THURSDAY-SUNDAY
August 23-26, 2001
volume 12, no. 145

The UN quietly wages war on religion

by Joe Woodard, Religious Analyst, The Calgary Herald from LifeSite News

    The Human Rights Committee of the United Nations Secretariat concluded its 72nd session July 27. Among its conclusions was a demand that the nation of Guatemala legalize abortion.

    Guatemala's constitution currently guarantees the right to life of the unborn -- "human life from the time of conception, as well as the integrity and security of the person,'' it reads.

    So the Canadian government, for example, is now contributing $2 million to a United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) campaign, targeting Guatemala for abortion advocacy.

    Guatemalan Mercedes Wilson, a former UN delegate, told LifeSite News, "The West has taken everything from the poor countries. The last things we have left is our children and our faith. The West is taking away our faith and now our children . . . all of our social security.''

    It is horrible that Canadian taxpayers are going to pay for something that will do so much harm to our country, advocating the decriminalization of abortion. Population control and abortion are just two issues where UN bureaucrats tangle with the religions of its member countries. And where global policy collides with national consciences, the UN bureaucracy goes head-to-head with the faith of ordinary people.

- In late July, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) criticized tiny Andorra (pop. 70,000), high in the mountains between Spain and France, because most of the country's schools are Catholic and its students don't receive what the UN considers adequate sex education.

- Last month, CEDAW also ordered the government of Libya to reinterpret the Koran in accordance with UN guidelines on the rights of women and ordered the Kyrgyzstan government to legalize lesbianism.

- The Czech Republic has been criticized for "over-protective attitudes toward pregnancy and motherhood,'' and Armenia has been told to use its schools and media to combat "the traditional stereotype of women 'in the noble role of mother'.''

- Italy was condemned for allowing doctors to claim conscientious objections against performing abortions -- what the UN considers the "serious impediment'' of "intermingling the secular and religious spheres.''

- Last fall Algeria's UN Ambassador Amina Mesdoua charged the UN Secretariat with bending the Convention on the Rights of the Child to push "reproductive and sexual rights'' for kids with virtually no age limits.

- Catholicism has been blamed for "reinforcing attitudes and values that make women subordinate to men and discriminate against women'' in Nicaragua.

    Calgarian Hermina Dykxhoorn, president of the Alberta Federation of Women United for Families, has seen the UN executive at work. Over the last decade, she has been a pro-family lobbyist at UN conferences in Beijing, Istanbul, Rome and other venues.

    At the 1996 Istanbul Conference, the director general of the World Health Organization (then Dr. Hiroshi Nakajima) told a press conference that "the three great monotheistic religions are not compatible with the New World Order,'' Dykxhoorn, a Christian Reformed Protestant, recalled. ``I heard him say it. And when you're a member of one of those monotheistic religions, it's rather chilling.''

    But the UN Secretariat isn't opposed to all religion, she said. "They don't mind Hindus and Buddhists, because they've got more flexible moral codes. And they love the Bahai's because Bahai's are big on world government. But they don't like Orthodox Judaism, Christianity or Islam -- any religion with an absolute moral code is an obstacle to them.''

    UN executives appear to be particularly tolerant of 'Gaia' or 'earth religion,' ancient paganism in a new guise. Dykxhoorn has seen Gaia religion material distributed in UN offices, and spokesmen for the London- based Gaia Foundation hold their press conferences in normally off-limits UN press rooms.

    "Gaia is the ancient Greek name for the Earth Goddess,'' says the Gaia Foundation's Web site. "This Goddess, in common with female deities of other early religions, was at once gentle, feminine and nurturing, but also ruthlessly cruel to any that failed to live in harmony with the planet.''

    Dykxhoorn said, "They're against the three great mono-theisms, because those religions stress the sanctity of life and the sanctity of the family.''

    The great monotheisms believe they have received nature -- particularly human nature -- from a personal God outside creation, who has set rules within which they must work out their salvation.

    Among secular humanists, humanity must be the master of its own fate, which tends to mean some humans must be masters of others "for their own good.'' That can lead to a form of pantheism, wherein some humans must be masters of others "for the good of the world.'' Dykxhoorn concluded, "The intention of people who want to change the world is to gain control of other people's children.''

    UN watchdog Austin Ruse, director of New York's Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, said there is a "complete disconnect'' between the national delegates in the UN General Assembly -- "the committee of sovereign nations'' -- and the unelected executives of the UN Secretariat, who aspire to world government.

    The Secretariat's permanent committees (such as UNICEF, UNFPA, UN Environment Programme and UN Development Programme) act as if they are already a world government and interpret existing UN agreements in the most radical ways, Ruse said. "There's no agreement from the General Assembly on a universal right to abortion, but UNICEF, UNEP, UNFPA and UNDP all act like there is,'' he said. "Abortion is a sacrament for them, and it trumps every other issue. The major push at the children's summit was abortion-on-demand for children.''

    New Yorker Jeffery Huffines, UN representative of the Bahai's, is also president of the Committee of Religious NGOs (non-governmental organizations) at the UN. Huffines said any Christian or Islamic complaints about UN policy come from a "small minority'' of the world's religions and even Christian organizations. "The majority of our members are comprised of Christian organizations,'' Huffines said. "Just like the United Nations as an organization represents all the governments of the world, it represents all the religions world-wide. I have no doubt that there are some UN-affiliated organizations that would call themselves pagan. But does this mean that the UN is pagan? I think not.''

    Further, Huffines objects, "I don't know if UNICEF or UNFPA promote abortion . . . I don't know if they have a pro-abortion agenda -- they have a family planning agenda, but all their documents are neutral on abortion.''

    UN committees are staffed largely by former civil servants from Japan, the European Union, the United States, Australia and New Zealand, said REAL Women of Canada vice-president Gwen Landolt, who has done pro-family lobbying at UN conferences.

    And, said Landolt, their executives tend to be former left-wing politicians: WHO director Gro Brundtland, former prime minster of Norway; High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland; UNICEF deputy director Stephen Lewis, former leader of the Ontario New Democrats. Or, they are public policy activists: UNICEF director Carol Bellamy, a prominent New York feminist and former director of the Peace Corps; and UNDP director James Speth, director of the radical environmental lobby World Resources Institute. But wherever they come from, members of the Secretariat quickly become part of the insular UN culture, Landolt said.

    Whatever conventions are approved by the national delegations of the General Assembly, the Secretariat's implementation commissions take upon themselves the interpretation of those documents.

    So, for example, the UN Commission on the Rights of the Child has twice censured Canada for legally permitting spanking (1996 and 2000). But the signed Convention on the Rights of the Child makes no mention of a ban on corporal punishment. The Secretariat so far has little constitutional power to force nations to abide by its decrees. But it has the approval of most governments of the developed world (especially the European Union and Canada). And it exercises a great deal of indirect power in the underdeveloped world.

    Last November, for example, the UNFPA threatened Pakistan with the withdrawal of $250 million in health programs, if the Muslim government didn't also accept $35 million for "reproductive health'' -- birth control and abortion. After years of resistance, Pakistan finally folded.

    And last September, Nigeria accepted $29 million to fight malaria, polio and AIDS, on condition that it also take $35 million in population control. French demographer Pierre Channu blasted UNFPA for inflating Nigeria's population figures. And Nigerian family activist Carol Ugochukwu complained of "condoms everywhere . . . They make our children promiscuous. All that is to extinguish us; that is why they spend so much money on birth control.''

    Accepting UN population control can indeed have disastrous consequences. Lacking the religious resistance of Muslim Pakistan, Buddhist Sri Lanka began accepting UNFPA programs 20 years ago. Now its fertility rate is 1.4 per couple, well below the 2.1 replacement rate. Last June, Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake lamented his population is now too small to provide 12,000 needed civil servants, soldiers and Buddhist clergy. He is appealing to Sri Lankans to have more babies.

    "The big paradox is the Secretariat's obsession with population control,'' says law professor Richard G. Wilkins, director of the World Family Policy Center at Brigham Young University. "The UN's own population figures show that the big problem facing the world over the next 50 years isn't a population explosion, but a population implosion. That's their own projections. But the facts don't faze them. They just forge ahead.''

    As early as 1998, with 61 countries already at below-replacement fertility rates, UN demographers were conceding the world population will decline shortly after 2050. Then, the combination of a rapidly aging population and the HIV/AIDS epidemic could have disastrous effects. "Their thinking seems to be this: They must eliminate traditional religion in order to deconstruct the family. They must deconstruct the family to implement their radical population and environmental programs. And those programs are why we need world government.''

    But the Secretariat's anti-religious bigotry isn't simply bureaucratic self-serving, Wilkins insisted. Many of its upper-level managers were part of American feminist Bella Abzug's 1970s Equal Rights Amendment campaign, and when that effort failed, they fled to the "less representative'' UN. Together with Canadian environmental mystic Maurice Strong, they have welded environmentalism, feminism and mysticism into "a modern paganism,'' Wilkins said. "They talk about worshipping the life-force of the Earth. The environment is the god we serve, and mankind is an excrescence on the face of god.'' Only religious fervour explains the Secretariat's "ceaseless, ceaseless insistence on abortion'' to the extent of making "abortion-on-demand for children a big issue at the children's summit,'' Wilkins said.

    Former Calgarian Tom McFeely, now a journalist in New York, used to work as UN lobbyist for the pro-family organization Human Life International. McFeely said radical feminist-environmentalism surfaced as the major force in the UN Secretariat, when Earth Council chairman Maurice Strong invited Bella Abzug's feminist lobbyists to the 1995 Rio Earth Summit. "Some of what they've been doing is overtly pagan, but they're really most explicit in their intention to craft a new world religion,'' McFeely said. "That's why they love the Bahai's. The Bahai's are big on world government, and they're big on the notion that all the world's religions are basically the same. The Bahai's (representing less than one-tenth of one per cent of the world population) are almost the official religion of the UN.''

    (Christianity and Islam together represent over half of the world's population. Hinduism counts 13 per cent. No other religion, like Buddhism, Taoism or Secular Humanism represents more than 5 per cent.)

    Then in 1998, the UN Environmental Program sponsored the conference, "Religion and Ecology,'' with Strong and Tim Wirth, former U.S. Undersecretary for Global Affairs and now president of broadcaster Ted Turner's United Nations Foundation. The purpose of the 1998 conference was to formulate a new "Earth Charter,'' what one conference participant described as "rewriting the Bible.'' The "Western Abrahamic traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam'' were criticized for "a dominantly human-focused morality,'' in which "nature is viewed as being of secondary importance.'' The UNEP's first-draft Earth Charter repeatedly deified Earth, declaring, "Earth itself is alive.'' And tellingly, it demanded "sexual and reproductive health'' -- what a Canadian delegate says is a euphemism for abortion.

    The final draft of the Earth Charter -- now explicitly called "the new Ten Commandments'' -- was unveiled at the first meeting of the UN's International Advisory Council of Religious and Spiritual Leaders, the World Peace Summit. The Summit's honorary chairman and major funder was billionaire broadcaster Ted Turner, well known for referring to Christianity as "a religion for losers.''




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August 23-26, 2001
volume 12, no. 145
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