Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Modern French Revolution

Report on the World Congress of Families, Day 2
The Modern French Revolution

A brilliant story has the delegates at the WCF buzzing. I mentioned the French rally’s for marriage and family briefly in the first day’s report but I have some more detail that is absolutely fascinating and worth going into detail. As many of you may know, a gay marriage and adoption bill is being presented to French Parliament but the people took to the streets in protest in unprecedented numbers (1 million people marching Paris at EACH rally). In fact, these rallies are historic in that they are the largest in French history, and likely world history for this particular social issue. Maxime Legoce, a young Frenchman had the opportunity to speak with in between sessions, was a significant player in the French rallies in Paris and around the world. He gave several speeches on his experiences and one was titled, “The French Movement for Defending Marriage and Leadership in the 21st Century.” I hope my reporting does it justice, and more importantly, I hope Maxime’s morally courageous story of the La Manif Pour Tous (“Demonstration for All”) pro-family movement gets shared around the world. It is inspiring!

The organizers of these highly successful rallies in France, along with other French citizens around the world, were predominantly made up of young people. This is fascinating not only because they are young but also because they live in a relatively agnostic and secular country. When people heard about these pro-family movements around the world, they were shocked and couldn’t figure out why the French youth would be so passionate about marriage and the family unit. But this is proof that there is much “hope smiling brightly before us” with the rising French generation.

Why were these high school and university age youth the driving force for protesting gay marriage and gay adoption? The answer lies in the history of their parents. The May 1968 French “Sexual Revolution” created a generation of mass divorce, abortion, broken homes and families, euthanasia, drop in education and so forth. The young people of 2013 have experienced firsthand these negative social “freedoms” did to their families and home life. They were damaged by their parents’ and grandparents’ destructive social behaviors that they wanted to get rid of it. With the mass divorce, these children felt that they were the victims and needed to take action. They are taking a stand against the very things their parents fought for in the 1960’s.

How did the cause for marriage and family in France gain so much support and traction? Maxime said that the movement was all carried out through the power of social media and people who were passionate about this cause. Here are a few things they did that made it so successful:
Social Media: Very low cost advertising and potential to go viral very quickly. Where we used to have to place ads in the newspaper or on television at great financial expense, they are able to use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other French social media outlets to get the word for countless rallies and demonstrations of support very quickly to a lot of people. The “La Manif Pour Tous” Movement Facebook Page is highly successful and there are a lot of neat photos that inspire people to get involved.

1.  They used creative ways to engage people. For instance, one movement included encouraging everyone to change their Wifi name to “No Gay Marriage”. Whenever neighbors would be searching for Wifi access or logging into their system, anyone made this change would show up. Maxime said he changed his one night and the next day, his neighbors all changed theirs. It created an underground resistance movement.

2.   They had a very easy to remember, non-religious slogan to reach all people across the board: “1 Father, 1 Mother = That’s Marriage”, “Father, Mother, Children, It’s Natural!” and also “La Manif Pour Tous which means The Demonstration for All” and this is a play on words for the pro-gay marriage side whose slogan is “Marriage for All”.

3.  Blogging. There is a huge network of Catholic bloggers around the world that are all organized under the “Catholicsphere” (a narrower version of the “blogosphere”). 

4.  They made it cool to show their pro-family T-shirts, sweatshirts, bumper stickers, flags, banners etc. 

5.  For people who were physically unable to come to Paris to march, they created the first ever E-march online. This was absolutely brilliant in that they used geo-localization with IP addresses to create a heat map of all those virtually attending the rally online (pictured below).

6.     They encouraged everyone to go viral fast and furiously with any updates or information on what was happening on the ground during the rallies. For instance, the media and police said there were only about 300,000 people (only? That still seems huge!) at one of the rallies where they absolutely had over a million people total. Everyone was tweeting or Facebooking images to debunk this false information by the pro-gay marriage media. 

7.  Technology Allows For Immediate Reactivity. Prime example: at one of the rallies (all peaceful mind you), police decided to take 70 people into custody. What did they immediately do? They tweeted photos of them in the police vans and posted pictures on Facebook asking for help. By the time they reached the police station, there were already supporters there. The supporters grew and within only two hours, the police released all 70 people.

Another interesting thing happened with the police and the media manipulation. The photos they showed on the news were doctored to show far less people supporting the pro-family rally. However, as soon as these photos showed up on the news, people started submitting real time photos proving that not only did the media edited out tens of thousands of people, but they also photo shopped existing trees and lamps and parts of the boulevard, which automatically proved they were trying to cover up the real numbers at the rally.

One part of their rallies that was highly effective was their use of “flash mobs” using car parades. They would randomly pick and then list a certain street online for supporters to jump in their cars and drive down the street waving pro-family flags. Other rallies would be huge signs draped over the many bridges of Paris or in front of hotels or government buildings where members of Parliament are scheduled to visit. The La Manif Pour Tous movement call it the “welcoming committee”. 

      8.  Technology Supports Generosity. Not only were supporters able to donate money to the cause, but they were able to use social media to donate things and services to help make it easier for people able to attend the rallies. For instance, people living in Paris would offer accommodation for those who lived in the country and didn’t have the money for a hotel. Other people would offer carpooling to the rallies, while others would offer babysitting or meals. The kindness of strangers quickly turned these people into friends. That’s the beauty and generosity of the human spirit!

I know I wasn’t the only one at WCF who was touched by Maxime’s story and I hope that we can use these powerful tools for future rallies and events. I know there are great opportunities here for learning and implementation. I hope we can have more Maxime’s and La Manif Pour Tous movements around the world where gay marriage and adoption bills are coming into the picture. Let’s share my new friend’s story with everyone and also remember it when we start hearing of whisperings of gay marriage bills (or other social issues) coming to our states and countries. Let’s act and follow the example of the French and this brilliant and successful movement.

Here is an inspiring short clip with footage from the rallies (it made me want to go to France to support them on May 26 for their next rally!) :

Here is the website. It’s a fantastic template for others who want to start movements in their state or country:

Candlelight vigils every evening by high school and university students are held 24/7, with people taking turns supplying food, water and bathroom breaks. Thousands upon thousands of young people gathering each night to peacefully protest by singing, reading poems and lighting candles:


  1. wow, how impressive...I'm happy to have donated for such a worthy and effective movement...

  2. I'm really surprised to hear this. Somehow, I would have expected the French to be very liberal on that issue.