18 Sep “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first”
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“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first” (John15:18)
As Christians, we are called to take a stand – often in difficult circumstances – and Elizabeth Johnston is not afraid to speak out on issues whether others have chosen to remain silent. But at the same time her views often appear to cross the dividing line between faith and politics, says Alastair Tancred.
Elizabeth Johnston, the US-based Christian activist and vlogger has suffered opprobrium and censorship in equal measure for her recent campaigns to uphold her Christian beliefs. She and her husband, a medical doctor, regularly speak at conferences and seminars and lead a pro-life ministry to rescue children from abortion. She is well qualified to comment, not least because she has 10 children who are home educated.
While some – especially on this side of the Atlantic – may find the stridency of her right wing conservative views a little off-putting – there is no denying that Mrs Johnston’s Activist Mommy website has succeeded in highlighting issues that may have passed us by. That is the case even though at times the dividing lines between her faith and her politics is often a little blurred.
Mrs Johnston’s site has created headlines in the US for its campaigns against the sexualisation of children in Ecuador and moves to undermine the transgender military ban. It has also exposed more obscure issues that might concern Christians including the case of a lawyer who wants to marry his laptop because he is obsessed with pornography.
But by far the most controversial of Mrs Johnston’s recent campaigns has been against Teen Vogue magazine for an article it recently published that was entitled: “Everything You Need to Know About Anal Sex; How to do it the Right Way.”
The article pulled no punches in its advice – at one point stating that “expecting to do anal play and see zero poop isn’t particularly realistic… Yes, you will come into contact with faecal matter… But it’s NOT a big deal. Everyone pops. Everyone has a butt”.
Mrs Johnston was incensed, and launched #pullteenvogue. She argued that the article taught children aged between 11-17 how to be “safely sodomised” and that “we should not be teaching children – period – how to have sex”. More than 11 million people have viewed a 13 July video of the vlogger burning a copy of the “garbage magazine” in her backyard.
The strength of her views provoked an inevitable backlash with personal threats against her on social media and the LGBT magazine The Advocate publishing a strongly worded commentary attacking Mrs Johnston and her husband, Dr Patrick Johnston. They were accused of “wanting a world where being gay is illegal and transgender people are gone”.
Her stand on Teen Vogue and other issues also resulted in her being temporarily barred from Twitter – who took exception to two tweets in which she clashed with Phillip Picardi, a homosexual activist and digital editor of Teen Vogue. Mrs Johnston has likewise fallen foul of Facebook – who in February temporarily froze her Activist Mommy account after she used Old Testament and New Testament verses to show that the Bible condemns homosexuality.
But for all the bravery of Mrs Johnston’s relentless campaigning on issues of the day there is a downside. Her views on Islam – “Religion Of Peace My Bacon Bit” appear to reflect some of Donald Trump’s most criticised views, while too often she is inclined to launch personal attacks against individuals who provoke her ire. For example she recently chastised a Democrat councilman who she said has been “outed as being a member of a website that caters to adults that share the same fetish”.
So on the one hand Mrs Johnston appears to be a lone voice in the wilderness, but on the other she sometimes seems to forget that she is a representative of a faith that puts love of your neighbour as one of its primary requirements.
Too divisive a character? What do you think about Mrs Johnston’s outspoken campaigns? Please let us know and contribute to the debate.
Alastair Tancred is a journalist for the BBC news website and is the MediaNet Writer/Editor.