This post initially appeared on Right Wing Watch
A group of anti-LGBT activists from around the world, led by National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown, used International Human Rights Day this weekend to launch a new global anti-LGBT group, the International Organization for the Family (IOF). Brown, whose own anti-gay activism has taken him around the world, has been planning to take NOM’s work global for a while now, as BuzzFeed’s Lester Feder reported in 2014 and 2015.
IOF says it “unites and equips leaders worldwide to promote the natural family.” Its first public project is a new global anti-LGBT manifesto dubbed the “Cape Town Declaration,” which the right-wing site Breitbart described as “throwing down the gauntlet to the LGBT lobby.” IOF is hoping to gather two million signatures in the coming year. Manifesto signers pledge “to resist the rising cultural imperialism of Western powers whose governments seek nothing less than the ideological colonization of the family.” It is certainly no coincidence that the manifesto includes “ideological colonization,” a phrase repeatedly employed by Pope Francis.
The declaration and its concluding vow – “Bowing to no earthly power, using every just measure, we shall not falter or flag until the truth about marriage is embraced in our laws and honored in our lands” – feels a lot like a global version of the 2009 Manhattan Declaration, in which conservative evangelicals and Catholics pledged civil disobedience and vowed never to “bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family.”
That’s probably no coincidence either. Among the early signers of the Cape Town Declaration are conservative Catholic scholar Robert George, one of the Manhattan Declaration’s authors, and a George protégé, anti-equality activist Ryan Anderson of the Heritage Foundation.
Other signers from the U.S. include right-wing operative Richard Viguerie; NOM Chairman John Eastman; Larry Jacobs of the World Congress of Families; anti-marriage-equality strategist Frank Schubert; C-Fam’s Austin Ruse, who is fomenting anti-LGBT backlash at the United Nations; Howard Center founder Allan Carlson; Janice Shaw Crouse, who led the 2015 World Congress of Families summit in Salt Lake City; and Movieguide’s Ted Baehr. Also among the initial signers are anti-equality activists from around the world; many of them, like Nigeria’s Theresa Okafor, have participated in World Congress of Families summits.
Also listed as signers are a number of religious leaders, including Foley Beach, Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America; Catholic Bishop Emmanuel Badejo of Ojo, Nigeria; Lawrence Khongy, pastor of Faith Community Baptist Church in Singapore; and Josiah Trenham, an Orthodox priest who has spoken repeatedly at World Congress of Families gatherings.
Earlier this year, Brown was elected president of the World Congress of Families in addition to his duties at NOM. Now, the World Congress of Families is being described as one of IOF’s four main projects:
- The World Congress of Families (WCF) convenes major international public events to unite and equip leaders, organizations, and families to affirm, celebrate and defend the natural family as the only fundamental and sustainable unit of society.
- The Natural Family: A Journal of International Research and Public Policy (TNF) is a quarterly academic publication that informs and inspires leaders to promote the natural family as the fundamental group unit of society and to protect the sanctity and dignity of all human life.
- The Article 16 Initiative empowers leaders in worldwide institutions to protect freedom, faith, and family as the natural and fundamental group unit of society consistent with Article 16 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
- The Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) equips and empowers young professionals, scholars, and activists to promote the natural family as the fundamental group unit of society.