The week after the United States and the European Union agreed that Russia’s recent actions in Ukraine were egregious enough to warrant sanctions, American religious right leaders affiliated with the World Congress Of Families have traveled to Moscow to participate in the International Family Forum, a large gathering of “pro-family” leaders from around the world which bears a striking resemblance to the World Congress Of Families summit which was scheduled for the same time and location. Plans for the WCF summit were “suspended” in an apparent public relations move after public outcry and internal dissension within the American religious right led many to question the wisdom of American groups participating in a conference so closely linked to Putin’s Russian regime, which has shown itself in recent months to be a grave threat to free people everywhere. Two of the primary organizers of the original WCF summit, Yelena Mizulina and Vladimir Yakunin, are high-ranking Russian officials who have been subject to American economic sanctions stemming from the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Mizulina was listed as recently as last week as an organizer (along with WCF managing director Larry Jacobs and communications director Don Feder) of the new International Family Forum. All organizers’ names have been removed from the event’s website, presumably because of heightened scrutiny, but the screen shot is still available here.
WCF’s Jacobs and Feder are confirmed as attending the International Family Forum, which starts today. Austin Ruse, of the WCF-affiliated Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, has also previously stated that he will be attending.
Before the World Congress Of Families “suspended” plans for their Moscow summit, Penny Nance, CEO of Concerned Women For America, made waves by announcing that CWA would be pulling out of the event entirely, stating that they “don’t want to appear to be giving aid and comfort to Vladimir Putin.” As we pointed out at the time, this was an interesting move which suggested internal dissension among American religious right leaders over the Russian issue. Is the spread of their “pro-family,” anti-gay, anti-woman ideology important enough to get in bed with dictators who oppress their people, stifle dissent and invade sovereign nations on a whim? Even more interesting was the fact that World Congress Of Families board member Janice Shaw Crouse has long been near the very top of CWA, serving as the Executive Director of the Beverly LaHaye Institute, CWA’s think thank.
Would this cause a rift?
Over the past several weeks, as part of a larger series investigating the key players in the World Congress Of Families, one of the primary groups responsible for exporting anti-gay hate from the United States, I have been examining the work of Janice Shaw Crouse, the WCF’s favorite anti-feminist woman. Crouse has traveled more for the WCF than perhaps any other American figure not employed by the organization, speaking as early as their 1999 conference in Geneva and participating in every convening since. In 2004, she spoke at WCF’s Mexico City summit on the evils of feminism, which she believes aims to destroy women’s relationships with their families.
I asked recently whether Crouse would also be attending the non-WCF-sponsored Russian event, as she, along with Jacobs, Feder and Ruse, were the four American participants in a February press conference highlighting the originally planned Russian summit. Twitter provided the answer:
So indeed, it appears that Dr. Crouse is with her friends Larry Jacobs, Don Feder and Austin Ruse in Moscow this week. When CWA announced their pull-out from the WCF event, it didn’t appear to be part of a PR campaign. As I said, it made waves. The WCF’s decision to suspend plans came almost two weeks later. How much dissension did this cause in the ranks?
Dr. Crouse provided a clue on Twitter on September 5, linking to a CNS News report on the record number of Americans not participating in the labor force:
So, Dr. Crouse is no longer in the labor force, and it sounds like she’s not happy about it. On CWA’s website, Crouse is still listed as the executive director of the Beverly LaHaye Institute at CWA. From her bio:
Janice Shaw Crouse, Ph.D., Executive Director and Senior Fellow at the Beverly LaHaye Institute, the think tank for Concerned Women for America, is a recognized authority on national and international cultural, children’s and women’s concerns, including sex trafficking, the United Nations, and U.S. domestic issues. Alongside Chuck Colson as Man of the Year, she was the Centers for Decency 2008 Woman of the Year. Alongside Ignacio Asuaga as Man of the Year, she was Woman of the Year for the international World Congress of Families 2012. She has twice served the president as an official delegate to the United Nations (2002 and 2003). Her books, Children at Risk (2010) and Marriage Matters (2012), were released by Transaction Publishers, the publisher of record for international social science research. She is a weekly columnist, political commentator, and a popular speaker at national and international events.
A call to CWA’s offices after hours led to a staff directory where Crouse still, apparently, has a voicemail box. However, on CWA’s “experts” page, Crouse’s bio is no longer listed, though a link to her bio is still active in a drop-down menu to the left.
Truth Wins Out posed these questions directly to Concerned Women For America’s press office, but did not receive a reply. We will update when and if they respond.
If Crouse and CWA have parted ways, that would be a remarkable shift, suggesting that the leaders of the American religious right are not of the same mind when it comes to Russia. Has Crouse decided that spreading the gospel of discrimination and hate in foreign countries, regardless of geopolitical repercussions, is more important than her years of dedicated work at CWA? Though there’s hardly any issue around which Truth Wins Out and CWA have any common ground, we did at least respect Penny Nance’s decision to disassociate her organization from those who give aid and comfort to Vladimir Putin. The WCF’s Don Feder, on the other hand, believes that Putin doesn’t threaten American national security, but that President Barack Obama does.
This brings us to a very real, pressing question, one that every American religious right leader must answer: Is your allegiance to your own country, or is it to your ideology of hate?