Pro-family activists and leaders from 61 countries kicked off the 5th global conference supporting traditional family values on Monday in Amsterdam.
Over 1,000 leaders, activists, scholars and legislators are expected to attend the World Congress of Families (WCF) on Aug. 10-12. Organizers have hailed the event as truly the "first worldwide congress of families" with delegates coming from 11 African states, and from as far away as Venezuela, South Africa, Moldova, Pakistan and Australia.
During the Congress, participants will discuss issues related to family life including abortion, marriage, declining birth rates, child-care vs. home care, education (including home-schooling), pornography and the exploitation of women and children.
"The broad national representation at WCF V demonstrates that the issues we'll discuss…are universal, touching families in North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia," commented Larry Jacobs, managing director of the WCF.
In the United States, the legalization of abortion and same-sex marriage have recently become particularly hot topics due to the passing of several pieces of legislation.
The current health care reform bill sparked a frenzy of protest over the inclusion of abortion coverage paid for by tax dollars. One single pro-life group alone sent more than 100,000 letters to Congress in late July urging lawmakers to exclude abortion as a mandatory health benefit.
Also, in June, New Hampshire became the sixth and latest state to legalize same-sex marriage. New Hampshire joins Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, and Maine.
However, pro-family groups in Maine are fighting the legislation. They are currently banding together for the upcoming November election in an attempt to overturn the law that legalized same-sex marriage.
Critics of the WCF V have accused the event of being organized by fundamentalist Christians who are "anti-feminist, anti-choice, homophobic and against divorce."
However, participants and speakers of the event come from diverse religious backgrounds including from Judaism, Islam as well as secularism.
"Clearly, the social left is terrified of the Congress bringing a pro-family message to what it considers its turf," Jacobs said, responding to the opposition.
Some of the speakers at the Congress include Dr. Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention; Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs, the chief rabbi of the Netherlands; Andre Rouvoet, Dutch deputy prime minister; Paul F. Mususu, executive director of Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia; and Dr. Farooq Hassan, international jurist and president of Pakistan Family Forum.
This year's Congress is co-sponsored by over 30 pro-family groups in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Latin America, Spain, Italy, Switzerland and Poland.
Founded in 1997 by Allan Carlson, the World Congress of Families is a project of The Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society in Rockford, Ill. Past Congresses were held in Prague, Czech Republic (1997); Geneva, Switzerland (1999); Mexico City, Mexico (2004); and Warsaw, Poland (2007).
For the first time, the WCF will be webcast live on the Internet with video and audio.
On the Web: www.worldcongress.com