Friday, May 17, 2013

World Congress of Families in Sydney

You guys did a great job getting Angela to the World Congress of Families!

I am giving you her first report in one big chunk, but WBMW is giving it out in more bite-sized pieces if you want to check out her reporting as well!  (I've got a birthday party to plan for tomorrow, so I'm crunched for time!)  But Angela is doing an awesome job representing us and reporting back.

If you have questions for Angela or for Angela to ask of others at the conference please leave them in the comments!  Thanks!

Here is her report for us from Day 1 of the event:

 Hundreds of the world’s best and brightest pro-family scholars, religious leaders, anthropologists, sociologists, educators, doctors, policy makers, government officials and legal minds have converged in Sydney, Australia for the World Congress of Families. Their goals include presenting powerful data and discussion to help further defending, preserving and maintaining the family as the fundamental building block of society. It’s about shifting key debates surrounding preserving and maintaining the natural family unit.

Because I am so grateful for the opportunity to attend and because I want everyone to experience it and learn from these incredible people, I’m obtaining video and website link to all the presentations and will be sharing it as soon as it is available. Trust me, you will want to pour over them and share them. They are outstanding!

Here are some brief recaps of the speakers and interviews I have done so far at WCF Day 1. It’s approaching midnight here in Sydney, so I hope my notes are reasonably coherentJ

·       My initial impression was that this is a gathering of righteous people who are fearless in defending faith and family. The power in this Congress and it is tangible and real. One thing that became immediately apparent was the caliber of the presenters. They are sharp, educated, articulate and powerful public speakers. The media tends to show a very different picture of those who have strong religious and pro-family belief. Far too often they paint them as uneducated, inarticulate, redneck bible thumpers (for lack of better terms). This is what the media would have us believe but this couldn’t be further from the truth.

·       The World Congress is about children and the future of the family. Essentially, this is a “family of families” and a fight for the family. We can’t do it alone and this is why WCF is so critical.

·       Allan Carlson, founder of World Congress of Families, talked about the debates in the UN about the nature of the family and said that “The WCF envisions a culture of marriage where young women are growing into wives, homemakers and mothers. Where young men are growing to be husbands, homebuilders and fathers.”

·       Honorable Greg Smith, Attorny General of NSW Australia: “Thank you for not avoiding a discussion about the more controversial and difficult topics!”

·       A fascinating speech was given by Konstantin Malofeev of Russia (bio forthcoming). He talked about Communism and the huge advances Russia has made towards Christianity. 30 years ago, Christians from the West helped Russia out of Communism and out of a culture of erasing God and religion from their life. Now, the tables have turned. The Western culture is in the process of erasing God and religious belief out of life. Ironically, Russia is becoming more pro-family and pro-religion. “Like the Christians 30 yrs ago that helped us overcome Communism, now it is our turn to give back to you and help you with family and Christianity.” (His speech was powerful and emotional—wait for the video!)

·       Dr. Ian Harper, Australia’s best known economists: “I’m a well known economist but more importantly, I’m a husband, father and grandfather.” “Healthy families are essential to healthy economies. Where economies struggle, look at the structure and nature of the breakdown of the family.”

·       Bradford Wilcox, Director of the National Marriage Project and Sociologist: Fascinating presentation! Kids thrive on stability and two parent homes. Strong families are due to strong fathers and mothers in the home. But it is the father in the home that really makes the difference the success of his children educationally. The value of two parent families are contingent upon the father and how engaged he is.

·       Honorable John Anderson, former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia and religious leader: Why isn’t the pro-family, pro-religious movement not gaining more traction? What can each of us do when we return to our communities to affect change? Why is it so difficult to affect change? The breakdown of the family is essentially the breakdown of truths and absolutes. There is self-obsession in the name of equality. We’ve lost the sense of what we traditionally believe as true/false and right/wrong. Our young people need to be better educated in morals! We’re losing our ability to engage in sound debates. You MUST believe in truth and believe that one outcome is better than the other (i.e. man/woman = marriage). If you have bad debates in government, you will get bad public policy. Society has forsaken absolute truth and we are struggling to have a reasoned debate with the other side.

What can we do together?
1. Recommit and remodel our own commitment to absolute truth. How can we expect deep committed relationships in our children if the world around them doesn’t honor commitment? We must be a model of commitment for the rising generation.
2. Engage in reasoned debate. Commit to a higher standard of analysis. Respectfully engage with the other side. Use personal stories of how marriage affects you, how divorce affected you, etc. Real stories by real people = trust. Don’t forget to honestly showcase personal stories by people affected by family breakdown. Often they may not want to share but they need to be encouraged so that we can have personal and real stories to show why marriage matters and what affect divorce etc. has on the children.
3. Remember who we’re fighting for: CHILDREN.

We need to muster all the commitment we have and see it as a challenge but not overwhelming or all consuming/depressing.

·       Dr. Patrick Fagan, Senior Fellow at the Family Research Council in Washington D.C.
Farming analogy: The quality of the seed (children) sown is dependent on the quality of the farmers (parents). The family is the future of the world. The woman in the home raising children is of greater value than the husband in the marketplace. Divorce alone creates 1/6 drop in the economy each year in the USA. Key: Chastity and monogamy. The restoration of chastity is essential!

·       William B. May, USA “Getting the Marriage Conversation Right” : There is a campaign of intimidation and silence. The victims are our children. We need new ideas, new ways of thinking and opening up a new front so that we are on the offence and not the defense. The battle for marriage is in our home and we need to learn ways to teach it so our children can speak and defend it without fear. How can we do this?
1. Learn better ways of communicating our values to our children.
2. Research: Get well versed in research on the need for mothers and fathers. Religious sermons are wonderful but we need to be able to talk about marriage from a non-religious perspective as well because this is what will ultimately cut right to the heart of the matter with non-religious people.
3. Identify false premises that are being taught in the media. We need to speak truth: Marriage unites a man and a woman with each other and any children born from their union.
·       The #1 thing to remember is that marriage is worth fighting for! The dominant elitist left would want you to think you are losing so you won’t fight. But remember: History is not written yet.
·       Peter Westmore: A child needs a model of each sex. It is the optimal configuration since time began. We all hear the argument that same sex marriage is inevitable. However, if we listen to this argument, we just might believe it. But 90% of the world’s countries are against same sex marriage, only 13 have allowed it. That means 90% of the population don’t want it. Not one country in Asia wants it. Not one country in the Islamic world wants it. And note that these are all non-Christian countries. The countries that have legalized gay marriage have abolished a child’s birthright and children have been/will be subject to an uncontrolled social experiment. No government should allow laws legalizing and normalizing a motherless or fatherless situation.

·       Jose Ureta, France: Marriage for All, the French Experience: This was a fascinating presentation! 1.5 million French citizens marched on Paris against gay marriage, making it the largest rally in all of French history. This movement interestingly enough was driven by the younger 20-30 something aged generation. Why? They have seen the result of their parents’ generation which was rife with divorce and moral relativism, and they have had enough. There is an awakening of faith filled youth in France! The younger generation are more conservative than their parents. They are rising and ready to fight for family values. They are rejecting moral liberalism.
*The neatest thing happened in this session! I was sitting by the young man (probably in his mid 20’s) who was one of the top rally leaders against gay marriage in France. Someone started cheering in the audience for the courage of these French young people, and then they started, one by one, singing La Marsailles, the French anthem. The whole auditorium started clapping and everyone who knew the words started singing. It was incredible and inspiring!!

·       Keynote Speaker: Dr. Janice Crouse, UN Delegate on Commission for Women, Presidential Speech Writer, etc. The family is under attack in numerous and unprecedented ways. It is imperative for each of us to understand social science and use this evidence to teach the future generations.
- When we deviate from the norm, fixing the broken pieces of the family is extremely complex and difficult.
- Every child needs an adult who is absolutely crazy about him/her.
-Children are the only future the family and any nation has.

Q&A Panel of Experts:

John Anderson:
- Western Society is doing to ourselves voluntarily what communism did to the world (i.e. erase God, religion and morals from society).
- Let’s understand that we have not equipped our children with the framework or moral vocabulary to combat moral relativism. What we need to do asap: 1) Get our own houses in order and humbly extend our examples of family life and religious belief to others; 2) Get ready for battle. We’re fighting for our children and the future of the world.
- Live a life that is worthy of our children to follow.
- We need to be courageous, we cannot afford to be complacent.
- It is UNBELIEVABLY important for our children to have a mother and a father. Yes, there will be single parents and often they will feel offended or feel sensitivity to this issue. But truth is truth and we must still teach the ideal and show the research of how important it is that children have a married mother and father. But it must be taught with sensitivity and kindness and gently work through the issue and research in a supportive way.

Interview with Shelly Locke, USA Founder of The Power of Mothers

At dinner I had a wonderful opportunity to interview Shelly, former Utah Mother of the Year and delegate to the United Nations and The Howard Center for Religious Studies, humanitarian and attendee of nearly all the World Congresses. She talked about the power and courage of all of the people (presenters, speakers, organizers, etc). involved with the World Congress of Families. “They have all experienced persecution, death threats, hostility and have made incredible personal sacrifices in defending the traditional family and religious belief. When you look around this auditorium, you need to know that these people are incredible. They are highly educated scholars, legal minds, policy makers, politicians, sociologists, church leaders and so forth, and they have been targeted by the opposition for their pro-family and pro-religious work.” Shelly continued, “There are hundreds of people here with amazing stories that need to be told. They are on the front of the battle lines and the rest of the world needs to know about their sacrifices and what they have done to protect and defend the family. I think there is potential for a huge story here. Each of their stories needs to be told.”

In my interview with Shelly, we came to the conclusion that we need to feature these inspiring people in the blogging community and put a human face on this fight for faith and family. She later went on to tell me about the persecution and protests that the World Congress and the presenters and delegates have experienced throughout the years. Several years ago, the WCF was held in Amsterdam and she recalled with great detail the paint bombings and protests outside the speakers hotel and the congress venue. She was in the hotel lobby with Elder Russell M. Nelson and Sister Nelson, Sheri Dew and other Church leaders. They were awaiting to get into a cab to take them to the WCF sessions when they were met with screaming, intimidating and vulgar protesters. At one point, she was followed and her path was blocked from entering the building. Dodging the force of one particular protestor, she made it into the building and on went the Congress. 


  1. glad the voices of the majority are being heard...

  2. Awesome report. Thanks so much for sharing it!

  3. Angela - Tell Shelly that any of those speakers may have a platform on our blogs...and if you could please get contact info from anyone you can. I'd love to interview them!!!

    1. I will! Shelly would be very helpful. She is amazing. I will do my best and keep you posted! Can I pull the "Jocelyn worked as a producer for CNN" plug? ;)

  4. So glad that Angela was able to go. I think my sister-in-law, Mary Barton, has been affiliated with the World Congress of Families off and on over the years.