Report from the World Congress of Families

Today marked the opening day of the World Congress of Families IV. The three day conference, titled, The Natural Family-Springtime for Europe and the World is being held in Warsaw, Poland and brings together some of the biggest opponents to sexual and reproductive health and rights from the United States and around the world. There have been three past World Congresses that have given opponents an opportunity to network and strategize on the best means to eliminate the rights of women, adolescents and lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender populations—and WCF IV is no different.

The approximately 2,000 participants clapped loudly each time speakers like Richard Wilkins, of the Doha International Research Institute for Family & Development, Paul Mero, of The Sutherland Institute, and Allan Carlson, of the Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society passionately cried out for governments to enact policies "friendly and encouraging to the natural family"—the oppositions' code phrase for policies that criminalize abortion, prohibit same-sex marriage, eliminate comprehensive sexuality education, and ban access to contraception. At no time was the audience's resounding applause more frightening than after a speech given by Roman Giertych, Poland's Minister of Education whose statements like "truth is on our side—in the heartbeats of the unborn," and a description of his party's current proposals to the Polish government resulted in a near-standing ovation. One proposal would mandate primary and secondary schools to teach that abortion is a crime and a social and moral evil that must be severely penalized. A second proposal would also help to instill hate in youth by forbidding the teaching of "homosexual propaganda"—this too would be criminalized.

Giertych and his hate-rousing speech was followed today by several other speakers, including Ellen Sauerbery, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration, who opened her speech by saying to the audience "I bring you greetings from President Bush!" She then went on to say that this Administration "values strengthening the family as an important goal for the sake of our common humanity" and congratulated Poland on its own courageous "pro-family" policies. Sauerbery did say a few things, however, that seemed out of place with the views of many of the other speakers—like advocating for the education of women as a way to protect the family.

Educated women were a sour note with several male speakers who blamed the "demographic crisis" in Europe on women attending university and choosing (imagine women with a choice!) not to have children until it was too late. In fact, there was a lot of blame being passed around today for the deterioration of the natural family. Educated women, law professors, liberal academics, LGBT individuals, judges, national governments, and local governments, and of course, the United Nations all share the blame. The U.N. took the brunt of this blame since in the eyes of every speaker today, all U.N. documents since 1950 have contributed to the destruction of the natural family. Or, as Richard Wilkins, Director of the Doha Institute for Family Policies, so eloquently described the bedrock documents of human rights—just "a bunch of good ideas gone bad."

Check back for more reports from the World Congress of Families.

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  • invalid-0

    When social scientists look at the factors which lead to the best outcomes for children and society, the factors which arise again and again is the presence of the natural family.

    Without a doubt, the natural family is becoming endangered. Family breakdown is becoming the norm, if a family is even formed in our climate of sexual commerce.

    So how is it that promoting the “natural family” is hate speech?

    Even pro-choice advocates are acknowleding the trauma abortion is to women and admit that abortion should be rare – within the natural family abortion IS rare.

    Homosexuals are 1% of the population and yet we spend millions promoting this as a lifestyle as if the health consequences and life expectancy statistics were normative for this lifestyle. How much money do we spend promoting the natural family in comparison? The health outcomes of members of a natural family are fantastic.

    I understand that your blog has an agenda, but come on, the Natural Family as hate speech!?! To be against the Natural Family makes as much sense as being against DNA.

    The only reason why advocates of abortion, gay marriage, etc want to enact hate speech is because they fear that the advocates of the Natural Family have better arguments because the truth is on their side. So you have to label what they are saying as “hate speech” so that people won’t be able to hear the message, or, better yet, the advocates will be rounded up and put in jail.

    And you describe these people as “scary”? You have got to be kidding.

  • scott-swenson

    It is interesting that you take criticism as being “against” anything, when in fact the agenda we promote simply acknowledges that there is a broader spectrum of the definition of family. Far from being against families, we embrace far more of them than does the World Congress.

    Be the change you seek,

    Scott Swenson, Editor

  • invalid-0

    to describe this conference and those who are at the helm. Why, you ask, is the “natural family” concept a hateful one? Because they are not o so sweetly advocating for “family.” Please read their tenets. They are advocating for a world where gay and lesbian families do not exist. They advocate for a world where women must be forced to birth children against their will. They align feminism with nazism believing that women’s equality is at the crux of many of our societal ills.

    You may like to paint broadly this agenda as purely supporting the family unit. It’s not that at all. If you look at the agendas of any number of progressive movements: reproductive justice, feminism, LGBTQ you see a true move towards family with full support systems for the diverse and loving ways families can and do exist. This congress is misogynistic, homophobic and, has no place in an evolved society.

  • invalid-0

    I would like to know exactly where you are getting your numbers, Columcille. What “social scientists” are you referring to and where can I view their entire reports?

  • loren

    Columcille, you asked:

    So how is it that promoting the "natural family" is hate speech?

    Because by claiming that one, extremely narrow arrangement of family is "natural," the Congress necessarily excludes and stigmatizes families that don't look like that arrangement. Under this model, children raised by their grandparents, by one parent, by gay parents, by straight parents who will live together as partners for life but never marry, or by any infinite number of other family arrangements and circumstances, come into adulthood bearing "unnatural" blazed across their chests.

    Why is it hateful? Because in promoting only one model of family as natural, it (in one way or another) calls nearly every single member of my own extended family tree unnatural, broken, wrong. Which, of course, is pure poppycock.