IOF Weekly — Defending Marriage and the Natural Family
Dear Friend of the Family:
It’s been an exciting week. I had the great honor of addressing many of the world’s leaders, including half a dozen current and former national presidents, at the Dialogue of Civilization conference in Rhodes, Greece. I’m writing now from Romania where I am meeting with pro-family leaders on the prospective national referendum to protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Meanwhile, half a world away in Australia, our friends and allies continue to work exceedingly hard to explain to their fellow citizens the many consequences that will befall the country should LGBT activists be successful in the nationwide postal vote underway concerning the definition of marriage.
There is a palpable buzz all across the globe as pro-family forces come alive to fight for the truth and reality of humanity, based on the natural family, founded on marriage. In Romania, three million citizens signed a national petition to protect marriage, many times more than were needed to trigger a vote. In Australia, in a matter of a couple of days, more than 1,000 people rallied to contribute over $600,000 to keep their campaign moving forward. Time and again, LGBT extremists and their allies in the media claim that the issues are resolved, and that the forces of “progressivism” have won. Yet, time and again, average citizens, people of faith and the grassroots rise up to correct the record and stand strong for the natural family. We saw it last year in Mexico when well over 1 million people took to the streets to support the family. We saw it in Paris as well with crowds approaching half a million. We saw it earlier this year in Budapest with the massively successful World Congress of Families XI conference. And we’re seeing it again in Australia, Romania and so many other places.
The International Organization for the Family (IOF) is playing an important role in educating, equipping and activating the pro-family movement across the globe. Billionaire leftist George Soros credits IOF with being on the offense and successfully rallying the pro-family movement to oppose his radical agenda. On this one point, I can agree with Soros!
I hope you share my excitement about IOF’s momentum and progress. Please consider making a generous financial gift to support our work. If you are able, consider becoming a Sustaining Member of IOF by pledging to make a monthly contribution of whatever amount you choose. Our Sustaining Member program provides a critical element in our growth and momentum as it gives us a reliable stream of income we can count upon month in and month out.
Thank you for your prayers, encouragement and financial support.
International Family News
Human Rights and Wrongs in Geneva
Last month in Geneva at the 36th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC), members of our United Nations team, working with a partner organization, United Families International, met individually with dozens of delegates from missions strategically selected to exert the greatest influence in defending the natural family. We reminded each delegate of his or her country’s specific constitutional commitment to the family and provided an array of tools designed to help them fulfill that commitment, including, for example: The Cape Town Declaration: Universal Declaration on the Family and Marriage; the Budapest Covenant from our World Congress of Families in Hungary; the Tbilisi Declaration from our World Congress of Families in Georgia; our World Family Declaration; our Family Capital and the SDGs; and other resources and recommendations. “We found the delegates receptive and grateful for our effort and materials,” reported Wendy Wixom, “while one enthusiastically exclaimed, ‘Brilliant!’”
There is irony in the fact that we must defend the family in the HRC, which itself defends legitimate rights of oppressed peoples worldwide but has fallen prey to highly funded minority interest groups claiming special consideration falsely labeled as “rights.” Years ago while working at a session of the HRC, I met with Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, Vatican representative and courageous defender of the family. He said that “a very small minority is slowly taking control of international structures and imposing them on the rest of society by taking the concept of rights and emptying it from its prior meaning and then putting in a new meaning. Religion is viewed as a negative force which blocks the fulfillment of the individual’s rights. This dangerous agenda,” continued Archbishop Tomasi, “aims directly at changing the human condition and therefore its consequences are more destructive than the ideology of Marxism. We must resist this new ideology, and use every means available to create a counterforce,” or we will see “the suicide of society.”
At that same session of the HRC, a group of international activists launched the Yogyakarta Principles: The Application of International Human Rights Law in Relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. Touted as “a universal guide to human rights which affirm binding international legal standards with which all States must comply,” the Yogyakarta document begins with the words, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”—a clear echo of the opening line of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which speaks of “the inherent dignity” and “the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family.” So far so good, but if the UDHR’s opening line by itself could serve as the all-encompassing key to human rights, the wise drafters of the UDHR would certainly have had no need to continue their arduous work through more than 100 official meetings over 18 long months in order to produce something that, in the words of a UNESCO memo, was “sufficiently definite to have real significance both as an inspiration and a guide to practice” but also “sufficiently general and flexible to apply to all men, and to be capable of modification to suit people at different stages of social and political development.”
The result of their labor was the majestically crafted UDHR with its enumeration of specific rights, including “the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion,” and the right of mothers and children to special protection: “Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance.” But the most striking feature of this most important of all human rights documents is the sole instance in which a group unit is recognized as having rights—rights so fundamental that they predate the State and must be protected by the State, which is in fact founded on that same group unit: “The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.” You will search in vain in the Yogyakarta Principles for any mention of the UDHR’s foundational provision on the natural family. It is a fatal omission, an illustration of what Harvard Professor Mary Ann Glendon points to as the dangerous “practice of reading its integrated articles as a string of essentially separate guarantees” by “interest groups continu[ing] to use selected provisions as weapons or shields, wrenching them out of context and ignoring the rest…. Everyone’s rights are importantly dependent on respect for the rights of others, on the rule of law, and on a healthy civil society,” which is built on the foundation of the natural family.
The Yogyakarta document both ignores and undermines the rights of the natural family by insisting on newly discovered “rights” that would trample national sovereignty as they undermine parental authority, change the institution of marriage, and encroach on the right of children to both a mother and a father. Yogyakarta’s so-called “rights” constitute a colossal wrong, exacerbated by its attempt to force governments to invade religion in order to override religious doctrines or practices. In the words of IOF honorary board member Elder Dallin H. Oaks, referring to the Yogyakarta Principles, “Religious freedom needs defending against [such] claims of newly asserted human rights.” We invite you to join us at this critical time as we move forward at an unprecedented pace to defend our sacred rights of family, children, and religious freedom.
IOF President Brian S. Brown Addresses World Leaders at Dialogue of Civilization, Rhodes Forum
Brian Brown, president of the International Organization for the Family (IOF), shared a passionate vision of the importance of protecting and promoting the natural family at the 15th annual Dialogue of Civilization Rhodes Forum conference in Rhodes, Greece. Brown reminded conference attendees, including half a dozen current and former heads of state, that the United Nations recognizes the natural family as the fundamental unit of society, entitled to protection by society and the state.
More Than 6 Million Australians Still to Cast Ballots on Marriage Referendum; Race Is ‘Wide Open’
The official agency conducting the nationwide postal vote in Australia announced that fully one-third of Australians have not yet cast their ballot on changing the definition of marriage, undercutting claims by same-sex marriage campaigners that 80% of Australians had already voted and the issue was effectively decided. The Coalition for Marriage, which urges people to vote ‘No’ to the proposed change in the Marriage Act said that the race is “wide open.” Coalition spokesperson Lyle Shelton, president of WCF partner Australian Christian Lobby, said in a statement, “It is encouraging to see so many Australians choosing to have their say. The Australian public understand the gravity of the decision before us, and they know it has consequences for everyone. However, with 6 million Australians still yet to cast their ballot, there are a lot of people we need to reach. A change to the definition of marriage will affect everyone, including those who might not vote, and our wonderful team of volunteers are committed to make sure all Australians know the consequences of a change, and how it will impact education, free speech and freedom of religion.”.
Natural Family News and Research
Money vs. Family on World Mental Health Day
October 10 was World Mental Health Day, and 160 Labour MPs took the opportunity to write a letter to British Prime Minister Theresa May, asking that she “make a vital change that will advance the cause of mental health.”
At issue is a sensed disparity between the Government’s expressed concern over mental health issues, and what Labour MPs see as a lack of appropriate action on these items. The story continues, “More than 6,000 mental health nurses and doctors have been cut from the NHS in England since 2010. . . . For the fourth year in a row, the government has failed to deliver on its promise to increase the money reaching frontline services.”
And although such concerns are certainly valid in an age in which mental health issues (particularly in developed nations) continue to rise, research demonstrates that the problem runs far deeper.
Quick News Links
Marriage and Family
|October 12-14, 2017 — Touchstone Annual Fall Conference, “Be of Good Cheer: In the Company of Christ & the Great Cloud of Witnesses,” hosted by Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity, The Fellowship of St. James, Jim Kushiner and Allan Carlson among speakers, Trinity International University, Deerfield, Illinois
More information and registration →
October 13-15, 2017 — Values Voter Summit, Washington, D.C.
November 16-18, 2017 — WCF Caribbean Regional Conference, St. Lucia
November 17-18, 2017 — #Teens4Truth Conference, “Countering the LGBT Agenda,” Hosted by Professor Dr. Robert Lopez, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas
November 28-30, 2017 — WCF African Regional Conference, Malawi
January 1, 2018 — Celebrate “Year of Families” Budapest, Hungary
January 19, 2018 — National March for Life, Washington, DC, USA
February 2, 2018 — Movieguide’s Annual Faith & Values Awards Gala & Report to the Entertainment Industry
May 11-12, 2018 — WCF Family Forum, Lisbon, Portugal, hosted by Dom Duarte Pio, Duke of Braganza and Dona Isabel, Duchess of Braganza
May 15, 2018 — Seizing the Future, Protecting the Family, WCF Regional Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, co-sponsored by Kenyan Christian Professionals Association and Foundation for African Cultural Heritage
May 15-19, 2018 — Global Home Education Conference, Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia