.- The Amsterdam offices of an organizer for the upcoming World Congress of Families were defaced with paint and vandalized with obscenities and anti-Christian slogans last Thursday, prompting the pro-family conferenceâs leaders to pledge they will not be intimidated by âradical opposition.â
The World Congress of Families V (WCF V) is to take place in Amsterdam on August 10-12 at the RAI Centre. In its pamphlet for the event, the Congress describes itself as the worldâs largest gathering of pro-family leaders and grass-roots activists. It bills the event as âthe most exciting and inspiring international pro-family event of the year.â
On July 30, the Amsterdam building of EuroCongress, the professional conference organizer for the event, was defaced by unknown vandals.
The Dutch Chairman of WCF V, Simon Polinder, said the vandalism was âreally outrageous.â
Commenting in a press release, he said:
âWe are organizing an international family congress, with which we intend to bring attention to the positive value of the family. This group evidently disagrees with that goal. Apparently they are not able to enter into a civilized conversation with us."
The Congressâ managing director Larry Jacobs said it was the first incident in 12 years of international congresses.
Acknowledging that the Congressâ opponents disagree with its stands on issues like marriage, abortion, euthanasia, parental rights, pornography, and prostitution, he said it was âamazingâ that âanti-family activistsâ believe they have a right to engage in vandalism.
He characterized the vandalism as an attempt to intimidate Congress attendees.
âThis isn't the first indication we've had of radical opposition to WCF V,â Jacobs explained.
The group Autonomous Feminist Action has held organizing meetings against the Congress, which it characterizes as a group of âfundamentalisticâ Christians who will âplead for going back to the Christian traditions of traditional relationship between man and woman (sic.).â
Autonomous Feminist Action had posted a drawing of a stenciled man and a woman with a child and a cross between them. A dotted line goes through the necks of the couple, near whom a pair of scissors is drawn as if ready to cut off their heads.
âWe will not be intimidated by these uncivilized, criminal tactics,â Jacobs insisted. âThis latest outrage makes it more important than ever to broadcast a positive, hopeful message of the centrality of the natural family to the heart of the European Union.â
While the vandals used anti-Christian slogans, the Congress is inter-religious in nature and includes scholars and leaders from Catholic, Orthodox, Islamic, Protestant and secular backgrounds. The Chief Rabbi of the Netherlands is scheduled to speak at the event.
Many of the WCF speakers do not agree on specific religious practices but share values and principles concerning family, marriage and children, a press release says. It adds that the WCF will examine the âcritical importanceâ of the family for human societies.
Participants at the conference include the president of the Pakistan Family Forum, the Archbishop of Utrecht, a representative of the Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow, and a bishop of the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia. Monsignor Carlos SimÃ³n Vazquez, a sub-secretary of the Pontifical Council on the Family, will also speak.
Congress participants from the U.S. include Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission; Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute; president of the Population Research Institute Steven W. Mosher; and Dr. Allan Carlson, WCF founder and president of the Illinois-based Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society.
The Congressâ website is at http://worldcongress.org/