“They’re Religious, Conservative and Young: Group Establishes Wing of Family Institute of Connecticut.” That’s the print-edition headline of today’s front page Hartford Courant article profiling iFIC. Below is the full text and photo, reprinted with the permission of The Courant.


Young Religious Conservatives Form Their Own Group
By DANIELA ALTIMARI  Courant Staff Writer

July 7, 2008

Leah Thomas

LEAH THOMAS is executive director of iFIC, the youth wing of the Family Institute of Connecticut. She is standing in front of the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford where she attends Mass daily. It was here that she met the institute’s executive director, Peter Wolfgang. (CLOE POISSON / HARTFORD COURANT / July 3, 2008)


The topic of the high school discussion was homosexuality, and almost everyone in the class expressed the view that “it’s OK to be gay.”

Jennifer Landry believed otherwise. “The act is horrible,” she said, “but the people are in need of sincere love.”

She immediately felt the harsh sting of reprobation from her classmates. “They all verbally attacked me,” recalled Landry, now 23 and living in Southington. “That was the moment when I realized there was a problem.”

That problem, in Landry’s view, is the everything-goes ethos embraced by most of her generation. These days, though, she no longer feels so alone: She found kinship with like-minded young people through the Family Institute of Connecticut’s nascent youth wing.

Like its parent organization, the youth group — known as iFIC, an obvious play for the iPod generation — rejects abortion and same-sex marriage and supports home-schooling and sexual abstinence outside of marriage. Its members, largely Catholics or evangelical Christians, view public policy through the prism of their faith.

“We’re not ashamed of what we believe in,” said Michael Ruminsky, a 23-year-old from Hartford who will leave for seminary in August to begin his journey toward ordination as a Catholic priest.

It just so happens that what they believe in is sharply at odds with the views of most of their peers.

According to a national CBS News poll released last month, 40 percent of respondents between 18 and 29 believe gays and lesbians ought to be permitted to marry; another 28 percent back the idea of civil unions. In a reliably blue state such as Connecticut, where civil unions have been the law since 2005 and the state Supreme Court is reviewing a case that would legalize gay marriage, that support likely runs far deeper.

Even among the religious right, there’s been a shift, according to some political observers. Traditional concerns about same-sex marriage, abortion and stem cell research are losing ground with some evangelical leaders to worries about global warming and the treatment of military detainees. “The Moral Majority side of the religious right is kind of struggling,” said David Roozen, director of the Hartford Seminary Institute for Religion Research. “The moderate middle has become very skeptical about it.”

Besides, Roozen added, “people have gas to worry about so somehow homosexuality … is less of a concern.”

It’s enough to make a young religious conservative feel like an outcast, perennially out-of-step with the tenor of the times. “Being part of this organization is a countercultural activity,” Ruminsky observed.

But they also believe there is a wide if hidden swath of Connecticut youths who share their unease about the moral direction of the state and the nation. “There’s a silent majority out there,” said Leah Thomas, the group’s 23-year-old executive director. “They think maybe theirs is the only voice.”

Thomas, a graduate of Trinity College who now works in the Catholic campus ministry at the University of Hartford, has a soft voice and a gentle demeanor. “I’m an introvert,” she said.

But she speaks loudly when she feels the need. She was part of a pro-life student group at Trinity that published an alternative brochure for women facing an unplanned pregnancy. The brochures put out by the liberal women’s center on campus made no mention of adoption or post-abortion counseling services, both of which she viewed as grave omissions.

The youth group, which now has more than 50 members, was launched at the beginning of the year, thanks largely to a chance meeting between Thomas and Family Institute Executive Director Peter Wolfgang. Both are regular attendees at the early morning Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford. They got to chatting one day and a movement was born.

Since its formation, the group’s accomplishments have been mainly organizational, selecting officers, drafting a mission statement and creating a pamphlet. Next up: Producing a video and building a website.

The youth wing has already succeeded in building alliances with church youth groups, homeschoolers and college ministries. Members plan to staff a booth at JesusFest on Saturday at Union Congregational Church in Rockville.

To win the hearts and minds of the public, however, the group will have to do what all successful movements do: Win allies beyond its own tight circle of true believers. Wolfgang envisions the day iFIC chapters will be as commonplace in Connecticut high schools as gay-straight alliances are today. “Right now, they’re years ahead of us,” he said of well-established politically progressive groups.

Swaying public opinion and building a generation of conservative leaders is the long-term goal. “It’s about the future of the pro-family, pro-life cause in Connecticut,” Wolfgang said, “and where this cause will be not just tomorrow but for the next 20 to 50 years.”

Contact Daniela Altimari at

Copyright © 2008, The Hartford Courant


You can view the Courant’s online version here. You can read and post comments on the Courant’s web site here. Our thanks to the Courant for running this story and for giving it front page prominence.

6 Responses to “Courant Profiles FIC’s Youth Wing”

  1. on 08 Jul 2008 at 12:18 pmTricia

    In my view this is a FANTASTIC development—this “youth wing” of FIC. It is evidence of several great things that should give all of us in the pro-family, pro religious freedom movement cause for joy and hope.

    1. Peter Wolfgang thinks ‘outside the box’ and is inspired, or divinely guided with these proactive ideas and innovations. (My husband and I pray for him and others in this movement nearly every day—as I’m sure many of you do.)

    2. The youth of this nation have not ALL been hoodwinked into believing that the secularist and gay activist agendas are right and good. To the contrary—

    3. There are many outstanding young people who are *leaders,* and who are fearless in standing up for truth—for that which is life-affirming and in harmony with God’s laws.

  2. on 14 Jul 2008 at 4:19 pmDavid

    ‘“The act is horrible,” she said,’

    The act? Nice that she’s been taught that it’s ok to boil the whole of a person’s life down to one “act” and then judge them on it.

    “but the people are in need of sincere love.”

    And you show that by an unending assault on our ability to live our lives. Can’t find that definition of love in the Bible unless it’s in some of the Old Testament stories where God says that they must totally destroy one nation or another.

    Funny, in the next paragraph she talks about being verbally assaulted. Since that is the basis of FIC’s tactics in fighting us I can hardly muster up much sympathy for her. Every time I read something on here about us there’s always a good bit of verbal abuse in it – and you folks are actually some of the gentler sites. Indeed she/you are entitled to your opinion but if she/you can’t respect ours than I don’t see how you can expect anything but the same in return. If that doesn’t change (on both sides) there will never be significant dialog.

    That said, it is an excellent article that I understand why you are happy with it. It is how a reporter should present a story, free of opinion and bias (mostly anyway).

  3. on 15 Jul 2008 at 7:02 amBob

    Great article. For some time now I have been marveling at how the youth of our time, are rebelling, but not like the previous generation, who rebelled against God, who rebelled against authority, against country, against family and against parents. These young men and women are rebelling against the wickedness and evil of our age. They are searching for truth and are finding that truth in faith.

    Christ is truth and when Christ becomes the center of a person’s life, His light shines within that person, illuminating all truths and revealing the lies within our selves and those preached by the secular and paganistic world.

    So brilliant is the light of this truth who is Jesus, it dissolves all darkness, illuminates all reality and what is false is immolated in the heat of Divine Love and reduced to ashes. It is then, we allow the Holy Spirit to come with power and might, like a strong driving wind to blow away the ashes that remain forever from our beings.

    Like Leah pictured above, she symbolizes the youth of our time, With the Rock of The Church at her back, she gazes ahead, face turned toward the sun, looking with peace and serenity upon a new dawn, where the Sun of Justice will rise.

    “For lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven, when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble, And the day that is coming will set them on fire, leaving them neither root nor branch, says the LORD of hosts. But for you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays; And you will gambol like calves out of the stall.” Malachi 3:19

  4. on 15 Jul 2008 at 8:41 pmDave

    … there will never be significant dialog.

    On this point, at least, I agree. We are so diametrically opposed in our viewpoints that we are unlikely to have any meaningful exchange of opinions – without some sort of divine intervention.

    In looking at the many comments posted on the Topix web site, in response to the original Hartford Courant article – and there are over 600 of them so far – there is a tremendous outpouring of hatred and intolerance towards Christians. So many of the comments reflect ignorance, bitterness, and spite. It seems to me that this malice is being poured out almost entirely by those who seek to advance the cause of special rights for homosexual persons.

    There is a distinction between having a difference of opinion on a political issue and actually being hateful and intolerant. Unfortunately many of our opponents choose to overlook this point; instead, they opt to revel in hurling insults and malicious remarks against those with whom they disagree. It’s so typical of our opposition, when a critical argument is made based upon rational thinking, that they fail to engage in true dialogue but instead try to “shout down” any voice that would dare to speak against their machinations.

    LGBT activists claim that we defenders of the traditional family are uncompromisingly intolerant, but the plain and evident truth is that *they* cannot tolerate anyone who disagrees with them. As I mentioned in a previous debate on this blog, more than a year ago, they are “angered by political action that seeks to obstruct LGBT activism – no matter how delicately expressed.” Our frequent opponent David affirmed this in his response, saying “It doesn’t matter if the words are curses or the words are sweet as honey.”

    From a religious perspective, this is not too surprising; as it is written:

    Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts. (Proverbs 21: 2)

    In the end, only God can bring about a change of heart in someone who rejects His teachings. We can only do our best to speak the truth in love – which means the whole truth, not just the parts that the listener will find palatable but also the parts that challenge the listener and convict the heart. Likewise it means a truth about morality that is defined not by the moral relativism of mankind but by the absolute authority of Almighty God. It is the selfsame God who says “I am the LORD, and I do not change”, and by whom all of creation exists thereby making His qualities manifest so that men are “without excuse”.

    Jennifer Landry was correct in saying “the act is horrible”. And no, David, this is not the same as “boiling the whole of a person’s life down to one ‘act’ and then judging them on it.” It is simply acknowledging the sinfulness of that specific act, rightfully called an “abomination” in the same context as other sexual sins including incest, adultery, and bestiality. Those who continually live in denial of their sinfulness bring God’s judgment upon themselves; it is not we who judge them. She was likewise correct in saying “the people are in need of sincere love”. You conflate this with your perceived need for agreement. The two are not the same. Love doesn’t mean giving someone everything that they ask for. Sometimes love requires standing firm and saying “no”, when the alternative would be to affirm an act that is spiritually and physically harmful. True love will give witness to His truth, and yet acknowledge that all sinners can be redeemed by His blood if they repent and accept the gift of salvation.

  5. on 23 Jun 2009 at 9:22 amFensi

    It seems that anyone who dares to stand up to gay-marriage is maligned, and accused of being “intolerant” and “bigots”. Just look at the fiasco with Prejean or with the anti-proposition 8 protesters and proposed hate crimes legislation.

    There is a name for this situation: Dictatorship of Relativism

  6. on 07 Aug 2011 at 2:14 pmAnthony

    Nowhere on this site does it say that they are free of bias and opinion, is not a news site, it is a pro-life, traditional marriage site, and they wont hide it, if you were expecting clear and fair reporting you wont find it, it doesn’t exist. CNN, MSNBC, FOX, CBS, whatever, they are all biased in some way or another. And although you may not believe in Jesus Christ, we believe that He was the greatest lover on earth. We believe that Him dying on the cross so that we may join him in Paradise was the greatest act of love ever. Although you may not see it yet, I pray that you will.

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