Religious Right Leaders Are Packing Their Bags For ‘Pro-Family’ Caribbean Getaway

The World Congress of Families, the global network of anti-choice and anti-LGBTQ activists, will be holding its fourth Caribbean regional conference this coming weekend in Antigua, with Sean Bird of the Concerned Christian Coalition for a Healthy Society of Antigua, acting as local organizer. Several U.S. Religious Right leaders are scheduled speakers.

Back when the WCF held its 2015 global summit in Salt Lake City, conference director Janice Shaw Crouse said the group’s support for traditional views on family “does not mean disrespect for anyone else,” and she claimed the WCF “never has and never will advocated for any policy that brings harm” to innocent people. As we noted at the time, that assertion was “grossly disingenuous and deceptive” given the long history of hostile rhetoric and defense of laws that criminalize homosexuality by WCF spokespeople and partners. American Religious Right activists have been working with Christian conservatives in the Caribbean for years to resist efforts to repeal colonial-era sodomy laws that make gay people criminals.

WCF’s representative for the Caribbean is Rebekah Ali-Gouvela, who is an attorney allied with the Alliance Defending Freedom. She was honored at last year’s event with the WCF Natural Family Award. Last year’s conference featured, among other things, the showing of Family Watch International’s video “exposing the perils of so-called Comprehensive Sexuality Education.”

FWI’s Sharon Slater, who is on this year’s speakers list, says sex ed in schools is a plot by Planned Parenthood to “sexualize children” to make them future customers for contraception, abortion and treatments for sexually transmitted diseases. Slater works with anti-LGBTQ nations and advocacy groups at the United Nations to keep language recognizing or protecting LGBTQ people and families out of international agreements.

Conservative pundit Don Feder, WCF’s coordinator of regional conferences, is also scheduled to speak. Four years ago, he warned that then-President Obama would use “the machinery of government to crush dissent” with the goal of “eliminating any opposition to the socialist republic he’s creating.” He said the Supreme Court decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act would doom American society “to extinction.”

Focus on the Family’s Glenn Stanton is scheduled to talk about “Five Fatal Inconsistencies of Gender Theory”—the term used by social conservatives around the globe promoting “traditional” views on sex, family, and gender. Stanton has called marriage equality “a pernicious lie of Satan.” He says “quite literally there is more evidence for Bigfoot than there is that homosexuality is just who we are.” Last year, the Family Research Council invited Stanton to make a presentation arguing that there is no such thing as a transgender identity.

Global anti-LGBT activist Brian Brown, head of the National Organization for Marriage and the International Organization for the Family, is listed as a featured speaker on the conference website, but not on the press release sent out earlier this month. That’s the same situation for Scott Stirm, whose WCF bio says he and his wife “spearheaded an apostolic thrust in the nation of Belize.” The biography talks about his passion for turning teenagers into “radical leaders” of their generation, but doesn’t mention that Stirm has staunchly opposed LGBTQ rights in Belize. Stirm says gay people “cannot reproduce” so they must “recruit” children.

Stephanie Luck, who is speaking against marijuana, participated in the Alliance Defending Freedom’s Blackstone Legal Fellowship and worked for a Canadian group called the Christian Legal Fellowship. The regional conference website describes her as CEO of Salt & Light Global, a Michigan-based group that teaches that societies “suffer the consequences” when they “forsake the social order God created.” That information may be out of date, as the press release does not include an organizational affiliation for Luck and she is not listed among the leaders on the Salt & Light Global website.

Also scheduled to speak:

Philippa Davies from the Jamaican Coalition for a Healthy Society, a group that has sponsored conferences with Religious Right figures to defend the colonial-era sodomy law.

Sarah Flood-Beaubrun — Minister of External Affairs, Government of St. Lucia (“Protecting the Family and Children Regionally and in International Institutions”)

Dr. Godfrey St. Bernard — University of the West Indies (“The Reality of Demographics in the Caribbean”)

Donna Harrison — American Association of Pro-Life OBGYNs (“Maternal Mortality and Elective Abortion”)

Lisa Thompson — National Center on Sexual Exploitation (“Pornography Harms”)

Denise Koylass — Clinical psychologist, Elpis Center, Trinidad (“Attachment and Sexual Behavior”)

Dr. Martha Shuping — Rachel’s Vineyard (“Healing from the Adverse Effects of Abortion”)