Janice Shaw Crouse
Janice Shaw Crouse

Tuesday, Janice Shaw Crouse, executive director of the upcoming World Congress of Families in Utah, gave an interview to Lifesite News (which deserves a hate-site designation). The piece is titled “Janice Shaw Crouse: Homosexual activists peddling ‘falsehoods’ about World Congress of Families.” According to Crouse:

We hold to the values and beliefs of the majority of Americans, yet a small group of activists who have unprecedented power with the media and ruling elites has been able to paint us with a broad brush of distortions, innuendos, and untruths to completely distort who we are and what we are like.

Really? Before the Supreme Court acted in Obergefell v. Hodges polls consistently indicated that around two-thirds of our citizens supported marriage equality. That doesn’t seem to be among the “values and beliefs” of people associated with WCF/Howard Center.

Crouse goes on to say:

We called SPLC to determine why they labeled us a hate group. They mentioned vaguely our support of Ugandan anti-gay legislation. No WCF official has ever even gone to Uganda; WCF doesn’t engage in political activity or legislative agendas. Ironically, none of the groups have referenced our document, but they have significantly decreased their accusations, if not their rhetoric.

Uganda aside (I’ll get back to it), the very idea that WCF does not engage in political activity is preposterous. In January of 2014, The Nation ran a piece titled “How US Evangelicals Fueled the Rise of Russia’s ‘Pro-Family’ Right.” The subtitle is “An alliance is born between anti-gay, anti-abortion American groups and the Russian Orthodox Church.” How did I find this article? It links from the Howard Center website (Howard Center for Family, Religion & Society is the corporate entity of WFC).

Howard Center describes the article as “The Nation Magazine Recognizes World Congress of Families’ Pivotal Role In Forging An East/West Pro-Family Alliance.” Obviously, they agree that they have been actively advocating for anti-gay legislation in Russia.

According to another piece on the WCF website that attempts to refute charges that it is a hate group (although they further out themselves with the CDC reference):

had nothing to do with
enactment of
Russian Child Protection
in 2010;
in 2013)
we have tried to
correct misconceptions about
Child Protection Law
to as the

homosexual propaganda law

by the media
, explaining that it’s
aimed solely
at protecting minors from
influences including
drugs, alcohol,
pornography, and
solicitations for “non

traditional sexual relations”

which are
(as shown
by statistics from the Centers for Disease Control) and immoral.
The law
provides only a civil penalty for violation.

So which is it? The avocation described in the Nation piece that the organization seems to like or the statement that was presumably assembled for SPLC consumption?

Just to take it a step further, the Russian non-profit, The Family and Demography Foundation, claims that “the Foundation also serves as World Congress of Families’ representative in Russia.” WCF lists the foundation as a partner. The foundation also submitted the equivalent of an amicus brief to the European Court of Human Rights. According to them:

We are of the opinion that the statutory ban on propaganda of homosexuality among children is fully compliant with all the fundamental norms of international law, including European Convention of Human RIghts,’ argues the Foundation’s Legal Affairs Director and World Congress of Families Advisor for International Human Rights Law Pavel Parfentiev. ‘It is well documented in medical research that homosexual lifestyle is associated with increased risks to one’s physical and mental health. Moreover, most Russian citizens regard homosexualism and its propaganda as immoral. Given all that, the Convention and the European Court’s own case-law recognise the protection of health and morals of the children, as well as the protection of the family in its traditional sense, as legitimate grounds for restricting an individual’s right to freedom of expression. As for claims that the law supposedly prohibits mere mentioning of homosexuality, they are altogether incorrect.

Clearly the statement is consistent with the misrepresentations (regarding physical and mental health) of a hate group. Indeed it is premised on the notion that sexual orientation is a learned behavior. I don’t see where the WCF has attempted to distance itself from its own Russian advisor, partner and representative.

Getting back to Uganda, and just for starters, WCF made a deliberate attempt to whitewash the Kill the Gays bill. In a newsletter they wrote:

Uganda will
continue to resist pressure
from the United Nations and foreign governments to legalize
homosexuality. “Uganda will not be forced to legalize practices
that are illegal, unnatural and abnormal,” Buturo told journalists
recently. In a message to Uganda’s representative to the United
Nations, the minister stated: “They (
the UN and foreign
governments) have no right to call us names, to call us
extremists.” Buturo said his government would communicate with
nations that share its perspective on homosexual relations.
Uganda is considering a comprehensive law which would make it
a criminal offense to promote homosexuality, especially among
youth. Uganda’s stand against homosexuality has been
condemned by international groups seeking to advance the
homosexual agenda.

Then there is Scott Lively. He’s the nut who claims all of the Nazis were gay. He wrote a book titled The Pink Swastika which blames the Holocaust on gays. Lively is being sued by a Ugandan gay rights group. He has done a pretty good job cleaning his website which has eliminated much of the Uganda material.

Nevertheless, Lively has always had a close relationship with WCF, calling himself their “cultural ambassador.” He has spoken at every one of their congresses and was part of the planning committee for the last meeting (that was called off) in Moscow. He is presumably on the planning committee for the upcoming congress in Salt Lake City. As SPLC reports:

In early March 2009, he went to Uganda to deliver what would become known as his infamous talk at the Triangle Hotel in Kampala at an anti-LGBT conference organized by Family Life Network leader Stephen Langa. The conference, titled “Exposing the Truth behind Homosexuality and the Homosexual Agenda,” also included Don Schmierer, a board member of the ex-gay therapy group Exodus International, and Caleb Brundidge Jr., a self-professed ex-gay man with ties to the ex-gay therapy group Healing Touch.

Thousands of Ugandans attended the conference, including law enforcement, religious leaders, and government officials. They were treated to a litany of anti-LGBT propaganda, including the false claims that being molested as a child causes homosexuality, that LGBT people are sexual predators trying to turn children gay by molesting them, and that gay rights activists want to replace marriage with a culture of sexual promiscuity. Lively met with Ugandan lawmakers during the conference, and in a blog post later he likened his campaign against LGBT people to a “nuclear bomb” against the “gay agenda” that had gone off in Uganda.

WCF refers to this as “Don Schmierer and two other evangelicals from the United States.” According to a press release:

[Managing Director Larry] Jacobs further stated: “World Congress is proud of its association with Don Schmierer, who spoke at World Congress of Families II (Geneva), III (Mexico City), IV (Warsaw) and V (Amsterdam), in 1999, 2004, 2007 and 2009.” Jacobs also noted that Schmierer’s organization, His Servants (www.hisservants.net), is one of a growing number of World Congress Partners.

While it may be true that no official of WCF was directly involved in the Ugandan law, they certainly created a presence through their representatives and affiliates. Whether that consisted of both Lively and Schmierer or just Schmierer is irrelevant. Contrary to the assertion of Ms. Crouse, they were engaged in political activism.

WCF is the only group I know of that is proud to display, on its home page, the partnership with anti-gay hate groups like Americans for Truth about Homosexuality and American Family Association.

By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.