U.S. Religious Right Groups Not So Welcome in Europe

The “world’s largest conference of pro-family leaders and grass-roots activists” is slated to take place next month in Warsaw Poland. Known as the World Congress of Families, the event is backed by various right-wing groups such as The Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, Concerned Women For America, The Heritage Foundation, and others.  

The year’s event, entitled “The Natural Family – Springtime For Europe and the World” is being held in Poland because apparently it alone is last hope for saving Europe and the rest of the world from the “demographic winter and … the secularists”:

Europe is almost lost; to a demographic winter and to the secularists.  If Europe goes much of the world will go with it.  Almost alone, Poland has maintained strong faith and strong families, though even Poland comes under severe pressure to change.  Poland has saved Europe before.  It is likely she will save Europe again.  On family and population questions, Europe is the battleground in the early years of the 21st Century, and Poland is the pivot point.   It makes abundant sense that The World Congress of Families IV meet among the brave people of Poland.

Among those who have reportedly agreed to attend is US Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration Ellen Sauerbrey – and members of the European Parliamentary Working Group on Separation of Religion and Politics are not particularly understanding about the Bush Administration’s willingness to lend the “official U.S. government stamp of approval to [the] extremist and intolerant views” that will surely be espoused at this conference: 

We urge you to withdraw from this conference because your participation provides an official U.S. government stamp of approval to extremist and intolerant views held by some participants and attendees. These extremist and intolerant views include prejudiced attitudes toward foreigners, people from other religions, homosexuals, and the inclusive vision of what represents a family unit that has been developed by the United Nations and the European Union.

The United States rightly prides itself on supporting and spreading religious tolerance, pluralism and inclusion. This conference, and many who will be attending, reject that ethos outright. We have no problem with people expressing beliefs and convictions that we do not share. In a free society, that is right and just. However, we do object when foreign government officials lend support to such views, especially when platforms are used to denigrate and attack those with whom they disagree.

We’re not sure if any of those parliamentarians have been paying attention to American politics for the past six years, but it doesn’t seem very likely that concerns over religious tolerance, gay rights, and xenophobia would cause Sauerbrey to withdraw from a conference put together by a still-loyal group of the Bush administration’s ever-dwindling political supporters.