Religion Dispatches Reports from World Congress of Families

Religion Dispatches carries a polemical but informative piece on the the World Congress of Families, by Gillian Kane of Ipas:

Last month the World Congress of Families (WCF), an international conservative network, met at the Palacio de Congresos in Madrid to share tactics in defense of the “natural family.” For its participants the natural family is a standard for social values that harkens back to a mythical era when men headed the household, women tended the kitchen and children, and sex was for procreation only.

This was the sixth international WCF conference; I noted a previous event, held in Poland in 2007, here. This year’s conference came with a warm-up conference in London co-hosted by Christian Concern, at which the WCF’s Don Feder explained how same-sex marriage was a Marxist conspiracy inspired by Gramsci. The Madrid conference included a British delegation that included Ben Harris-Quinney (of the Bow Group); Gordon Macdonald (of CARE and Care Not Killing); Paul Coleman (a Christian Concern legal advisor); Robert Colquhoun (of “40 Days for Life”, which has brought US-style anti-abortion protests to the UK); Ade Omooba (a pastor, who organised a protest against the Sexual Orientations Regulations  in 2007); and Christian filmmaker Norman Stone (not to be confused with the historian).

Kane tells us that

…2012 marked the first time the WCF devoted an entire day to organizing with parliamentarians and civil society. The invitation-only International Parliamentary Forum met to develop concrete political and legislative solutions in defense of the natural family. By far the biggest block of participating parliamentarians was from Spain’s newly installed conservative party, the Partido Popular (PP).

One significant presence at the conference was the Alliance Defense Fund (which also has links with Christian Concern):

…The ADF is also actively litigating religious freedom cases overseas. Because U.S. justices are increasingly citing progressive international jurisprudence in their opinions and decisions, much of the ADF’s international litigation is aimed at ensuring that foreign rulings serve its domestic objectives. This, despite ADF Chief Council’s Benjamin Bull’s comment that “The Constitution is the only arbiter of American law…”

…Roger Kiska, an Ave Maria-trained lawyer, runs ADF’s European office. Located in Vienna, it’s a Eurail ride from both the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg and the European Court of Human rights in Strasbourg, where Kiska spends a great deal of time. Kiska is developing an allied attorney network dedicated to litigating European cases with the potential to impact ADF work in the United States. Kiska’s WCF presentation, “How to Fight Back against International Law,” included a four-point strategy that, while not revealing too many trade secrets, was notable for its venomous tone toward “humanists” and others who, he says, accuse Christians of demanding preferential treatment.

In April, Kiska was elected to the Advisory Panel 2012-2013 of the Fundamental Rights Platform (FRP), which is a European Union agency.

Last year, Kiska debated discrimination against Christians with the National Secular Society’s Keith Porteous Wood on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme; Kane tells us that

The idea of Christian persecution, or Christianophobia, was echoed throughout and the human rights framework was frequently misappropriated to serve the needs of a given speaker.

Kane also notes the presence at the conference of “Paul Herzog Von Oldenburg, the Belgian president of the right-wing Catholic group Tradition, Family and Property”. I’ve blogged on TFP a couple of times: as part of the US New Right “RAMBO Coalition” in the 1980s it supported causes such as South Africa, and in the UK it had links with the Conservative Monday Club. In 2006 there was also an association with an Italian conference on the Crusades that had a revisionist agenda, and in 2008 it ran newspaper adverts against same-sex marriage. A good general introduction to TFP is provided by Bill Berkowitz on Talk to Action.