Last week my husband and I attended the World Congress of Families in Salt Lake City Utah. It was the 9th Congress held since the organizations founding in 1997. With over 3300 in attendance the Congress is the largest pro-family gathering in the world. World Congress of Families is dedicated to the promotion of the natural family. That means that they support marriage between a man and a woman, they are pro-life, pro-marriage, and pro-children. The conference was four days of speakers and workshops. The presenters came from all over the world and talked on topics like the importance of marriage, morals and ethics in education, abortion, sex education, child development, and advocating for the family. All the presenters did a fantastic job and my husband and I came away from the conference with a deeper understanding of the current state of the family as well as a greater desire to fight for the family.
The congress received a lot of media attention, some good and some bad. After the first day of the Congress I began to scroll through some of the stories that had been published and came across one from the Daily Beast entitled “Queer Spy at the Anti-Gay Conference”. Considering the nature of the publication I should have ignored the story entirely but we had been enjoying the conference so much and I was upset by the author’s attitude so I opened the article and began to read.
“The registration table at the World Congress of Families conference looks like a church lady convention. Greeting newcomers and carefully distributing name badges and swag is a small army of smiling middle-aged women, all decked out in matching orange polo shirts and varying degrees of frazzled enthusiasm. Their hairstyles and footwear scream “sensible,” and I get the impression that if given enough time, any one of them would eagerly regale me with stories of their kids/grandkids, offer a remedy for stubborn stains, and jot down their favorite casserole recipe.”
The article went on to ridicule the Mormon moms in attendance (though when he used the phrase Mormon mom it was more a stab at all mothers). He noted the “notorious anti-LGBTQ” legislation that the members of the congress had been instrumental in passing. He used phrases like “Christian right global medaling”. And stated that the Congress had disseminated a “US born culture war that’s wreaking havoc on women and queer folks all around the world.” In case you are wondering the term queer refers to “sexual and gender minorities that are not heterosexual or cisgender.”
Naturally my first reaction to this article was anger. I told my husband that the writer was nothing more than a hypocritical jerk who began his article about a conference that was anti-women by making fun of women! Fortunately my husband was the only one to hear this rash reaction. One of the biggest lessons that I learned from the conference was the importance of reacting with love……a phrase I have a hard time with because it gives me the impression of hippies sitting around smoking pot and spouting off bumper sticker sayings such as “all you need is love”. But what I have come to realize is that my reactions reflect directly on the family and the pro-family movement. My actions and comments should never be such in nature that they can be used against the very cause I am trying to defend. Responding with love is in fact one of our most powerful weapons. It sets the tone for the whole movement and will be one of the reasons that the family succeeds. My experience at the conference taught me that.
My husband and I brought our four month old daughter to the conference with us. Before attending we had been worried that our baby would not be welcomed or permitted at the conference. Generally young children are not allowed at conferences because they are loud and disruptive. The situation proved to be just the opposite. I have never been at a place where children were more welcome. Everywhere we went with her we were met with smiles. So many people would stop to tell us how excited they were to see her there, how much fun children are, and how much joy they bring, that it took us twice as long to get anywhere. People from all around the world greeted us and congratulated us on our beautiful daughter. Of the whole conference that had the greatest effect on me. I realized that despite great obstacles the family will succeed. Because as it turns out the “queer spy” was right. The pro-family movement is fueled by an army of happy and enthusiastic individuals. Whose dedication to their families will motivate them to persistently, courageously, and lovingly fight for and defend the family.