John Jalsevac

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Christians must start talking openly about porn: creators of ‘Shamed’

John Jalsevac
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LOS ANGELES, November 8, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Every minute Americans spend more than $3,000 on pornography. The average age of exposure to porn is now 11 years old. An estimated 25 percent of all internet searches are for porn. Every second, more than 28,000 people are looking at porn. And more than half of all divorces cite porn as a contributing factor to the breakdown of the marriage.

Indeed, from a statistical standpoint, odds are that you have looked at porn, and that either you or someone you know is seriously hooked on it. Yet, despite the fact that porn and porn addiction is practically ubiquitous, even amongst dedicated Christians, can you think of the last time you had an open, frank conversation about porn?

Chances are you can’t.

According to the creators of a new documentary called Shamed, which is currently in production, this deafening silence is precisely the environment in which porn addiction flourishes – leaving those struggling with sexual sin isolated and trapped in a self-destructive cycle of shame and deception.

“It’s imperative that we shift our culture’s current attitude of not speaking openly about pornography and sexuality for the sake of our children, emerging adults, and young adults with sexual secrets, confusion, or addictions,” reads a message from the creators of Shamed.

According to Jessica Mockett, co-producer and director of the film, the goal isn’t to talk about sex in the same way the wider culture talks about sex – to trivialize it or affirm immoral behavior. The movie, she assured, will approach the issue of porn from the standpoint of traditional Christian sexual ethics. But, she told LifeSiteNews.com, it will also seek to teach “from a compassionate and hopeful place.”

“Removing the mass amounts of shame does not mean we condone acting out sexually,” according to a synopsis of the project on the website for Shamed. “What it does, is allows for a safe place for those entrapped by pornography to come forward and begin to heal.”

The creators of the film draw a distinction between guilt – which they say is a good thing, because it can drive someone to change and healing – and an unhealthy “shame” – which they say “is a constricting emotion.”

“Shame tells us that we are not worthy of love or support; that we have to conceal the worst parts of ourselves in order to be accepted and loved,” they explain.

To break the cycle of unhealthy shame, Shamed has compiled a who’s-who list of experts on porn addiction, as well as a variety of men and women who have struggled with or otherwise been affected by porn addiction and who are willing to share their stories.

Recently, Mockett and her team released an eight-minute segment from the film, as part of an effort to raise publicity – and funds.

The first thing that strikes a viewer is the top-notch production quality - the crisp camera work, the visually striking set, and the music that perfectly sets the mood. But then comes the testimony - earnest, honest, hope-filled and frequently heartbreaking. Men and women whose lives have been torn apart by porn addiction - either their own or that of a loved one - and who have since climbed to a place of hope and healing.

“There’s something in [porn] that kept me from having a whole life, and I mean just experiencing things to a depth that’s rewarding and fulfilling,” recounts one tearful man interviewed in the clip.

Another woman, Jessica Harris, agrees. She recounts how she accidentally encountered porn while researching for a school project. After this she began to “sex chat,” before being pulled deeper and deeper into the world of hardcore porn.

“I think the biggest thing,” she says, “is that I lost my joy. When I was little I can remember just being so full of energy and life and creativity, and I wanted to go outside. I would sing because I was happy. But when I got exposed to [porn] I lost that, and I lost the connection that I wanted to have with real people.”

Click “like” if you want to defend true marriage.

Every testimony approaches the problem of porn with an understanding of the power of the addiction and the difficulties inherent in overcoming it – but also with a profound conviction that a porn-free life is a much happier and joyful life than one tainted by it.

Mockett doesn’t hide her eagerness to see the film hit the shelves. “Of all the video material on the subject that I have seen to date, I feel our work is the most viable in helping to get to the root of the issue and to bring healing,” she said.

But at the moment the project has come to a temporary standstill.

While there have been some very positive developments - the film has already secured a distributor who is willing to market and shelve the DVD, something that Mockett observes “is a big feat, especially for an independent project” - at the moment the production team lacks the funds to finish the project.

The production schedule calls for another cycle of interviews, which requires the use of a studio, the proper film equipment, and the experts to operate it. And then there is the business of post-production.

While Shamed has the enthusiastic support of numerous anti-porn organizations, Mockett says these groups have understandably been unable to offer major funding for the project, and so instead she has turned to the grassroots. Last year a fundraiser in Kickstarter raised $40,000. But this fall, a fundraiser on indiegogo to cover the costs of the second phase of the project has stalled at just under $5,000, far from the $50,000 they need to complete stage two, and the $110,000 they need to finish the project completely.

“How amazing that so much money is spent on the destruction of our culture and how ironic that it has proven so hard to find the needed $160,000 to complete Shamed, an amount that pornographers make in under a minute!” Mocket says.

Mockett attributed the difficulties they are having in completing the project to the widespread addiction to porn, and the effectiveness of the porn industry’s marketing.

“So many people believe the porn industry’s well placed lies that it is harmless entertainment, many others are involved as users and too ashamed to go near the subject in any way, many naive people think that pornography doesn’t affect them personally,” she observed, “so there is only a small group of folks who really get that pornography is damaging and are willing to make a stand against it.

But despite the present setbacks, the Shamed team is determined to forge ahead.

“We know this film has the potential to help hundreds of thousands of people to find the much needed hope, tools, and motivation to remove pornography/lust from their lives in healthy, realistic ways,” they write on their indiegogo fundraising page. “The producers are dedicated to the cause and movement.”

To learn more about Shamed, click here. To contribute to Shamed, click here. To see more videos from the film on the Vimeo page for Shamed, click here.



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Planned Parenthood closes Iowa abortion facility because of low business

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DUBUQUE, Iowa, May 3, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Planned Parenthood closed an Iowa abortion facility on Friday, noting low business that left the facility unsustainable from a financial standpoint.

Although Planned Parenthood of the Heartland announced in January that it planned to close the Dubuque, Iowa, office, pro-life sidewalk counselors were overjoyed on Friday to read the sign in the window that read: “Our office is closed, effective April 28, 2016.”

The office did not perform surgical abortions but did provide medication abortions to the community of about 58,000.

“Rejoice with us for the lives of unborn children saved!” Iowa Right to Life said in a statement after the closure.

As with numerous other closures, Planned Parenthood, which styles itself a provider of “care no matter what,” emphasized it was closing its doors to preserve its bottom line.

“After assessing the shifting health care landscape, changing demographics, and the challenges of operating in areas with low patient volumes, we made the tough decision to close the Dubuque Health Center,” the group said in an announcement. “This change allows us to expand hours and see more patients in Cedar Rapids, where there is unmet demand due to lack of clinician hours.”
“While we regret making this change, we know it is a necessary step in order to continue our mission to provide, promote and protect reproductive and sexual health through health services, education and advocacy. Patients have been notified, and if they wish, they can receive a broader array of services at our health center in Cedar Rapids, where we have expanded hours to accommodate more patient,” Planned Parenthood said.

American Life League’s vice president, Jim Sedlak, remembers speaking to the county right to life group nine years ago.

“I told them at the time that they needed to protest outside Planned Parenthood at least once a week,” he said. “They told me they would do better than that. Over the last eight years, these dedicated pro-lifers were outside Planned Parenthood every hour it was open. And now...it’s closed for good.”

That aligns with advice that David Bereit, the founder of 40 Days for Life, once told young people who wanted to know how to end abortion.

Be loving and compassionate, he said.

Your peaceful, loving presence out there flies in the face of all the stereotypes they want to throw onto us,” he added. “When you show them love instead of condemnation, when you show them peace and joy instead of anger and judgment, that will begin to break down the walls.”

Iowa Right to Life credited just such tactics with closing an office in Red Oak that performed webcam abortions. “Planned Parenthood shut down in Red Oak in large part because of the constant, prayerful presence outside their clinic,” the group said.

Upon hearing of the latest abortion facility shuttering, the Dubuque County Right to Life said that Planned Parenthood isn't the only group that will move its base of operations. “We will probably put our efforts in Cedar Rapids and will continue to spread the pro-life message,” said Executive Director Marian Bourek.



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Ted Cruz confronted by mom who supports aborting disabled babies…just like hers

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MARION, Indiana, May 3, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Senator Ted Cruz was met on the campaign trail by a mother who strongly opposed a state pro-life law that would have protected children with birth conditions – like her own.

Andrea DeBruler, a 41-year-old nurse, confronted the presidential hopeful in the city of Marion as Cruz campaigned with Gov. Mike Pence.

DeBruler first asked Cruz, then Pence, about House Bill 1337, which bans abortions performed due to the child's race, sex, or disability, such as Down syndome.

DeBruler held up a picture of her daughter, Jania, who was born with cerebral palsy. “This was a choice,” she said.

She asked Sen. Cruz if he supported the bill, which made Indiana the second state in the nation to ban abortion for Down syndrome, after North Dakota.

“I'm not Governor Pence,” he replied. “But I'll tell you this: I believe in protecting human life.”

Pence, who endorsed Cruz in today's make-or-break Indiana primary, listened to her objections.

“I'm not here as a Republican, I'm not here as a Democrat. I'm here as a woman, a woman with choices, choices that you guys should not make,” DeBruler said.

After hearing that she felt many families lacked sufficient resources to care for children, especially in an area like Marion, Gov. Pence offered to connect her with social services.

“God bless her,” he said, looking at Jania's picture, “and God bless you.”

Though it may be unusual to encounter a woman arguing for the right to abort her own child, the governor handled it calmly. Pence had specifically reflected on “precious moments” he spent with “families of children with disabilities, especially those raising children with Down syndrome” when he signed the bill into law in March.

"We are truly thankful for the passage of this historic legislation by the Indiana House and applaud the new civil rights protections this bill creates for unborn children, as well as the new provisions this bill establishes for the humane final disposition of aborted babies," Indiana Right to Life President Mike Fichter said at the time.

DeBruler told the UK media outlet The Independent that H.B. 1337 “means you can no longer have an abortion based on deformity. I’m against this law, because I think it should be a woman’s choice” to abort for any reason.

Congressional Democrats made similar statements during hearings last month for Rep. Trent Franks' federal Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA), with Congressman John Conyers saying the bill is “patently unconstitutional,” because a woman has the right to abort a child before viability for any reason.

Both leading contenders for the Democratic nomination expressed their displeasure with the law, which protects unborn children from racial or sexual discrimination, as well as discrimination on the basis of an inborn trait like mental capacity.

When Gov. Pence signed the law, Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted:

Hillary Clinton later said, “I commend the women of this state, young and old, for standing up against this governor and this legislature.”

DeBruler told The Independent, despite her comment about not being a Democrat or a Republican, she is in fact a Democrat and will vote for Hillary Clinton in today's primary. 



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This year, as Notre Dame prepares to confer an honor on Vice President Joe Biden, the silence from the Catholic hierarchy is deafening. Drop of Light / Shutterstock.com
Phil Lawler

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The moral challenge to Cardinal Wuerl in pending Notre Dame outrage

Phil Lawler

Ask Notre Dame not to honor pro-abortion Vice President Joe Biden. Sign the petition!

May 3, 2016 (CatholicCulture) -- In 2009, when the University of Notre Dame invited President Barack Obama to deliver a commencement address, dozens of American bishops lodged loud public protests. Yet this year, as Notre Dame prepares to confer an even greater honor on Vice President Joe Biden (together with former House Speaker John Boehner), the silence from the hierarchy is deafening.

Back in 2009, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Houston said that Notre Dame’s invitation to President Obama was “very disappointing,”, while then-Archbishop Timothy Dolan termed it a “big mistake.” The late Bishop John D’Arcy, then leader of the Indiana diocese in which the university is located, spoke of “the terrible breach which has taken place between Notre Dame and the Church.” For the first time in his 25 years of service to the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese, Bishop D’Arcy declined to attend the Notre Dame commencement exercises; instead he addressed a protest rally organized by pro-life students, faculty, alumni, and staff.

These prelates and others explained their dismay by referring to the statement “Catholics in Political Life,” released in 2004 by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. In that document, the bishops reflected on the need to maintain a consistent public witness in defense of human life, and therefore to distance themselves from public officials who support legal abortion. The statement set forth a clear policy that Catholic institutions should not give public honors to “pro-choice” politicians:

The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.

By giving President Obama an honorary degree and offering him an opportunity to speak at graduation, Notre Dame clearly violated that policy. University officials could offer only garbled partial defenses, claiming that they were honoring Obama not because he supports unrestricted abortion, but because he is President of the United States.

This year the university cannot offer even that lame defense of the decision to award the Laetare Medal to Vice President Biden. Unlike Obama, Biden is a Catholic, and by granting him this award the university is explicitly saying that the Vice President has “illustrated the ideals of the Church and enriched the heritage of humanity.” In other words, Notre Dame is honoring Vice President Biden as a Catholic political leader despite his unwavering support for abortion and same-sex marriage.

Give credit to Bishop Kevin Rhoades, the current leader of the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese, for raising a lonely voice of protest. “I believe it is wrong for Notre Dame to honor any ‘pro-choice’ public official with the Laetare Medal, even if he/she has other positive accomplishments in public service,” Bishop Rhoades said. But if any other bishops have joined him in that rebuke to Notre Dame, I must have missed their public announcements.

Some observers, of liberal political sympathies, have argued that it is wrong to honor John Boehner, too, because the former Speaker disagreed with the US bishops’ stand on immigration. This is a tired old argument, conflating disagreement with the bishops on a prudential political decision with defiance of Church teaching on a fundamental moral principle. But it is noteworthy that Notre Dame officials saw fit to make a joint award, no doubt in a cynical effort to dodge political criticism by choosing one honoree from each side of the political spectrum.

“We live in a toxic political environment where poisonous invective and partisan gamesmanship pass for political leadership,” said Father John Jenkins, the president of Notre Dame, in announcing the Laetare Award recipients. (Notice the pre-emptive suggestion that those who criticize the school’s choices may be engaged in “poisonous invective.”) He went on to make a tortured argument that although Notre Dame is honoring two politicians, it is not honoring them for what they have done in their political careers:

In recognizing both men, Notre Dame is not endorsing the policy positions of either, but celebrating two lives dedicated to keeping our democratic institutions working for the common good through dialogue focused on the issues and responsible compromise.

By now we all know the familiar dodges. The politician claims to oppose abortion personally, but to feel a delicate reticence about imposing his views on others. He says that we must be willing to compromise (even on life-and-death decisions). He insists that he is not “pro-abortion” but “pro-choice.”

That last bubble of rhetoric was unceremoniously burst by Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, DC, when he celebrated Mass at Georgetown after Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richard had delivered a lecture there. “The word ‘choice’ is a smokescreen,” he said, “behind which those killing unborn children take refuge. Every chance you get, blow that smoke away!”

Now Cardinal Wuerl himself has a chance to “blow that smoke away.” As things stand, he is scheduled to celebrate Mass at the Notre Dame commencement, and to receive an honorary degree. He could pull out; he could absent himself from the ceremonies, to ensure that he does not become part of an event that pays homage to a “pro-choice” Catholic politician.

And there is a precedent. Back in 2009, the Harvard legal scholar (and former US ambassador to the Holy See) Mary Ann Glendon was chosen to receive the Laetare Award. But when she learned that President Obama would be speaking, she announced her decision to decline the award. Clearly annoyed that her presence might be used to quiet the critics of the honor for Obama, Ambassador Glendon wrote that she did not want to be used as a counterweight, nor did she see the Notre Dame commencement as an appropriate venue for a genteel debate about legal abortion:

A commencement, however, is supposed to be a joyous day for the graduates and their families. It is not the right place, nor is a brief acceptance speech the right vehicle, for engagement with the very serious problems raised by Notre Dame’s decision—in disregard of the settled position of the U.S. bishops—to honor a prominent and uncompromising opponent of the Church’s position on issues involving fundamental principles of justice.

Could Cardinal Wuerl do this year what Ambassador Glendon did in 2009? Even at this late date, his withdrawal would send a powerful message of support for the right to life: an unmistakable rebuke to politicians who hide behind the smokescreen that the cardinal himself identified. To be sure, if he did withdraw, the cardinal would be caught in an avalanche of public criticism; he would suffer for his public witness. But there is a reason why cardinals wear red.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. Reprinted with permission from Catholic Culture.



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