On Friday, we reported that, though the World Congress Of Families had “suspended” plans for their Russian summit, WCF head Larry Jacobs and communication director Don Feder were still listed as organizers for a new, very similar event, one that just happens to include all the same key players and take place the same time as the originally planned summit. The event, now called the International Family Forum, is not being directly funded by the World Congress of Families, but on Friday, it was clear that many of the same Americans would still be attending. Now Mother Jones reports that Jacobs and Feder are indeed traveling to the event, slated to begin Wednesday in Moscow:
This Wednesday, activists from around the world will gather in Moscow for a conference titled “Large Families: The Future of Humanity.” The gathering in the Russian capital will focus on defending “the way of life of large families” and includes workshops on topics such as the “natural family” and the role of media in promoting “the values of a traditional family.”
Originally, the World Congress of Families had scheduled a similarly titled conference, “Every Child A Gift: Large Families, the Future of Humanity,” to take place in Moscow this week. The Illinois-based WCF, as I have reported previously, has promoted anti-gay and anti-abortion policies around the globe, perhaps most actively and successfully in Russia. WCF has helped host at least five major gatherings in Russia since 2010, providing venues for American evangelicals to present their ideas to Russian legislators, religious leaders, and activists.
Yet in July, after the United States and the European Union leveled economic sanctions against Russia in response to its incursions into Ukraine, WCF canceledits Moscow confab, citing “uncertainties” due to the new rules and the “possible liability arising therefrom.” These were legitimate concerns: Two of the WCF’s key Russian allies had been placed on a list of individuals sanctioned by the Treasury Department, making conference planning complicated, and possibly forbidden.
In an email to Mother Jones, WCF managing director Larry Jacobs distanced WCF from the Moscow conference:
“Some World Congress of Families personnel plan on attending the conference and supporting our Russian civil society friends who are working to protect the unborn child and the natural family. Though some of us will be present, as was agreed by the International Planning Committee many months ago, the WCF is not financially supporting the conference in Moscow this week and we have not lent our name to what should be a very interesting conference.”
In another statement sent to Mother Jones, Jacobs wrote that “WCF Communications Director Don Feder and I will be there to attend and speak as individuals and not as representatives of the World Congress of Families.”
They’re not only attending, but speaking!
So, it seems that in almost every way, the conference wasn’t “suspended” at all. They simply took the WCF’s name off the program and withdrew their official financial support. But yet, Jacobs and Feder will be there, just like they always planned, regardless of whether they have any business, as Americans, supporting these particular Russian activists.
Read the whole Mother Jones article for thorough background on the key players for this week’s Russian event.