Why you should try and get to the most important social conservative event of the year.
I am delighted to tell you about this truly wonderful event taking place in March, which I am planning to attend. The World Congress of Families (WCF) has been described by conservative commentator Dr. Steve Turley as “THE premier social conservative organization in the world today”, and I have to agree with him.
I don’t just want to tell you about this event, I want to urge you to attend! If we social conservatives are going to roll back the insanity being pushed by the progressive left - the gender-bending, ever more radical abortions, gay marriage, and the rest of it, then we need to network, to physically show up and make something happen, and not just tweet and complain online. This remarkable event in Verona is by far the best place to make our voice heard. We can learn from what other people are doing around the world, and take heart in the fact that we are in fact the majority of world opinion - something these conferences amply demonstrate. And pleasantly, it is not expensive to attend. General admission is only $10 per day, and there is ample affordable lodging available, and air travel is a bargain at this time of year. More below on costs.
The success of the WCF is reason for social conservatives to take heart, and to realize that the tide is, in fact, starting to turn in our favor. We still have a long way to go, but the pushback has started, and the WCF is THE event to learn about it.
Perhaps by luck, WCF, which was started and is led by American Christian conservatives, both Evangelicals and Catholics, had put in hard work over the last 20 years building relationships with their counterparts in Western and Eastern Europe, and when the now evident, extraordinary, anti-globalist, populist-nationalist, pro-Christian, pro-family global trend, or revolution really, broke out in earnest over the last decade, from Russia to France, WCF was right in the middle of it. They were in the right place at the right time, and they secured key government support for their events, with Viktor Orban of Hungary welcoming them to Budapest in 2017 and giving the keynote.
The most powerful figure in this trend in Europe today, Matteo Salvini, a hero to the populist-national right and scourge of globalists, is welcoming them to his populist stronghold, Verona, ground zero for the anti-globalist uprising, and giving the keynote address. He is joined by an excellent roster of speakers (see below).
The WCF is absolutely detested by the LGBT lobby for their steadfast activism against this trend, and if you search them on Google, you will find hysterical attacks against them coming from this sector. In predictably Orwellian fashion, the Southern Poverty Law Center labeled them a ‘Hate Group’, which to my mind is a sure sign that these people are doing something right.
The story of the WCF is such a great one, and there are so many things to explain about them, the great people involved, the impressive roster of speakers in Verona, that this is going to be a long article, but just sit back and enjoy it, because the WCF’s story is as admirable as it is inspiring. It is an important story not just for Christians, but for anyone uncomfortable with the relentless attacks on our societies and the family from the globalist left, the George Soros mentality. When researching the WCF for this article, I realized there was no one good comprehensive article which told their story, so I will try to do so here.
There is also a Russian angle which I will explain below, because the WCF has strong relationships and ties here, and by living here in Russia I get a special perspective of this. Russia is arguably the strongest bulwark in the world against the globalist menace, and the strongest resurgent Christian nation, so it is not surprising that WCF would find friends and support here.
The Verona event will be a very special one for three reasons: because of the caliber of the attendees (see below), because of the political excitement surrounding the anti-globalist, anti-immigrant Salvini and his surging popularity in that part of Italy, and because Verona itself is one of the gems of Italy, a truly delightful spot, not as mobbed with tourists as Florence, Rome, and Venice, but no less interesting.
I researched Verona for this article and here is just a little to whet your appetite, more below. Famous, of course, as the scene for Romeo and Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew, and Two Gentlemen of Verona, it is one of the wonders of Italy, with a proud history — it emerged as a powerful independent city around 500 AD, and is one of the best preserved medieval Italian towns. Local patriotism is strong, and as in many old Italian towns, its inhabitants think of themselves as Veronese first, and Italians, second — this has important political implications, more on that below too. It is 2nd only to Rome in the quantity and quality of Roman ruins, including a famous Roman arena right in the heart of town, and is packed with stunning Renaissance and Medieval architecture and art. Not overrun with tourists, especially in March, it is a wonderful, livable, walkable town where regular Italians live in what to the rest of us seems like a dream world of beauty and grace.
At the end of the conference their will be a big, well-attended march through Verona in support of the family and to send a visible message to the globalists that their LGBT ideology is not welcome. What a wonderful way to end this event!
For the people who have been writing me and following my Facebook page about Moving to Russia, and my articles on Russian Faith about my decision to move there, this conference is a wonderful opportunity to meet in person.
Some background on the WCF
The World Congress of Families (WCF) was founded by American Evangelical Christian conservatives in Illinois, and quickly found common cause with like-minded activists from around the globe. The mission of the WCF is to reverse the spread of LGBT ideology, abortion, and the weakening of the traditional family. They do this by bringing various like-minded conservative people together. Their events attract Evangelicals, Catholics, Orthodox, and various secular social conservatives who agree with their positions. WCF attracts thousands of attendees, and has been taking place since 1997. Here is a list of them so far:
|Host City||Number of attendees||Year|
|IX||Salt Lake City||3400||2015|
Brown is also the founder of ActRight.com, a leading fundraising and petition platform for socially conservative causes and politicians. It is meant to provide a conservative version of the liberal fundraising juggernaut Actblue.com, and to date has raised over $12 million for various causes. In 2013 Brown traveled to Russia and addressed the Russian parliament (the Duma), urging them to stand strong against encroaching LGBT ideology. This provoked howls of anger from the left, and was the last straw for the SPLC, which listed this offense as the reason WCF is a ‘hate group’.The president of the IOF - which organizes the congresses - is Brian Brown, a prominent American pro-family activist. He is known for founding and leading the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), a powerful national group with serious fundraising muscle which lobbies Congress for pro-family policies. It is best known for being a major player in winning the Proposition 8 referendum in California, which made same-sex marriage illegal (since overturned). Brown was raised Quaker, converted to Catholicism as an adult, and has 9 homeschooled children.
For a sense of what Brown is like, here is a video of him addressing the national march for marriage in 2014, an event NOM organized.
With its American founders and leadership, WCF has strong relations with Christian conservatives in both America and Europe. In recent years, in response to a dramatic global rise in populist, nationalist, Christian, pro-family, anti-globalist trends, the WCF has focused on Eastern Europe, where this trend is most pronounced, with 4 of their last 6 events taking place in this region.
In the early years of this decade, as it became clear that Putin’s Russia was emerging as a nationalist-populist, Christian nation, there were growing ties between conservative American Christians and like-minded people in Russia, both in the Russian church and among lay people. This was written about and discussed at the time with great fear and anger from the Left. On the strength of these ties, and expecting a large turnout from American evangelicals, WCF scheduled its Fall 2014 Congress for Moscow, to be hosted in a palace in the Kremlin.
Unfortunately, the Ukraine crisis broke out early in the year, with Crimea voting in a referendum to reunite with Russia, and in July the Malaysian airliner was shot down over Ukraine, the US and EU imposed sanctions, and WCF had to cancel the Congress. Despite that setback, ties have remained strong and the WCF has some excellent people on board in Russia doing exciting things. The Russian partners of WCF have been instrumental in building relationships with social conservatives in Europe, in Greece — where they have close ties to the monastic enclave of Mt. Athos — in Italy, across Eastern Europe, and especially in Hungary. There will be a solid Russian presence in Verona. I am familiar with some of the Russian attendees - more about them below.
One observer who has been very good explaining the WCF is Dr. Steve Turley, an American academic and nationalist-populist-traditionalist political commentator who has a rapidly growing YouTube channel which explains this massive global secular shift away from globalism and towards nationalism. He argues very convincingly that this is a global phenomenon, visible in India, Japan, Africa, and South America, as well as Europe and the US.
He will be speaking in Verona, and I recommend that you watch his video about it, or read the transcript. I also highly recommend subscribing to his YouTube channel and turning on notifications, because he gives excellent analysis of current events that counters the nonsense one hears in the mainstream media. One thing that makes Turley different and refreshing is that his message is one of optimism — he explains why the tide is turning. It is perhaps his optimism which makes him invaluable.
Turley also urges his audience to attend, and says he sees the conference as an opportunity to meet and talk with them, and he plans to make himself available. So if you are a Turley fan, as I am, this is a great opportunity to get some good quality time with him.
Here is a second video he made several months ago describing the previous WCF event in Moldova, which is a small Eastern European country which was historically part of Romania, and has been an independent country since the fall of the USSR. Like Hungary and Poland, it is a leader in advocating social conservatism in Europe.
The exciting political backdrop of Salvini country
As you will see from the Turley video, one of the reasons he is excited to be at the conference is because Verona is ground zero the nationalist-populist, anti-migrant movement that is sweeping north Italy, and greater Europe. Salvini, who hails from nearby Milan, and is the de facto leader of Italy, is a hero to anti-globalists everywhere because of rhetoric like that of two weeks ago when he announced that he hopes the French people throw embattled pro-Globalist president Macron out of office. The populist backlash against globalism has been growing for years in Italy and has powered Salvini’s meteoric rise.
Part of the reason Northern Italy is the epicenter of this political earthquake is because people there feel a stronger local patriotism than to a national, let alone international one. They are proud of their local town and region, and deeply committed to its welfare, and unhappy about decisions of EU bureaucrats to flood their country with African immigrants, and a globalist left media lecturing them about why this, along with gay marriage, is supposedly in their best interests.
Actually, here is another good Turley video about the Salvini phenomenon, along with a transcript.
The march at the end of the conference will be well-attended by local Veronese, who are no fans of globalism, as they have made clear at the polls. I look forward to marching with them in solidarity with traditional family values.
Another interesting fact is that in 2018 a city law passed by 21-6 declaring Verona a "Pro-Life city", and requiring public funding for anti-abortion groups. Can you name any major American city which can say the same?
The excellent speaker roster
In addition to the rock star status of Salvini, there are many other big names and very compelling and interesting people speaking, with more to be announced in the coming weeks. Take a look at the speaker list on the WCF site to get an idea.
One of the goals of the event is to bring together thought leaders who are on the front lines of this revolution from around the world, of a various political and religious backgrounds, to share in their experiences, their successes and setbacks, and to learn from each other, and support each other. There will be workshops and breakout sessions dedicated to a wide range of issues. Just the opportunity to interact with these individuals in small groups is reason enough to come to Verona.
I’ve already mentioned Brian Brown and Dr. Steve Turley, here are a few other interesting individuals:
Dr. Steve Turley
The government of Hungary is sending two excellent individuals - Katalin Novak andAttila Beneda, minister and deputy minister for the family, who recently backed a law giving lifetime tax amnesty to any family having 4 or more children. Wow! As you might sense from their picture, these are no dry, dusty EU bureaucrats, rather leaders of the European revolt against globalism. It was primarily due to their strong personal support that the Orban government welcomed WCF to Budapest in 2017, with a ringing keynote speech from Orban himself. They were instrumental in having pro-life language added to the Hungarian constitution! They no doubt will have interesting insights into the movement’s progress in Europe. Budapest was the highpoint of all of the WCF’s events, but Verona will likely outdo it.
The President of the EU, Antonio Tajani — a prominent Italian politician who has been outspoken against LGBT.
Igor Dodon, the President of Moldova — along with Salvini and Orban, one of the most outspoken European heads of state fighting against globalism, immigration, and destructive anti-family ideologies. He hosted last year’s very successful Congress.
Louis Alphonse de Bourbon, Duke of Anjou — the Duke has become a symbol for French and European social conservatives who are pushing back against globalism. He is one of the pretenders to the defunct French royal throne.
Louis de Bourbon
Giorgia Meloni (Wikipedia) — a prominent nationalist Italian politician, representative of the anti-globalist, anti-immigrant wave sweeping Northern Italy and Europe.
Princess Gloria of Thurn and Taxis — Quite an interesting story. Famous when she was younger for an over-the-top, hedonistic, jet-set lifestyle, she had a dramatic conversion to conservative Catholicism, and is known for speaking the truth on social issues, flouting political correctness.
Father Dmitry Smirnov (Russia) — Fr. Dmitry is a media phenomenon in Russia, and wildly popular due to his down-to-earth, grandfatherly advice and straight talk, sense of humor, and total disregard for political correctness, which he dispenses on an almost daily basis in the Russian media. The large and boisterous liberal media in Russia, (yes, the Russians have to suffer with this too), can’t stand him. He is one of the first priests I met in Russia and is a warm and wonderful person. He is a major pro-family and anti-abortion activist and holds a senior post in the official Russian church. It is a shame that he only broadcasts in Russian because he would be a hit globally. We have translated a few of his media appearances on Russian Faith, which I highly recommend sampling to get a sense of what the church stands for in Russia. He is a treasure, and will be available to mingle with conference participants. The chance to meet this great man, is by itself, reason enough to attend this conference.
Father Dmitry Smirnov
From Africa: Lucy Akello (Uganda), Justin Majawa (Malawi), Theresa Okafor (Nigeria) — This is a very important side of the story. Africans tend to side with the anti-globalists and reject the LGBT religion being pushed on them by left-wing do-gooders. Many Africans see the leftist effort to saddle them with this unwanted ideology as the latest iteration of neo-colonialism, something you won’t hear mentioned in the liberal media. The story is actually quite ugly, as Western governments and agencies like the US, the IMF, the World Bank often linking aid to adoption of pro-LGBT legislation. This is an outrage, and needs to denounced. An important and refreshing global perspective. Much the same can be said of the rest of the 3rd world.
The Mayor of Verona, Federico Sboarina a leading Italian pro-life activist — Sboarina was a key backer of a successful 2018 city council law which declares Verona to be a “pro-life city”, and requires public funding for anti-abortion groups and a regional program that encourages mothers of unwanted pregnancies to give their children up for adoption. (Sboarina even tried to include requirements to give aborted fetuses a burial, even if the mother was against it, but this one did not pass.) The law passes 21-6, which gives us an idea of local attitudes. Pro-life positions span the political spectrum in Verona. Sboarina is center-left.
Participation from Russia
Since we are a Russia-focused publication, here is some info on the Russian angle. While the WCF has no official ties to Russia except for a Russian representative in Moscow, Alexey Komov, they do have a lot of friends there, and in the past there have been plenty of Russians attending, both private citizens and official representatives from the government and the church. The official delegations usually confirm at the last minute, and given the high level of participation from the Italian, Hungarian, Polish, Moldovan, and other governments, it is highly likely that they will be there this year in force, although they are not currently on the program. Unfortunately there will not be a significant Ukrainian presence, as they are also very strong on family issues, on both sides of their civil war, as indeed are most Eastern European countries.
I can’t tell you how interesting it is to network and share notes with these Russians. When one does, one realizes how close we American conservatives are with them, and how dishonestly they are depicted in our American media. They are wonderful, admirable people, and true Christians, - come to Verona, and you will easily be convinced of this.
I already described Fr. Dmitry Smirnov above. Another very interesting person who will likely attend is Alexey Komov, again, someone, like Smirnov, from the Russian pro-family world whom I highly recommend meeting, and someone I hope to meet in Verona.
We have published a few articles about Komov on Russian Faith — he has together with his wife Irina and Smirnov, been a major force in bringing Christian homeschooling to Russia, building a company to make home-study materials available in Russia at affordable prices — something he has done in partnership with American Christian homeschoolers. He has made several important documentaries, including the excellent film ‘Sodom’, exposing the global LGBT lobby. I can't recommend this film highly enough, it is truly ground-breaking. He was a top person, along with Alexander Dugin, involved in building a major national Russian Christian TV channel, Tsargrad. He frequently travels to the US and has wide contacts with American Christian conservatives, and was instrumental in bringing Russian support to the WCF. He is the WCF representative in Russia. The son of Russian diplomats he grew up in Cuba and speaks native Spanish, as well as fluent English and some Italian and Greek.
Here is a video of him addressing a huge hall of Lega Nord, (Matteo Salvini’s party) anti-globalists in Italy way back in 2013. It is really worth listening to his few minutes of comments to get a sense of where he is coming from. 2013! I mentioned at the beginning of this article that the WCF was way ahead of everyone else in anticipating this Christian national-populist uprising in Europe.
Komov has been so successful and influential that there is now a major effort from the ‘hate Russia’ crowd in the Clinton / Podesta / Adam Schiff / RussiaGate wing of the Democratic party to paint him as a kind of male version of Maria Butina, someone who ‘infiltrated’ American conservatives at the behest of the Russian government. I seriously doubt this is the case, and suspect that he is probably just what he says he is, a Christian activist doing what he thinks is right, just like so many I have met in Russia. By their fruits ye shall know them. And by their enemies too.
The Center for American Progress (Wikipedia), run by Clinton insider Neera Tanden, which in 2014 had an annual budget of $45 million, recently published two articles which typify the Russia mania in the Democratic party, obsessing about Komov: How Russia infiltrated the world of American religious-right filmmaking, and The latest front in Russian infiltration: America’s right-wing homeschooling movement. If the Clinton machine is unhappy with him, that can only be a good thing.
My point is that there are many very high caliber people like Komov doing important things in this worldwide pushback against globalism who are involved with the WCF, from Italy, Hungary, France, Poland, Africa, Russia, Greece, and many other countries and regions. That is why I agree with Turley, that they are the most important social conservative organization in the world today. There will most likely be a lot of interesting people there from Russia.
Interesting organizations attending
One group I have heard about which I very much look forward to meeting is the Spanish group, CitizenGo, which is the world’s largest conservative, pro-family petition and fundraising site. Founded just 5 years ago, they have already raised over $10 million for socially conservative, pro-Christian causes, and 10 million people have signed their petitions. They offer campaigns in 12 different languages, have a presence in 15 cities around the world, and are a real example of the anti-globalist trend sweeping the globe. Both Brian Brown and Komov are on the board.
More info about the event
This year WCF will be smaller than usual, because of the capacity of the hall where it will be held, the magnificent Gran Guardia palace, in the heart of old Verona, on one of the most beautiful squares in Italy, the Piazza Bra. The smaller size is a shame I think, because with the star power of this year’s attendees, and the enthusiastic local support, it could easily have been the biggest WCF to date, but there is a silver lining - there will be more access to the VIPs. I checked with the organizers and there are still plenty of tickets available, but you should hurry, as it is sure to sell out in the coming month.
About 200 guests from the US are expected, a mix of Evangelicals, Catholics, and Orthodox. The Congress will have a workshop atmosphere with experts teaching attendees how they can counter gender ideologies in their communities, and promote pro-family causes. The themes of the Congress will be:
The beauty of marriage
Integral human ecology
The woman in history
Growth and demographic decline
Women’s dignity and health
Legal defense of life and family
Company policies promoting birth-rate and families
There will be about 60 speakers in numerous panels, workshops, and breakout sessions during the 3 day event. The idea is to send people back to their communities with real skills they can apply there. There is a focus on identifying young people who can become leaders in the pro-family movement. Many of the attendees and speakers have large families and there will be many children in attendance — this is a very child-friendly event!
The WCF’s declaration of the primacy of the traditional family
Here is the text of a declaration adopted after a similar conference organized by WCF in Cape Town, South Africa, in December, 2016. It is admirable in every respect. This is no regular boilerplate, and is worth reading:
Spanning the globe, we have no common tongue, culture, or creed. We are divided by history and geography, by social customs and forms of government. But in foundations, we are united. We are of one mind on the bedrock of civil society, on the basis of that first and primordial community called the family: We affirm the dignity of marriage as the conjugal bond of man and woman. We embrace it not as the parochial practice of any sect or nation or age, but as the patrimony of all mankind. We defend it not as a matter of preference or temperament or taste but as the heart of any just social order.
Human beings thrive in communities. And every community finds its foundation where every human being deserves to begin: in marriage. Here a man and a woman commit to join their whole lives as one family and seal their love as one flesh. They show forth the fidelity and unity-in-diversity of any healthy community. Thus do they secure for any children born of their bond, the birthright of all men: to know the faithful love of the man and woman whose union gave them life.
Healthy marriages thus make demands of couples; but wounded ones make greater demands of whole societies. A thriving culture will therefore serve marriage—and all society—by promoting purity outside it and fidelity within; by discouraging pornography, adultery and divorce; and by firmly resisting every push to redefine marriage: to include same-sex or group bonds, or sexually open or temporary ones.
We rededicate ourselves to honoring, restoring, and protecting these truths. We commit, where possible, to refuse to deal with corporations that deny them. We pledge to resist the rising cultural imperialism of Western powers whose governments seek nothing less than the ideological colonization of the family.
Together we join in common cause, East and West, North and South, to stand for a truth that no government can change. 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.
Some information about Verona
So last, but definitely not least, here is some tourist information about Verona. I of course had heard of Verona, but never before realized what a wonderful place it is.
From my reading, the charm of Verona is that it combines jaw-dropping medieval and Renaissance beauty and cultural riches with the feel of a ‘normal’ medium-sized city. The population within the city limits is about 250,000 and 750,000 in the greater metropolitan area. It is compact, walkable, livable, and full of ‘regular’ neighborhoods with beautiful old homes, plenty of authentic small restaurants and stores which cater to the locals, not to tourists. It achieves that which is so elusive in our America, with our inhuman, impersonal glass-tower down towns, with few people on the streets because everyone is driving or in a mall or tucked away in their soul-killing suburban sub-sections. And it achieves it in grand style, perhaps as well as anywhere on earth.
One of Verona's biggest attractions is one of the best preserved Roman amphitheaters, which is on the Piazza Bra, the same square as the venue for WCF, the Gran Guardia Palace.
Here are 3 good tourist articles I found about Verona. I think you will agree, it sounds like a special kind of heaven. Average temperature at the end of March is a balmy 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 C), dry and sunny.
Roman ruins and fine wine in the underrated alternative to Venice - From London's Daily Telegraph, short and to the point.
Falling in Love with Verona . This is from a family travel blog and has a lot of great pictures.
Verona, Italy: a cultural city guide - Another good one from the Telegraph
Also, here's another picture of the venue, the Palace Gran Guardia, which looks impressive indeed.
And finally, Venice is just an hour East by a picturesque train ride, and Milan 2 hours West. So do what a lot of American visitors are doing, and make a week-long trip out of it.
If you buy in the next two weeks or so, roundtrip flights from NY are about $750 to Verona, $500 to Milan, and $450 to Rome. Verona has a wide range of affordable lodging, starting with very affordable Airbnb’s and inexpensive hotels for about $80 a night, up to great luxury. The WCF are actually offering great deals on blocs of rooms they have reserved in the neighborhood, which is nice, because you meet other conference attendees that way.
Come to Verona!
I warned you at the beginning of this article that it would be long, and that there was a lot to say about this event, and clocking in at about 5000 words, my fears have been confirmed.
So let’s recap: superstar speakers, access to fascinating and important guests from around the world, Russian Christian activists, a beautiful venue in one of the loveliest cities on earth, a chance to meet with the Russian Faith audience, workshops where you and your family can learn real skills to bring home with you, and a chance to network with the most important social conservative organization in the world today, and march with all these admirable people from around the world and their Italian hosts in support of life and families. A chance to meet Dr. Steve Turley, Fr. Dmitry Smirnov, Alexey Komov, and many others. Warm Spring weather. I think you have to admit, that is compelling.
But the biggest reason of all to go is because, as I said at the outset of this article, if we want to join the fight against the anti-Christian, globalist onslaught, then we have to physically show up, put on the armor of God, and show our support for organizations like the WCF, who are doing His work.
Source: Russian Faith