The World Congress of Families hosted its annual summit from May 25-27 in Madrid, Spain. Founded in 1997, the World Congress of Families project hosts regular global symposiums on "pro-family" issues, namely demographic winter, homosexuality, and abortion. As discussed in a prior post, WCF summits offer an opportunity for Religious Right figures to network with counterparts across the globe. Among the WCF's partners are American Religious Right groups such as the American Family Association, AFTAH, the Alliance Defense Fund, Concerned Women for America, Family Research Council, and Focus on the Family. (See congresomundial[dot]es/wcf/wcf-partners/)
Life News reported on the conference, adding that the event took place at a time of "perilously" low fertility in Europe. This low fertility and population decline is allegedly contributing to Europe's economic woes, the article claimed. Life News quotes WCF managing director Larry Jacobs dismissing overpopulation. "[T]he demographic challenge of the 21st century won’t be overpopulation but declining and aging populations. Long-term economic growth and population growth go hand-in-hand," he said. (See www[dot]lifenews[dot]com/2012/05/25/world-congress-of-families-focuses-on-population-implosion/)
The Madrid Declaration, a statement of the conference's values, enshrines family as the core unit of society and defines marriage as a lifelong union between a man and a woman. The Madrid Declaration laments supposed "assaults" on the family such as "statism, atomistic individualism, and sexual revolution." Furthermore, it decries policies that have allegedly "confused sexual identities," fostered depopulation," and encouraged promiscuity. The document affirms that men and women are allegedly "different in function," and that the calling of boys is to be husbands and fathers, while the calling of girls is to be wives and mothers. (Apparently singles, asexuals, LGBTs, and childfree people do not fit into this paradigm.) Furthermore, it emphasizes that the supposed "complementarity" of men and women, allegedly exhibited in psychological and biological differences, is a "source of strength." In short, the document promotes a heteronormative view of the family as a reproductive unit, emphasizes alleged differences between the sexes, and endorses conservative sexual mores. (See congresomundial[dot]es/wcf-vi-madrid/the-madrid-declaration/)
Schedule to speak at the 2012 World Congress of Families VI were Religious Right figures such as anti-abortion activist Alveda King, anti-gay activist Peter LaBarbera, and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary president Paige Patterson.
The conference schedule devoted a plenary session to the alleged threat of demographic winter, with talks with titles such as "Demographic Winter as a Threat to World Peace" and "Large Families and the Way Out of Demographic Winter." Other talks suggested that the family as under attack, such as a session entitled "Natural Family and the Revolution Against the Family." Alveda King delivered an anti-abortion talk entitled "Culture of Live vs. Culture of Death: The Greatest Civil Rights Issue of Today." Workshops such as "Authentic Women and Rediscovering Homemaking" featured conservative speakers such as Baptist author Dorothy Patterson and Susan Roylance of the Howard Center for Family, Religion, and Society.
Not surprisingly, the conference contained anti-gay content, as suggested by a plenary session entitled "The Homosexual Lobby." The session features not only Alliance Defense Fund president Alan Sears and ADF attorney Benjamin Bull, but a controversial "ex-gay" therapist named Richard Cohen. Cohen, the author of Coming Out Straight, delivers a workshop entitled "Solutions to Homosexual Behavior."
The WCF summit demonstrates how multiple right wing issues are interconnected, such as anti-LGBT activism, anti-abortion activism, and alleged demographic winter. In this worldview, homosexuality, abortion, and demograhic changes are seen as threats to family and society. To boot, the WCF summit is a reminder that the Religious Right is not just an American problem, but a global network of activists.
To read the conference schedule, visit congresomundial[dot]es/wcf-vi-madrid/program/
To read additional commentary, visit the following links.
NOM Exposed: Come for ‘Solutions to Homosexual Behavior’, stick around for NOM’s president
Right Wing Watch: Peter LaBarbera Pledges to Forever Fight the 'Hydra-Headed Monster of the Homosexual/Transsexual Lobby'
Truth Wins Out: Travel Advisory: Porno Pete Does Spain!