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Kresta in the Afternoon – April 28, 2015

Talking about the “Things That Matter Most” on April 28, 2015

4:00 – Kresta Comments: Supreme Court Considers Gay Marriage and Baltimore Riots 


4:20 – The Drama of Salvation

We face countless questions ever day. What should I do to prepare for my meeting? What am I doing this weekend? How am I preparing for retirement? These all pale in comparison to the ultimate question: where will I spend eternity? The answers to this question cause widespread confusion between Catholics and other Christians. Jimmy Akin joins us with answers.


5:00 – TBA


5:20 – St. Gianna Beretta Molla, Patroness of Mothers

St. Gianna was pregnant with her fourth child in 1961 when she developed a fibroma on her uterus. Doctors gave her three choices: abort the baby, have a hysterectomy, or remove only the fibroma and risk further complications. Gianna decided to continue with her pregnancy and later delivered a healthy baby girl, Gianna Emmanuela. St. Gianna died seven days after her daughter’s birth and was canonized in 2004. Matthew Bunson joins us today to discuss her life and influence.



5:40 – Discussions with the Archbishop of Detroit

Archbishop Allen Vigneron talks about a variety of issues including the Armenian Genocide, priestly ordination and Pope Francis’ designation of the National Shrine of the Little Flower as a minor basilica.


Why the U.S. Doesn’t Always Know Who It’s Killing in Drone Strikes

by Sarah Childress and Priyanka Boghani via PBS.org


President Barack Obama’s rare admission on Thursday that the U.S. had accidentally killed two civilians being held hostage by Al Qaeda underscores an important reality of the administration’s covert drone program: When U.S. officials approve attacks, they often don’t know exactly who they’re going to hit.

Although the U.S. doesn’t publicly release figures on who it kills and when, accordingto the independent Bureau of Investigative Journalism, government drone strikes have killed between 2,952 and 5,217 people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen combined. At least 488 — and as many as 1,124 — are believed to have been civilians, according to the bureau’s estimates.

That count includes at least eight Americans. In addition to killing four U.S. citizens in a 2013 strike, the U.S. said today that it had killed Warren Weinstein, a development expert from Maryland being held hostage by Al Qaeda, as well as two American Al Qaeda operatives, Adam Gadhan and Ahmed Farouq, in strikes in January. An Italian aid worker, Giovanni Lo Porto, also died in the same strike as Weinstein. In 2002,Kamal Derwish, an American citizen and alleged Al Qaeda recruiter was killed in a drone strike in Yemen.

“These and other recent strikes in which civilians were killed make clear that there is a significant gap between the relatively stringent standards the government says it’s using and the standards that are actually being used,” Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement.

He added: “Unfortunately, the president’s stated commitment to transparency can’t be squared with the secrecy that still shrouds virtually every aspect of the government’s drone program.”

The U.S. has been slow to publicly clarify its rules for drone strikes, which are carried out by both the CIA and the Defense Department.

As recently as 2012, President Barack Obama told The Daily Show’s  Jon Stewart that the administration was still working to establish a legal framework for the strikes. (The exchange starts about one minute in to the video.)

“One of the things we’ve got to do is put a legal architecture in place, and we need congressional help in order to do that, to make sure that not only am I reined in, but any president’s reined in terms of some of the decisions that we’re making,” he said.

The administration has, however, broken its strikes in two categories: targeted strikes, when officials identify a specific person to kill, and signature strikes, when they don’t.

Signature strikes started in Pakistan under President George W. Bush in 2008; Obamaexpanded their use in Yemen in 2012. These strikes generally involve hits on what the U.S. considers suspected militant targets or suspicious activity in areas controlled by militants. In 2012, however, The New York Times reported that some officials in the State Department were concerned that the standards in place for such strikes gave far too much leeway for the CIA. As one senior official told The Times, the “joke” went that “three guys doing jumping jacks” could be interpreted as a terrorist training camp.

In April 2012, John Brennan, who was at the time the Homeland Security advisor, offered the first major public defense of the government’s drone program, saying that “targeted strikes” against “specific Al Qaeda terrorists were legal, ethical and done with “precision.” Drone strikes also allowed the U.S. to combat Al Qaeda without sending in more ground troops, he said. He didn’t specifically address the use of signature strikes.

In 2013, after the U.S. acknowledged killing four Americans in a strike, including Anwar al-Awalaki, a senior leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Attorney General Eric Holder said in a May letter that the administration would establish “exacting standards and processes for reviewing and approving” operations to kill or capture targets.

In May 2013, the White House released a summary memo of the administration’s guidelines, narrowing slightly the target zone for signature strikes and requiring “near certainty” that non-combatants will not be injured or killed. “Men of military age may be non-combatants; it is not the case that all military-aged males in the vicinity of a target are deemed to be combatants,” the memo said.

But the memo didn’t clarify how combatants — or non-combatants — are defined, leaving that open to interpretation by officials authorizing the strikes. The U.S. also said the counterterrorism operations were designed to take out Al Qaeda and it’s “associated forces,” although it didn’t define who that is. The government has also used strikes to target militants fighting against the Pakistani and Yemeni governments.

On Thursday, the administration confirmed that the strike that killed Weinstein and Lo Porto, the two civilians, was a signature strike. Obama said that the CIA believed that the compound it targeted belonged to Al Qaeda, but it didn’t know exactly who was inside.

In his remarks about the civilian deaths, Obama said he had ordered a full review of what happened. “It is a cruel and bitter truth that in the fog of war generally and our fight against terrorists specifically, mistakes — sometimes deadly mistakes — can occur,” he said.

But, he added, the operation that killed them was “fully consistent with the guidelines under which we conduct counterterrorism efforts in the region, which has been our focus for years because it is the home of Al Qaeda’s leadership.” 

In the meantime, human rights groups have continued to document regular civilian deaths. In 2012, for example, a drone killed a 67-year-old grandmother in Pakistan. A 2013 strike the U.S. said targeted “dangerous Al Qaeda militants” in Yemen actually hit a wedding procession, killing 12 and wounding at least 15 others.

And in January, the U.S. said it had killed “three Al Qaeda fighters” in a strike in Yemen, but The Wall Street Journal cited Yemeni defense officials saying that one was a 12-year-old boy.

A Yemeni human rights group revealed the boy’s identity the day after the strike. It said that the boy’s father and older brother had also been killed by a drone strike four years earlier.

Danish Man Commits Suicide After Dog Is Forcibly Euthanized

A man in Denmark was so devastated when authorities seized and euthanized his dog that he took his own life.

Dan, whose last name has not been disclosed, was 27 years old.

Dan was given just eight days to prove that his dog Zanto was not one of the breeds banned in Denmark, and under Danish law, the burden to prove dog breed is placed upon owners. When he was unable to do so, authorities removed Zanto and arranged for him to be killed. Soon after Zanto was taken, Dan was reported to have overdosed on pain medication.

His dog, Zanto, had been euthanized in adherence with Denmark’s Breed Specific Legislation on Pit Bulls. Danish legislation titled the “Dog Act” also dictates that police are required to euthanize dogs that “savage” a person or another dog, but Zanto hadn’t attacked anyone. He was simply considered an illegal breed.

 The Dog Act bans the ownership and breeding of 13 breeds of dogs, including the Pitt Bull Terrier, Kangal, South Russian Shepherd Dog and American Bulldog. Some breeds have been illegal since 1991, but legislation in 2010 brought the number to 13.

On April 21, a Danish blog titled “Stephanie Karma” paid tribute to Dan and his dog Zanto.

“I’m crazy frustrated, and that is why I made the decision to dedicate the day today for one special man,” the blog read. “Namely Dan who took his own life after the police came and took his dog.”

Foreningen Fair Dog Fan, a Facebook page connected to Fair Dog, an association committed to dogs and dog owners, also dedicated their Facebook page to “Dan, his family, friends, and not least Zanto” on April 20.

“This is truly tragic. I hope and pray that the laws of [Denmark] will change,” commented one user on the page.

There have been efforts to repeal Denmark’s ban on certain dog breeds, including a Change.com petition.

A number of organizations, including the Animal Law Coalition, have cited studies reporting that the dog breed ban has not decreased the number of dog bites in the country.

“Denmark is moving in the opposite direction from other European Union countries that have discovered breed discrimination does not work to prevent or reduce dog bite incidents,” says the ALC on its website.

While the Dog Act was upheld in 2014, the outpouring of support and outrage on behalf of Dan may inspire more campaigns to repeal the legislation.

Politics and misrepresentation over ‘conversion therapy’

by Al Kresta

Politics organizes our common civic life together. In contrast, the sciences figure out how the material universe works. Questions about evolution, global warming, the cause of dinosaur extinction (I’m told it wasn’t smoking or drinking but perhaps some other lifestyle issue) or whether homosexuals can be “converted” into heterosexuals are scientific, not political or theological, questions. Such questions cannot be settled by popular vote, political decree or Scripture quotes. Nevertheless, President Obama is politicizing science and wants to outlaw “conversion” therapies for homosexual youth who are troubled by unbidden and unwanted same-sex attraction.

This is what we need to know.

First, the Catholic Church has no dog in the fight over the origin of same-sex attraction or the degree to which it can be changed. It is pastoral malpractice to try and settle these scientific questions by an appeal to Catholic faith and morals. Homosexuals are to be treated with compassion and respect and Catholics must avoid any sign of unjust discrimination toward them.

Second, the president’s use of the term “conversion therapy” is misleading. No professional therapist promises 180 degree change for same-sex attracted men who just saunter in and do a few rounds of therapy. “Conversion therapy” is a straw man that gay activists use as a bogey man to discredit Catholic moral concerns.

Third, the president and his activist supporters claim that overwhelming scientific evidence shows that “conversion therapy” is harmful. Then, in an intellectual slight of hand, all efforts to assist homosexuals dealing with unwanted same-sex attraction is condemned as “conversion therapy.”

Perhaps the president is thinking about certain deliverance ministers who insist that if those with same-sex attraction just pray or get born again they will be “converted” into heterosexuals. This is both bad theology and bad therapy. Failed attempts at change can lead to depression. But there is no overwhelming scientific evidence that condemns all professional attempts to help those with same-sex attraction.

One study by Shidlo and Shroeder intended to prove that efforts to change produced harm. Titled “Homophobic Therapies: Documenting the Damage,” it appealed to a sample population predisposed to report harm. They believed that because homosexuality is immutable, it is an identity to be embraced. Attempts to alter one’s identity would only end in frustration and harm. Philosophically, that, of course, assumes the very conclusion that must be proven by evidence. Is homosexuality absolutely fixed?

According to Shidlo and Schroeder, most participants reported no change. Many reported harm. But, against their expectations, a modest percentage reported benefits from attempting change. On the other hand, four significant studies by Schaeffer, Spitzer, Wade, Jones and Yarhouse demonstrated far more positive than negative results from similar therapies.

For instance, a 2010 study by Fordham University’s Jay Wade found that men with unwanted same-sex attraction can experience some degree of healing by developing healthy non-sexual relationships, i.e., friendships, with other men.

These men reported a decrease in homosexual behavior and feelings and some degree of increase in heterosexual feelings and behavior.

What accounts for these favorable changes? First of all, the goal of professional therapy is not conversion from homosexual to heterosexual, but identifying the underlying causes of their same-sex attraction. Occasionally, people who identify themselves as “ex-gay” claim that Jesus worked a miracle in their soul and released them from bondage to same-sex attraction. He not only forgave their sin and reconciled them to God but extinguished their disordered sexual desires.

I have encountered and enjoyed dozens of such stories. As a Catholic, I do believe in such miracles. I don’t believe, however, in licensed professional therapists fostering extravagant expectations and then charging money for promised “miracles.”

In the scientific literature, we learn that success depends on many factors:

the professional expertise of the mental health professional

a good therapeutic relationship between counselor and client

adequate length of time for treatment

significant social support for treatment

the absence of other psychological problems, particularly addictions.

Treating conflicts in male confidence and sustained chastity are essential. Chastity correlates with personal satisfaction and happiness. In contrast, promiscuity correlates with various psychopathologies. Through these therapies, many experience positive change in their overall psychological functioning.

Unfortunately, our society is settling the political questions surrounding homosexuality even before we know the causes of same-sex attraction. At least four different theories remain plausible and have some degree of empirical confirmation. Consequently, modesty and humility should mark our probing into this very deep mystery of our humanity. Neither religious triumphalism or political flippancy helps. If we don’t know the origin of same-sex attraction, we can rest assured that we probably haven’t yet nailed down what degree of “change” is possible. For a sober look at what we know and don’t know, see Stanton Jones and Mark Yarhouse’s “Homosexuality: The Use of Scientific Research in the Church’s Moral Debate” and their related work.

While knowledge is power, those in power don’t have any privileged right to determine what is knowledge. The dispassionate, apolitical love for truth that drives the greatest men and women of science often eludes those running for political office.

For those troubled by homosexual feelings, hope exists. At couragerc.net, honest, loving, spiritual and social support is available from those who know the difficulties, firsthand. Also, “Desire of the Everlasting Hills” is a beautifully produced DVD that doesn’t preach or lobby but, rather, tells the stories of three adult Catholics struggling with same-sex attraction but who remain committed to the Church’s moral teaching. For a free copy, email me at [email protected] and I’ll send it out at no charge.

Four Key Differences Between the Classic Civil Rights Movement and the New Left’s Campaign Against “Discrimination”

A note from Al:

The homosexual rights movement might produce the most significant shift in America’s social morality without the involvement of America’s churches. Yes, some of the mainline Protestant groups have applauded the change, but they did not spur the change as they did during the civil rights movement.

 In our nation’s history, social morality has always been grounded in and nurtured by America’s churches and synagogues. Abolitionism, prohibition, outlawing of abortion and today’s pro-life resistance to Roe, the vote for women, eventual respect for conscientious objectors in wartime, the social gospel and care for the urban poor, activism to educate the poor began with the Sunday School movement, the crusade against atheistic communism and more— all depended upon the moral authority and activism of Christian leaders.

 Black Baptist churches provided much of the leadership for the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s. White, theologically liberal, mainline Protestant churches were soon deep in the movement. Theologically conservative or evangelical Protestant churches were much slower to respond. The leading evangelical Protestant of the last century, Billy Graham, did refuse to preach to segregated audiences fairly early on in his crusades. This took some courage. He also shared the platform with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., at least once. But even Graham did not champion the civil rights movement. Grant Wacker’s new study America’s Pastor: Billy Graham and the Shaping of a Nation spends a good deal of time on Graham’s attitudes towards the civil rights movement.

 What about Catholics in those civil rights years? In 1958, five years before the famous March on Washington and seven years before the Voting Rights Act, the American Catholic bishops condemned segregation as an intolerable moral wrong. For the bishops, “the heart of the race question is moral and religious.” By creation, humanity was but one human race. We are all children of Adam and Eve. By redemption, Christ died for all.

 Anselm College’s Andrew Moore specializes in Alabama and Georgia Catholics after World War II. In the Encyclopedia of Alabama, he writes that “most of Alabama’s white Catholics shared white southerners’ racism and initially opposed the goals of the movement. They preferred order and stability instead of activism for integration and racial justice. Catholic teaching clearly opposed racial discrimination, however, and after the mid-1960s there was little official sympathy for segregation. For most of the civil rights movement, the Catholic Church in Alabama remained on the margins of the debates over integration and focused on internal Church affairs. It took the 1965 Selma to Montgomery march for voting rights to draw the Church from the margins into the mainstream of the movement.”

 After the Civil War, Catholic churches were not radical activists opposing Jim Crow laws. However, Catholic church activities were not strictly segregated. Catholic parishes often ignored laws and ordinances that demanded separate facilities. At times, blacks and whites attended the same parish even though they often sat apart and blacks received communion after whites. Diocesan-wide events like the annual Christ the King parade and open-air masses held in Mobile, Birmingham and Montgomery included prominent members of black parishes and lay organizations. According to Moore, “Diocesan-wide organizations were open to both white and black laypeople as well.”  Be glad. Catholicism is spiritually and institutionally committed to St. Paul’s doctrine that in Christ there is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female. Catholics were far from the racial attitudes of today by they often outshined our southern evangelical and fundamentalist brethren. Typical southern attitudes on race obscured our light but, on many an occasions, we did rise above the social conventions of the times.

 In this piece, Carson Holloway notes four key differences between the civil rights movement led by King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference and today’s gay rights agenda promoted largely through secular progressive activists and news and entertainment media.

 In short, the presence of Christian conscience and behavior marks the difference between the two movements.  For me, the most important difference concerns the moral dimension of each issue. Skin pigmentation is morally neutral and has no link to social behavior. Opposition to black skin has no rational basis. Homosexuality, on the other hand, is fraught with moral concerns and is usually linked to sexual behavior.

 Opposition to homosexual acts, unlike opposition to black skin, have a rational basis.  The courts often say no. But the complementarity of the male and female body, the universal tradition of human societies, ancient and modern, and the centrality of children in the definition of marriage all provide a rational basis for opposition. That American courts have placed the gay rights agenda on a moral par with the civil rights movement represents a weakening of the American conscience and bankrupting of our legal thinking.

Al Kresta

Demonstrators gather to protest a controversial religious freedom bill in Indianapolis

by Carson Holloway via CatholicVote.org

In the ugly controversy over Indiana’s RFRA law, we have once again heard some proponents of gay rights present their movement as an heir to the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s–and also poisonously comparing their political opponents to the racists and segregationists of that time.  The comparison is inapt, for the following four reasons.

First, there is the obvious difference in the tactics used by the defenders of the old order.  Blacks and their white supporters who demonstrated against segregation were often beaten, hosed down, and attacked by police dogs.  None of this has been done to the contemporary proponents of further expanded anti-discrimination laws.


Second, there is the obvious difference in the tactics used by the proponents of the proposed new order.  Those involved in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s were, as is well known, scrupulously non-violent.  In addition to that, however, they were also careful not to hurl hatred or anger of any kind at those on the other side.  They probably did this in part because they were sincere Christians who earnestly wanted to follow Jesus in loving their enemies.  This was the explicit teaching of Reverend King, and since the civil rights movement he led was overwhelmingly Christian, his followers listened to him.  Recall that his organization was the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.  In contrast, the proponents of the new, expanded order of non-discrimination have promiscuously hurled anger and hatred at their opponents.  The examples are too depressing to cite and too numerous to require citation.

Third, there is an obvious difference in the political lay of the land.  We can see this by thinking further about why the old civil rights movement was so polite and loving, and why the people who today claim to be their successors are not.  The followers of Reverend King were sincere Christians and so committed to loving engagement with their opponents, as I have said.  But there was probably also an element of political prudence in their conduct.  They knew they were part of a small and unpopular minority in the country, and so they knew they could only harm their cause by resorting to abusive language.  In contrast, today’s left readily resorts to hateful and abusive rhetoric because it knows that it can get away with it because conservative Christians are in fact today’s unpopular minority.

These are all important differences, but they mainly have to do with tactics and the political environment.  What about substance?  There is in fact an important substantive difference that should be noted.

Fourth, the kinds of discrimination about which the left is now complaining are not at all analogous to what was practiced in the 1950s and 1960s.  I mean that the motivation is clearly not the same.  The motivation in the past was raw racial animus.  The motivation here is clearly religious or moral conscience.  I would ask those insisting on the analogy to scour the records of racially segregationist America and see if they can find an example of a racist business owner who said: “I would be happy to serve blacks in my restaurant.  I just don’t want to have to cater at their weddings.”  I, personally, have never heard of such a thing and I doubt we will find any evidence that anybody maintained that view.  Why?  Because the segregationists of the 1950s and 1960s were animated by racial animus.  They wanted to keep blacks away from them and in an inferior position, period.

This is clearly not what conservative Christians are attempting who do not want to be conscripted by law into serving at gay wedding ceremonies.  They make a distinction the old time racists would never make.  They say explicitly that they have no objection to serving gay customers, but they just don’t want to be asked to show up at a gay wedding.  And why not?  Because it is a ceremony celebrating something they don’t believe in.

Even if the left disagrees with conservative Christians on this, they shouldn’t compare it to the racism of the past.



Kresta in the Afternoon – April 27, 2015

Talking about the “Things That Matter Most” on April 27, 2015


4:00-6:00 – Direct to My Desk: Topics TBA 

Pope Francis and the Power of Humility

by Fr. Dwight Longnecker via Ateleia.com

topic (2)

From the moment Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio adopted the name “Francis” the world has seen a pope for whom the virtue of humility is primary. His outward gestures at humility are famous. Rejecting the papal car, he rode back to the St. Martha guesthouse on the bus with his fellow cardinals. The next day he quietly slipped out to pray at the Basilica of St. Mary Major and stopped to pay his hotel bill. The symbolic gestures continued: his permanent residence at the St. Martha Guesthouse, his welcome of trash collectors and cleaners to daily mass, his outreach to the homeless and all those on the margins. These outward gestures preach the gospel of humility in a powerful way to a world hungry for the beauty, truth and goodness of the gospel.

While Francis’ gestures of humility are important, we should stop and ask ourselves what they are really worth. Critics say they are empty gestures. Washing the feet of prisoners, embracing people with disfiguring diseases and reaching out to the mentally ill, the disabled and the poor make for good press and are wonderful photo opportunities, but are they really any more than window dressing? Furthermore, couldn’t it be argued that these very gestures are somewhat showy? Is it really humble to kiss lepers and wash the feet of prisoners if the cameras are rolling? Is it humble to tell the whole world you are living humbly? Wouldn’t it have been more humble to live in the apostolic palace in simplicity as previous popes have done? Are outward shows of humility humble at all?

To make such objections is to misunderstand the prophetic nature of the papal office. One of the main functions of the papacy is that of a figurehead. The pope symbolizes Catholicism as Queen Elizabeth symbolizes all that is best of Great Britain. As the head of the Catholic Church every pope plays a symbolic and ceremonial role through which he incarnates and lives out the values and beliefs of the Catholic religion. Each pope does this in a different way—bringing his own gifts and personality to the task.

Throughout his ministry Pope Francis has been a man of the people. He has lived in a modest apartment, done his own cooking, taken the bus to the office and remained close to the poorest of the poor. It is natural and right that he brings these same gifts to the office of the papacy. The papal office magnifies these gifts and amplifies them to proclaim to the whole world that the primary virtue for all Christians is humility.

It is easy to misunderstand what humility really is. Being submissive and oppressed by another person is not humility. Being falsely pious and lowly is not humility. Being overly scrupulous in religion is not humility and neither is service to the poor necessarily a sign of humility. Humility is an elusive virtue because if you think you have it you probably don’t. Humility is something which can be experienced even if it cannot be explained.

The best way to understand humility is to first understand pride. Pride is the vice that counters humility. We often think of arrogance as pride, but that is only a superficial manifestation of pride. At its heart pride is the attitude that I have done nothing wrong and that there is nothing to apologize for. A proud person believes himself or herself to be okay. They honestly see themselves as good and righteous and not in need of help. A self-sufficient person is proud. A self-righteous person is proud. Anyone who believes himself right and good is proud. The proud person is pictured in the gospel by the person who says, “I thank you God that I am not like that sinner over there…”

If that is the definition of pride, then it becomes obvious that there are very many people in the church itself who are guilty of the worst sin of all: pride. We therefore come to understand that humility is the basic, gut-level understanding that we are not good, not righteous and not okay as we are. Humility is the awareness that we need others. We need grace. We need help. We need God.

Now we come to understand Pope Francis’ emphasis on the poor, the needy, the immigrant and the disabled. Now we understand why he shines the spotlight on the homeless, the AIDS victim, the starving, the martyrs and the murderers. He reaches out to the flotsam and jetsam of society because there he sees humility. There he sees humanity’s need for God. There he sees the gospel in action, for the gospel is the message of God’s good news for those in peril.

By focusing on humility Pope Francis brings the world back to the most basic of gospel truths: that mankind is needy. The human race is hungry for the Bread of Life. Humanity is thirsty for the Water of Life. The human family is poor, and in this essential neediness we find a humble humanity—a humanity desperately in need of the Divine Mercy.

Read Fr Longenecker’s popular blog by connecting through his website. Go to dwightlongenecker.com to browse his books and be in touch.

Influences on the Ideology of Eric Harris

A note from Al Kresta:

The anniversary of the Columbine High murders, the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City and attack upon and burning of the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas all fall within the same week. All three incidents of wicked violence are still poorly understood by our fellow Americans and our brothers and sisters in the Church.

Dr. Peter Langman is one of the few researchers that doesn’t just write of Columbine shooter Eric Harris’ brutality off in psychological terms. He takes seriously Harris’ fascination with leading Western thinkers. “As a man thinks in his heart so is he” is an old proverb. What we think about the world will conspire with how we feel about the world to determine what we will do in the world. Notice Eric’s relationship to the legacies of Nietzsche, Hobbes, Hitler and Manson. Ideas have consequences especially in twisted minds.

- Al Kresta

1280x720-S8E copy

by Peter Langman, Ph.D. via schoolshooters.info


Eric Harris viewed himself as brighter and more insightful than virtually everyone else. He looked down on the masses of humanity as unthinking conformists. He celebrated instincts over society’s conventions. He rejected traditional values as meaningless concepts. He believed he was going to kick-start natural selection and eliminate inferior beings. He created an ideology that in his mind justified his desire for destruction. Where did these ideas come from?

This article explores the parallels between Eric Harris’s ideas and those of people he admired: Adolf Hitler, Friedrich Nietzsche, Thomas Hobbes, and probably Charles Manson. We know that Hitler fascinated Eric from his choosing to write about him for a school research paper, the references to Hitler and the Nazis in Eric’s journal (along with swastikas and SS insignia), and the testimony of Eric’s friends that he idolized or worshipped Hitler.

We know nothing specific about Eric’s interest in Hobbes and Nietzsche. All we have is his statement, “I just love Hobbes and Nietzsche.” What he read of their works remains unknown. Eric did take a philosophy class at school that may have introduced him to Hobbes and Nietzsche. He may also have done significant reading on his own. Whether or not Eric had an ac- curate understanding of Hobbes and Nietzsche is not relevant here. Eric would have read these philosophers from his own perspective, perhaps already knowing that he would commit mass murder, and looking for justification or validation of his worldview and intentions.

It also seems likely that Eric drew inspiration from Charles Manson. This is speculation, however, because Eric left no written record of having studied Manson. Nonetheless, Eric was a huge fan of the movie Natural Born Killers and used the initials “NBK” as a code name for the attack on Columbine High School. In this movie, Manson is referred to several times as the master serial killer. In addition, Dylan Klebold wrote a research paper on Manson, and the two boys must have talked about him. There are many similarities between Eric’s ideas and those espoused by Manson and his followers. Although similar thoughts could be a coincidence, the numerous parallels suggest that Eric may have modeled himself after Manson.

The idea that Eric took in ideas and made them his own is supported by a comment from his journal: “my brain is like a sponge, sucking up everything that sounds cool.” This article is an investigation to see just how much Eric absorbed from the men he admired.

Charles Manson copy

Eric and Manson

There is no direct evidence that Eric Harris read Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi, the book about Charles Manson that Dylan used as the primary source for his research paper. However, given Eric’s fascination with violence and the fact that his best friend read the book, it would not be surprising if Eric read Helter Skelter. In addition, the number of parallels between Eric’s writings and statements found within Helter Skelter suggests that Eric not only read the book, but also deliberately patterned himself after Manson.

Manson was said to have two enemies: the police, and Af- rican Americans. Eric identified the police as the “person” he hated the most. Elsewhere, in a list of people he hated, he wrote “cops! Stupid law enforcing people!!!” He also spouted racist comments and jokes, and wrote about sending blacks back to Africa. His racism is of particular interest because as a younger  boy his best friends included one who was black and one who was Asian. In fact, a friend of his at Columbine who was part Mexican commented that Eric was not racist toward him at all, and an African American classmate said Eric showed no signs of racism toward her. It thus appears that Eric’s racism was not deeply rooted, but adopted as an attitude during adolescence.

One of Manson’s followers said Manson “wanted to do a crime that would shock the world, that the world would have to stand up and take notice.” Eric wrote, “I want to leave a lasting impression on the world.” Helter Skelter, the race war that Manson believed he would start, was supposed to “be all the wars that have ever been fought built on top of the other.” Eric wrote that his attack would be like “the LA riots, the Oklahoma bombing, WWII, Vietnam, Duke and Doom all mixed together” (Duke and Doom are video games). Manson “was convinced he could personally start that war himself.” He told his followers, “I’m going to have to start the revolution.” Similarly, Eric thought he could start a revolution: “Maybe we will even start a little rebellion or revolution.” Elsewhere he said, “We need to fucking kick-start the revolution here! . . . If we have a fucking religious war — or oil — or anything. We need to get a chain reaction going here.”

The war that Manson envisioned was to result in global destruction: “Charlie was going to bring on the ruination of the world, and this is why all the murders were committed.” Manson himself said, “I’m going to kill as many of you as I can. I’m going to pile you up to the sky. I figure about fifty million of you.”

Like Manson, Eric thought in terms of global destruction. One passage in his journal says, “If you recall your history the Nazis came up with a “final solution” to the Jewish problem. Kill them all. Well, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, I say ‘KILL MANKIND’ no one should survive.” He also wrote:

If I can wipe a few cities off the map, and even the fuckhead holding the map, then great. Hmm, just thinking if I want all humans dead or maybe just the quote-unquote “civilized, developed, and known-of” places on Earth, maybe leave little tribes of natives in the rain forest or something. Hmm, I’ll think about that.

Manson and his followers rejected the idea that words had real meanings. They also rejected basic concepts of right and wrong, guilt, crime, and sin. If the concepts have no mean- ing, then people are free to do whatever they want and feel no remorse. This rejection of values and meaning appears repeatedly in Helter Skelter as well as Eric’s writings. For example, a Manson family member said, “Sorry is only a five-letter word.” Eric wrote, “Sorry is just a word.” Other quotes from Helter Skelter demonstrate a rejection of morality:

All words had no meanings to us
Guilty. Not guilty. They are only words.
There is no crime, there is no sin, everything is all right.

Whatever is necessary, you do it. When somebody needs to be killed, there’s no wrong.

Eric repeatedly made statements like those from Helter Skelter in which he rejected traditional values and morals:

There is no such thing as an actual ‘real world.’ Its just another word like justice, sorry, pity, religion, faith, luck and so on.

Fuck money, fuck justice, fuck morals, fuck civilized, fuck rules, fuck laws . . . DIE manmade words . . . There’s no such thing as True Good or True evil.

“Morals” is just another word, and that’s it.

Just because your mumsy and dadsy told you blood and violence is bad, you think it’s a fucking law of nature? Wrong.

Manson made many comments that indicate he thought of himself (literally or figuratively) as Jesus. He identified himself as “Charles Manson, also known as Jesus Christ, Prisoner.” A follower of his said, “Charlie claimed that he had lived before, nearly two thousand years ago, and that he had once died on the cross.” Manson referred to the court case against him as “this trile [sic] of Man’s son.”

Though Eric rejected Jesus, he frequently referred to himself as God or god-like. He wrote “Ich bin Gott,” which is German for “I am God” in his own planner and in the yearbooks of at least four classmates. He also wrote, “I feel like God and I wish I was.” Both Manson and Eric viewed themselves as the ones who established laws. Manson said, “I make laws. I’m the lawmaker.” Eric wrote, “My belief is that if I say something, it goes. I am the law.” When he was arrested in , Manson listed his occupation as “minister.” According to a friend, Eric was known as “preacher.” Eric himself identified one of his nicknames as “reverend.”

Eric and Dylan, in fact, had several nicknames. The most puzzling ones are names of colors. Eric was “Indigo” and Dylan was “Green.” Why? What meaning was there in colors? Man- son created the Order of the Rainbow and gave his closest disciples color nicknames. For example, Squeaky Fromme was known as “Red” and Sandra Good was known as “Blue.” Perhaps Eric and Dylan imitated this practice.

Both Manson and Eric admired Hitler. Manson thought “Hitler had the best answer to everything.” In addition, Man- son “said that Hitler was a tuned-in guy who had leveled the karma of the Jews.” Eric made clear his admiration for Hitler when he wrote, “I love the Nazis.”

Manson preached that murder was not as bad as killing animals or plants. He valued nature over humanity: “To Manson it was not wrong to kill a human being, but it was wrong to kill an animal or plant.” Manson said, “I’d rather kill people than animals.” When Manson spoke of killing millions of people, he commented, “I might be able to save my trees and my air and my water and my wildlife.” Eric seemed to echo Manson’s ideas. He wrote about eliminating humanity but preserving nature:

“the human race isn’t worth fighting for, only worth killing. Give the Earth back to the animals, they deserve it infinitely more than we do.” He also commented, “I think we are all a waste of natural resources and should be killed off.”

Thus, despite any statements from Eric that he was interested in Manson, there are many reasons to think that Manson was a significant influence on Eric.

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Eric and Hitler

The day he attacked Columbine High School, Eric wore a shirt that read “Natural Selection.” Eric often wrote and spoke about survival of the fittest and natural selection. In his mind, this meant eliminating “unfit” people from the planet. This desire was similar to what Hitler and the Nazis sought to do.

In the fall of his senior year, Eric wrote a research paper on the Nazis. One of the themes he focused on was the Nazi goal of eliminating people who were deemed unfit for life. In his paper, Eric wrote about “the euthanasia program that led to the killing of approximately , lives that were ‘not worth living.’” He also wrote, “in Nazi Germany, all mentally disabled people or ‘incurable mental defectives’ were killed.” In addition, “Arithmetic was used to show how ‘wasteful’ the mentally challenged were and how much money could be saved by euthanasia.”

In Eric’s journal we see these same ideas:

NATURAL SELECTION. Kill all retards, people with brain fuck ups . . . Geeeawd! People spend millions of dollars on saving the lives of retards, and why? I don’t buy that shit like “oh, he’s my son, though!” so the fuck what, he ain’t normal, kill him. Put him out of his misery. He is only a waste of time and money.

Elsewhere he wrote, “Retards!!! They are a waste of time and money and effort and energy and space and lots of other stuff too! They need to DIE!!”

Eric also wrote about the Nazis’ belief in their racial superiority as well as their discrimination against foreigners: “The German people wanted only pure Germans in their country.” These ideas appear in Eric’s journal: “Blacks ARE different . . . we should ship yer black asses back to Afrifuckingca were you came from. We brought you here and we will take you back. America = white.” On his website Eric wrote, “Foreigners!! Get out of my country!!”

When it came to women, Eric wrote in his paper on the Nazis, “Throughout time women have tried to be treated as equals to males . . . in Nazi Germany, the women were supposed to be ‘glad’ to stay home and cook and clean all day long.” In his journal he wrote, “Women, you will always be under men. It’s been seen throughout nature, males are almost always doing the dangerous shit while the women stay back. It’s your animal instincts.” (Similar views of women as second-class citizens can be found in Manson, Hobbes, and Nietzsche, too.)

The disregard for human life combined with a high regard for animal life that was noted previously with Manson is relevant here, too. Though Eric had no difficulty killing people, he wrote on his website that he will hurt anyone who is mean to animals. Was Eric a cold-blooded killer who happened to be an animal lover? Or was he influenced by the Nazis? Among Eric’s papers was a page with a quote from Himmler about his lack of concern regarding the lives of Russians, Czechs, and Jews. In the midst of the passage, however, he refers to Germans as “the only people in the world who have a decent attitude toward animals.” Here we see complete callousness regarding human life, mixed with pride in treating animals well. This is the same combination of attitudes that Eric exhibited.

Finally, there is a passage on Eric’s website that is puzzling. He asks, “YOU KNOW WHAT I HATE!!!? Freedom of the press. I hate that part of the Bill of Rights.” Why? Perhaps his negative attitude toward freedom of the press was derived from the Nazis. In his paper wrote about the Nazi’s opposition to freedom of the press and quoted Hitler saying, “We have to put a stop to the idea that it is part of everyone’s civil rights to say what he pleases.”

Thus, Eric endorsed the Nazis’ attitude towards “defective” people, their racial bigotry and ethnocentrism, their relegation of women to a subordinate position, and other attitudes. In his paper, of course, he presented the Nazis in a negative light, stating, “The Third Reich, led by Adolf Hitler, was one of the most evil and racist forms of government ever.” This was merely for show, however. In his journal, Eric made the following comment: “I love the Nazis . . . I fucking can’t get enough of the swastika, the SS, and the iron cross. Hitler and his head boys fucked up a few times and it cost them the war, but I love their beliefs and who they were, what they did, and what they wanted.”

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Eric and Hobbes

A number of ideas in Eric’s writings have parallels among the works of Thomas Hobbes. A couple of these are minor similarities, and some are fundamental to Eric’s worldview. A small example is their attitudes toward math and science. Hobbes celebrated math and science as sources of truth. He wrote of “infallible rules, called Science.” He referred to the conclusions of geometry as being “indisputable.” Eric echoed Hobbes, “Only science and math are true, everything, and I mean everyfuckingthing else is Man made.”

Another small, but interesting, parallel is seen in their comments on bravery. According to Hobbes, “To be bold in danger when the situation demands it is pulchrum [Latin for noble, honorable, or glorious] . . . If the situation doth not demand it, it is stupidity.” Eric commented, “People who are said to be brave or courageous are usually just STUPID.” Did Eric just happen to make a comment on bravery and stupidity, or was he echoing what he read in Hobbes?

More substantive similarities are seen in their preoccupation with the difference between humanity in its natural state vs. its civilized state. Eric celebrated human nature and instinct and criticized the artificial nature of society and civilization. He wrote in his journal:

Human nature is smothered out by society, job, and work and school. Instincts are deleted by laws . . . Society tries to make everyone act the same by burying all human na- ture and instincts. That’s what schools, laws, jobs, and parents do . . . the few who stick to their natural instincts are casted out as psychos or lunatics or strangers or just plain different. Crazy, strange, weird, wild, these words are not bad or degrading. If humans were let to live how we would naturally, it would be chaos and anarchy and the human race wouldn’t probably last that long, but hey guess what, that’s how its supposed to be!!!!! Societies and government are only created to have order and calmness, which is exactly the opposite of pure human nature.

Thomas Hobbes also wrote about the artificial structure of society:

But as men, for the attaining of peace and conservation of themselves thereby, have made an artificial man, which we call a commonwealth; so also have they made artificial chains, called civil laws.

Hobbes and Eric also viewed values and concepts as nothing more than words created by society. Hobbes wrote, “A common- wealth, without sovereign power, is but a word.” Elsewhere he wrote:

For the Laws of Nature (as Justice, Equity, Modesty, Mercy, and (in sum) doing to others, as we would be done to,) of themselves, without the terror of some Power, to cause them to be observed, are contrary to our natural Passions, that carry us to Partiality, Pride, Revenge, and the like. And Covenants, without the Sword, are but Words.

As noted above in the discussion on Manson, Eric frequently commented that words had no real meaning, and that cherished values were nothing more than words:

Fuck money, fuck justice, fuck morals, fuck civilized, fuck rules, fuck laws . . . DIE manmade words . . . people think they apply to everything when they don’t/can’t. There’s no such thing as True Good or True evil, it’s all relative to the observer. It’s just all nature, chemistry, and math.

Eric’s insistence that there is no true good or evil is seen in Hobbes’s comments regarding war:

The notions of right and wrong, justice and injustice, have there no place. Where there is no common power, there is no law, no justice. Force and fraud, are in war the two cardinal virtues.

In Eric’s mind, he was involved in a “two man war against everyone else.” Thus, using Hobbes as a guide, there is no right and wrong, no justice or injustice. In war, force and fraud are virtuous. The idea that force and fraud are cardinal virtues would have been appealing to Eric. He prided himself on his ability to deceive others, and he was preoccupied with accumulating, and using, force against others.

Other quotes from Hobbes may have struck Eric as he planned his attack. For example, “All men in the state of nature have a desire and will to hurt.” If Eric read this, it must have validated his own sadistic desires. Similarly, Hobbes wrote, “In the natural state of men . . . a sure and irresistible power confers the right of dominion and ruling over those who cannot resist.” Eric’s reading of this passage would have justified his grandiose desire to have power over others. The same is true of the following passage:

Nature hath given to every one a right to all; that is, it was lawful for every man, in the bare state of nature . . . to do what he would, and against whom he thought fit.

Thus, in a state of nature, people could do whatever they wanted to others. Eric liked to think of himself as someone out- side of society, someone living according to his natural instincts. As such a person, his reading of Hobbes may have told him that he had the right to do whatever he wanted to the people in his life. The idea that “a sure and irresistible power confers the right of dominion” brings us to a discussion of Nietzsche, who coined the phrase “a will to power.”

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Eric and Nietzsche

It is no surprise that Eric was drawn toward Nietzsche. The title of one of Nietzsche’s books was Beyond Good and Evil. Eric clearly subscribed to the idea that there was no such thing as good and evil and would have liked Nietzsche’s comment, “We sail right over morality.”

Nietzsche, like Eric, celebrated human instincts, and identified the primary instinct in men as “the will to power.” He wrote, “Suppose, finally, we succeeded in explaining our entire instinctive life as the development and ramification of one basic form of the will —namely, of the will to power.” He also stated, “What is good? All that elevates the feeling of power, the will to power, the power itself in man.” Eric was driven to feel powerful. The day that he obtained his first firearms he wrote, “I am fucking armed. I feel more confident, stronger, more God-like.” He wanted power and created a situation in his attack in which he had the power of life and death over others.

As one who celebrated the will to power, it is perhaps natural that Nietzsche expressed disdain for weakness: “What is bad? Everything that is born of weakness.” Eric, too, expressed disdain (and more) for people he viewed as weak. He noted that he once vandalized the house of a “weakling.” He also wrote, “I want to grab some weak little freshman and just tear them apart like a wolf, show them who is god.” Here we see

his will to power and his hostility toward the weak. Along the same lines, Eric would have read the following quotes with approval: “Life itself is essentially appropriation, injury, conquest of the foreign and weaker, oppression, harshness” and “Life always lives at the expense of other life.”

Another key idea in Nietzsche’s work is the concept of the “superman,” i.e., the man who was superior to the masses of people: “What is the ape to man? A ridicule, a grievous shame. And that is just what man is to be to the Superman —a ridicule, or a grievous shame.” In one passage, Eric looked down on people from a grandiose sense of superiority: “How dare you think that I and you are part of the same species when we are sooooooo different. You aren’t human. You are a robot.” Elsewhere he wrote, “I feel like God and I wish I was, having everyone being OFFICIALLY lower than me.” He clearly viewed himself as a superior being.

Eric would have reveled in the following passage from Nietzsche: “He shall be greatest who can be loneliest, the most concealed, the most deviant, the human being beyond good and evil.” Eric would also have subscribed to Nietzsche’s idea that “The strongest and most evil spirits have so far advanced humanity the most.” Along the same lines, Nietzsche stated that true advance

. . . always appears in the guise of a will and a way to greater power and is always accomplished at the expense of numerous lesser powers. The extent of a “progress” is even measured by the mass of all that had to be sacrificed for it; humanity as mass sacrificed to the growth of a single stronger species of man — that would be an advance.

The idea that the measure of human progress can be gauged by the number of weaker people who had to be sacrificed fits in well with Eric’s preoccupation of making the world a better place through eliminating lesser beings.

In fact, Eric’s obsession with what he called natural selection cannot only be traced to Hitler, but to Nietzsche, too. Nietzsche stated, “Sick people are parasites on society. It is indecent to keep living in a certain state.” Elsewhere he wrote, “The weak and the failures shall perish . . . and they should be helped to do this.” Finally, Nietzsche wrote of “breeding humanity to a higher level,” which included “the ruthless extermination of everything degenerate and parasitical.” Eric voiced similar ideas regarding getting of “retards” and other people he saw as “degenerate and parasitical.”

Similar to the ideas noted in the section on Hobbes, Nietzsche celebrated the instinctual man over the civilized man:

Man is the most bungled of all the animals, the sickliest, and not one has strayed more dangerously from its instincts.

Hostility, cruelty, pleasure in the chase, in sudden assault, in change, in ravage — all this turning against the possessor of such instincts.

The demand is, that man emasculate himself of those instincts with which he can be a foe, can injure, can be angry, can exact revenge.

Eric, like Nietzsche, celebrated instinct: “Don’t follow your dreams or gods or any of that shit, follow your fucking animal instincts. If it moves, kill it.” It is easy to see that Eric’s idea that laws delete instincts could well have come from his reading of Nietzsche. Eric noted, “Society tries to make everyone act the same by burying all human nature and instincts.” Or, as Nietzsche put it, “All ordered society puts the passions to sleep.”

As noted above in the section on Manson, Eric wrote, “I think we are all a waste of natural resources and should be killed off.” Perhaps he was influenced not only by Manson, but Nietzsche, who wrote, “The world is beautiful, but has a disease called Man.”

There is a passage in his journal where Eric writes about a hypothetical situation: “If [a man] crashes into a school bus full of kiddies and they all burn to death, it’s his fault. It’s only a tragedy if you think it is, and then it’s only a tragedy in your own mind so you shouldn’t expect others to think that way also.” Perhaps Eric was reflecting on Nietzsche’s comment, “There are heights of the soul from which even tragedy ceases to look tragic.”

Eric may have taken heart in Nietzsche’s comment, “Our highest insights must — and should — sound like follies and sometimes like crimes.” Eric knew that his ideas would be seen as folly or craziness: “the majority of the audience won’t even understand my motives either! They’ll say, ‘ah, he’s crazy, he’s insane, worthless!’”

Eric might have been thrilled by Nietzsche’s idea of the “beautiful terribleness” of a crime: “The lawyers defending a criminal are rarely artists enough to turn the beautiful terrible- ness of his deed to his advantage.” After all, Eric had written, “imagine THAT you fuckers, picture half of Denver on fire just from me and Vodka [Dylan’s nickname]. Napalm on sides of skyscrapers and car garages blowing up from exploded gas tanks . . . oh man that would be beautiful.”

Nietzsche’s writings could help explain a puzzling aspect of Eric’s thinking —his mocking disdain for Christianity. Though it is not unusual for adolescents to stray from their religious upbringing, Eric’s hostile comments about Jesus are extreme: “Jesus is dead … get over it!!!” and “Go Romans! Thank God they crucified that asshole.” For a boy from a Catholic family, these comments are hard to comprehend. Perhaps Eric was influenced by Nietzsche’s scathing comments about Christianity. Though it is impossible to find one passage that sums up Nietzsche’s attitude toward Christianity, the following quote demonstrates how harsh he could be: “I call Christianity the one great curse, the one enormous and innermost perversion . . . I call it the one immortal blemish of mankind.”

Nietzsche may also shed light on the question of why Eric was willing to die in the attack at Columbine. Several passages in Nietzsche’s works argue that self-preservation is weakness

and that truly great men expend themselves through acts of self-abolition:

Wanting to preserve self is the expression of a distressed condition, a restriction of the proper fundamental instinct of life, which aims at expansion of power and in this desire threatens and sacrifices self-preservation.

All great things perish through themselves, by an act of self-abolition.

The genius — in work, in deed — is necessarily a prodigal: that he spends himself is his greatness . . . The instinct for self-preservation is unhinged as it were.

It can certainly be said that Eric’s instinct for self-preservation was unhinged. Perhaps he was so immersed in Nietzsche’s ideas he convinced himself that he was destined to perish in an act of self-abolition by spending himself in his greatness. It is also interesting that Nietzsche wrote, “The thought of suicide is a great consolation.”

Eric’s writings are notable for the contempt he expresses toward people. He seemed to derive great pleasure from despising others. Perhaps this attitude found support in his reading of Nietzsche: “What is the greatest thing ye can experience? It is the hour of great contempt,” and “I love the great despisers.”


This article is an exercise in speculation and comparison. We don’t know that Eric read Helter Skelter or what works of Hobbes and Nietzsche he encountered. Nonetheless, this brief review of the ideas of Manson, Hitler, Hobbes, and Nietzsche suggests that many ideas Eric espoused had their roots in the thinking of men he admired: the idea of being a “superman” who was more highly evolved than others; the idea that social conventions and laws smother instincts; the idea of starting a revolution that would leave millions dead; the idea of exterminating inferior people — all of these, and more, can be traced to one or more of Eric’s heroes. In fact, this article has demonstrated that various puzzling attitudes of Eric’s might also be a result of his “sucking up” the views of others. These include his opposition to freedom of the press, his preference for killing people over animals, and his virulent anti-Christian attitude.

The ideological influences explored in this article do not explain why Eric became a murderer — that is best understood through his personality dynamics — but they do provide insight into Eric’s thought processes. His rampage was not an impulsive act, but rather a carefully considered action. In his mind, mass murder made sense. Comparing his writings to statements of his heroes gives clues to understanding the thoughts behind his rampage.

Johns Hopkins Votes to Ban Chick-fil-A From Campus

by Sarah Begley via Time.com


Students object to the CEO’s stance on gay marriage

Students at Johns Hopkins University voted this week to ask the school’s administrators to prevent Chick-fil-A from opening a store on campus.

Citing Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy’s opposition to gay marriage, students said the presence of the chain on campus would be a microaggression against LGBT members of the community, Eater reports.

Though the Student Government Association approved the resolution, the move is purely hypothetical: there’s no indication that the Johns Hopkins administration was in negotiations with Chick-fil-A, though some students had wondered whether the chain might open a location in a new building under construction on campus.

A note from Al:

The late owner of Chick-fil-A made an offhanded comment a few years ago condoning marriage as a union between a man and a woman. So now Johns Hopkins, considered one of our best institutions of higher learning, feels it needs to protect homosexual students from the sight of a Chick-fil-A because it might “trigger” negative feelings within homosexual students and faculty.

American pop culture and our fundamental institutions continue to expect very little maturity from the American citizenry. American universities stopped playing the loco parentis role a generation ago. Consequently, they no longer “patronize” students by holding up the moral standards that have worked for millennia, rules about illicit sexuality, excessive self-indulgence, ostentatious spending, preoccupation with image and fashion. Universities used to believe they had a role to play in reinforcing the consensus social morality which was greatly influenced by the Christianity of most of the students and the parents of the students.

Today, they have decided to reassert their paternalistic role by protecting students from unpleasant and discomforting “triggers” like a Chick-fil-A restaurant. Some are also trying to create “safe spaces” in which teachers are to avoid concepts and language that might trigger distress about neo-colonialism, ageism, sexism, homophobia, islamophobia, just continue the list.  They are preventing the future leaders of our country from having to learn what most parents told their kids a generation ago: “sticks and stones can break my bones, but names can never hurt me.”  Using demeaning language about people and their ideas is not a Christian way of debate. But the futile effort to keep harsh words from the ears of the next generation of leaders means abandoning them to an emotional adolescence and lack of toughness that won’t them or us very well.

- Al Kresta

Kresta in the Afternoon – April 24, 2015

Talking about the “Things That Matter Most” on April 24, 2015


4:00 – Kresta Comments: Violence and Turning the Other Cheek


4:20 – Update from San Francisco

Our guest is Chris Lyford, from the Department of Communications for the Archdiocese of San Francisco.  Chris will give us an update on the Archdioceses’ policies for teachers.

4:40 – Kresta Comments: TBA 



5:00 – Kresta Comments: A Biblical Response to Earth Day


5:20 – Columbine: Motivations for a Massacre

April 20th was the 16th anniversary of the Columbine High School Massacre.  Dave Cullen has extensively researched the attack and the backgrounds of perpetrators Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. He strongly disputes the popular theory that they acted in revenge for bullying. Dave joins us today with a look at how Harris and Klebold saw the world and what motivated them to commit such evil.

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