The Center for Family and Human Rights (formerly the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute), also known as C-FAM, is a fundie wingnut organization devoted to all things wingnut, and (of course) particularly associated with anti-gay-rights campaigning. The organization likes to portray itself as a tiny David at war against a Goliath of “abortion lovers,” “radical homosexuals,” and “sexual revolutionaries” (to hell with the facts, as long as it gets paranoid fundies to send them their life savings). The president, Austin Ruse, is also a key member of Groundswell, a coalition of wingnut activists and journalists, and former contributor to Breitbart, and the kind of guy who readily declares that the “sexual revolution”, which has a higher “body count” than “Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, all tyrants combined,” is pushed by “enemies” who want to “undermine the morals of you, your family, your children, your grandchildren.”
In 2014, Ruse gained some notoriety for stating that “the hard left, human-hating people that run modern universities” should “all be taken out and shot” (calling for the murder of his opponents is not an isolated incident for Ruse). The “toxic stew of the modern university” includes women’s studies programs and sex education, which Ruse apparently thinks are there only to teach students to be promiscuous and engage in pornography. When the comments were reported by RightWingWatch, Ruse countered by calling RightWingWatch “dumb” “pajama boys” with “their panties all in a twist,” which is as slamdunk a refutation of their accurate reporting of what he actually said as it is possible to give.
Fanatically anti-gay, Ruse has warned that “radical homosexuals” are “coming for your daughter and your son and your grandchildren. They don’t have any children of their own. They are deliberately barren. So, they have set their sights on yours, your innocent girls and boys.” Ruse is convinced (i.e. deluded) that “[m]ost people recognize that the homosexual lifestyle is harmful to public health and morals,” and, despite ample evidence to the contrary, that gay people/activism is a major cause of gay teen suicide, alcoholism, and early death.
Ruse has also described same-sex marriage as an “ideology” imposed on the US, and as an act of “revenge” on society by gay people: “Gay marriage was about imposing an ideology on the rest of the country. It was about changing the institution of marriage for everyone else. And it was also about getting even with a larger society gays felt had treated them badly,” said Ruse. And under the influence of Satan (“radical homosexuals” are among the devil’s “minions” who “want to win our children over for their nefarious causes that come from the very pits of hell”), activists for LGBT rights are “busy undermining all that is good and true and beautiful and it has been given to us to stop them.” Comprehensive sex ed, by the way, is also an idea “created in the pits of hell by wicked individuals who wanted to undermine family and ultimately to destroy any institution that stands between the family and the state.” Meanwhile, those who read his critics are “controlled by Satan”, and you should therefore send him money to help shut down those who are critical of him.
In 2016 C-Fam hosted a gathering at the UN for the “Group of Friends of the Family,” a group that includes many of the world’s most repressive regimes, and Ruse praised Islamist countries like Saudi Arabia and Sudan for helping to “save” U.N. documents from unwanted language. C-Fam also worked feverishly with Russia (Ruse has repeatedly praised Russia’s and various African countries’ draconian anti-gay legislations, lamenting how the Constitution prevents implementing similar measures in the US, and for good measure adding that “most Americans would agree with Russia’s anti-gay law”) and anti-LGBTQ African and Islamist countries to try to overturn the decision to investigate discrimination and violence on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity – a “wicked” plot “from the very pits of hell” designed to “impose the gay ideology on the whole world”. According to Ruse, who has been fighting the UN on these questions for a while, all countries should have laws discouraging homosexuality in order to “help society to teach what is good.” Such laws would also “prevent such truly harmful practices as homosexual marriage and adoption.” The signatories to the joint effort cited the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on the statement that the family is the fundamental unit of society and “is entitled to protection by society and State” from exposure to homosexuals. “Human rights”, like “victim” and “oppressed” and “Marxist”, means whatever you want it to mean when it serves your purpose. Another hero of Ruse’s is Viktor Orbán, who crushes dissent while defending “Christian Civilization”; Ruse has an interesting track record of pointing out various regimes as models for the US.
The UN is usually an enemy, however. In an actual 2013 email, Ruse claimed that the UN is “coming for your daughters and sons… WHO WANTS OUR DAUGHTERS? WHY DO THEY WANT OUR DAUGHTERS?” (capitalization in the original); “[t]he sexual radicals have your children, MY CHILDREN, in their crosshairs.” The trigger was apparently a United Nations Population Fund report on ways to address adolescent pregnancy, which to Ruse is proof that the UN wants to train kids on how to masturbate and get abortions. And in 2014, when the UN released a report that was heavily critical of the Roman Catholic Church’s handling of sex abuse cases, Ruse blamed Satan for the investigation that produced it: “Only the Devil could tell children they have a right to sex and abortion,” Ruse said in a message to C-FAM members, referring to the report’s worries about ideological stances toward sex in the Catholic church. “This Committee actually told the Church that its teaching on homosexuality has caused violence against the same-sex attracted,” continued a Ruse that was deeply shocked by the truth, concluding that “[w]hat these radicals need a good shaking.” One sometimes wonders whether he’s a parody.
In 2018 President Trump responded to the discussion by naming C-Fam’s executive vice president Lisa Correnti part of an official U.S. delegation to the annual U.N. Commission on the Status of Women to combat, as C-Fam put it, “the fiends of darkness”. C-Fam had at that point just called the session an “assault on life and family” in a fund-raising email where they portrayed themselves as a “small and relatively weak” organization pitted against the “rich and powerful” forces such as the U.N. human rights office.
In 2018 Ruse also critized (Here is another example of the abuse he is exposed to: at one point he and his daughter was forced to see a lesbian woman on the Food Network: Ruse had noted from the start that one of the chefs appearing on the show Chopped “looked like a butch lesbian” and had put his finger on the remote just in case he got exposed to gayness, but he was unfortunately too slow and was abusively forced to live with the consequences.) Catholics who aren’t as fervently opposed to homosexuality as he is, that helping people accept homosexuality puts Catholics at risk for “stepping into a life that will only lead to heartache, sometimes disease, sometimes death, even damnation.” Then he claimed to be the victim.
Ruse is also the author of a couple of books, including “Fake Science: Exposing the Left’s Skewed Statistics, Fuzzy Facts, and Dodgy Data,” which is notable for its skewed statistics, fuzzy facts and dodgy data (example here), in particular in service of Ruse’s climate change denialism. Ruse has a general and well documented problem distinguishing scientific studies from opinion pieces that agree with what he already believes.
There is a fine Austin Ruse resource here.
Diagnosis: An embodiment of Orwellian, wingnut, fundie tactics: rich, rightwing fundamentalists are really the victims of powerful, poor gay people, because said wingnut fundies support human rights as practiced by paragons of religious liberty and freedom like Sudan and Saudia Arabia. Angry, zealous and completely delusional.