Huh? Salon Learns Anti-Catholic Lesson From Steubenville Rape

We have all seen the headlines: A horrifying drama has been playing out in Steubenville, Ohio, and in the national spotlight. It concerned a rape that happened in the town, not the university Catholics know and love, and it involved high school football, not college faith.

But that didn’t stop the Salon website from featuring a strange piece by journalist Molly McCluskey who talks about her horror at her own Steubenville teen experience – she attended a Steubenville Catholic Conference, and didn’t like it … which she somehow tries to compare to the horrifying experience of rape.

First, the news: Two high school football players were convicted Sunday of raping a teenage girl at an August party. The story received national attention. Drunken teens had photographed and videotaped the sexual assault and shared the images on social media. There was widespread confusion as to whether the boys’ actions “counted” as rape – since the girl was drunk, couldn’t they do what they wanted to her? Many excused their behavior; some blamed the girl.

Commentators have taken a number of lessons from the event. Journalist Nina Burleigh writes, in The New York Observer:

“By now, we’ve all absorbed the main lesson of Steubenville: the dehumanization of the female is so pervasive that young people will stand by and not just watch rape, but laugh at it, video it, tweet it, post it to Facebook, and try to cover their tracks when police investigate.”

The event sounds ripe for a wake-up call: Wake up to the dangers of drinking, wake up to the hookup culture our teens are living in, wake up to the dangers of the pornographic culture of sexting.

my steubenvilleThat’s not how Salon sees it. The website chose today to highlight not the clear, present danger of the kinds of events that led to the Steubenville rape, but a vague, esoteric danger of the events designed to prevent such behavior. A journalist named Molly McCluskey writes about her experience going to a Steubenville summer camp.

“We gathered in seminars to discuss celibacy. We listened to seemingly savvy college students discuss how Jesus had made all things possible for them. We were told, repeatedly, that we were part of a community, we were loved, we were safe. We were blessed, and were the blessed,” she says.

“There was a darker side, of course,” she adds. She lists the problems:

  1. Lack of diversity.
  2. “Literal” interpretations of the Bible.
  3. Lectures on “the sanctity of life in all its forms, the perils of evil … God’s plan for marriage.”
  4. “We were told that God had a purpose for us, that we were part of a larger community of believers who would be sheltered as long as we led a pure life.”

Leaving aside the fact that her first point contradicts her others (“they should be open to others’ differences – but how dare they expect me to be open to theirs?”) her story reveals something shocking. She equates the experience of enduring a religious conference she didn’t like with the experience of a rape victim.

She does it in a very indirect way, but the implication is clear. She writes of the victim of the Steubenville rape:

“Her tale rips me up, because she was victim of a culture that was not safe, where football was the religion and the boys were the chosen ones. Not everyone can leave Steubenville on the back of a bus. I was lucky I could. I was lucky that I could move on from my own closed world.”

What are you saying, Molly?

See for yourself  what Steubenville Conferences are trying to do. Their message: “From the beginning of time God chose you with a perfect love he called you to echo a love that resounds throughout all creation. … God delights in you and he wants you to be happy.”

They are telling kids to respect themselves and others. They are connecting the beauty of creation to the beauty of their bodies.

In the midst of an  explosion of venereal diseases and  pornographic understandings  of sexuality, the Steubenville conferences are doing exactly what is needed.

By denouncing them in the national media on the basis of her own dislike, who is McCluskey trying to help?



  • Rich Ketter

    “In the midst of an explosion of venereal diseases and pornographic understandings of sexuality, the Steubenville conferences are doing exactly what is needed.”
    OK, but is your collumn supporting the conferences or simply attacking a columnist who you percieve as attacking something you favor? Seems like another trivial disagreement that actually means nothing. You do not have to controil the media in order to assure that good news gets out. Perhaps it would have been better to merely mention the other article, and then go on to tell a new story, maybe about how wonderful this program is and how people have been possitively impacted.
    If it is trash, then offer truth, not another helping of trash. Writing as Catholic is not just to emphasize those who write “anti-catholic.” After a while, it just sound like a whining child.

  • Hank Young

    What’s the big deal No Diversity that could be a good thing . Live among your own.

  • Michael

    The University of Steubenville is a loyal Catholic university who happens to have a huge charasmatic prayer movement. The words used are not used in traditional Catholic circles, but when used in conjunction with the sacraments draw people more intimately into the life of the Church. I am not charasmatic myself, but I have witnessed some of the work of these people and it is good for the church as a whole. Anyone who is destroying the ethos of the Mass or trivializing approved devotions are not actually charasmatic, just rebels w/o a point. Lux et Veritas!!!

  • Adam


    It is clear she is a very deeply confused young lady who does not understand the conferences at best, and intends to smear the Catholic faith.

  • Deb

    Pretty typical writing from someone who does not know God nor does she want to know God. Her analogy is just another sad sign of our sick society.
    Greg, it would be called Charismatic. The Holy Spirit is still alive and well and working in this world. You just have to be open to Him.


    Tom (and Tom Crowe) Huh? She writes: “We rocked out to Christian music with our hands in the air, watched people convulse in spiritual conversions as they were “saved” or “born again” and heard priests speak in tongues. There was holy water on hand for blessings and baptisms. Being surrounded by people weeping in adoration, or jabbering to spirits, I could only be a detached observer. I simply didn’t get it. It was a baffling other language, one I did not care to learn.”

    None of this sounds Catholic to me. It sounds more like a n Evangelical of Pentecostalist event. “Born again?” that’s not the language we used. Can one of you clarify it for me? – Thanks, Greg

    • Matt

      Greg, from what I understand, Franciscan University is more of a “charismatic” Catholic environment. But I know what you mean.

    • Gregory Sisco


      As a student of Franciscan University of Steubenville, and a former Summer Conference worker, I think I can clarify a few things.

      Franciscan hosts youth conferences during the summer. They are Catholic, however they also are heavily influenced by charismatic forms of worship. The Catholic Charismatic Movement has been a long standing tradition since the 1970s at Franciscan. Alot of people find it engaging and heightens their worships while many (myself included) find it distracting and prefer more traditional forms of Catholic worship.

      If you need further clarification let me know, but think charismatic praise mixed with adoration.

      BTW the whole “being saved” or “born again” thing is not Catholic and isn’t preached at conferences. that was all from the author of the original article trying to make fun of us.

    • Antonio A. Badilla

      It was probably a charismatic group but just the same, how this young lady could equate what goes on at Steubenville University with rape is beyond me. To be fair, I did not click on the link to see anything. I would get even more angry if I were to try. I already got angry reading the article.

    • Antonio A. Badilla


      I don’t like it one bit either, but I respect them becase at least, they are filled with the faith and love for others. I go to a parish for Mass where there are no guitars, no children running amok, no noise. I however respect communities where that takes place, as long as lirurgical abuses do not take place.



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