Leaders of the World Congress of Families, who will be meeting at the Grand America Hotel in downtown Salt Lake City in October, announced today that Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Apostle M. Russell Ballard will be a keynote speaker at the opening session.
Ballard was the point-man for the Church’s involvement with California’s Proposition 8, defining marriage as only between a man and a woman, which was ultimately declared unconstitutional. He also directed the Church’s fight against same-sex marriage in Hawaii back in 1997.
“We know that [the battle against same-sex marriage] is not without controversy, yet let me be clear that at the heart of this issue is the central doctrine of eternal marriage and it’s place in our Father’s plan,” Ballard wrote in a memo encouraging LDS members to fight for Prop. 8. “What we’re about is the work of the Lord, and he will bless you for your involvement.”
The World Congress of Families was added as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2014 for its involvement with the 2013 Russian LGBT propaganda law and opposing LGBT rights internationally, including a Ugandan law that would make homosexual acts punishable by the death penalty.
The Human Rights Campaign called WCF “one of the most influential groups in America promoting and coordinating the exportation of anti-LGBT bigotry, ideology, and legislation abroad” and stated that their international conferences comprise “the most fringe activists engaged in anti-LGBT extremism.
Ballard, speaking at a 2003 devotional at LDS Church-owned Brigham Young University, said that same-sex marriage threatens God’s plan of happiness for his children here and in eternity. He also helped draft the World Proclamation on the Family, which he said came in response to concerns by Church leaders over “social movements to design families in ways contrary to God’s plan.”
Noting that the Mormon Church spent millions of dollars battling same-sex marriage, he said as the “vacillating whims of convention and political correctness” march forward, “families continue to be assaulted openly and viciously,” Ballard said, with “gender being confused and traditional roles being repudiated.”
“Life is being trivialized and subjected to the vacillating whims of convenience and political correctness,” Ballard continued. “Children are considered a choice rather than a blessing. … Almost every trend indicates that we are on a slippery slope downward from God’s plan for his children.”
Restore Our Humanity director Mark Lawrence expressed disappointment that the LDS Church is aligning itself with WCF.
“It’s unfortunate that the LDS Church does not recognize the true nature of the WCF and have chosen to align themselves with a group that will cause more controversy and discord than anything positive, while virtually ignoring the World Parliament of Religions, who are welcoming and affirming to all,” Lawrence said.
Janice Shaw Crouse, member of the board of directors of WCF and executive director of the World Congress of Families IX welcomes Ballard’s involvement.
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has long been a strong ally to the World Congress of Families and it is an honor to have one of its senior apostles speak at our conference—particularly someone whose lifelong commitment and leadership has been to preserve and strengthen the family unit,” Crouse said.