Brian Brown

Religious Right Hero Vladimir Putin Cracks Down On Religious Liberty In Russia

For years, American Religious Right activists have lavished praise on Russian President Vladimir Putin, praising him as a culturally conservative bulwark against the values of the decadent West thanks to his crackdowns on LGBT rights, in particular laws curbing adoption and free speech.

Religious Right leaders including Franklin Graham and Brian Brown have gone to Russia to hail Putin’s resistance to LGBT equality, while keeping quiet about how the Russian government has stifled human rights, including the rights of Protestants, sponsored militias that violently target Protestants in Ukraine and allowed Sharia law to be practiced in Chechnya. At the same time, these Religious Right activists level bogus charges against President Obama and other U.S. officials whom they accuse of quashing religious freedom in the U.S.

Now, in a move that will likely be greeted with silence by Putin’s American allies, the Russian president has signed a counterterrorism law that watchdog groups warn will stifle religious liberties. One Russian Protestant leader said that the law “creates the basis for mass persecution” of Christians who don’t belong to the Russian Orthodox Church by making it a crime to evangelize unless they receive “a special permit” from the government.

The Religious Right claims that because President Obama supports LGBT rights, he is hostile to religious liberty. At the same time, many of the same activists seem content to ignore real religious freedom violations at the hands of Putin simply because he shares their anti-LGBT views.

Mike Eckel reports:

The legislation, signed into law earlier this month by Russian President Vladimir Putin, had already drawn scorn from critics in and outside of Russia.

Known as the "Yarovaya Law," the measure includes new police and counterterrorism measures that directly echo the sweeping powers wielded by the KGB to stifle dissent and repress opposition activists throughout the Soviet era.

But one largely overlooked aspect of the law is garnering new scrutiny and worry: tight restrictions on the activities of religious groups, particularly smaller denominations.

The new restrictions "will make it easier for Russian authorities to repress religious communities, stifle peaceful dissent, and detain and imprison people," said Thomas J. Reese, who heads the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a federal government agency that monitors religious expression around the world.

"Neither these measures nor the currently existing antiextremism law meet international human rights and religious freedom standards," he said in statement released last week.



For religious groups, the new law requires people to get official permits through a registered religious group and bars things like prayer meetings from taking place anywhere except for officially recognized religious buildings. That would potentially forbid house churches.

Members of a religious group would also potentially be barred from e-mailing invitations to people interested in services, according to Christianity Today, a web-based news service focused on religious issues.

Violators could be fined, or potentially expelled from Russia.



Sergei Ryakhovsky, a Pentecostal church leader and co-head of an organization of Protestant churches in Russia, said in an open letter co-signed by him that the law contradicted the Russian Constitution.

"The obligation on every believer to have a special permit to spread his or her beliefs, as well as hand out religious literature and material outside of places of worship and used structures, is not only absurd and offensive, but also creates the basis for mass persecution of believers for violating these provisions," said the letter, which was posted on the Russian-language religious website Portal-Credo.

"This law brings us back to a shameful past," it said.

NOM's Brian Brown: Obama Pushing 'Insane' Policies Because He Thinks He's A God

National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown, recently selected to head the global anti-gay World Congress of Families, is trying to drum up a crowd for this year’s March for Marriage, scheduled for June 25 in Washington, D.C. It has been a tough couple of years for NOM, and Brown’s frustration is palpable in his latest email pitch:

We're asking supporters from all over the country to make a special effort to attend this year's March to protest the US Supreme Court's illegitimate, anti-constitutional ruling redefining marriage, to object to the Obama administration's outrageous attempts to impose the gender-bending agenda of LGBT extremists and to call Congress to account to do something about this crisis.

The March for Marriage has been held for several years now, though it has never attracted a huge crowd, and it was certainly not the “game-changer” in the marriage equality fight that Brown promised in 2013. NOM has a habit of inflating their turnout figures; when they claimed that 10,000 people showed up in 2014, the right-wing website WND reported that it was more like 2,000, what one pastor called a “dismal turnout” and a victory for the Satanic left. Last year’s march was held days before Supreme Court arguments in the Obergefell case, which was followed by the court’s historic marriage equality ruling two months later.

In his new email, Brown calls that decision “one of the most infamous, illegitimate rulings in the Court’s history,” and denounces Obama administration efforts to protect the right of transgender students to use facilities that match their gender identity. Obama, he says, “fancies himself a god,” which is why he is promoting such “insane and dangerous” policies.

President Obama acts as if he is a King by declaring that all public schools and other public institutions must immediately accept this new orthodoxy or be declared guilty of discrimination. He threatens them with loss of federal funding, lawsuits and reputational ruin as a "bigot" guilty of "discrimination." The impact on other Americans — frightened girls, for example, when confronted by males in a bathroom — matter not a whit to Obama. Nobody but his allies among the LGBT lobby have any rights. We have none.

Truth be told, his extreme agenda on this issue makes me wonder if Obama actually sees himself as something bigger than a King. It seems to me that only someone who fancies himself a god could have the capacity to think that he could actually redefine humanity itself, decreeing that men can be women if they so choose (and vice versa) and nobody else is supposed to notice, and certainly not complain if they do.

Let's be clear: the ideology that the LGBT extremists are advancing and President Obama is imposing is insane and dangerous. It must be stopped.

 

NOM's Brian Brown To Lead Global Anti-LGBT Efforts At World Congress Of Families

The National Organization for Marriage announced today that its president, Brian Brown, has been elected president of the World Congress of Families, a global network of organizations fighting LGBT rights and reproductive freedom.

As Brown’s fight to stop marriage equality in the U.S. has become increasingly futile, he has taken a leading role in building international networks to stop the advance of LGBT rights around the world. Brown has worked with the World Congress of Families since at least 2013, when he fundraised for the group and, at their invitation, spoke in favor of anti-LGBT laws before the Russian parliament.

Brown attended 2014’s World Congress of Families in Russia (although the World Congress dropped its official sponsorship of the event under pressure after Russia invaded Ukraine), which ended with an appeal for more countries to adopt Russian-style bans on gay “propaganda.” According to NOM, Brown was elected to his new position atthe group’srecent conference in Tbilisi, Georgia.

In NOM’s press release, Brown laments that “secular leaders around the world have become obsessed with advancing so-called 'alternative' family structures,” asserting that in contrast “the natural family produces the best outcomes for society.” (The term “natural family” means something very specific to the World Congress.)

As well as turning his attentions to the global anti-LGBT movement, Brown has increasingly focused on fighting LGBT nondiscrimination measures at home, including getting fully onboard with the Religious Right’s transgender bathroom panic. American anti-LGBT activists seem to be setting the tone for the global movement with their insistence that policies preventing discrimination against LGBT people threaten religious freedom and with the related scapegoating of transgender people; one reporter at this month’s World Congress in Tbilisi noted that “every single speaker” mentioned a recent Obama administration directive on the equal treatment of transgender people in schools.

Why Has The Religious Right Embraced Neo-Confederate Michael Peroutka?

Our friends at the Southern Poverty Law Center have obtained a copy of the 2014 membership list of the Council for National Policy, a secretive group led by the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins that includes a who’s who of leaders of the Religious Right and the wider conservative movement who work together to influence national politics. (In 2014, Perkins was the group’s vice president.) We’ve known from news reports that CNP’s membership includes a wide range of Religious Right leaders, but one name on the list obtained by SPLC stood out: Michael Peroutka.

Peroutka, who made his fortune with a family debt-collection business, has become a minor benefactor to the Religious Right, including funding anti-choice groups, bankrolling some of the campaigns and advocacy work of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore (who is currently suspended for attempting to defy the federal courts on marriage equality), and, maybe most notably, donating a million-dollar dinosaur skeleton to a creationist group.

Peroutka runs the Institute on the Constitution, a Christian Reconstructionist group that argues for the enforcement of a particular interpretation of biblical law. For instance, Peroutka has suggested that all laws passed by the Maryland legislature are invalid because the legislature became an invalid body when it violated “God’s law” and passed marriage equality legislation.

Most troubling, Peroutka has a history as a neo-Confederate activist, including spending time on the board of the secessionist League of the South. In a 2004 speech to the group, Peroutka said that he was “still angry” that Maryland failed to secede from the Union during the Civil War. At the group’s 2012 convention, Peroutka led attendees in a spirited rendition of “Dixie,” which he referred to as “the national anthem”:

Peroutka was appointed to the board of the League of the South in 2013, the year before the CNP membership list obtained by SPLC was published. He quit the group in late 2014 as he ran for a local government seat in his home state of Maryland, unconvincingly claiming that he hadn’t been aware of the group’s racism.

Peroutka ended up winning a seat on the county council of Anne Arundel County, Maryland, after his openly gay Democratic opponent was hit withnasty anti-LGBT robocalls that were later tied to Peroutka’s advisers.

CNP’s membership list is closely guarded and new members can join only by invitation. This means that Peroutka didn’t just show up unannounced: He was invited to join a group that includes Perkins, the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown, Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver, Alliance Defending Freedom’s Alan Sears and many other high-profile conservative activists.

We don’t know if Peroutka is still a member of the group. But even by the time CNP’s 2014 membership directory was published, there was already plenty of public information available about his troubling ideology. Why was the leadership of the Religious Right willing to invite Peroutka into their fold?

Religious Right Leaders Head To Republic Of Georgia For 'Pro-Family' Attacks On West

The World Congress of Families, a global network of organizations that oppose LGBT equality and legal access to abortion, will hold its annual summit in Tbilisi, capital of the former Soviet republic of Georgia, beginning on Sunday, May 15. Over the next several days, American Religious Right activists will meet with their counterparts from around the world to share and plan strategies for resisting and rolling back women’s and LGBT rights — often lumped together with opposition to sex education under the banner of fighting “gender ideology.”

This year’s summit is likely to feature a particular focus on siding with Putin’s Russia and the Orthodox Church as defenders of “Christian civilization” against a secular, decadent West. Georgia, which joined the Council of Europe in 1999, is front and center in what many of these activists see as a civilizational battle. Last October the EU and Council of Europe recommended policy changes to strengthen human rights protections in Georgia; the action plan to achieve them was launched this week. Back in 2014, with the encouragement of the EU, Georgia adopted a sweeping nondiscrimination law, which infuriated people like the WCF summit’s chair, businessman and philanthropist Levan Vasadze, who called the law part of “an international agenda” to “destroy the family.”

An anti-Western quote from Vasadze has been featured on the WCF home page this week:

The West is attacking our Christian culture with atheism, new forms of socialism and sexual radicalism — worse than what we saw during the last 25 years when we were part of the Soviet empire. This is why we need you to come to Tbilisi and work with us.

A WCF regional conference in Tbilisi in 2014 released a declaration criticizing Georgia’s adoption of the Law on Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination, calling the law “an unnatural and an artificial imposition of pseudo-morality upon Georgian traditional society.” The declaration is a screed against such nondiscrimination laws, saying they “lead to serious discrimination of people respective traditional moral and family values, especially Christians, and to the massive human rights violations.” More from the declaration:

We believe that pseudo-values connected with promotion of “sexual diversity” and favoring different kinds of immoral and perverse sexual behaviors, are harmful for the society and have nothing to do with the real foundational values of humanity and with the genuine and universally recognized human rights. They are contradicting the values and teachings of major great religions of our planet. These pseudo-values are designed to destroy the institution of the family, moral and spiritual foundations of the society and to drive human beings into solitude and enslavement to vulgar materialism and lust. Family statistics in Western Europe as well as unprecedented levels of debt for western population, alarming rise of consumption of anti-depressants, addictive medicaments as well as narcotics, rampant child violence and rising suicide rates are a vivid proof of that. To our despair, Western Europe in particular and western culture in general, seem now to be on the path to self-destruction through family demise and moral degradation.

That theme was helpfully echoed this week by the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), which ran a story titled, “Western Invasion: Inside Georgia’s Battle Against the Gay Agenda.” The story quotes Vasadze promoting “selective Westernization” and saying, “the opening must not happen at the expense of Georgia’s faith and family values.” Adds Vasadze:

“If you think indecent, radically sexual behavior is what you want to do — that's your choice. But if I think that this is an embarrassing sin, I want to remain a society which is allowed to say that …The frontline of that war is no longer found on the geographic map of this planet," he warned. "The frontline of this war is in every living room and in every bedroom where your wife and my wife and our children sleep.”

Pat Robertson, the televangelist and CBN founder, responded to the story by saying “the fact that the European Union and the U.S. is trying to impose this lifestyle on a little country like Georgia that wants to stay Orthodox is incredible.”

The CBN story aligns nicely with themes in anti-Western propaganda in Georgia, which is the focus of a report by The Media Development Foundation, a project of the United Nations Association of Georgia with the support of the U.S. Agency for International Development. The report finds that “anti-Western rhetoric is often applied in xenophobic and homophobic contexts and it is associated with unjustified fears, which is an accompanying process of modernization.” Another theme portrays the West as “a fighter against Orthodox Christianity.”

Another recent report on Russian influence on Georgian media and NGOs examines groups such as the Young Political Scientists’ Club, an initiative of the Eurasian Institute, noting that the group uses nationalist anti-Europe and anti-gay statements by clergy to promote anti-Western sentiments. The group declared that violence following the 2013 IDAHOT celebration, in which gay-rights marchers were attacked by Orthodox priests and their supporters, was the result of “western provocation.”  At the time, Patriarch Ilia, the leader of the Georgian Orthodox Church, distanced himself from the violence but said of the IDAHOT event, “It’s something that should not be propagandized.” One of the pro-Russian media outlets examined in the report is Patriot TV, founded in 2015, which “is based on the authentic Georgian traditions, useful for the future generation of our country. A television which serves the purpose of Georgian, ethical ideas and not anti-Christian, sodomite propaganda which, unfortunately, floods our media space.”

At last year’s WCF in Salt Lake City, the Mormon Church had a visible role, with an opening keynote featuring Russell Ballard, a high-ranking elder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The WCF summit in Georgia, the first in a predominantly Orthodox country, will include a similar address from Patriarch Ilia II, the country’s popular Orthodox Church leader. Ilia has designated May 17 — which will be celebrated around the world as the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia — as “A Day to Strengthen Families and Honor Parents.”

In Utah, the Sutherland Institute served as WCF’s local organizing partner; this year that role is being played by the Georgian Demographic Society XXI, founded and chaired by Vasadze, who appears to play a role in Georgia somewhat similar to the one played in Russia by Konstantin Malofeev, the Putin ally who funds Russian Orthodox Church ventures. The Vasadze bio posted on the summit’s website touts his role in defending “traditional society,” saying he is “the author of an October petition signed by 36 prominent Georgian intellectuals protesting a report by the EU’s Special Advisor on Human Rights, which criticized the nation’s treatment of so-called sexual minorities.”

The speakers’ list for this year’s World Congress of Families is, as usual, a who’s who of global anti-choice and anti-LGBT culture warriors, including many of the same people who spoke at the last WCF summit.

American speakers include, in addition to the WCF’s Doug Clark, Allan Carson, Don Feder and Larry Jacobs:

Other Americans speaking include Justin Murff of the Christian Broadcasting Network; Brian Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute; Fr. Josiah Trenham, member of the secretariat of the U.S. Assembly of Orthodox Bishops; Gregory Johnson, a board member of the National Association of Evangelicals; and Christopher Carmouche from GrasstopsUSA.

Prominent Europeans include:

  • Marion Maréchal Le Pen, granddaughter of far-right French politician and National Front founder Jean-Marie Le Pen and niece of the party’s current president Marine Le Pen;
  • Ignacio Arsuaga of Spain, founder of CitizenGo and HazteOir, groups meant to help European cultural conservatives deploy online organizing techniques in Europe’s current culture wars;
  • Luca Volonte, chairman of Italy’s Novae Terrae Foundation and an anti-gay and anti-choice activist, who was honored at last year’s World Congress of Families gathering;
  • Gabriele Kuby, a German sociologist engaged in battling “gender ideology” and author of The Global Sexual Revolution: The Destruction of Freedom in the Name of Freedom”;
  • Katalin Novak, Hungary’s Minister of State for Family and Youth Affairs;
  • and Antoni Szymański, member of the Polish Senate.

Russians scheduled to speak include:

Also speaking will be Theresa Okafor, WCF’s Nigeria-based African representative, who supports repressive anti-LGBT legislation in Africa and suggested that gay-rights activists are involved in a conspiracy with terrorist group Boko Haram to “silence Christians” and who was honored at last year’s summit.

 

Religious Right Activists Demand Disney Heroine Get A Boyfriend, Stop 'Homosexualizing Kids'

In response to a Twitter campaign urging Disney to “give Elsa a girlfriend” in the sequel to the popular children’s movie “Frozen,” the social conservative group CitizenGo is circulating its own petition demanding that Disney “follow its normal trend and create a Prince character to fall in love” with the movie’s heroine.

The National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown is one of five board members of CitizenGo, which is meant to be sort of a global social conservative version of MoveOn.org.

In an email to CitizenGo members yesterday, Gregory Mertz wrote that the prospect of Elsa being a lesbian was “frightening” and urged members to tweet with the hashtag #CharmingPrinceForElsa:

Disney is facing fierce pressure from liberal groups who are demanding their writers turn Queen Elsa into a lesbian during the sequel, “Frozen 2.”

Please join the 37,000 who’ve already signed our petition against thisabsurd “movement.”

With our petition, we’re suggesting Disney with a much better idea… An idea that promotes solid family values to our children and represents the natural family.

Join the 37,000 -- sign our petition, now, to Disney asking that Elsa fall in love with a Prince. #CharmingPrinceForElsa:

Queen Elsa a Lesbian? Thinking about our children, this idea is frightening.

“We call on Disney to follow its normal trend and create a Prince character to fall in love with Queen Elsa,” reads CitizenGo’s petition, which has gathered 65,000 signatures.

“We ask that Disney find a nice and loving Prince for Queen Elsa to fall in love with,” it demands.

Treating the situation even less calmly, predictably, was far-right pastor Kevin Swanson, the extremist pastor who attracted national attention last year when he hosted a conference that was attended by three Republican presidential candidates. (At the conference, one speaker said the song “Let It Go” from “Frozen” was “Satan’s rebellion anthem.”)

Swanson, who warned that the first “Frozen” movie was a satanic plot to turn kids gay, returned to the theme on his radio program yesterday, saying that putting gay characters in children’s movies like “Frozen” is “the way you destroy an entire civilization.”

“Anybody who has the guts to stand up against the homosexualizing of kids in the present day will be shamed for it,” he said, “and that means that the homosexualizing of kids will be, I think, wholesale happening across this country in the next two, three, four, five, 10 years. Of course Elsa is going to get her girlfriend eventually. That’s the way you destroy sexuality. That’s the way you destroy an entire civilization. The entire social system of the United States of America is collapsing.”

“You have got to be sure that you have homosexualized four-year-olds and six-year-olds and eight-year-olds and ten-year-olds in order to destroy a civilization,” he added, “because the destruction of a civilization happens over two or three or maybe four generations max. In order to bring a civilization down, you’ve got to homosexualize the kids.”

Peter LaBarbera of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality is also displeased with the #GiveElsaAGirlfriend campaign, telling the American Family Association’s OneNewsNow today that it shows “the LGBT activists will use any vehicle they can to indoctrinate children.”

Anti-LGBT Groups Unite To Prevent UN Recognition Of Same-Sex Families

A group of anti-LGBT organizations, including leading American groups, have banded together to sign a joint platform meant to “push back against UN entities attempting to redefine the family to include same-sex relations.”

C-Fam, a U.S. group that pushes social conservative policies at the UN, says in a press release that it was joined in organizing the platform by the National Organization for Marriage, the Family Research Council and Human Life International. Also among the organizing groups is CitizenGo, an international petition platform that counts NOM president Brian Brown as a member of it board and HazteOir and Derecho a Vivir, two Spanish organizations led by CitizenGo’s president, Ignacio Arsuaga.

The platform states that any reference to the family in UN documents should be interpreted only as “a man and a woman united in marriage, and relations that are equivalent or analogous, including single parent families and multigenerational families.”

It makes clear that this specifically excludes families headed by same-sex couples: “Relations between individuals of the same sex and other social and legal arrangements that are neither equivalent nor analogous to the family are not entitled to the protections singularly reserved for the family in international law and policy.”

The platform concludes that any language that “implicitly or explicitly attempts to dilute, erode, or undermine” this definition of the family is “incompatible with international human rights law.”

Brown, as marriage equality has become entrenched in the U.S., has increasingly worked to form global alliances to prevent the advance of LGBT rights.

Did NOM Lower Standards For 'Marriage Champion' Cruz?

Before the 2012 election, the National Organization for Marriage released a marriage pledge and badgered Republican presidential candidates to sign it. NOM has done the same thing this time around, but there are telling differences between the two pledges.

In fact, NOM’s favored 2016 candidate, Ted Cruz, could not have signed the pledge from four years ago. As we’ve reported, Cruz signed NOM’s current marriage pledge and won the group’s endorsement. He was able to sign the new version thanks to a slight change in wording that seems designed to make the pledge palatable to Cruz while not calling attention to NOM’s retreat from a key demand made of 2012 candidates.

The first element of that pledge, which was released in 2011, was: “Support an amendment to the United States Constitution defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.” NOM’s key demand was very clear: a constitutional amendment that would override state marriage equality laws as well as any court rulings in favor of marriage equality, much like the Federal Marriage Amendment proposed by President Bush.

But the equivalent first plank of this election’s marriage pledge, which NOM released last summer, is a vow to “support a federal constitutional amendment that protects marriage as the union of one man and one woman.” Defines became protects. That word change apparently gave Cruz enough wiggle room to sign the pledge even though the constitutional amendment he favors would not enshrine a federal definition of marriage as a man and a woman, but would allow each state to make its own laws about marriage, overturning the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision.

NOM praises Cruz for sponsoring what it now says is “one of our key objectives” — “an amendment to the U.S. Constitution restoring the right of states to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.” In a December 9 press release announcing its endorsement, the group called Cruz “someone we can absolutely count on to fight to restore marriage to our nation’s laws and defend the religious liberty of the tens of millions of Americans who believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.” NOM pledged to do “everything in their power to support his election.”

Cruz seemingly tries to downplay the intensity of his opposition to LGBT equality when campaigning in places like New York and California. The newly nebulous language of NOM’s pledge allows him to continue telling anti-LGBT activists that their issues are a priority for him while insisting to less socially conservative audiences that his marriage equality opposition is grounded in a belief in states’ rights.

Along with the demand for a constitutional definition of marriage, the most recent pledge drops a couple of other planks: that a candidate defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court — moot after the Supreme Court struck down DOMA’s key provision; and a pledge to “support legislation that would return to the people of D.C. their right to vote for marriage” — which reflected Religious Right outrage at the time that district officials and courts rejected a referendum on D.C.’s marriage equality law as a violation of its Human Rights Act. 

The two pledges include some similar provisions, including a promise to appoint judges and an attorney general who will uphold the “original meaning” of the Constitution and to support investigations of harassment of traditional marriage supporters. The pledge Cruz signed this time around also commits him to working to review “regulatory, administrative and executive actions taken by the current Administration that have the effect of undermining marriage” and “working to restore our policies to be consistent with the proper understanding of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”

It is worth noting that the pledge Cruz signed calls for support of the so-called First Amendment Defense Act, the federal version of the “religious liberty” laws being promoted at the state level to give legal protections to people and organizations that discriminate against same-sex couples. And it would be interesting to hear a reporter ask Cruz what he means by pledging to “prevent the promotion of a redefined version of marriage in public schools and other government entities.”

 

NOM's Brian Brown Rallies Support For Mississippi's 'Horrific' Anti-LGBT Legislation

The Religious Right’s ongoing effort to create special legal protections for anti-LGBT discrimination continues in Mississippi, where a “breathtaking” and “horrific” anti-LGBT bill — even worse that North Carolina’s recent law — is waiting final passage in the House. National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown is urging NOM supporters to contact Gov. Phil Bryant and Republicans in the state house in support of legislation that passed the state senate last week.

In an email alert sent today, Brown asks activists to stand up for “the rights of Christians and people of faith to be free from recrimination and harassment from extremists who believe that religious liberty must be eliminated when it comes to the gay agenda.” Brown apparently has no sense of irony or shame, arguing for pro-discrimination legislation while complaining, “It is outrageous that gay and lesbian extremists have been allowed to discriminate against, harass and punish Christians and others when it comes to marriage.”

More from Brown’s urgent email:

All across America, LGBT extremists are working overtime to force devout Christians and other people of faith to personally participate in celebrating a same-sex 'marriage' even when doing so violates their deeply held religious beliefs. Those who have refused to abandon God's commands when it comes to marriage have been hit with lawsuits and huge fines, lost their jobs and even been put in jail. This must stop, and at least in Mississippi it will stop if you act today…

For years, LGBT activists lied to Americans about gay 'marriage,' claiming that redefining marriage to suit their demands would not hurt anyone. Instead, people's lives have been ruined and the sexual extremists are intent on forcing every person in America to genuflect at the altar of gay "rights."

…House Bill 1523 protects pastors, churches and individuals from having to solemnize a gay 'wedding' and protects individuals and small businesses like florists, bakers and photographers from being forced to perform services at a gay 'wedding' ceremony that violates their deeply held religious beliefs. The legislation also prevents LGBT extremists from forcing their gender ideology on Mississippi which would allow men to force their way into intimate facilities reserved for girls and women, including showers and restrooms, simply by claiming they "identify" as women. Biology determines gender, not "feelings!"

…Just as they have done in other states, LGBT extremists have orchestrated a campaign of "manufactured outrage" utilizing Hollywood celebrities, corporate giants and billionaire sports owners who wish to curry favor with gay activists. Their well-orchestrated play book threatens boycotts, companies threatening to leave the state and sports leagues hinting a state may be denied high-profile events like a Super Bowl or college bowl game. They are making identical threats and false claims of "discrimination" in Mississippi and we need people of faith and marriage supporters all across the nation to let the leaders of Mississippi know that we want them to lead by example and stand strong for people of faith.

 

NOM's Brian Brown Asks For Money to Make Kasich 'Toxic'

Religious Right leaders who back Ted Cruz for president are beginning to turn their fire on Ohio Gov. John Kasich, whose continued presence in the race they believe is preventing Cruz from defeating Donald Trump. Last week Glenn Beck slammed Kasich as a delusional “son of a bitch” who might go down in history as the guy who “possibly destroyed the republic.”

Today the National Organization for Marriage, which endorsed Cruz in December, sent out a plea for money to go after Kasich, who NOM’s president, Brian Brown, describes as “a liberal Republican who has abandoned the fight for marriage, is extremely weak on religious liberty and who cannot be trusted to appoint strong, conservative constitutionalist judges to the US Supreme Court who would reverse the Court's illegitimate marriage ruling.”

Brown suggests that Kasich, who cannot mathematically win a majority of delegates prior to the Republican convention, is hoping either that “the GOP power brokers” will hand him the nomination or that he can at least build enough bargaining power to cut a deal for himself at the expense of the country.

“If you liked John Boehner, you’ll like John Kasich – lot’s [sic] of talk but no guts to actually fight for conservative principles like preserving marriage,” writes Brown, who complains that Kasich would “do nothing” to help business owners who run into trouble for refusing to provide services to same-sex couples. “That is why NOM is committed to ensuring that the American people learn the truth about Kasich and make him toxic as a potential vice presidential pick.”

More from Brown:

I'm asking for your immediate financial help so that we can get the truth about John Kasich out to voters and the media and stop any consideration of him as the GOP nominee, or even the vice presidential selection. Your membership contribution of at least $35 will go a long way toward helping us shine the light of truth on the Kasich record.

NOM is one of the few groups willing to take on the politically-correct yet powerfully wrong elite in America, which is what John Kasich represents. But to be effective, we need to increase our membership dues from grassroots supporters like you. Please act today to make a membership contribution of at least $35 which will allow us to take the fight to Kasich and others who disrespect the importance of marriage and refuse to protect the rights of average Americans to live out their beliefs about marriage in their daily lives.

Please make your membership contribution of at least $35 today so that we can ramp up our efforts to derail Kasich, the last remaining establishment Republican who has abandoned us when we needed him most. If you can afford to give more than the minimum $35, please do so.

Thank you for standing strong for God's design for marriage, and for helping us fight the PC crowd that refuses to stand with us for the truth of marriage and religious liberty.

More than 50 Conservative Catholics Back Ted Cruz

The latest announcement in the Ted Cruz presidential campaign’s ongoing rollout of endorsements from right-wing leaders is a group of more than 50 “Catholic influencers” led by Robert George, the intellectual muscle for the Religious Right, and Ken Cuccinelli, former attorney general of Virginia and failed gubernatorial candidate. The campaign announced the endorsement of Robert George yesterday; some others on the list have also been announced previously.

Not surprisingly, the list of Catholics for Cruz is heavy on culture warriors who have been fighting to criminalize abortion and resist legal equality for LGBT people and same-sex couples. Although Cruz is not Catholic, he made a reference to the Year of Mercy announced by Pope Francis, saying “we have an opportunity to protect the most vulnerable and safeguard the truth revealed through Scripture and the tradition of millennia.”

One eyebrow-raising name on the list is Anne Schlafly Cori, president of Missouri Eagle Forum and daughter of Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly, who endorsed Donald Trump last week

Also on the list:

NOM: Leave An Empty Seat At SOTU To Represent The '50 Million Voters Whose Votes Were Stolen' By SCOTUS Gay Marriage Ruling

Tonight, President Obama will deliver his final State of the Union address and among his guests will be Jim Obergefell, the lead plaintiff in the Supreme Court's gay marriage case last year.

That, obviously, it not sitting well with the National Organization for Marriage, which fired off an angry press release today demanding that Republicans respond by leaving "an empty chair in the front of the chamber to represent the more than fifty million Americans whose votes in support of traditional marriage were stolen by the US Supreme Court":

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) today sharply condemned President Obama for inviting Jim Obergefell, one of the plaintiffs whose case was used by the US Supreme Court to impose same-sex 'marriage' on the nation, to attend the State of the Union speech and called for the Republican leadership to set aside a vacant seat in the front of the chamber in honor of the missing 50 million voters whose votes were stolen by the Supreme Court ruling in the Obergefell v Hodges case.

"It's an outrage that President Obama is honoring the extermination of true marriage in our nation's laws as a result of an anti-constitutional, illegitimate ruling of the US Supreme Court," said Brian Brown, NOM's president. "President Obama is trying to honor something that is completely dishonorable because it strips from the law the truth of marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and substitutes a fiction from the left that marriage can be anything you want it to be."

NOM reminded the nation that voters in thirty-one states cast over 50 million ballots defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The Supreme Court ruling obliterated those votes.

"The Republican leadership ought to set aside an empty chair in the front of the chamber to represent the more than fifty million Americans whose votes in support of traditional marriage were stolen by the US Supreme Court," Brown said. "It's a national insult that President Obama would celebrate such an affront to democracy."

Brown also pointed out that since the Obergefell ruling imposing gay 'marriage', countless Christian small business owners have been subjected to extreme punishment by the government for refusing to abandon the truth of marriage.

"If the President wanted to do justice concerning this ruling, he would have invited all the people of faith who have been victimized by it — bakers, florists, photographers, nonprofit groups, etc. — and apologized to them and the American people for the supreme lie that is same-sex 'marriage.' The Obergefell ruling has exposed the falsehood that there would never be consequences for redefining marriage, our most fundamental and important social institution."

NOM Pads Its Résumé

The National Organization for Marriage has been facing some fundraising difficulties since its goal of stopping marriage equality in the U.S. has become increasingly futile. So perhaps that’s why NOM’s president, Brian Brown, had to struggle a bit to find accomplishments to boast of in a year-end fundraising message he sent to supporters today.

In the video message, Brown boasts that his group turned out “tens of thousands of people” to attend this year’s March for Marriage in Washington. At the time, the group estimated that it had attracted a crowd of 10,000; authorities declined to confirm the number and other observers placed it at closer to 6,000.

Brown also inexplicably asserts that one of NOM’s greatest triumphs in 2015 was “helping to free Kim Davis,” the Kentucky clerk who was briefly jailed after defying court orders to allow her office to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. NOM did circulate a petition on Davis’ behalf and raise money for her, but her legal representation came from the right-wing legal group Liberty Counsel and she was only released from detention after her deputies agreed to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

In any case, Brown said that NOM has big plans for the future, repeating his goals to elect a president (preferably Ted Cruz) who will nominate Supreme Court justices to “reverse the same-sex marriage ruling,” pressure the GOP to continue standing against marriage equality, “stop the persecution of people who refuse to be involved in the lie of same-sex marriage” and work toward a constitutional amendment reversing Obergefell.

Ted Cruz Endorsed By Anti-LGBT National Organization For Marriage

The National Organization for Marriage, a group that was founded to stop marriage equality but has since embraced other anti-LGBT causes, announced today that it has endorsed Ted Cruz for president, asking conservatives to coalesce around the Texas senator’s candidacy.

Cruz, who has actively courted even the most radical of anti-gay activists, including those who believe that the government should execute gay people, was one of several GOP presidential candidates who signed NOM’s pledge to back a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, order the Justice Department to help gay marriage opponents and “prevent the promotion of a redefined version of marriage in public schools and other government entities.”

It comes as no surprise that Cruz earned the right-wing group’s support, as he has accused the gay community of waging a “jihad” against religious liberty, likened the Obergefell ruling on marriage equality to “Nazi decrees” and vowed not to enforce the court’s ruling if elected president.

Even before running for president, Cruz was an outspoken critic of LGBT equality who introduced legislation and a constitutional amendment to undermine same-sex marriage, predicted that gay marriage would destroy the freedom of speech and issued pleas for civil disobedience to thwart gay rights efforts.

"Sen. Ted Cruz is a proven champion for marriage and religious freedom and someone we can absolutely count on to fight to restore marriage to our nation's laws and defend the religious liberty of the tens of millions of Americans who believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman," said Brian Brown, NOM's president. "Sen. Cruz has not only signed NOM's presidential marriage pledge committing to take specific actions as president, but he has personally authored the pending federal marriage amendment to restore the right of states to define marriage as one man/one woman. Moreover, he has spoken out consistently and forcefully on the campaign trail as an advocate of true marriage. We are pleased to endorse him and will do everything in our power to support his election."



"The decision to endorse in the Republican primary race was a very difficult one," Brown said. "There are many tremendous candidates remaining who have made support for marriage a pillar of their careers in public service, including Sen. Rick Santorum, Gov. Mike Huckabee, Dr. Ben Carson and Sen. Marco Rubio. We realize that our endorsement of Sen. Cruz will be very disappointing to them. Should any of these candidates emerge as the Republican nominee we would enthusiastically support them. However, there is a real danger that conservatives will split the vote allowing someone like Donald Trump to emerge from the crowded field, which would be disastrous. Sen. Cruz has run the best campaign thus far, racking up endorsements and financial resources and climbing in the polls. We believe he has the best chance of uniting conservatives and going on to win the nomination."



"Beginning in Iowa, and going on from there, we will do everything in our power to support Sen. Cruz and urge all our supporters to coalesce around his candidacy," Brown said. "It is imperative that a proven marriage champion emerge from Iowa and go on to capture the Republican nomination. Too much is on the line for supporters of marriage to sit on the sidelines and take the risk that the Republican nominee is someone who will not fight to restore marriage to the law in our nation. We are at a historic moment, and we urge all conservatives to unite behind Sen. Ted Cruz, a man of principle we can all count on to give his all to the cause of marriage and religious freedom."

Marriage & 'Natural Family' Day At World Congress of Families

The sun had barely risen in Salt Lake City yesterday when the first panel of “natural family” day at the World Congress of Families got started with a discussion about life after the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision.

Pastor Greg Johnson, an evangelical who was raised as a Mormon and now sponsors “convicted civility” dialogues between evangelicals and Mormons, recounted an experience with his daughter at the Creation Museum. Looking at the diorama of Adam and Even in the Garden of Eden, he was struck by the sacred nature of marriage. Johnson declared that the church needs to revive its commitment to the sacred and holy nature of marriage.

Cathy Ruse of the Family Research Council began her remarks with a declaration that, as a Catholic, there is nothing that could change her belief that marriage is between a man and a woman. Like many speakers, Ruse focused on the complementarity of men and women. “No man can be a mother,” she said. “As a mother, I know two fathers is not the same as a mother and a father.”

The fact that “men and women make babies, sometimes on purpose, sometimes by accident,” is the only reason government is involved in marriage, Ruse said. Government has to encourage men and women who become mothers and fathers to raise their children. The government has no interest in a person’s feelings, she said. “Who you love is not the government’s business, until now.” Of course, that claim ignores the historical fact that the U.S. government did, until quite recently, punish gay people for who they loved, denying them a livelihood and even taking away their children. And the fact is that many governments around the world, including in some countries represented at the World Congress, continue to do that and worse.

Ruse recounted all the states where voters banned marriage for same-sex couples, neglecting to mention the four more recent victories marriage equality advocates had at the ballot box in 2012. Ignoring those, and dismissing the huge and well-documented shifts in public opinion, Ruse portrayed marriage equality as something “a handful of liberal judges” forced “on the rest of us” and she called for continued resistance:

Above all, we must fight for the right to live and work according to our beliefs. Our enemy in this fight is not our neighbor, not even the 1.6 percent of our neighbors who identify themselves as gay. No. Our enemy are those who would be our masters — the judge who jails a clerk for failing to give her signature, the magistrate who takes the house of a baker for want of a cake. These are our enemies in the fight ahead. No government official can force us to bend the knee at the altar of a foreign god. If we cannot secure this freedom in law, then we must live it in civil disobedience of the law.

Brian Brown from the National Organization for Marriage followed Ruse and matched her tone of defiance against “our unelected masters.” The Supreme Court didn’t change the definition of marriage, he said, it “put a lie into the law” — just like slavery and the Dred Scott decision. Brown said that there’s no time for activists to be depressed. Citing the history of Christian martyrs, abolitionists and civil rights activists, he mocked people who don’t want to take a stand because some of their Facebook friends might say mean things about them. 

“Instead of being depressed, we should savor the fact that we live at a point in history, like those times before, in which we can stand for the truth, make a difference, and God has put us here for some reason. This fight is not over. It has just begun.”

Brown proposed four goals for the anti-marriage-equality movement:

  1. Affirm continually and publicly that marriage is by nature a union of a man and a woman
  2. Reject the Supreme Court’s decision as illegitimate
  3. Overturn the decision, perhaps through decades of struggle or perhaps with new Supreme Court justices appointed by a Republican president elected in 2016
  4. Contain the damage in the meanwhile by passing laws that allow public officials and businesspeople to refuse to have anything to do with gay couples’ marriages

Rafael Cruz, speaking in the second morning session, picked up the baton with the kind of David Barton-inspired speech he gives on the campaign trail for his son Ted Cruz. America was founded on the word of God, he said, but its foundations have been undermined by communists, humanists and Supreme Court decisions on organized prayer, Bible reading in the public schools, abortion and marriage equality.

Cruz railed against the church for having been silent in the face of “abominable” Supreme Court decisions on church-state separation and abortion. The church he said has been “duped” into believing in the separation of church and state, and too many preachers are hiding behind their pulpits, scared to death of losing their tax exemptions. “God is going to judge us for our silence,” he said.

Cruz declared, “What we see in America right now is an outright attack on Christianity.” The court’s marriage equality decision declared homosexuality a civil right, he said, asserting (falsely) that “under that basis, it will be possible for some homosexual to come to your church demanding to be hired, whether as pastor or janitor is immaterial.” Cruz told a BuzzFeed reporter that the next item on the LGBT agenda will be pushing to legalize pedophilia.

Utah Event Revives The Strange Case Of The Moscow World Congress Of Families

This is one in a series of posts about the upcoming World Congress of Families gathering in Salt Lake City, Utah. Read our introduction to the World Congress of Families here.

Social conservatives from around the world will gather next week in Salt Lake City at the World Congress of Families, an event being held in the U.S. for the first time this year. In the background of the event will be the specter of last year’s World Congress in Moscow, which sort of did and sort of didn’t happen.

In 2013, when Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law prohibiting “propaganda” of homosexuality to minors, human rights groups were aghast but many in the Religious Right cheered. While Putin’s crackdown on LGBT people and free speech was widely regarded as a cynical effort to stir up nationalist sentiment at the expense of sexual minorities, his allies in the U.S. Religious Right did not see it that way.

Among the strongest supporters was the World Congress of Families. WCF, along with several other American groups participating in the Utah conference, signed a statement of support . WCF’s Larry Jacobs called the Russian law a “great idea” and said that the “Russians might be the Christian saviors to the world” for their leadership in “standing up for these traditional values of family and faith.” WCF’s representatives in Russia likewise hailed the law and worked with American activists including the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown to advocate for a law tightening the country’s ban on adoptions by foreign nationals who live in countries where gay marriage is legal.

The World Congress of Families was taken with Putin’s enthusiastic embrace of social conservatism that it planned to hold its 2014 congress at the Kremlin in Moscow, with the financial support of top Putin allies. The planning got off to a rocky start after we reported on WCF’s support of Putin’s anti-LGBT policies, and things got even rockier when Alexey Komov, the WCF’s Russian point-man waded into 9/11 trutherism at a press conference promoting the event.

Those plans began to fall apart when Russia invaded Ukraine, prompting U.S. sanctions against at least two of WCF’s key Russian allies. WCF formally “suspended” the event, but the Russian organizers went ahead and held the conference anyway. A number of the U.S. activists who were planning to go to the original conference, including the National Organization for Marriage's Brian Brown, went to the replacement. WCF’s Don Feder and Larry Jacobs, officially attending in their personal capacities, spoke at an opening press conference. At the end, conference-goers passed a resolution advocating the passage of “gay propaganda” bans modeled on Russia’s throughout the world.

Underlining the fact that the Moscow conference was never really cancelled, WCF’s point-man in Russia, Alexey Komov, was until recently scheduled to host a training session at the Utah event on “Hosting a WCF Conference”:

The training has since been removed from the event’s schedule.

Also speaking at the conference will be Vladimir Mischenko, a top official in a foundation run by Vladimir Yakunin, the Putin ally who helped to fund the Moscow conference. (Putin has since kicked Yakunin to the curb .) The World Congress of Families will also be presenting its “International Pro-Life Award” to Father Maxim Obukhov, who helped to bring the event to Moscow last year.

The World Congress of Families’ executive director, Janice Shaw Crouse, has gushed about the Moscow conference , calling it “a tremendous success, inspiring and excellent in every regard,” saying she “regretted the necessary decision to cancel our partnership with our Russian friends.”

She added:

We have many dear colleagues in Russia, and many of them are leading members of the Russian Orthodox Church. They saw their country devastated by Communism. After the fall of Communism, they recognized that if their nation was ever to rise to greatness again, it would be because of a strong family structure. These Russian friends have fought to re-establish the family as the foundation of Russia. We support their efforts, we encourage them, and we are proud of their efforts.

The Moscow event was supposed to be something of a homecoming for the World Congress of Families, which grew out of an alliance between the Howard Center on Family, Religion and Society's Allan Carlson and Russian activists concerned about a “demographic winter” of low birthrates in their country. Those ties have remained strong, especially since President Vladimir Putin has cozied up to the Orthodox Church and put new stock in social issues as part of his efforts to consolidate control in Russia and expand his power throughout the region.

World Congress of Families Culture Warriors Battle Repro, LGBT Rights In Europe With Help From US Friends

This is one in a series of posts about the upcoming World Congress of Families gathering in Salt Lake City, Utah. Read our introduction to the World Congress of Families here.

Americans have long viewed Europe as a stronghold of progressive social policies. But as BuzzFeed’s Lester Feder reported last year, there is a resurgent Religious Right political movement in Europe whose advocates draw moral, strategic, and financial support from their allies in the United States, including the American Center for Law and Justice, Alliance Defending Freedom and Personhood USA.

In Europe the culture war is taking the form of attacks on sexual and reproductive health and rights — even sex education — or what conservative Catholics and their allies collectively deride as “gender ideology.” Right-wing groups are active at the European Union, Council of Europe, European Parliament and other international institutions. The ACLJ’s European branch led the signature drive for the “One of Us” campaign — an anti-abortion effort that used a new European Citizens Initiative process. The initiative was rejected but the organizing that went into it has energized anti-choice activists — the Knights of Columbus called it “the revitalization of Europe.”The World Congress of Families facilitates this reactionary cross-fertilization with conservative groups from around the world.

Earlier this year, the Croatia-based Center for Education, Counseling and Research (CESI) released a report on the growing threats to sexual and reproductive health and rights in the European Union which also documented global connections among conservative groups and activists.  Also this year, voters in Slovakia passed a referendum to put a ban on marriage by same-sex couples in the country’s constitution, an effort supported by American groups including the WCF, Alliance Defending Freedom, CitizenGo, Personhood USA, and the World Congress of Families. Several years ago, many of the same people signed a petition supporting Romania’s constitutional amendment on marriage, which stated that “equating same-sex couples with families can only weaken the natural family — which does society’s vital work of procreation and childrearing.”

The World Congress of Families meeting in Salt Lake City next week features a number of speakers who are intimately involved in this push to restrict access to abortion and prevent advances in LGBT equality.

As we noted in an earlier post, WCF will honor Luca Giuseppe Volonté of Italy’s Novae Terrae Foundation and Andrea Williams of UK’s Christian Concern. Williams, who allies with Alliance Defending Freedom, has encouraged Jamaica to continue criminalizing same-sex intimacy. Volonté, who is affiliated with a variety of right-wing groups, says conservatives in Europe are resisting marriage equality because they experience it as a “totalitarian” ideology.

Another speaker is Ignacio Arsuaga, the founder of CitizenGo and HazteOír, groups designed to bring online organizing techniques to European culture-war conservatives.  HazteOír made a name for itself mobilizing protesters against liberalized abortion legislation in Spain in 2010, and hosted the 2012 World Congress of Families in Madrid. In 2013 his group bused supporters into France to support anti-marriage-equality protests there.

Arsuaga’s CitizenGo is affiliated with ActRight, created by Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage. Brown joined CitizenGo’s board in 2013.  Brown has backed anti-gay efforts in France and Russia and participated in events designed to strengthen ties between Europe’s right-wing and Putin’s Russia. As BuzzFeed’s Feder reported last year,

Arsuaga, Volontè, and La Manif Pour Tous President Ludovine de La Rochère were all in Washington on June 19 to support the National Organization for Marriage’s March for Marriage. Their more important business, however, might have been in a closed-door summit the next day, where representatives of around 70 countries met to discuss creation of an International Organization for Marriage, according to Volontè and another participant. 

Also participating in the Salt Lake City WCF will be Lech and Ewa Kowalewski, anti-abortion activists affiliated with Human Life International and the Polish Federation of Pro-Life Movements. They denounce the “contraceptive mentality” — for them even “natural contraception” is a contradiction because “contraception is never natural.” In 2014 they toured the U.S. as part of a worldwide “pro-life pilgrimage.”  They were on the International Planning Committee for World Congress of Families VI in Madrid.

Another participant is Maria Hildingsson, Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe, which the Catholic News Agency said last year is “the only independent organization clearly registered in the EU as Catholic.” It rejects “an individualistic conception” of human rights that is says are supported by “hegemonic powers which tend to impose their partial views on developing countries within the international economic and political arena.”

Hildingsson opposes promotion of “gender ideology” and opposed the marriage equality referendum in Ireland. Her group worked with a global coalition of conservative groups to oppose an inclusive definition of family in the United Nations during deliberations on sustainable development goals. This summer, she met with Orthodox Church leaders from Europe and Russia to strategize against efforts by the European Union that aim, in the words of a report on the meeting, “to destroy the traditional notions of marriage and family and to legalize surrogate motherhood and abortion.”

Another speaker, Silvio Dalla Valle, works with the Association for the Defense of Christian Values, which is “inspired by the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church” and works in Italy and Eastern Europe.  He was on the planning committee for Moscow meeting that took place last year without the formal sponsorship of WCF but with participation by WCF staff and allies,and spoke last year at a WCF regional event in Bolivia. Dalla Valle is a co-founder of and legal adviser to the Osservatorio della Cristianofobia (Observatory on “Christianphobia”) a project to lobby the United Nations and European institutions to take a strong stance against persecution and discrimination against Christians. He received a “Global Leadership Award” from the Howard Center, the World Congress of Families’ parent organization, in 2010.

Lola Volarde, director for UN affairs at the Institute for Family Policy, is also participating. Volarde’s group promotes “natural family” policies in Latin America in addition to its work at the European Union level, and it opened its delegation to the UN in 2013. You can see Velarde speaking in Mexico last year.

Arsuaga, Velarde and Brian Brown are all on board of the Political Network for Values, a group launched last year that brings together advocates and elected officials from around the world to work for legal protection for life “from its moment of conception” and advocate for policies the promote marriage as “an institution between a man and a woman.” The group also declares its opposition to “the tyranny of relativism” and euthanasia.

Last month, the Political Network for Values held a summit in Washington, D.C. which was sponsored by the National Organization for Marriage, the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Institute for Family Policy, CitizenGo and others. The network says the regional summit “brought together in Washington DC more than 70 policy makers from Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Guatemala, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Lucia, Spain, Hungary, Kenya and the United States.” The group was addressed by three members of the U.S. Congress, Jeff Fortenberry, Chris Smith and Vicky Hartzler, who talked about the “fight for religious freedom in the U.S.”

 

World Congress of Families In Denial Over Promoting Homophobia Globally

This is the second in a series of posts about the upcoming World Congress of Families in Salt Lake City, Utah. Read our introduction to the World Congress of Families here.

The World Congress of Families has been stung by intense criticism over its promotion of anti-gay bias and policies around the world, and has mounted a public relations campaign portraying itself as interested in civil discourse and uninterested in slamming gay people. If only it were true.

WCF Executive Director Janet Shaw Crouse has said the group’s support for traditional notions of family “does not mean disrespect for anyone else.” Crouse says, “We do not and will not engage in ‘gay-bashing’ or ‘hate’ language." In its 2014 “Call for Civic Dialogue” WCF said:

In its history, the WCF has never taken a position for or against anti-sodomy laws, nor has it attempted to roll back the rights gained by these individuals and organizations…. The WCF never has and never will advocate for any policy that brings harm to innocent individuals….

These assertions are grossly disingenuous and deceptive. WCF depends on, and celebrates, its association with what it calls “exemplary” anti-gay groups like the Family Research Council, American Family Association, Alliance Defending Freedom, and many others who aggressively resist the advance of LGBT equality in the U.S. and overseas -- and promote policies that most definitely bring harm to innocent individuals. For example, WCF and its allies played a significant role in organizing the stridently anti-gay “pro-family” movement in Russia. And not taking a position on laws that subject LGBT people to long jail terms and worse is hardly something to brag about.  

WCF’s “civil dialogue” claim is laughable on its face, especially given that the group is providing a speaking platform to Rafael Cruz, who has no policy expertise to share but has gained folk-hero status on the Religious Right with outlandishly inflammatory attacks on LGBT people and other political opponents. Cruz, father to presidential candidate Ted Cruz, called it “appalling” that a gay woman could win elected office, said that Satan controls the U.S. government and that the devil was responsible for the with Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling. He has repeatedly lied about religious freedom, claiming that the government will force churches to hire homosexual pastors and perform homosexual marriages. Cruz has suggested that President Obama is intent on seizing Americans’ guns because, like Stalin and Mao, Obama is pursuing a totalitarian government – and that the American left is out to do away with the entire Bill of Rights.

Sadly, Cruz is not an outlier. WCF and the speakers it provides with a platform have a long record of resisting protections for the rights of LGBT people. Last year WCF initiated a letter signed by 120 Religious Right figures from around the world in “vigorous protest” of the U.S. Embassy’s participation in a gay pride celebration in the Czech Republic. It refers to marriage equality as a “pseudo-right” that debases human freedom and dignity. The letter concludes, “We can not imagine a worse form of cultural imperialism than Washington trying to force approval of the ‘gay’ agenda on societies with traditional values.”

More to the point, WCF’s own Africa regional director, Theresa Okafor, who is being honored at the event, supported a harsh anti-gay law in Nigeria that not only provides for long jail sentences for gay sex, but also bans gay people from meeting in groups. Okafor has suggested that pro-equality groups from the west are allied with the violent Islamist Boko Haram in a conspiracy to silence Christians.

WCF Executive Director Crouse has her own track record. She has said children being raised by gay couples are being “used as guinea pigs.” She has praised Russia’s anti-gay right, saying approvingly, “I wouldn’t bet on the Russians capitulating to western LGBTIQ fascists without a fight.” At a 2013 Howard Center press conference, Crouse said American gay-rights activists are “turning into thugs who are destroying freedom of speech, destroying religious liberty.” She praised anti-gay activists in France, Spain, Trinidad & Tobago, and Nigeria. And while Crouse portrays American gays as enemies of free speech, she enthusiastically backed the prosecution and jailing of Pussy Riot activists over their anti-Putin protest in a Moscow cathedral.

Among other anti-gay speakers who will be given a platform at WCF:

  • Peter Sprigg represents the stridently anti-gay Family Research Council, whose leader Tony Perkins once defended Uganda’s notorious “kill the gays” bill as an effort to uphold morality. Sprigg, who once said he would like to “export” homosexuals from the U.S., complained this year about Randy Berry, Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBT Persons, for traveling to Uganda and Jamaica. Sprigg criticized the Obama administration for trying to “force this American-style homosexual agenda down the throats of other countries” like Uganda, “which is one of the countries that has been most bitterly attacked by homosexual activists around the world.”
  • Robert Knight, a Religious Right pundit and former FRC staffer, has argued that judges who rule in favor of marriage equality should be impeached.
  • Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage has not only pushed for anti-equality legislation in the U.S., he has supported anti-gay efforts globally and encouraged legislators in Russia to pass legislation banning adoption by gay couples.
  • Errol Naidoo received training from the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C before founding the Family Policy Institute in South Africa in response to the legalization of marriage equality, which he had lobbied against. He blames abortion and “the homosexual agenda” for creating a “culture of death” that is “slowly killing off the human family in Western civilization.”
  • Glenn Stanton, a spokesman for Focus on the Family, has called marriage equality a “pernicious lie of Satan” and said that “quite literally there is more evidence for Bigfoot than there is that homosexuality is just who we are.”
  • Jennifer Roback Morse, president of the Ruth Institute, formerly affiliated with the National Organization for Marriage, says the “sexual revolution” is a “totalitarian” movement” and “a pagan ideology” that Christians should refuse to compromise with. She says “the only reason we’re dealing with gay marriage now is because we never faced up to the harms that have already been inflicted by feminism.”
  • Mark Regnerus: His New Family Structures Study, funded by the anti-gay Witherspoon Institute, has been widely discredited, but continues to be cited by right-wing as if it provided scientific evidence for harm caused by gay parenting. It was used extensively as justification for passage of anti-gay laws in Russia.
  • Frank Schubert is a political communications strategist notorious as the mastermind of the strategy to ground the campaign for California’s Prop 8 in fear-mongering about gay people and couples being a threat to children. Schubert was paid handsomely to take that destructive strategy to other states.

 

Utah Gov To Speak At Anti-Gay, Anti-Contraception Group's Event

The World Congress of Families sent out a press release today announcing that Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and Attorney General Sean Reyes will both address the group’s upcoming convention in Salt Lake City.

The presence of two of Utah’s top elected officials lends legitimacy to the gathering of opponents of reproductive rights and LGBT equality from around the world. Among the speakers are the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown, Peter Sprigg and Pat Fagan of the Family Research Council, Sharon Slater of Family Watch International and Mark Regnerus, whose faulty research on gay parents has been used to justify anti-LGBT discrimination around the world.

Also speaking will be Ignacio Arsuaga of Spain and Luca Volante of Italy, activists who have been working with Brown to build global opposition to advances in LGBT rights.

But most troubling is the World Congress of Families itself, which is a project of the Illinois-based Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society. The Howard Center and the World Congress of Families were founded by Allan Carlson, an adherent of the anti-contraception, anti-women’s-rights “Quiverfull” ideology.

The World Congress of Families exists to promote what Carlson calls the “natural family” — something that does not include LGBT people, reproductive rights or, often, women working outside the home.

In their “Natural Family: A Manifesto,” Carlson and Paul Mero, then the president of the Sutherland Institute, which is hosting next month’s event in Utah, laid out their vision of a world full of homes “open to a quiver of children,” with “young women growing into wives, homemakers, and mothers” and “young men growing into husbands, homebuilders, and fathers.” They call for “more babies and larger families” to counter the “war on human fertility”; gay marriage bans and tight divorce restrictions to “end the war of the sexual hedonists on marriage”; and the abolition of “state programs that indoctrinate children … youth, and adults into the contraceptive mentality.”

“We will craft schooling that gives positive images of chastity, marriage, fidelity, motherhood, fatherhood, husbandry, and housewifery. We will end the corruption of children through state ‘sex education’ programs,” they add.

The World Congress of Families exists to unite activists who are pushing this “natural family” ideology throughout the world. Notably, the group has served as a cheerleader for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s crackdown on LGBT people, with one WCF official calling Russia “ the Christian saviors of the world.” The group planned to hold its last World Congress at the Kremlin, funded by top Putin allies. It formally cancelled the event after Russia invaded Ukraine, but the Congress went ahead with WCF leaders in attendance. The main organizer of the conference, WCF’s Russian representative Alexey Komov, will be offering a workshop on “Hosting a WCF Conference” at the Salt Lake City event.

Despite the debacle in Russia, WCF has hardly turned down its activism. At a recent event in Belgrade, World Congress of Families official Don Feder, who will also be speaking at the Salt Lake City conference, explains that contraception leads to “death” by “preventing life from happening" and will ultimately cause to the "extinction" of humanity:

Brian Brown: Gay Marriage Is 'The Supreme Lie Of The Land'

The National Organization for Marriage's Brian Brown was among the speakers at this week's rally in support of Kim Davis, where he likened her stand to the fight against slavery and compared her to Rosa Parks while declaring that gay marriage is "the supreme lie of the land."

Christians have always refused to "bow down to pagan idols," Brown declared, and Davis refused to allow her office to issue marriage licenses to gay couples because "we know in our hearts, we know in our minds, that same-sex marriage is not the supreme law of the land, it is the supreme lie of the land."

"When one person stand up and says, 'I will not be bullied, I will not comply,'" Brown continued, "that person is Kim Davis and I hope she is a hero and a message for all of us. Stand for truth, regardless of what happens. Do not comply with unjust authority!"

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Brian Brown Posts Archive

Brian Tashman, Wednesday 07/13/2016, 12:20pm
For years, American Religious Right activists have lavished praise on Russian President Vladimir Putin, praising him as a culturally conservative bulwark against the values of the decadent West thanks to his crackdowns on LGBT rights, in particular laws curbing adoption and free speech. Religious Right leaders including Franklin Graham and Brian Brown have gone to Russia to hail Putin’s resistance to LGBT equality, while keeping quiet about how the Russian government has stifled human rights, including the rights of Protestants, sponsored militias that violently target... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Tuesday 06/07/2016, 11:15am
National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown, recently selected to head the global anti-gay World Congress of Families, is trying to drum up a crowd for this year’s March for Marriage, scheduled for June 25 in Washington, D.C. It has been a tough couple of years for NOM, and Brown’s frustration is palpable in his latest email pitch: We're asking supporters from all over the country to make a special effort to attend this year's March to protest the US Supreme Court's illegitimate, anti-constitutional ruling redefining marriage, to object to the Obama... MORE >
Miranda Blue, Tuesday 05/31/2016, 3:26pm
The National Organization for Marriage announced today that its president, Brian Brown, has been elected president of the World Congress of Families, a global network of organizations fighting LGBT rights and reproductive freedom. As Brown’s fight to stop marriage equality in the U.S. has become increasingly futile, he has taken a leading role in building international networks to stop the advance of LGBT rights around the world. Brown has worked with the World Congress of Families since at least 2013, when he fundraised for the group and, at their invitation, spoke in favor... MORE >
Miranda Blue, Wednesday 05/18/2016, 11:55am
Our friends at the Southern Poverty Law Center have obtained a copy of the 2014 membership list of the Council for National Policy, a secretive group led by the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins that includes a who’s who of leaders of the Religious Right and the wider conservative movement who work together to influence national politics. (In 2014, Perkins was the group’s vice president.) We’ve known from news reports that CNP’s membership includes a wide range of Religious Right leaders, but one name on the list obtained by SPLC stood out: Michael... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Wednesday 05/11/2016, 3:52pm
The World Congress of Families, a global network of organizations that oppose LGBT equality and legal access to abortion, will hold its annual summit in Tbilisi, capital of the former Soviet republic of Georgia, beginning on Sunday, May 15. Over the next several days, American Religious Right activists will meet with their counterparts from around the world to share and plan strategies for resisting and rolling back women’s and LGBT rights — often lumped together with opposition to sex education under the banner of fighting “gender ideology.” This year’s summit... MORE >
Miranda Blue, Tuesday 05/10/2016, 3:38pm
In response to a Twitter campaign urging Disney to “give Elsa a girlfriend” in the sequel to the popular children’s movie “Frozen,” the social conservative group CitizenGo is circulating its own petition demanding that Disney “follow its normal trend and create a Prince character to fall in love” with the movie’s heroine. The National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown is one of five board members of CitizenGo, which is meant to be sort of a global social conservative version of MoveOn.org. In an email to CitizenGo members yesterday... MORE >
Miranda Blue, Friday 04/29/2016, 4:48pm
A group of anti-LGBT organizations, including leading American groups, have banded together to sign a joint platform meant to “push back against UN entities attempting to redefine the family to include same-sex relations.” C-Fam, a U.S. group that pushes social conservative policies at the UN, says in a press release that it was joined in organizing the platform by the National Organization for Marriage, the Family Research Council and Human Life International. Also among the organizing groups is CitizenGo, an international petition platform that counts NOM president Brian Brown... MORE >
Peter Montgomery, Tuesday 04/12/2016, 4:19pm
Before the 2012 election, the National Organization for Marriage released a marriage pledge and badgered Republican presidential candidates to sign it. NOM has done the same thing this time around, but there are telling differences between the two pledges. In fact, NOM’s favored 2016 candidate, Ted Cruz, could not have signed the pledge from four years ago. As we’ve reported, Cruz signed NOM’s current marriage pledge and won the group’s endorsement. He was able to sign the new version thanks to a slight change in wording that seems designed to make the pledge palatable... MORE >