The World Congress of Families (WCF), an American Christian Right organization identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2014 as an anti-LGBTQ hate group, is exporting its virulent dogma globally.
In his column in the May edition of Church & State, the magazine he edits for Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU), Rob Boston warned about WCF’s intentions:
“[The Verona meeting] represents a far more ambitious agenda than the Religious Right’s oft-stated goal of forging a ‘biblical’ society in the United States. Indeed the conference’s organizers aim to build a global theocratic movement.”
It began in Russia
Since its founding in 1997 in collaboration with Russian sociologists from Moscow State University, Boston points out in the article — “They Want The Whole World In Their Hands: Through The World Congress of Families, The Religious Right is Building a Global Network” — the group “has become notorious for backing extreme anti-LGBTQ measures and aligning with dictators and neo-fascist, anti-immigrant organizations.”
Boston further contends that while the WCF’s “pro-family” rhetoric may seem benign to some,
“… critics say it masks WCF’s larger agenda, which is rabidly anti-LGBTQ and a form of Christian nationalism, the belief that conservative forms of Christianity should be embraced by government and integrated into public policy.”
Considering the Christian Right’s broad and relentless initiatives to further entwine fundamentalist evangelical Christianity deep into the fabric of U.S. society and culture, this is not an exaggerated worry.
Thanks, Supreme Court
Piggy-backing on recent Supreme Court decisions, large well-funded evangelical organizations, such as the Good New Clubs, have been busy widely establishing before- and after-school Bible-study and proselytizing clubs throughout the country, posting the religious phrase “In God We Trust” in schools and government buildings, and on vehicle license plates, and preventing secular invocations from being presented before meetings of elected bodies, such as the U.S. House of Representatives.
WCF’s influence is not benign. After a WCF-affiliated anti-gay activist spoke in Uganda, Africa, in 2009, according to Boston, a member of parliament introduced a bill requiring the death penalty in convictions for same-sex coupling. The penalty was reduced to life in prison before being signed by President Yoweri Museveni in 2014 but fortunately the law was later invalidated by Uganda’s highest court.
WCF doctrine holds that homosexuality is a symptom of Western decadence that decimates families, threatening what the group calls “demographic winter” (see embedded video) when too few people are reproducing.
“As a result,” Boston wrote in explaining WCF’s fears, “those countries must rely on immigration to fill jobs, which threatens to alter their national character.”
Welcome to the U.S. in 2019 and President Donald Trump’s obsession with building a “great big beautiful wall” on the southern border to keep out immigrants from Mexico, and Central and South America.
The WCF manifesto
A core WCF document — “The Natural Family: A Manifesto” — contends that the source of a nation’s sovereignty (“the fountain of real democracy, the seedbed of virtue”) is the nuclear family comprised of a man and woman in lifelong union and their children. The manifesto disparages “mass schooling,” feminism, secularism and liberalism, and rejects sex education and gender-tolerant public policy.
The hate-averse group Human Rights Campaign stresses that we ignore the WCF’s aggressive agenda at our peril, calling the group “one of the most influential American organizations involved in the export of hate. Since 1997, WCF has held conferences and events around the world that foster homophobia and transphobia under the guise of protecting the ‘natural family.’ It is connected to some mainstream conservative organizations and to the very highest levels of government in the countries where it operates.”
At WCF’s founding strategy sessions in Russia in the late 1990s, according to a Southern Policy Law Center report, collaborators decided that,
“Key to their mission was reversing the civilizational trends responsible for the demographic decline. Its causes were seen as the collapse of the family, which, as [Viktor Medkov, one of several WCF co-founders] declared in the Demographic Winter documentary shot at the 2007 WCF Congress, was to be blamed on divorce, working women (feminism), prosperity, homosexuality, the sexual revolution, and incorrect assumptions about population growth: “If trends continue as they are, families will cease to exist and so will children.”
(See the gratuitously apocalyptic film Demographic Winter embedded above, and clear-eyed reviews of the film here and here, contending that such biased treatments of the population issue “are designed to incite fear, even panic” concerning the purported “demise of entire populations.” In her review, Kathryn Joyce opines that “birth control and the sexual revolution, and the widespread cultural decision of women to limit their fertility” are the “sin” that will cause civilization to collapse.)
If you doubt the WCF’s global influence, note this 2014 article in the progressive magazine Mother Jones titled “How US Evangelicals Helped Create Russia’s Anti-Gay Movement: Meet the Fox News producer, the nightclub impresario, and the oligarchs who teamed up to write inequality into law.”
The article reports on a debut conference in 2010 of Russia’s Sanctity of Motherhood organization at which the only American present was speaker Larry Jacobs, then WCF’s vice president. Jacobs told the roughly 1,000 people in attendance, the article reported that American evangelicals “had a 40-year track record of “defending life and family’ and hoped to be ‘true allies’ in Russia’s traditional values crusade.”
The gathering marked the beginning of the family values fervor that has swept Russia in recent years,” Mother Jones reported. “Warning that low birth rates are a threat to the long-term survival of the Russian people, politicians have been pushing to restrict abortion and encourage bigger families.
Since the 2010 gathering, Jacobs and his WCF colleagues have regularly visited Russia to “bolster its anti-gay movement — and to work with powerful Russian connections that they’ve acquired along the way,” according to the article.
Keep your eyes open.
These sinister evangelicals aren’t the only politically well-placed Americans with untoward connections to powerful Russians.