Kim Kardashian, Real Housewives, and RFRA

by Peter Johnson

A friend of mine—who happens to be gay—has refrained from commenting on the Indiana RFRA. That is, until last night, when he couldn’t help himself and tweeted this: “No self-respecting gay man would serve pizza at his wedding.” I think this tweet pretty much sums up this latest tempest in a teapot.

In a former life, I spent two years in rural Paraguay teaching beekeeping to subsistence farmers. I had no phone, no access to the Internet. About once a month I would ride 9 hours by bus to the capital to do emails, catch up on the latest American news. Could you imagine what I might think about the US, were this still how I got my news? Let me paint a picture of the headlines I might be reading:

Look, I get it. Clickbait pays. Internet traffic is as good as money your pocket these days. In my day job, I raise money for a conservative think tank and often use stats on our organization’s Internet traffic to make a case for support.

Not too long ago I took an op-ed writing class from Sam Ryan, a WSJ reporter turned entrepreneur who now runs a well-respected full-service PR firm in Washington DC that places thousands of op-eds a year for clients. Best memory from this class was trying to shoehorn the name “Kim Kardashian” into an op-ed headline. Sam explained that based on the title alone, an editor oftentimes chooses the top three or four editorials from dozens or hundreds received every day. Putting “Kim Kardashian” (or another degenerate national obsession, ie #RHWBH) in the headline would ensure that our op-ed made the initial cut.

So, again, I get it. None of us are immune from the demands of an oversaturated media market. Ambitious reporters are sent on missions to find bigots—and when they can’t find any—they’ll just manufacture one. Organizations (like the one I work for) who have long been staunch—though measured—advocates for religious liberty are being crowded out by fly-by-night operations that post poorly researched articles with outrageous headlines in order ride the wave of publicity. So, in response, normally restrained organizations like mine up the ante: They post pieces like the one that makes that case that one tweet from a dummy is evidence of burgeoning genocidal tendencies in our society.

Of course, there are the exceptions. The Federalist recently ran a piece that asked both advocates and opponents of gay marriage to write about what most troubles them about their positions. In an age of take-no-prisoners polemics, this was a very refreshing way to treat a subject that continues to be a divisive issue in our country.

So in that tradition, here is my response to the ongoing controversy in Indiana: Freedom of conscience—of which religious liberty is inextricably linked—is perhaps the most important freedom that we possess in this country. I think most people would agree that this is probably the defining characteristic of our great country. Because of this, I think anything that challenges this freedom should be taken seriously. Freedom of conscious is the wellspring of good citizenship and legal protections for free association and freedom of conscience are, in my estimation, foundational for a virtuous citizenry.

That being said, I think that people who share my opinion need to reduce the temperature on the rhetoric about the “attacks on religion.” As someone whose great-grand parents were German Jews who actually lived through Kristallnacht, I would hope we would reserve the holocaust analogies for when there is real violence happening (like, maybe, the sort of stuff happening to Christians in Iraq and Syria). Anti-RFRA tweets don’t tempt Kristallnacht any more than the RFRA itself tempts hate crimes on homosexuals, right?

Experience tells me that in America homosexuals are at greater risk for discrimination, bullying, and violence than devout Christians. I don’t need stats to back this up (though I’m sure someone is keeping tally out there). Anyone who has gone to an American public school in the 50 years knows this is true. While kids going to school today are less likely to bully a gay classmate than they were, say, 20 years ago, I still think it is much more likely that a gay student is bullied than a devout Christian. And it is this truth about our culture that gives me pause when I advocate for laws like RFRA.

Peter Johnson is a graduate of New York University where he studied English and philosophy. After graduation, he lived and worked in Africa and in South America, where he taught beekeeping to rural subsistence farmers. Before joining the Development team at Acton, he held various positions with the National Capital Area Council, Boy Scouts of America. Peter is married to Ashley, a teacher, and has three children.

Thoughts from Kierkegaard and Nietzsche

Dr. Russell D. Moore shared this image on Facebook recently–a quote from Kierkegaard :

This brought to mind a short piece from the new issue of Salvo. Capital Losses: Nietzsche on Losing English Morality by Cameron Wybrow. After quoting Nietzsche at length, Wybrow writes:

Nietzsche perceives that the ingrained moral habits of a culture can outlast the original religious impulse that produced them. The English intelligentsia, he says, have stopped thinking like Christians, but still feel and act like Christians, by a kind of moral inertia. This characterization remained true long after Nietzsche’s death. The agnosticism of many Britons and North Americans from the 1880s through to about 1945 usually went with a morality that was more or less Christian. Secular humanism in that era was secular in theory but often unwittingly Christian in spirit.

Nietzsche and Kierkegaard are describing the same thing. This is the culture that you and I find ourselves in today–about 100 years further down the road from the place Nietzsche described.

Salvo Links 3.12.2015

Monks: The Original Hipster Entrepreneurs
by Jacob Davidson, Time
To keep monasteries operational, monks have started artisanal side businesses more often associated with another, trendier and more hedonistic counter-culture group.

Agnostics Among Us and Within Us
by Dr. Everett Piper, The Poached Egg
Question: “Isn’t agnosticism frankly the most honest position? We really all know that we can’t know God. He may be out there but none of us really knows anything about anything other than our own unique experiences and personal realities.”
Response: On the question of agnosticism, I personally think what we are dealing with here is pride—pure and simple. When we boil it all down, the agnostic says, “I am the end of all that can be known. I am wiser than those who are so intellectually naïve as to believe in something they can’t prove.”

Salvo Links 2.19.2015

Why are jihadis so obsessed with porn?
Recently, London Mayor Boris Johnson described Jihadists as “porn driven losers” who have “low self-esteem and are unsuccessful with women.” He’s on to something important and profound.

Young, Attractive, and Totally Not Into Having Sex
It’s Friday afternoon during finals week, and two undergrads at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville are lounging together on a battered couch in the student center, watching cartoons. They’ve only met twice before, but they’re all over each other. Rae, a tiny pixie of a sophomore wearing a newsboy cap, nuzzles up against Sean, a handsome freshman. He’s got his arm draped across her. They giggle and tease each other, and she sprawls into his lap. Their friend Genevieve, perched on the arm of the couch, smiles and rolls her eyes.

It looks like a standard collegiate prelude to a one-night stand. But there will be no kissing, no fondling, and definitely no Saturday morning walk of shame. Sean and Rae do not have the hots for each other—or anyone else, for that matter. In fact, they’re here hanging out at the campus outreach center, a haven for all who question their sexuality and gender identity, because they’re exploring an unconventional idea: life without sex. Or mostly without sex. They’re pioneers of an emerging sexual identity, one with its own nomenclature and subcategories of romance and desire, all revolving around the novel concept that having little to no interest in sex is itself a valid sexual orientation. Rae tells me she’s an aromantic asexual, Sean identifies as a heteroromantic demisexual, and Genevieve sees herself as a panromantic gray-asexual.

Stopping Human Trafficking Before It Starts
Human trafficking is increasingly gaining public awareness. Law enforcement, social workers, first responders – all are beginning to receive training regarding human trafficking. And that’s all very good. But it’s hardly enough.

They Just Can’t Believe It!

Why No Swimsuit Issue of Men?

On the happily few occasions when callers to my radio show make a particularly foolish comment, I ask them what graduate school they attended.

When they ask why I assume they attended graduate school, I respond, “Only someone who went to graduate school would say something that foolish.”

Because it is never my intention to humiliate a caller, I always hasten to explain that my comment is not directed at the caller; it is directed at our universities. Moreover, I mean it literally. In order to say certain things that are so obviously foolish, one has to be taught them.

Kudos to Dennis Prager for writing this. In any age except our own this observation about the sexual instincts of men and women would be filed under “common sense.” You may have read this idea before in the pages of Salvo by Dr. Louis Markos. Personally, this is one of my favorite Salvo articles (and it’s a two parter).

In case you missed it, enjoy!

Just Brilliant!
Three Things Only a PhD Can Believe by Louis Markos
Absurdity #1: There Are No Universal Standards
Absurdity #2: There Are No Essential Differences Between Men & Women
Absurdity #3: There Is No Clear Dividing Line Between Humans & Animals

Highly Creative
Three More Things Only a PhD Can Believe
by Louis Markos
Absurdity #1: The Design We See Around Us Is Only Apparent
Absurdity #2: Man Is by Nature Good and Is Therefore Perfectible
Absurdity #3: Virgil, Dante, and Shakespeare Are Products of Their Socio-Economic Milieus

Hear Contributing Editor Terrell Clemmons Talk About Her Latest Article In Salvo on “Fifty Shades of Grey”

from themorningcruise.com
50 Shades of Grey Commentary

As Valentine’s Day approaches, many media outlets are focusing on the much-hyped release of the ’50 Shades of Grey’ movie release. The Morning Cruise shared their thoughts on the movie and Bill shared an article by Terrell Clemmons of Salvo Magazine. Be sure to check out the alternatives to both the book and the film.



from Tim Constantine’s Capitol Hill Show
Fifty Shades of Grey… Does it Have a Biblical Message?

Interview starts at about 32 minutes



from Yes FM
Terrell Clemmons from Salvo Magazine. How Christian Women Should React to “50 Shades of Grey”.