RH Reality Check Exclusive: Over the next several days, SIECUS’s opposition researcher will be providing ongoing coverage of the World Congress of Families, including reporting on discussions of such topics as "the natural family," "traditional values," marriage and family configurations, demographic shifts, pre-determined sex-specific roles, HIV/AIDS, and family related policies at national and international levels.
It’s that time again. Every other year, the most extreme global right wing voices gather to mobilize efforts to stuff the evil, liberal, secularist, "abortionist" genie back into bottle. The fifth World Congress of Families (WCF), a gathering organized and co-sponsored by an array of right-wing organizations such as the Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society, Concerned Women for America, Human Life International, Red Familia and Family Research Council, among others, starts today in Amsterdam, Netherlands under the title “Family: More Than the Sum of it’s Parts.”
As in years past, where places like Mexico and Poland were selected as strategic locations for advancing a so-called “pro-family” agenda, Amsterdam is no different. When it was announced just over a year ago that the Netherlands would be the site of this congress, the progressive approach of the people and government in the Netherlands to open and sincere dialogue and policies regarding the diversity of families and broader sexual and reproductive health and rights were cited as a primary draw.
In their June/July newsletter, WCF remarked that:
In 2007, The European left mocked us for having WCF IV in Poland, a socially conservative country. We met their challenge by holding World Congress of Families V in the Netherlands, a nation whose family policies are 180 degrees from those of Poland. Instead of welcoming a debate on the issues, it seems to be intimidated by our presence in the heart of the European Union, and a bastion of its anti-family policies.
Those sound a bit more like fighting words than an opening for authentic debate.
The WCF supporters and organizers refer to a very specific and narrow definition of family called the “natural family,” outlined in “The Natural Family: A Manifesto," originally published by the Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society:
We see a world restored in line with the intent of its Creator. We envision a culture — found both locally and universally — that upholds the marriage of a woman to a man, and a man to woman, as the central aspiration for the young. This culture affirms marriage as the best path to health, security, fulfillment and joy. It casts the home built on marriage as the source of true political sovereignty, the fountain of democracy.
Allen Carlson, president of WCF founding organization, the Howard Center for Family Religion and Society, claims that the “natural family” is under attack by a “terrible cloud of ideologies” including “feminism” and “secular liberalism.” Philip Longman, a speaker at this year’s event, endorses this belief that “secular societies that don’t embrace the pro-natal, pro-family values …will fade away, while societies that learn how to embrace the [traditional] fertility of the [traditional] family will inherit the Earth.” Longman will be further sharing his distorted views on a panel on the second day of the WCF V.
Other scheduled speakers include Anna Zaborska, Member of the European Parliament who spearheaded the letter of endorsement of 100 Members of the European Parliament at the WCF IV in Poland and Steve Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, whose mission is to “debunk the myth of overpopulation, which cheapens human life and paves the way for abusive population control programs.”
In Mexico, Poland, and now Amsterdam, SIECUS has worked with civil society organizations months in advance to deposition the WCF and its sponsors by educating the host country government and media about just how extreme the views of these fringe groups are. Thankfully, the media coverage in the Netherlands, as well as significant pull back of the Dutch government, so far indicates our efforts are achieving similar success as the WCF V gathers.
So, as the global extreme voices gather in the Netherlands, SIECUS, along with other US and Netherlands–based colleague organizations will be closely following the developments of this congress, and will be posting here throughout the week. Stay tuned…