Organizer: Universal Peace Federation Germany
Co-Organizers: Women’s Federation for World Peace Europe, Family Forum Austria, Family Federation for World Peace and Unification Germany
By FFWPU Germany, Robert Bentele: More than 80 participants, mainly from Austria, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Germany, met in the religious retreat Schloss Fuerstenried near Munich. The topic under discussion was the role of the family in Western society and the threat posed by gender ideology and so-called ‘gender mainstreaming.’
Presentations were given by academics, representatives of NGOs and politicians, among them a member of the Czech parliament and a Slovakian member of the European parliament as well as representatives of UPF and four other supporting organizations. The whole conference was accompanied by intensive dialogue and exchange of ideas.
At the very beginning of the conference there was a moment of silence to remember Fritz Piepenburg, executive director of UPF whose recent sudden death saddened us all.
After a short video introducing the audience to the goals of UPF International, the program got under way. The first part of the conference dealt with Moral Relativism and Genderism.
The first speaker was Frank Simon, a forestry engineer who worked for several years as a Christian foreign aid assistant in South America. He lives with his family in the south of Germany and does voluntary work with the management team of a Protestant Free Church. In his presentation: The Sex Education Plan and Gender Madness, he spoke about attempts by gender activists to make sexual diversity a topic in the school curriculum, and highlighted the ideological background behind efforts to change the idea that mankind consists of two sexes.
He stressed that in contrast, especially in the first years, healthy family relationships are of vital importance to children. Not the education received in school, but the bonds experienced in the home, are crucial for a healthy emotional and intellectual development. Divorce is a traumatic experience for children and damages their self-confidence.
Under the topic From Familism to Myrdalism the social scientist Dr. Stefan Fuchs, referring to the results of many statistically supported investigations, explained the social and political contrasts between ‘familyists’ and ‘myrdalists’ (named after Gunnar and Alva Myrdal, who masterminded the Swedish welfare state). Signs of ‘defamilisation’ are a loss of an ability to ‘bond’ in so-called post- modern lifestyles and ‘singularisation!, a massive drop in the birth rate in industrialized countries (which has in the meanwhile also reached the new industrial nations in Asia), as well as giving preference to state over family responsibility in education. The way out of the destabilizing ‘de-familisation’ that has only one family member in its field of vision, is to a ‘re-familisation’ which encourages the whole family system.
The UPF chairman Karl-Christian Hausmann spoke about The Ideological Vacuum and the Foundation for a Culture of Peace. After WW II, a great desire for lasting peace prevailed in the Western world with a longing to avoid such a catastrophe in the future. The preamble to the constitutions of several of the German states includes a reference to God. Thus the constitution of Bavaria begins with the words: ‘in view of the ruins which were the result of a world without God and without conscience..’ and the German constitution with: ‘in awareness of its responsibility before God and mankind…’
The movements to unite Europe had a goal of reconciliation and the thinking of the United Nations was influenced by a desire to return to God. Seventy years later, however, the Christian view of man is ‘evaporating’. But neither God nor the goal of history has changed; it lies in the fulfilment of the three great blessings (Genesis 1:28): incorruptible people, love in the family and preservation of the creation. Therefore, the foundations for a culture of peace are: God as loving parents and the origin of value and dignity, the family as the first school of love, a responsibility to serve and overcome barriers as well an awareness of man’s eternal existence.
Jack Corley leader of the European Unification Movement and former Vice- President of the International Educational Foundation gave a lecture on Three Life Goals and Education in Values. He reported about IEF’s character building program which he worked with in the 1990’s in Russian schools after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and later also in China. It is derived from the three basic life goals stated in Genesis 1:28 which offer a standard for norms and values. In his personal development, man needs a spiritual standard to guide his physical instincts. The development of social abilities takes place on the foundation of heart which is developed in the family. In school, along with the transfer of specific knowledge, the meaning of love, sexuality and marriage should also be taught. A balanced education can be represented as a pyramid of education of heart, norms and expertise.
Nina Nováková, Member of Parliament of the Czech Republic, spoke on The Situation of the Family in Current Politics. Her concern is the transmission of European culture in the field of education. The basic elements of European culture come from pre-Christian Greek philosophy as well as Christianity with the 10 commandments and the commandment to love one’s neighbor. Today, as once in the late Roman Empire, there are increasing signs of decay: a marked tendency to selfishness (growing individuality), the relativisation of human dignity, overemphasis on sensual pleasure, cowardice and a lack of willingness to make sacrifices. Areas where education takes place are the family, schools and the media. The family as the smallest unit of society secures the ongoing propagation of tradition and values. It is in the family that firm and unconditional relationships are found. It is more than an association or sports club. An assessment program should take into account the effects that laws have on the family as a fundamental social ecosystem.
Anna Zaborská, member of the European parliament for Slovakia, dealt with The Family in the European Parliament. She lays emphasis on women’s rights and family-friendly politics. In this connection, she demands a ‘family- mainstreaming’ as opposed to ‘gender-mainstreaming’, since the decline in marriage in Europe leads to poverty for many women and children. Children who grow up in one- parent families have a seven-fold risk of poverty compared to those who grow up in a traditional family. Motherhood has become a mere medical diagnosis, children are not any more seen as important investments and parents are just perceived as tax payers and contributors to the work force. Because the role of women as mothers has been neglected, pensions and health care for women as they age are no longer adequate. Mrs. Zaborská gave very competent answers to questions about her work, the influence of lobbies, fear of discrimination and voting behavior. She also explained how lobby groups manage to get their ‘reports’ voted for (example: the Lunacek and Estella reports). She referred to the responsibility that every citizen has to vote.
On the following day, Sunday, a few new participants joined us. The presentations continued and the main topic was now: Strengthening the Family in a Global Context.
Carolyn Handschin lives in Geneva and is the director of the UN office of the International Women’s Federation for World Peace. Her topic was Family and the UN, Family Mainstreaming. Phrases in UN resolutions mostly start in a positive way, but they often contain contrary and negative positions. The Economic and
Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC) represents many aspects concerning the family and peace. In July 2015, the Human Rights Council (HRC) passed a resolution by 21 votes to 14, supporting the family. Unless the family is put in the center, human rights and freedom can never be realized. It is of concern that in the meanwhile the focus has been diverted from protecting the family to ‘family deconstruction’ under the influence of the ‘reproductive health’ policy of Planned Parenthood and the ‘Yogyakarta principles’ of the gender movement. The mother of seven spoke out for ‘family mainstreaming’, since although the family is the cause of many problems, it is also the solution. She made several suggestions as to how the family could be brought more into focus.
The second speaker on Sunday morning was Josef Gundacker from the Family Forum, Austria. His topic was: What is Family? The School of Love! First of all he showed a power-point presentation that was structured like a meditation to the song: ’Teach your Children Well’. Children should be given roots and wings from their parents. He made the case for less state interference and more responsibility for parents and for a paradigm shift in family politics, marriage and children’s rights reform. Marriage and the family is today seen in a more external way and is orientated to political correctness where all forms of the family are considered equal. Marriage must again be understood as an institution based on an understanding of Christian values and be able to pass on its human inheritance to the next generation.
The theologian and representative of the Agency for Family Publications (AFFP), Rolf-Dieter Braun, introduced the initiative ‘Marriage Week’ as a contribution to his topic What Can we do for Marriage and the Family? In the week before Valentine’s Day (February 14), many events are held nationwide: from literature circles, cooking events, film evenings, distribution of flyers, to candle- light dinners and ‘days to encourage the family’. The main message is: marriage is positive and married people can do something for their relationship! Proposals to spread family values range from: mixing with creative people, meeting people and institutions from the fields of culture, church, politics and science by connections in the internet and social networks, distribution of publications, discussions in small groups at home, to looking for local initiatives. The fact is: ‘nothing good happens unless you do it!’
The final presentation World Peace through Healthy Families was delivered by Dr. Dieter Schmidt, chairman of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification. The first responsibility of world religions is the same as that of the UN: peace. Therefore, UPF invests itself for interreligious dialogue and for the fulfilment of the UN millennium goals which are now called ‘sustainable goals’. As a medical practitioner he stressed that health embraces physical, spiritual and social well-being and is not simply the absence of illness and infirmity. Secure attachment to their parents is an important condition for the health and neuronal development of young children. On the other hand, early sexualisation leads to chemical disturbance in the brain (triggered by pornography and sexual stimulation) and ultimately to attachment disorders. Therefore, sexual abstinence before marriage as taught by religion makes sense. The holy scriptures of the world religions stress the decisive role of the family. Jesus, with his statement ‘God is my father’, brought a new understanding of God which contributed to his crucifixion. Rev. Moon advanced this understanding by talking about ‘God as the parents of mankind’. Interreligious, intercultural marriages and healthy, loving families offer an important contribution to world peace.
The conference was wonderfully supported by songs from the choir of an African Free Church from Nuremberg, ‘Oasis of Love’. They thrilled us with gospel songs and engendered heavenly relaxation for the participants. A special mention must also be made of the excellent cuisine, the hospitality and loving care given by the personnel and the nuns. All of this made for a harmonious atmosphere which contributed to the success of the seminar.
All the participants praised the event and hope that a large and effective network can be established to support the family and rediscover its potential for generating peace.