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(LifeSiteNews) — Regular readers of Jonathon Van Maren’s LifeSiteNews column, which has been running since 2014, know him as a pithy and incisive culture warrior and critic.

But readers – and listeners of The Van Maren Show – are unlikely to know that the writer and activist, who will emcee the Canadian edition of LifeSite’s 25th anniversary gala next month, is an avid animal enthusiast.

“I’m obsessed with animals,” said Van Maren. At the moment, he has “a hedgehog, peacocks, pheasants, ducks, chickens, and a bottle-fed lamb.”

Being pro-life, Van Maren also loves children. And his own are benefiting from friendship with his animals.

“The lamb follows the kids everywhere because they bottle-feed it,” he said. “The peacocks enjoy strutting around fanning their plumage – the only mean animal that the kids are scared of is a black rooster that occasionally attacks trespassers. When the hedgehog tires of them he merely curls into a ball and sticks out his spines.”

‘Favorite thing’ is people who quit porn because of his LifeSite columns and shows

“I got involved running my campus pro-life club after seeing a video of an abortion,” Van Maren recalled. “From there, I was recruited to join CCBR [the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform] after my degree instead of going on to my master’s.”

Van Maren is one of the strongest voices against pornography in the social conservative sphere.

“My favorite thing – hands down – is the number of people who say they’ve quit pornography because of my LSN columns and shows,” he revealed. “It’s why I write on that subject whenever the news gives me the excuse (and sometimes when it doesn’t).”

Van Maren has for years sounded the alarm about the dangers of social media and smartphones.

“Digital pornography and social media are profoundly poisonous for our children, and giving a child (or even a young teen) a smartphone is, in my view, deeply irresponsible,” he warned. “We should not be sharing our social imaginary with the degraded, secular culture – the rates of porn addiction among young people is staggeringly, heartbreakingly high, while social media introduces them to the entire LGBT agenda and the poison of mainstream culture. Once you give a child a smartphone, you are no longer able to contextualize what your children see and consume.”

“Many parents are paying the price for that decision.”

‘If Roe can fall, what else might be possible?’

The Van Maren Show launched in 2019. Jonathon said an interview from the past year that has stuck with him was his “conversation with Andrew Klavan on Christianity and art,” which “was very interesting.”

And “on the culture, I think my interview with Mary Eberstadt on her book Primal Screams: How the Sexual Revolution Created Identity Politics was incredibly enlightening and fascinating.”

Commenting on just how much the cultural landscape has changed over the past decade, Van Maren noted, “When I started writing for [LifeSite], the transgender movement was a fringe ideology. Within a couple of years, it had captured the institutions and was redefining our society.”

“I do think that this has created a backlash, but I noted, looking at a recent list of conservative victories, that all of these victories were against things that weren’t even on our radar a decade ago (transgender policies, Drag Queen Story Hour),” he observed. “So it is true to say that so-cons are winning victories; it is also true to say that this doesn’t mean we are taking back the culture in any meaningful sense.”

But “the great aberration to this, of course, was the overturn of Roe v. Wade,” he reflected. “That was considered impossible after Obama’s re-election. Abortion is now almost entirely illegal in a dozen states. Tens of thousands of babies have been saved. SCOTUS has declared that ‘abortion is not a constitutional right.’ And if Roe can fall, what else might be possible?”

As the emcee at LifeSite’s July 18 gala, Van Maren will introduce speakers such as LifeSiteNews co-founders Steve Jalsevac and John-Henry Westen, and special guests such as Jim Hughes of Campaign Life Coalition, student activist Josh Alexander, and LifeSite’s Jim Hale. There are only 200 tickets available and ticket sales close on July 1, 2023. The event will take place at the Hilton Toronto/Markham Suites and Conference Centre.

Tickets for the gala – where after enjoying a reception and plated dinner, attendees will be part of LifeSite’s live studio audience – can be purchased here.