Johanna Dasteel

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UPDATED: Franciscan U of Steubenville under investigation for teaching homosexuality as deviant

Johanna Dasteel
By Johanna Dasteel
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STEUBENVILLE, OH, September 11, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The national agency which grants accreditation to social work courses is questioning Franciscan University of Steubenville over a course which lists homosexuality as a deviant behavior.  Attention was drawn to the course by a group of Franciscan University alumni, identifying themselves as “Franciscan Gay Alumni & Allies”, who are demanding publicly that the university “revise its course descriptions and to stop contributing the culture of hate and ignorance.”

The course is called ‘Deviant Behavior’ and the part of the course description in question states, “The behaviors that are primarily examined are murder, rape, robbery, prostitution, homosexuality, mental illness, and drug use.”

In the press release issued by “Franciscan Gay Alumni & Allies” and published by the Daily Kos, further accusations and demands are made, based solely on the ‘Deviant Behavior’ course description.  Among them are the group’s accusation that students are “being taught ideological falsehoods in the classroom,” and that the classification of homosexuality as a deviant behavior “feed(s) cultural biases and promote hatred for lesbian and gay individuals.”

The group goes on to make a broad demand that the university “revise its course descriptions,” “stop contributing the culture of hate and ignorance,” and “conduct an audit of its entire curriculum and remove any information being taught on this subject that is outdated and not substantiated by sound scientific fact.” 

Regarding the last demand the group states, “It is about time the University aligns itself with the truth of this matter.” 

University officials told LifeSiteNews that Franciscan University was never contacted by the alumni in advance regarding this matter.

In a written statement to LifeSiteNews, the university explains that the course uses the term “deviant” as used in the sociological sense, to mean “different from the norm.” In addition, the university stated, “Franciscan University follows Catholic Church teaching in regard to homosexuality and treats homosexual persons with ‘respect, compassion, and sensitivity’ (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2358) while holding homosexual acts as ‘intrinsically disordered.’ “

The statement goes on to say that the course description is an abbreviation of chapter headings from the course textbook, which is used by a number of other universities, including both secular and religious institutions.

Stephen Holloway, director of the school’s accrediting agency, Council on Social Work Education, in an interview with NPR (National Public Radio), stated the inclusion of homosexuality as a deviant behavior in the description “raises a red flag”. 

When asked by LifeSiteNews why the course description was a red flag, Holloway recanted, saying that “red flag” was not the best way to describe the nature of the agency’s concern.  Clarifying, he stated that their involvement is solely due to a complaint being made by alumni, regardless of the content of the complaint, because the accrediting agency takes every concern of alumni seriously and this is just one among many that they have an obligation to investigate.

According to Holloway, the course description on which the press release and ‘Franciscan Gay Alumni & Allies’ complaint was based, could not jeopardize the university’s accreditation.  It is the content of the course, whether it complies with the standards of diversity set out in the accreditation guidelines that is considered during the process of accreditation.  The university, said Holloway, is in compliance as long as the university “teaches respect for ‘gay’ people and includes content about ‘gay’ lifestyles.”

Holloway has contacted Franciscan University Officials, asking for “information on the content of the course in particular and how diversity is handled in the program more generally.” He will share that information with the accreditation committee once it is received from FUS.  Holloway went on to say that, “their (FUS’s) accreditation is not in jeopardy.”  He said, “It is only that we get a lot of alerts that something might not be right in a program and when we do we explore them.  The accrediting commission looks at the concern and merits whether or not it’s worth pursuing.”  Right now, Holloway is collecting information from FUS to pass on to the commission to make that judgment.

As a reminder of the school’s claims to religious liberty, the school states, “We understand that some, not understanding the term (deviant) or its context, might take offense at the description and it is currently under review. Nevertheless, changing standard sociological definitions is beyond the scope of our work. So, too, is changing the teachings of the Catholic Church.”

In an interview with LifeSiteNews, Dr. Michael Brown, host of the nationally syndicated radio program “The Line of Fire,” called this “another attack on freedom of religion and freedom of speech.”  “This indicates once again that tolerance is not the issue,” he said, “but rather the only option is the endorsement or celebration of homosexuality.  It is absolute intolerance when it comes to differing religious and moral beliefs.”

When asked about the nature of the increased threats to the religious liberties of American institutions, he told LifeSiteNews, “the day may come when religious institutions will have to seek out their own accrediting associations because of the continuing encroachment of political correctness.”

Attacks on religious freedoms have become more frequent and severe in recent years in the United States. The most notable violation of religious freedom decried by religious leaders and organizations has been the recent HHS mandate that contraceptives, sterilizations and the like be provided and covered by health care institutions, regardless of whether compliance would be a violation of conscience for religious institutions.

With FUS’s accrediting agency conducting an investigation at the request of what many see as a militantly anti-Catholic group, there are growing concerns being expressed about the future ability of Catholic Universities to live out their mission and teach in accordance with Catholic Social Doctrine with full religious freedoms.

FUS told LifeSiteNews in a written statement, “As a Catholic university, Franciscan teaches “all the truths of revelation whether found in Scripture or Tradition as taught by the Catholic Church” (Mission Statement, p. 6). To do otherwise would be a violation of our basic mission as a Catholic university in the Franciscan tradition.”

Contact information for the accrediting body:
Council on Social Work Education
1701 Duke Street, Suite 200
Alexandria, VA 22314

P: +1.703.683.8080
F: +1.703.683.8099
E: [email protected]

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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
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Indiana faces backlash as it becomes 20th state to protect religious liberty

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By Ben Johnson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, March 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Thursday, Indiana became the 20th state to prevent the government from forcing people of faith to violate their religious beliefs in business or the public square.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 101) into law, saying the freedom of religion is a preeminent American value.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence said.

Gov. Pence, a possible dark horse candidate for president in 2016, cited court cases brought by religious organizations and employers, including Catholic universities, against the HHS mandate. “One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.”

The new law could also prevent Christian business owners from being compelled to bake a cake or take photographs of a same-sex "marriage" ceremony, if doing so violates their faith. In recent years, business owners have seen an increased level of prosecution for denying such services, despite their religious and moral beliefs.

The state's pro-life organization applauded Pence for his stance. "Indiana's pro-life community is grateful to Gov. Mike Pence for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law,” said Indiana Right to Life's president and CEO Mike Fichter. “This bill will give pro-lifers a necessary legal recourse if they are pressured to support abortion against their deeply-held religious beliefs.”

“RFRA is an important bill to protect the religious freedom of Hoosiers who believe the right to life comes from God, not government,” he said.

The state RFRA is based on the federal bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Supreme Court cited the federal law when it ruled that Hobby Lobby had the right to refuse to fund abortion-inducing drugs, if doing so violated its owners' sincerely held religious beliefs.

In signing the measure – similar to the one Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed – Pence and the state of Indiana have faced a torrent of venom from opponents of the bill, who claim it grants a “right to discriminate” and raises the spectre of segregation.

"They've basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it's OK to discriminate against people," said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national homosexual pressure group.

The Disciples of Christ, a liberal Protestant denomination based in the state capital, has said it will move its 2017 annual convention if the RFRA became state law. The NCAA warned the bill's adoption “might affect future events” in the Hoosier state.

Pence denied such concerns, saying, "This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would've vetoed it."

The bill's supporters say that, under the Obama administration, it is Christians who are most likely to suffer discrimination.

"Originally RFRA laws were intended to protect small religious groups from undue burdens on practicing their faith in public life,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. “It was not imagined there would come a day when laws might seek to jail or financially destroy nuns, rabbis or Christian camp counselors who prefer to abstain from the next wave of sexual and gender experimentation. And there's always a next wave.”

The bill's supporters note that it does not end the government's right to coerce people of faith into violating their conscience in every situation. However, it requires that doing so has to serve a compelling government interest and the government must use the least restrictive means possible. “There will be times when a state or federal government can show it has a compelling reason for burdening religious expression – to ensure public safety, for instance,” said Sarah Torre, an expert at the Heritage Foundation. “But Religious Freedom Restoration Acts set a high bar for the government to meet in order to restrict religious freedom.”

Restricting the ability of government to interfere in people's private decisions, especially their religious decisions, is the very purpose of the Constitution, its supporters say.

"Religious freedom is the cornerstone of all liberty for all people,” Tooley said. “Deny or reduce it, and there are no ultimate limits on the state's power to coerce."

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Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting.
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Porn is transforming our men from protectors into predators. Fight back.

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By Jonathon van Maren

Since I’ve gotten involved in anti-pornography work, I’ve met countless men who struggle, fight, or have beaten pornography. Each person seems to deal with the guilt and shame that accompanies porn use in a different way—some deny that it’s “all that bad,” others pretend that they could “stop whenever they want,” many insist that “everyone is doing it,” and most, when pressed, admit to a deep sense of self-loathing.

One worry surfaces often in conversation: What do my past or current struggles with pornography say about me as a man? Can I ever move past this and have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship?

I want to address this question just briefly, since I’ve encountered it so many times.

First, however, I’ve written before how I at times dislike the language of “struggling” with pornography or pornography “addiction,” not because they aren’t accurate but because too often they are used as an excuse rather than an explanation. It is true, many do in fact “struggle” with what can legitimately be considered an addiction, but when this language is used to describe an interminable battle with no end (and I’ve met dozens of men for whom this is the case), then I prefer we use terminology like “fighting my porn habit.” A semantic debate, certainly, but one I think is important. We need to stop struggling with porn and start fighting it.

Secondly, pornography does do devastating things to one’s sense of masculinity. We know this. Pornography enslaves men by the millions, perverting their role as protector and defender of the more vulnerable and turning them into sexual cannibals, consuming those they see on-screen to satisfy their sexual appetites.

What often starts as mere curiosity or an accidental encounter can turn into something that invades the mind and twists even the most basic attractions. I’ve met porn users who can’t believe the types of things they want to watch. They haven’t simply been using porn. Porn has actively reshaped them into something they don’t recognize and don’t like. 

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Porn is this generation’s great assault on masculinity and the role of men in society. It is essential that we win this battle for the sake of society’s survival. Contrary to what the gender-bending and family-morphing progressive elites claim, good husbands and good fathers and good church leaders are necessary for a healthy society. But pornography is destroying marriages, creating distant and disconnected fathers, and, metaphoricaclly castrating men, hindering their ability and desire to make a positive difference in the society around us.

So, with this sobering set of facts in mind let’s return to the question: what do pornography struggles, past and present, say about a man?

The proper way to respond is with everything that is good about masculinity. We have to fight pornography as men have fought countless evils throughout the ages. We need to fight pornography to protect women, and wives, and children, and our society at large. This is how pornography threatens society, by castrating men, and turning them from protectors into predators. Rooting out the evil in our own lives allows us to better fulfill the role we are called to perform in the lives of others. Battling our own demons enables us to battle the wider cultural demons. Every day without porn is another bit of virtue built. Virtue is not something you’re born with. Virtues are habits that you build. And one day without porn is the first step towards the virtue of being porn-free.

Many men ask me if men who have had past porn addictions are cut out for being in a relationship or working in the pro-life movement or in other areas where we are called to protect and defend the weak and vulnerable. And the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. Our society needs men who know what it means to fight battles and win. Our society needs men who can say that they fought porn and they beat porn, because their families and their friends were too important to risk. Our society needs men who rose to the challenge that the evils of their generation threw at them, and became better men as the result. And our society needs men who can help their friends and their sons and those around them fight the plague of pornography and free themselves from it, too—and who can understand better and offer encouragement more relevant than someone who has fought and been freed themselves?

So the answer to men is yes. Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting. Lend them support and encouragement. We cannot change the fact that porn has left an enormous path of destruction in its wake. But we can change the fact that too many people aren’t fighting it. We can change our own involvement. And we can rise to the challenge and face this threat to masculinity with all that is good about masculinity.

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Red Alert!

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By John-Henry Westen

I don’t like having to do this, but we have always found it best to be totally upfront with our readers: our Spring fundraising campaign is now worrying us! 

You see, with just 6 days remaining, we have only raised 30% of our goal, with $125,000 still left to raise. That is a long ways to go yet.

We have no choice but to reach our minimum goal of $175,000 if we are going to be able to continue serving the 5+ million readers who rely on us every month for investigative and groundbreaking news reports on life, faith and family issues.

Every year, LifeSite readership continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This year, we are again experiencing record-breaking interest, with over 6 million people visiting our website last month alone!

This unprecedented growth in turn creates its own demand for increased staff and resources, as we struggle to serve these millions of new readers.

And especially keep this in mind. As many more people read LifeSite, our mission of bringing about cultural change gets boosted. Our ultimate goal has always been to educate and activate the public to take well-informed, needed actions.

Another upside to our huge growth in readers is that it should be that much easier to reach our goal. To put it simply: if each person who read this one email donated whatever they could (even just $10) we would easily surpass our goal! 

Today, I hope you will join the many heroes who keep this ship afloat, and enable us to proclaim the truth through our reporting to tens of millions of people every year!

Your donations to LifeSite cause major things to happen! We see that every day and it is very exciting. Please join with us in making a cultural impact with a donation of ANY AMOUNT right now. 

You can also donate by phone or mail. We would love to hear from you!

Thank you so much for your support. 

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