This week is the eight-year anniversary of Truth Wins Out. I am so proud of what we have accomplished and the lives we have touched. For nearly a decade, I have had the honor and privilege of fighting for justice, making a difference, and even saving a few lives. Thank you for those who have generously supported our critically important work.
I began this amazing journey in my living room in Brooklyn after I read an article about President George W. Bush inviting leaders of Exodus International to the White House. The president brought these “ex-gay” activists to Washington to lobby for the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would amend the United States Constitution to prohibit marriage equality. This event prompted me to fly to Washington, DC to launch Truth Wins Out. The goal was to fight the lies, expose the fraud, and unmask the hypocrisy behind the “ex-gay” myth.
Since 2006, we have largely derailed the “ex-gay” industry. Through hard work and determination we ensured it would only be embraced by society’s most extreme, anti-science fringe elements – such as the Texas Republican Party. The practice of conversion therapy is discredited, roundly condemned by every leading mental health association, and several of the top groups that promoted it in 2006 are no longer in existence – such as Exodus International, Love in Action, Love Won Out, and Evergreen International. Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality (JONAH) is being sued because its counselors allegedly practiced a form of nude therapy with clients. Two states, California and New Jersey, have banned the barbaric practice for minors, and several more states are considering following in their prescient footsteps.
It would, of course, be naïve to think that our many victories signify the end of “ex-gay” programs. As long as there is prejudice and discrimination, charlatans will try to exploit desperate and vulnerable people – stealing their money, time, self-esteem, and sometimes their lives. There will always be so-called ex-gays, because the practice is both old-fashioned faith healing and a coping mechanism for LGBT people who buy the destructive lie that they are sinful and inferior. You can no more end “ex-gay” programs than you can stop people from going to sleazy televangelists who offer phony cures for diseases. There will always be unseemly hucksters who exploit people and enthusiastically take their paychecks in exchange for false hope. That’s life, but we will continue to fight by monitoring these groups and mitigating the damage caused by their hucksters and quacks.
Over the years, Truth Wins Out has provided a mountain of evidence, a cascade of scientific information, a powerful media presence, the personal stories of survivors, as well as an arsenal of facts, that have allowed us to effectively frame this issue. The result is that we (along with our many allies) have largely undermined the fraud known as the “ex-gay” industry. Today, when these frauds peddle their snake oil, they are easily refuted, in no small measure to our work.
Over the past few years, Truth Wins Out’s research has found that the “ex-gay” myth is dependent on a larger infrastructure of wealthy and influential Christian fundamentalists. These individuals, and the web of organizations they support, want to take over the world and remake it in their image. Their desire is to roll back the Enlightenment and replace it with Christian theocracies.
It is my view, that the most important endeavor of our lifetimes is to preserve free societies and liberal democracies – while creating a bulwark against religious totalitarians that have a radically different vision of America and the world.
This is why Truth Wins Out has made the difficult decision to permanently archive its primary website TruthWinsOut.org. We have done this, because we have shifted the bulk of our work to TWOCARE.org, which is the site for our Center Against Religious Extremism (TWOCARE). We are now focusing the majority of our attention on critically important research and action against the forces that would like to drag our world back into the Dark Ages. (My personal opinions will be housed online at www.WayneBesen.com. And TWO will still be monitoring the “ex-gay” myth as a fraction of its work)
Unfortunately, our troubling assessment of the world isn’t hypothetical or conjecture, but a thorough, sober analysis of current geopolitical trends and politics. Given the incontrovertible facts, we must acknowledge that there is a worldwide campaign to undermine and destroy everything we hold dear and cherish. Our foes are unyielding ideologues that are committed to ultimate victory – and if we don’t act now we will give them the momentum to become serious threats to world stability.
In his book, The Family, which details the rise of a furtive, yet politically powerful fundamentalist group called The Fellowship, author Jeff Sharlet interviewed the organization’s leader, Doug Coe. The exchange reveals a terrifying blueprint for world domination that appears to be gaining some traction:
One day, Coe believes – not yet – America (and Old Europe, too, the Germans and French and Italians who drifted from Christ once their prosperity was assured) will wake up and find itself surrounded by a hundred tiny God-led governments.” (P.223)
You can see the manifestation of this doctrine in countries like Uganda, where American evangelicals have exported hate and created a hysterical, violent reaction towards the LGBT community. However, we must not lose site of the big picture, which instructs us that the suppression of gay people is not the end game. It is but a strategic wedge issues to help with the larger mission of world hegemony in the name of a perverted, bloodthirsty version of Jesus Christ.
The outlines of this horrific new world are a system that combines freewheeling Koch brothers-style oligarchy, authoritarian governments, and severe social conservatism. The most obvious expression of this alarming paradigm is Vladimir Putin’s Russia. According to The Spectator:
In his annual state of the nation speech to Russia’s parliament in December, Vladimir Putin assured conservatives around the world that Russia was ready and willing to stand up for “family values” against a tide of liberal, western, pro-gay propaganda “that asks us to accept without question the equality of good and evil.” Russia, he promised, will “defend traditional values that have made up the spiritual and moral foundation of civilisation in every nation for thousands of years.”
Crucially, Putin made it clear that his message was directed not only at Russians — who have already been protected from “promotion of non-traditional relationships” by recent legislation — but for “more and more people across the world who support our position.”
He’s on to something. Ukraine’s near-revolutionary turmoil this week pits East versus West — but it’s also a culture war between social conservatives and social liberals. The forces against the government in Kiev tend to be aligned with the EU and modern “democratic values,” including gay rights; whereas government supporters tend to be more Russophile and their banners include ones that say “EURO = HOMO.” These are precisely the battle lines on which Putin has raised his conservative ideological standard.
Russia’s nefarious vision has plenty of sympathizers and supporters among Europe’s right wing nationalists, who have exploited immigration, LGBT rights, and high unemployment to win a major victory in recent EU elections. With their new power and platforms, a collection of European homophobes, Anti-Semities, and anti-immigrant hardliners have coalesced under Russia’s ignoble umbrella. While these sundry groups are divided and are hampered by political infighting, there is an effort to use social issues to create a united front. Indeed, a clandestine strategy meeting just occurred in Vienna, where the forces of regression gathered to strategize about the future:
A secret meeting discussing ways to rid Europe of the “satanic gay lobby” was hosted by a Russian oligarch and attended by a host of far-right MPs and ultra-conservative Eurasian ideologists in Vienna at the weekend – just across the road from where the Life Ball was taking place the very same night.
The meeting was hosted by Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeew and his Saint Basil the Great Charitable Foundation and was attended by nationalists and Christian fundamentalists from Russia and the West. These were thought to include the chief Russian ideologist of the Eurasian movement Alexander Dugin, the nationalist painter Ilja Glasunow, and MPs from far right parties including the Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache.
A star guest was Alexander Dugin, a Russian political scientist and Eurasia ideologist who believes in Russian supremacy and authoritarianism, and wants to see a ‘conservative revolution’ across Europe.
A spokesperson for the FPO has said it was “a private invitation” and did not want to acknowledge whether Strache had attended.
Also reportedly present was 24-year-old Marion Marechal-Le Pen, a French politician for the far-right National Front party. Marechal-Le Pen is also the granddaughter of the party’s founder and niece of its current leader Marine Le Pen.
It is worth noting that the most virulently anti-American forces are the ones both in bed with American Evangelicals and promoting homophobia in Russia. Duma member Elena Mizulina is one of the key Russians sanctioned by the United States for her alleged role in the Crimean invasion. She is also Russia’s most homophobic lawmaker. A New York Times reporter, Ellen Barr, recently wrote an illuminating article, “Foes of America in Russia Crave Rupture in Ties.”
Barry points out that one of Russia’s most outspoken America-bashers is Vladimir I. Yakunin, President of Russia Railways and “one of Mr. Putin’s trusted friends.” A Russian Orthodox tycoon, he has overseen $7 billion worth of Olympic infrastructure initiatives, but his true passion is leveraging his fortune to turn Russia into a nationalistic, anti-Western theocracy. According to the New York Times:
Mr. Yakunin presented plans for a Soviet-style megaproject to develop transportation and infrastructure in Siberia, a move toward “an economics of a spiritual type,” he said, that would insulate Russia from the West’s alien values.
He compared the project to monumental endeavors from the past: the adoption of Christianity in ancient Rus; the conquest of Siberia; electrification of the Soviet Union; the Soviet space program; and the Olympics in Sochi.
Yakunin’s dangerous vision is shared by the Rockford, Illinois-based World Congress of Families (WCF), which the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated as a hate group. Since 2010, WCF has worked closely with Russian organizations to pass 13 new anti-gay laws, the most infamous being the one that prohibits “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors.” This law, which shreds free speech protections, has created “open season” on the LGBT community, with politicians, the police, and neo-Nazi vigilante groups carrying out violence and persecution. When Mother Jones magazine writer Hannah Levintova asked WCF’s Managing Director, Larry Jacobs, if his organization contributed to these draconian laws, he chuckled and replied, “Yes, I think that is accurate.”
While Yakunin and his wife Natalia Yakunina, who leads the Sanctity of Motherhood group, is working to recreate the Soviet-like state, though one infused with religion, the billionaire is generously underwriting the WCF and helped pay for its 2011 Moscow Demographic Summit. Given the illegal Russian takeover of Crimea, it is unclear whether the World Congress of Families is still planning its 5000-person Moscow conference in September, some of which will be staged inside the Kremlin. Yakunin is on the WCF’s 2014 Moscow planning committee for this huge event – which is the equivalent of the Sochi Olympics for theocrats.
Much of this project to reshape the world is driven by wealthy, politicized American evangelicals. At an annual event, The Gathering, the Religious Right’s philanthropic community doles out nearly one billion dollars. Some of that money goes toward mainstream causes, however, a disturbing portion finances infrastructure of the dominionist evangelical right.
The Achilles’ heel of this perilous movement is sunlight. They acutely understand that vast majorities of citizens worldwide strongly prefer liberty and freedom. This is why they go through great lengths to conceal their agenda. The strategy of these ideological tyrants is to infiltrate mainstream society and use stealth tactics to eventually take over the spheres of business, government, family, culture, religion, media, and education. By the time people realize that their society has been hijacked, it will be too late.
These fundamentalists have openly spoken about how they study Mao and Hitler to learn their use of propaganda and subversive techniques. Their creed teaches their followers that a few well-organized, ideological committed people can take over and transform society. We can’t afford to bury our heads in the sand and pretend that this furtive campaign isn’t happening right under our noses.
Truth Wins Out is using its Center Against Religious Extremism to shine a floodlight on this global menace. We must educate and inform the world to prevent the plans of our foes from gaining momentum and ultimately reaching fruition. If our enemies win, we are facing a grim, pre-Enlightenment existence where LGBT rights are non-existent. We have seen, for instance, Russia rallying conservative countries at the United Nations’ Human Rights Council in Geneva, behind a resolution declaring that human rights had to be subordinate to “traditional values and cultural sovereignty”.
In my view, this is the critical issue of our time and we hope you will follow our work online at TWOCARE.org.
We also hope you will financially support our effort with a tax-deductible contribution to Truth Wins Out. TWO is in the forefront of connecting the dots and holding our foes accountable. However, we can’t do this alone and need your help.
Please consider supporting us as we move forward with our crucial mission. Our critically important work is desperately needed. And if no one is doing it – God help us all. Civilization itself depends on us winning this global battle for justice, freedom, and human rights.