About the World Congress of Families
MISSIONThe World Congress of Families provides sound scholarship and effective strategies to affirm and defend the natural family, thus encouraging a sustainable and free society. The Congress seeks to mobilize intellectual and advocacy resources to change the terms of the debate. The definition of the “natural family” comes from a working group of the World Congress of Families crafted in May 1998. It is informed by the ideals of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and by the findings of social science.
DEFINITION OF THE NATURAL FAMILYThe natural family is the fundamental social unit, inscribed in human nature, and centered around the voluntary union of a man and a woman in a lifelong covenant of marriage for the purposes of:
- satisfying the longings of the human heart to give and receive love;
- welcoming and ensuring the full physical and emotional development of children;
- sharing a home that serves as the center for social, educational, economic, and spiritual life;
- building strong bonds among the generations to pass on a way of life that has transcendent meaning; and
- extending a hand of compassion to individuals and households whose circumstances fall short of these ideals.
OBJECTIVESThe four primary objectives of the World Congress of Families flow from the definition of the “natural family” and its belief that the “natural family “ is a prerequisite for a sustainable and free society. They are:
- To articulate and promote a morally sound natural family worldview that can serve as a reliable guide to culture, law, and public policy.
- To encourage primary research on natural family themes.
- To provide open communication between scientific research on the family and grassroots interest and religiously motivated engagement on family issues.
- To rally an effective global voice in favor of the natural family that will counter the destructive elements within the emerging international “post-family” culture.
THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD CONGRESS OF FAMILIESThe World Congress of Families was co-founded in the mid-1990s by Dr. Allan Carlson and the Illinois-based Howard Center for Family, Religion, and Society. It was initiated in response to the dire condition of the family around the world: birth rates were reaching catastrophic lows, marriages were breaking up with routine frequency, and fewer people were expressing interest in getting married in the first place. These developments were not merely personal preferences—they were having a huge public impact, with grave effects on the economy, community bonds, and the cultural climate.
A group of social scientists, family activists, lawmakers, and religious leaders resolved to fight these developments by holding a global gathering under the World Congress of Families umbrella. This initial group realized that there were many people who were passionate and involved in the pro-family movement, but that on the whole the family movement was fragmented—divided along religious or ideological lines—and lacking a cohesive voice and a united mission.
The World Congress of Families was formed to bring those disparate community and religious leaders together to learn about the latest social science data on the family, to exchange ideas about how to strengthen the position of the family in culture and in society, and to celebrate the unique goods of family life by participating in family-focused events and enrichment activities.
Since the first Congress in Prague in 1997, the World Congress of Families has fulfilled this mission to coordinate the international pro-family movement. In so doing, it has enlarged the movement by involving more people, facilitated the development of lasting friendships between attendees, and enriched the pro-family movement in each host country.
The World Congress of Families project continues to be owned and operated by the Howard Center. Each Congress is conducted using an “Olympic model,” wherein the administration for the event is awarded to a local host organization that is primarily responsible for setting the event agenda, managing logistics, and finding event sponsors. After an extensive application and vetting process, the administration for WCF IX was awarded to Sutherland Institute, a Utah-based public policy think tank committed to protecting the cause of freedom, constructively influencing Utah’s decision makers, and promoting responsible citizenship.
Learn more about each World Congress of Families by clicking the links below.