From Friday night through Saturday this weekend a couple of hundred of young college men and women and supporters will be gathering at Princeton University in the United States for the 10th annual conference of the Love and Fidelity Network.
If there is one thing the Harvey Weinstein scandal and its ever-widening ramifications have shown it is the crying need for a new sexual culture that will not only protect women and men, but also allow them to rediscover marriage, the family and sexual integrity.
This is the aim of Love and Fidelity, a movement that began at Princeton with the encouragement of notables like Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton, and has spread to some 50 universities. This weekend’s conference speakers include Professor George, alumna Ashley McGuire, Heritage scholar Ryan T. Anderson, and marriage scholar Pat Fagan.
The conference will be live-streamed from 7.30pm ET.
A few days ago MercatorNet fired off some questions to the network’s executive director, Alain Oliver, and here are his answers.
MercatorNet: What do the Love and Fidelity Network groups offer students on campus?
Alain Oliver: The strongest aspect of LFN groups — often called Anscombe Societies — on campus is the sense of community they provide. To know that you are not alone in your opposition to the hook-up culture. To know that positive and healthy ways to understand sexuality exist. To know that your school’s sanction of “Sex Week” is a far cry from how you view human sexuality. To hear the reasons and arguments for and against a position. To understand what sociology, biology, neurology and philosophy have to say about the meaning and purpose of our embodied selves and our inherent sexual powers.
It is equal parts intellectual development, community, and resistance to a mass culture dominated by the disconnectedness exacerbated by social media
How many universities involved today? Can you give us an estimate of the number of students actively involved/reached over the years?
In the last 10 years, we have had over 2,000 students attend the annual conference, representing over 50 schools. While 40 schools have established a chapter (though not all are current or equally active) and 50 schools have participated in one of our poster campaigns during Sex Week / St. Valentine’s day to offer a healthy alternative message.
What have some of the leaders have gone on to do with their lives? (Some are married, writing, still working for or supporting the network?
Many of the former leaders have completey manifested the mission by marrying and starting families. The founder Cassandra DiBenedetto (now, Cassandra Hough) and Caitlin Seery (now Caitlin La Ruffa) are full-time moms but continue to serve on the board of directors applying their years of experience in service of the mission. Many former undergrads continue to support it through the alumni board, while other early supporters have moved into academia.
Free speech has become a major issue on American campuses — do the LFN groups run into difficulties in promoting their values? Has acceptance grown or declined over the years?
The systematic eradication of free speech on American campuses is catastrophic. A bludgeoning club to eliminate freedom of expression are the “hate speech” or “intolerance” epithets. The greatest perceived civic value in society at large and particularly on campuses is to make sure no one feels “hurt” or is exposed to any form of contradictory opinion – exposure known as “microaggression”.
To talk about dating, as we do, you have to talk about men and women. When you discuss men and women you have offended everyone with a non-binary understanding of the sexes. Thus, talking about men and women is now hate speech, or at best intolerance, as claimed by detractors on campus.
By discussing dating between a man and woman, you understand that marriage awaits them. The discussion of a permanent, exclusive union between a man and a woman is represented by our detractors as anti-gay or anti same-sex union.
The mob-mentality, the worst expression of democracy according to Plato, and satirized by Mark Twain, is now the most common expression of democracy on campus.
You have some powerful academic friends, some of whom are speaking at your conference. I understand people like Professor Robert George played a key role in establishing the first group/s. Would you like to say something about this?
Courage. Beyond a reasonable doubt, the absolutely most important thing in this “debate” is the role modelling of courage by intellectuals. Without professors like Robbie George or others like Ryan Anderson, the ability to withstand the blistering personal attacks would be impossible. Through their calm, rational arguments they create a space where none exists otherwise.
Who and how many will be at your conference next week.
Around 200 people have registered for the conference; about 70 percent are undergraduate students. Others include professors, parents, board members, writers.
MercatorNet wishes all involved a great conference and every success in their mission.