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Guest speaker Jason Evert postponed

Jason Evert / chastityproject.com
Jason Evert / chastityproject.com

Jason Evert was scheduled to speak at Malvern on December 11 but postponed, according to an email sent by Mr. Alex Haynie to the senior class.

Evert founded The Chastity Project to promote the virtue of chastity to teens. His speech would have occurred during the school day, but December 11 was instead a regular “A” schedule for the Malvern students.

Evert was in the area this December giving talks at other institutions such as Saint Norbert’s Catholic Church in Paoli, PA.

No official reason was given for the postponement.

Haynie’s email to the senior class said that Evert was invited back to the Malvern community. Due to scheduling, this would occur at the earliest in the fall of 2016.

Ben Yankelitis

COMMENTARY:

Jason Evert should have spoken at Malvern

John McGlinn ’18

IMG_3642When I hear that another guest speaker is coming to Malvern, I usually just shrug it off, but this was different. It was Jason Evert.

I anticipated his visit for many weeks, knowing that he would be coming to my parish, Saint Norbert, to speak on Thursday – the day before he was planning on speaking at Malvern.

Then, to my dismay, I heard the news that he would not be coming. I did not understand why anyone would be against a man who is sharing a message of love and chastity.

I had heard a lot of criticism about Evert on campus so when I went to Saint Norbert I was unsure of what to expect. Evert seemed like a fairly normal guy who was not advocating any harmful messages. I was soon proven correct when he started to speak, because the words that came out of his mouth were words of love and chastity. He spoke no hate or detest towards any group(s) of individuals or ethnicities. He told anecdotes of people who were converted not just into a more chaste life, but also about people turning to God.

One particular story really left an impact on me. Evert told a story of how he met a homosexual man who was a Christian but left the Church because he felt unwanted and unloved. Evert assured him that all are welcome in the Christian Church. The man immediately began crying and gave Jason a big hug saying how much it meant to him to just hear that he belonged.

Hearing Evert speak left an impact on who I want to be as I go through not only my high school years, but through the rest of my life. Whether someone is looking to change his/her way of life into one that is more chaste, or one is just seeking how to respect their girlfriend more, Evert can help.

During Evert’s speech there was no trace of loathing towards any member of the homosexual community. I felt as though he was embracing homosexuals and telling them that everyone is welcome at God’s table.

However in one of Evert’s books and on his website, many people see several examples of homosexual hate. After examining both his book called Pure Manhood and his website, I understand why many students and members of the Malvern Community would be opposed to having Evert visit Malvern.

The message Evert is advocating is not homophobic. Evert notes that it may seem that homosexuals only have two options: hide your feelings or embrace your gay identity. He said this at his talk, and, like others, I was initially unsure of the message he was trying to send.

But Evert explained that this is where the Church comes in.

The Church’s role is to embrace everyone, whether or not they feel like they belong in society. Evert bases his teachings off Pope Saint John Paul II, who lived the most chaste life possible. John Paul II said that even if a man has same-sex attractions, his body is heterosexual and that he was made to give life.

This is also Evert’s message. He is not a homophobe – he is just restating what John Paul II said, which is the truth. The Church calls homosexuals to live lives of chastity and service.

I understand that many people do not agree with all of Evert’s teachings, but I do not understand how this would reach such a level that people might walk out during his talk or refuse to hear him speak. It is important to listen to people with different views than your own, so that we each grow in tolerance and respect of different views – whether we agree with them or not.

The Malvern Prep and Augustinian community’s mission is to live by truth, unity and love. We should be able to trust that the leaders of our school are providing us with thoughtful opportunities which help us strive for those three key aspects, and that they will provide us with a great experience.

Evert is an international renowned speaker who speaks of chastity and love, but he is much more than that. We can all learn so much from him about family life and Saint Pope John Paul II’s message.

We should be able to listen and learn from Evert after he has had so many years of speaking. Millions of people who have heard his message are now living better, more chaste lives.

LETTER:

Proposed speaker does not contribute to a diverse community

Anthony Abron MP’14, The George Washington University ’18

Dear Editors:

AbronI am a proud Malvern alum. I proudly wear the watch that I received when I won the Loyalty Award. Every day I walk around the campus of The George Washington University wearing my class ring, and carrying the lessons I learned as a Friar.

Last Tuesday, I took my class ring off.

On Monday, I received word that Malvern had invited Jason Evert to speak on campus. When I researched Evert’s videos and published materials, I couldn’t believe that Malvern would promote a speaker who has made misogynistic statements about women and debunked claims about homosexuality.

Chastity is an important conversation. What does it mean to be chaste? How on earth can we do so in our hyper-sexualized world? This dialogue is important, and Malvern is a great place to have that conversation. There might be a student that hears this message and comes away from it completely changed. However, for that message to be received properly, it needs to be given by someone who truly can be respected by all students.

Evert may promote some positive messages in his presentations. However, the views he promotes on his website and videos do not represent the Malvern that I know and love.

Mr. Evert makes the following comments in a video entitled Modesty and Romance:

“Men need to be challenged to be gentlemen, and when women set the bar so low, guys aren’t going to be these knights in shining armor… When she hangs it all out, from a man’s perspective, no offense, but you are man-begging.”

When I first heard these comments, I immediately thought about rape culture. On college campuses, the phrase “she was begging for it” is thrown around so often for rapists to justify what they have done. Malvern should be preparing young men for college. A speaker whose message suggests in any way that a woman might be responsible for a man’s behavior because of her attire presents an antiquated and possibly dangerous view.

In Evert’s A Third Option for Homosexuality, which can be found on The CatholicTV Network’s channel, Evert frequently uses the phrase, “struggle with same-sex attractions.” The phrase same-sex attractions can also be found all over the Chastity Project’s website. The LGBT students I know are not facing struggles with who they love, but too often facing struggles with family members and institutions that do not accept them.

The word ‘struggle’ might be used when talking about fighting illness, combating a drug habit, or if one is wavering on an important decision. But homosexuality is not an illness, addiction, or choice.  

It is naive to think that no students at Malvern are gay. It is equally naive to think that current students don’t have family members or friends that identify as LGBT.  Moreover, everyone has a female role model in their life. Pope Francis seems to directly challenge Evert’s perspectives when he said, “Who am I to judge?”

In my mind, Malvern is a place where diversity matters – not only diversity of race, gender, religion, or socio-economic status, but also diversity of thought. I did not agree with everything that I was taught in my morality classes, but never did I think that my ideas and beliefs were not acknowledged as much as the avid churchgoer sitting across from me.

I spent countless hours trying to show Malvern students that diversity can strengthen a campus. As President of Diversity Club, I spoke with students and teachers about programming that Malvern could do to showcase how diversity can enhance an education. This passion for diversity followed me to GW. I now coordinate multicultural engagement programs for the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, and try to live diversity as part of my everyday student life.

I put my class ring back on Thursday when Evert’s talk was postponed. It fit just as it did on Monday, but I knew something was missing for the three days that it was off. I felt like I didn’t have the support system that I once thought that I did. Why?

I believe that there is dignity in every human life and that every person on this Earth can make a positive impact if they choose to. Teachers and administrators shared this view with me while I was walking among my Friar brothers just two years ago.

If Malvern wants to be one of the best private schools in the nation, having Jason Evert speak to students is not the way to do it. Evert may do a wonderful job promoting chastity, but any speech that suggests that the onus of modesty is on women or that love is not equal, no matter who the lovers are, does not contribute to Malvern welcoming a diverse community.

If Malvern brings speakers to campus like Jason Evert, it truly can’t support the person that I am.

I hope to see positive change come from this letter, but if it doesn’t, my class ring will come off again. I cannot support an institution that gives visibility to bigotry.

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