that says: "Hey kids, sodomy is swell – and you should try it!" Each violation by an individual is punishable by a fine that's the equivalent of $50.00. Violations of the Nuremberg laws, which had nothing to do with Jewish parades in Berlin, were punished by imprisonment and hard labor.

Why would Russia, with a declining population, be concerned about promoting these "non-traditional lifestyles" to children? Might it have something to do with the British medical journal The Lancet's report that a male homosexual is 18 times more likely to contract HIV than a heterosexual – or those notorious homophobes at the Centers for Disease Control disclosing that in 2010, men who have sex with men (as they delicately put it) accounted for 63% of new HIV infections in the U.S.?


The left believes in popular sovereignty – within narrowly defined limits. In the United States, between 1998 and 2012, the voters of 32 states passed constitutional bans on same-sex marriage. This represents 50 million votes for maintaining the integrity of the institution on which civilization depends. On average, the referenda passed by two-to-one majorities.

Despite that overwhelming expression of popular sentiment, state and federal courts (SCOTUS included) have been working overtime to negate the will of the people. When he's through remaking Russia, perhaps Rushdie will help to "bring about a healthy democracy" in America.

Christians who refuse to participate in a travesty that violates their deeply held beliefs are pulverized by judges and bureaucrats drunk on the heady elixir of sexual rights .

When did engaging in non-traditional sexual relations become a human right? Where is the sodomy clause in the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution or U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights?


In a recent address, Putin observed: "Many Euro-Atlantic countries have moved away from their roots, including Christian values." The Russian President admonished, "Policies are being pursued that place on the same level a multi-child family and a same-sex partnership, a faith in God and a belief in Satan. This is the path to degradation." Putin could never make it in U.S. politics, being too grounded in reality.



As my friend and Russian pro-family leader Alexey Komov likes to say: "Under Reagan, America helped to save us from communism. We'd like to return the favor."

World Congress Of Families: Criticism Of Putin Is Liberal Media Hysteria

Representatives of the World Congress of Families held a news conference at the National Press Club on Wednesday to talk about their 2014 summit, which will be held in Moscow in September.  The WCF and the Religious Right groups it partners with are ardent promoters of anti-gay legislation worldwide, and they love Russia's anti-gay President Vladimir Putin. 

Earlier this week the WCF announced that the opening session would be held in the Congress Hall of the Kremlin Palace, that a special parliamentary session will also be held in the Russian Duma and a special scientific forum at St Petersburg State University. At today's press conference it was announced that the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church is expected to address the gathering.

WCF Managing Director Larry Jacobs, C-FAM’s Austin Ruse, Concerned Women for America’s Janice Shaw Crouse, and Alexey Komov, WCF’s man in Russia, were delighted about anti-gay legislation that has passed in Moscow and were defensive about western criticism of Putin’s regime.

Given the record of the event organizers, none of that was very surprising. What was surprising is the way the press conference was hijacked by conservative activist Cliff Kincaid of Accuracy in Media, who pointed out that Putin was a product of the Communist-era KGB; he took the organizers to task for partnering with Putin and produced a list of political prisoners he said are being held in Russia.

Kincaid’s strident criticism of Russia’s history provoked Komov into a screed against real and imagined problems from American history, from the slaughter of Native Americans to political prisoners in Guantanamo, complete with references to the supposed killing of 200 witnesses to the JFK assassination and the question of who was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Komov suggested that during the era of Ronald Reagan, the U.S. was free, pro-Christian, and pro-capitalist, while Russia was mired in communism. He suggested that under Obama and Putin, a role reversal is under way. He said he would hesitate to say which country is more free, Russia or the U.S.

UPDATE: Kincaid has posted video of the exchange. Watch:

Jacobs was clearly uncomfortable with Komov’s rant, perhaps because, as he had mentioned earlier, WCF has yet to finalize confirmations from Members of Congress who they hope will attend the Moscow summit.

Speakers said they were proud of what Crouse called Russia's "leadership role" on behalf of the family, and proud of what Ruse called the "massive network" of people organizing around the world on behalf of the family and in opposition to "the agenda of the sexual left."

Asked about bipartisan criticism of the increasingly anti-democratic nature of Putin’s rule, Ruse suggested that some people are “stuck in cold war amber” and are consumed by a “visceral hatred of all things Russian.” He energetically supported Russia’s anti-gay “propaganda” law, saying “there is no human right to tell the gay narrative to schoolchildren.” And he dismissed concerns about Putin’s moves against freedom of the press, saying Russians had no “historical memory” of that kind of freedom.

Janice Shaw Crouse said she had “no problem whatsoever” with the prosecution of members of Pussy Riot, falsely claiming that they had disrupted a church service with the performance that landed them in jail.

All the speakers claimed that freedom of press and dissent is alive and well in Russia, saying that they have criticized Putin’s crackdown on homeschoolers and that bloggers are free to criticize the government. And they portrayed Russia as a sort of paradise where gay couples can stroll hand in hand without fear. (For another view, read Jeff Sharlet's recent reporting from Russia in GQ.)

Komov slammed “radical LGBT activists” who he said were trying to turn the Olympics into a “gay pride parade.” Komov said he opposed violence against gay people, but he insisted there was no correlation between passage of anti-gay laws and anti-gay violence in the country, dismissing the idea as “hysteria” from “the liberal media.”

Komov also opined that the Olympics were no place for gay rights: “Olympics is the place for sports and health and normal values that unite everyone ...And we know that if we want Olympics to be sports and health, we know, statistics show us that homosexual lifestyles are not healthy.”

UPDATE: Video of the comments taken by Kincaid:

 

Ted Cruz vs. The Religious Right: Is Putin Tyrant Or Savior?

Is it possible to talk about human rights abuses in Russia in the context of the Olympics and not once mention Russia’s anti-gay laws, the rising tide of anti-gay violence, or the controversy over the impact that Russia’s anti-gay “propaganda” law might have on athletes and visitors? Sure, if you’re Sen. Ted Cruz speaking at an event hosted by the Heritage Foundation. 

Cruz, darling of the Religious Right and Tea Party, slammed Russia’s “increasingly autocratic” president at the January 28 Heritage event.  He portrayed Vladimir Putin as a tyrant systematically working to crush Ukrainian independence and reassemble the old Soviet Union. And of course he took the opportunity to slam the Obama administration, which he said was not standing up forcefully for human rights.

Following Cruz to the microphone was Katrina Lantos Swett, Vice Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Swett, a “proud Democrat,” detailed a litany of anti-democratic laws adopted in Putin’s Russia, including “religious freedom” and “extremism” laws that give the government wide latitude to discriminate against minority religions, including Muslims, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Pentecostal Christians.  She said the Russian government is undermining civil society with severe restrictions on protests and the return of Soviet-era tactics like sentencing dissidents to psychiatric treatment. Swett did mention the anti-gay “propaganda” law in her list of Putin’s anti-democratic actions.

There are a couple remarkable things about this panel, other than finding myself in agreement with Cruz about something (Putin is an anti-democratic strongman).

First, in his 26-minute speech and during the Q&A, at an event about human rights and the Olympics, Cruz did not breathe a word about the raging controversy over Russia’s attacks on the rights and lives of LGBT people. The closest Cruz came was mentioning, as an example of Putin’s efforts to crush dissent, his moves against “a punk rock band.” Cruz joked about his unwillingness to say the band’s name (Pussy Riot).

Second, Cruz is clearly at odds with anti-gay and anti-abortion leaders in the U.S. who have been busily praising Putin as the defender of traditional values and savior of Christianity. Liberty Counsel’s Matt Barber, for example, has said Putin is being allowed to “out-Christian our once-Christian nation.” The American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer has called Putin “the lion of Christianity, the defender of Christian values, the president that’s calling his nation back to embracing its identity as a nation founded on Christian values.”

In fact there is a whole gaggle of Religious Right leaders who have, as Miranda has reported, fallen all over themselves to praise Putin and his anti-free-speech, anti-gay crackdown. And some of them have done more than just praise Putin. Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage traveled to Russia to build support for anti-gay legislation. The Illinois-based Howard Center for Family, Religion, and Society is excited about heading to Moscow for its 2014 “World Congress of Families” summit.

Cruz was eager to criticize the Obama administration for not advocating more strongly for human rights in Russia, but what does he have to say about his Religious Right pals who are actively praising and enabling Putin’s anti-democratic moves? And who have attacked the Obama administration’s efforts to promote the human rights of LGBT people abroad? We’re listening.

Feder Bashes 'Senator Juan' McCain And Immigration Advocates For Eroding 'National Identity'

Don Feder, the communications director for the World Congress of Families, is out with another anti-immigrant blog post, this time attacking immigration reform proponents like "Senator Juan" McCain for promoting the "loss of national identity" through immigration

In the blog post, posted in his capacity as a freelance "political/communications consultant" on the website GrasstopsUSA.com, Feder promotes the now-familiar line that Mitt Romney lost the 2012 election because he just wasn't conservative enough (or, in Feder's words, lacked "manly firmness"). In particular, FEder attacks McCain  and GOP strategist Karl Rove for their support for immigration reform, which he claims will turn off "Main Street voters" who "care deeply about...loss of national identity."

"Rove isn't just wrong, he's wrong the way Napoleon was wrong when he invaded Russia," Feder writes. "Today, elections aren't won in the middle but on the fringes."

He contends that the Democratic base, or "fringe," constitutes "the ideological, the envious, public employees, angry, single women and the mooch brigade."

Last year, Feder wrote a virulently anti-immigrant blog post, in which he claimed that "the illegal immigrants swarming over our southern border are more akin to the pagan armies which regularly invaded the land of Israel and were repulsed by military force."

Although Feder has written these rants in his personal capacity, his railing against Latino immigrants would seemato conflict with his employer's goals of uniting "many national, ethnic, cultural, social and religious communities" in their anti-gay, anti-choice cause.

The Democrats took what should have been an advantage in a down economy and turned it into a negative. Romney was one of those rich Republicans (it's hard to be successful in business and not get rich) who didn't care about the little guy, they told us. Instead of a venture capitalist who had saved ailing businesses, he was a corporate corsair and tax-cheat who cannibalized companies and slashed jobs.

The middle class never bought this; Obama's base did. The message was aimed at mobilizing the ideological, the envious, public employees, angry, single women and the mooch brigade – the Democrats' core constituency. Romney's answer was not marked by manly firmness, "The president is a nice guy, but we just can't afford him for four more years," Mitt the Mild peeped. Republicans accepted the media line that voters hate negative campaigning and will punish the perps. Democrats didn't.

Rove isn't just wrong, he's wrong the way Napoleon was wrong when he invaded Russia. Today, elections aren't won in the middle but on the fringes. It's not about who can appeal to so-called independents (most are aligned with one party or the other, but won't admit it) but who can best identify and mobilize their base. At this, Democrats are particularly adept and Republicans depressingly inept.

...

Supposedly, Romney lost Latinos with his silly self-deportation plan. But in 2008, Juan McCain, Senor Amnesty, got 31% of the Hispanic vote, compared to 28% for Mitt in 2012. If Romney had done as well – or as poorly – as McCain, he would have gotten four percentage points more (of 9% of the electorate) and the outcome, you do the math, would have been exactly the same.

This year, Wall Street Republicans are advising the party to get immigration off the table, to avoid further offending Hispanics.

If Republicans rabbits like Speaker John Boehner help the president to pass another amnesty, two things will happen: Hispanics will still vote overwhelming Democratic, based on their perceived economic interests. Hispanic households are twice as likely to benefit from a major welfare program as white families (40% versus 20%).

At the same time, Main Street voters – who care deeply about fairness (for taxpayers, workers and legal immigrants), loss of national identity, national security and the economic consequences of illegal immigration – will walk away from the GOP in disgust.

...


Recall Boehner's senseless attack on the Tea Parties (which made him Speaker) this fall. In a just-published interview in the News Republic, Senator Juan slammed the Tea Parties and called Fox News "schizophrenic." Coming from a man who's famous for his borderline psychotic temper, this must hurt. 

(Emphases ours).

Feder: Beware Of Obama Claus!

In his column today, Don Feder of the World Congress of Families warns of Obama Claus, “the smug community-organizer elf” who distributes “welfare state goodies” such as health insurance and food stamps.

Seriously, this is an actual column:

I suppose it's a natural mistake to make, confusing Santa Claus and Uncle Sam. Both are elderly gents – Caucasian, to be sure – with white beards. (Imagine the psychic pain and trauma this causes to millions of nonwhite children.) Both wear a costume. Coincidentally, both were popularized in their current guise by 19th century illustrator Thomas Nast.

Too many of my fellow Americans believe in Obama Claus – the smug community-organizer elf who stuffs stockings with Obama-phones, food stamps, extended unemployment benefits, health insurance for "30 million uninsured" and other welfare state goodies.

But does Santa steal to pay for the presents he leaves? Does he pick the pockets of parents to buy toys for kids? Does he spy, harass, lie and intimidate? Does he monetize the debt by inflating the currency? Is his sleigh loaded with 7% unemployment, growing dependency, and fatherless families? Does he promote poverty, which increased 16.7% under Obama?

Does Santa vacation at posh Martha's Vineyard digs, spend more time on the links than in the workshop, and then lecture us on our obligation to the less-fortunate?

Where do the presents in Obama Claus's bag come from? Do elves in the North Pole make them, or are they extracted from the peasantry? Are the "rich" the reindeer harnessed to this Santa's sleigh? With the energy expended in pulling it, is there any left over for creating wealth and generating jobs?

The spirit of human kindness does not drive us to larceny, regimentation and destruction of the economy.

Religious Right Piles On To Defend Proponent Of Russia Anti-Gay Laws

A couple of weeks ago, the Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society -- an Illinois-based group that through its World Congress of Families helped promote Russia’s new anti-gay laws -- was forced to relocate a Capitol Hill symposium on “family policy lessons from foreign lands” when Sen. Mark Kirk learned what it was up to and pulled the plug on its meeting room.

The group got a last-minute helping hand from House Speaker John Boehner , but the symposium’s speakers – World Congress of Families (WCF) founder Allan Carlson, Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute president Austin Ruse, and Concerned Women For America senior fellow/WCF board member Janice Shaw Crouse – still spent much of the event bashing Kirk over the scheduling snafu .

Now, Religious Right groups including the National Organization for Marriage, the Family Research Council, and the American Family Association are coming to WCF’s defense.

The National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown – who WCF arranged to testify before the Russian parliament in favor of its broad ban on adoption by gay people – told the American Family Association’s One News Now that Kirk decided to “discriminate against a group that stands for traditional marriage” and that by doing so he was “undermining the party platform” because “it’s part of the Republican Party platform to stand up for traditional marriage.”

The Family Research Council piled on with a press release accusing the senator of “true discrimination” and “silencing anyone who doesn’t adhere to a politically correct view of sexuality.”

"Holding a different view of marriage and sexuality is not discriminatory - especially when all the social science research demonstrates the benefits of the natural family,” added FRC’s Tony Perkins.

Meanwhile, the Illinois Family Institute, the state affiliate of the American Family Association, published an article accusing Sen. Kirk of wanting to “normalize sexual deviance while trampling the conscience rights of untold numbers of people” and followed it up with an email urging its members to call Kirk’s office and express their displeasure.

Despite what all three groups said, the Howard Center and the World Congress of Families don’t merely hold “a different view of marriage and sexuality.” WCF actively works to push oppressive anti-gay laws throughout the world, including actively working toward Russia’s ban on pro-gay-rights speech. Indeed, the speakers at the Capitol Hill symposium enthusiastically defended Russia's anti-gay laws and denyied that the laws actually harm gay people.

It maybe shouldn’t come as a surprise that three of the largest anti-gay groups in the US have jumped to the defense of WCF: Brown has close ties with WCF and has signed fundraising emails for the group, and FRC and AFA are both official “partners” of the organization.

Religious Right Leaders Defend Russia's Anti-Gay Law

As Miranda reported earlier, House Speaker John Boehner’s office stepped in to provide space to the anti-gay Howard Center for Family, Religion & Society for its symposium on what Americans should learn from other countries when it comes to “family policy.” Sen. Mark Kirk, who had originally sponsored the group for a room, withdrew his support last night saying he doesn’t affiliate with groups that discriminate.

The Howard Center’s Allan Carlson, who described himself as a historian by training, saw fascism at work: “The parallel I see here is what happened in Italy, Germany, other lands in the 1920s and 1930s as fascism began to impose its fear-driven grip on debate, on conversation, and on policy-making.”

[UPDATE: Concerned Women of America has posted videos of the event]

Janice Crouse of Concerned Women for America boasted about having been a speaker at all but one of the World Congress of Families summits – annual events organized by the Howard Center and attended by conservative religious activists from around the world. Crouse acknowledged that “things don’t look so good” to activists watching the advance of same-sex marriage in Europe and the U.S., and public opinion in many countries shifting to “quote LGBT rights.”  But, she said that’s not the whole story, and praised countries that have outlawed gay marriage and other groups of citizens who are “with the help of God” changing the world.

Crouse is particularly excited about what is happening among opponents of marriage equality in France, which she portrays as a “David v. Goliath” battle of plucky pro-family activists fighting the French government and media. She mentioned activists in Spain, Trinidad & Tobago, and Nigeria. She encouraged the small number of attendees to “take heart” and count on the power of truth and faithfulness.

Austin Ruse, the enthusiastically anti-gay head of the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute, devoted much of his remarks to supporting Russia’s new anti-free-speech and anti-gay propaganda law.  He read from a statement of support from “pro-family groups” defending Russia’s new law. The letter claims that “the Russian law protects the innocence of children and the basic rights of their parents recognized in the international legislation and treaties.”  More from the letter:

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 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.

Ruse, who has been spending time in Russia to prepare for the World Congress of Families 2014 summit, being held in Moscow, said western LGBT rights advocates were guilty of overheated rhetoric and “propaganda” about the status of gays in Russia. He saw gays everywhere in Moscow! They can enjoy themselves “hassle-free” at clubs.  Russians, he said, accept that homosexuality exists, but they believe the political movement to celebrate and regularize it is harmful to children.

Speakers actually seemed envious of Russia in some ways.  Ruse said that with the resurgence of the Russian Orthodox Church, “Christians over there are truly dominant.” In the U.S., though, there is “an increasingly hostile atmosphere toward people with traditional values” and a “vicious totalitarianism that is loose in the land.” And “there’s more trouble coming” with the Employment Non Discrimination Act.  Crouse said American gay-rights activists are “turning into thugs who are destroying freedom of speech, destroying religious liberty.” It’s very “refreshing,” she said, to see that’s not the case in other countries.

Ruse acknowledged that anti-gay violence and thuggery is a problem in Russia. He denounced such violence and said he has urged Russian officials to do more to stop it. But when he was asked whether the conversation about the anti-gay propaganda law and protecting children from gay people might encourage such violence, he said anti-gay violence in Russia has been going on for a long time and didn’t think the new law was to blame. And he said blaming religious conservatives for creating a climate of hate is a tactic of gay-rights groups, a “maneuver to silence people.” 

Carlson said he cuts Russia a lot of slack because the country is “trying to put decent moral society back together” after both Communism and some of the “bad things” – like a “libertine approach to sexuality” – that poured into Russia from the west after the fall of Communism.

Anti-Gay Groups Shunned By Mark Kirk Get Last-Minute Help From Speaker Boehner

A Capitol Hill event featuring groups that push anti-gay laws abroad, which was scheduled to take place in a Senate office building today, developed a layer of unexpected intrigue last night when the event’s organizers sent out an email announcing that the meeting would be moved to a House building after the unnamed “senator who was sponsoring our room” canceled the room “due to media pressure.”

It turned out that the senator in question was Illinois’ Mark Kirk (home-state senator of the event’s organizer the World Congress of Families), and that the “media pressure” was Buzzfeed’s Lester Feder simply calling up his office to ask about it. Kirk’s office immediately dropped the event and announce that “Sen. Kirk doesn’t affiliate with groups that discriminate.”

WCF responded by announcing that “obviously Senator Kirk doesn’t care about families and children and freedom and has chosen to side with the policies of decline, death and disease promoted by the Sexual Radicals.”

To the rescue came none other than Speaker Boehner, whom World Congress of Families president Allan Carlson thanked for providing the group with its new Capitol Hill digs. Boehner’s spokesman nevertheless distanced his boss from the group in a statement to Feder: “This administrative task obviously does not imply endorsement of any particular point of view.”

All of this drama then became a central focus of the event, which was billed as a discussion on what the U.S. can learn from “family policy lessons from other lands.”

Carlson kicked off the event by announcing, “A great fear seems to be descending on what was once called the world’s greatest deliberative body” and saying that Kirk’s pulling the plug on the event’s room reminded him of the early days of fascism in Europe.

[UPDATE: Concerned Women of America has posted videos of the event]

Another speaker, Concerned Women for America’s Janice Shaw Crouse, who is also on WCF’s board of directors, blamed the change of plans on “a group of radicals” – an odd accusation since there had been no organized effort to prevent the event from taking place.

Finally, Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute’s Austin Ruse declared that Sen. Kirk’s action made him less friendly to free speech than Russia – whose law criminalizing pro-gay-rights speech has the vocal support of C-FAM and WCF .

UPDATE: Peter has a post on the summit speakers' defense of Russia's anti-gay laws.

Focus On The Family, Alliance Defending Freedom, NOM Leaders Reportedly Met With Author Of Russian 'Homosexual Propaganda' Bill

Last week, we reported that National Organization for Marriage president Brian Brown had just gotten back from a Moscow planning meeting for the 2014 World Congress of Families gathering in Russia. Brown confirmed his participation to Rachel Maddow, telling her “we are proud to work with our allies in Russia and around the world to protect marriage as the union as one man and one woman.”

We now have a clearer idea of who those allies are. In a press release yesterday, the World Congress listed many of the participants in last week’s planning meeting. They included leaders of several major American religious right groups including Brown, Benjamin Bull of the Alliance Defending Freedom, Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family, Justin Murff of the Christian Broadcasting Network, and Austin Ruse of the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-FAM).

Also on the list is Fabrice Sorlin, the far-right French activist who led a delegation joined by Brown to testify before the Russian parliament in May in favor of a broad ban on the adoption of Russian orphans by gay couples and single people living in countries that allow same-sex marriage. Sorlin is the one who told members of the Duma that Russia’s efforts to repel advances in gay rights (or “the suicide of our civilization”) was just like its role protecting Europe from the “the Mongol hordes of Genghis Khan” in the 13th century.

Also attending the meeting was Jack Hanick, the former Fox News employee who has surfaced as an activist and “consultant” in Russia.

According to the World Congress’ press release, these activists not only discussed topics for the upcoming summit (including “declining fertility and the origins of the sexual revolution, the ideological roots of the anti-family lobby, the protection and promotion of marriage [and] countering the radical sexual rights agenda”) but also met with Russian legislator Yelena Mizulina to discuss a “WCF parliamentary forum” for September 2014.

Mizulina is the head of the Duma’s committee for family, women and children and coauthor of Russia’s new ban on speech in favor of gay rights to minors. The World Congress has been one of the most vocal international defenders of that law. The fact that the World Congress and its members are working directly with her to plan an exchange with members of the Russian parliament shows that the summit’s location in Moscow isn’t just an accident of geography.

In fact, as we have reported, WCF has built up a structure of activists in Russia to push anti-gay, anti-choice policies throughout Eastern Europe in the year’s leading up to the 2014 summit, and it was “activists working with the World Congress of Families” who invited Brown to speak to the Duma in favor of the adoption ban.

WCF’s managing director went so far as to say, shortly before Russia’s parliament passed the “gay propaganda” bill, that “the Russians might be the Christian saviors of the world.” As Political Research Associates has noted, the very idea for the World Congress of Families came from a meeting of the group's founder with Russian Orthodox activists, so the upcoming events in Moscow are something of a homecoming for the group.

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World Congress of Families Posts Archive

Miranda Blue, Tuesday 04/15/2014, 11:29am
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... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Monday 04/14/2014, 4:30pm
World Congress of Families spokesman Don Feder is upset that the movie “Noah” focused on climate change, suggesting that the flood actually represented divine punishment for homosexuality. Feder joins the many anti-gay activists who insist that gay people are to blame for the biblical flood. “Try to imagine Hollywood making a movie that inveighs against sexual immorality, when the entertainment industry goes Lady Gaga over gayness and presents cohabitation, adultery and abortion as lifestyle choices,” Feder writes. Instead, he says that... MORE >
Miranda Blue, Tuesday 04/08/2014, 3:44pm
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... MORE >
Miranda Blue, Tuesday 03/25/2014, 12:55pm
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... MORE >
Miranda Blue, Monday 03/24/2014, 2:13pm
Two Russian officials whose places in President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle have made them subject to US economic sanctions are also intimately involved in the upcoming World Congress of Families summit at the Kremlin, organized by the Illinois-based World Congress of Families and supported by a number of prominent US Religious Right groups. It’s hardly a coincidence that two major backers of the summit would end up on the sanctions list. As we have reported, Putin and his allies have leaned on social conservative causes, especially opposition to gay rights, to solidify... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Monday 03/24/2014, 12:55pm
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... MORE >
Miranda Blue, Wednesday 03/12/2014, 10:42am
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... MORE >
Miranda Blue, Tuesday 03/11/2014, 12:11pm
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... MORE >