The Catholic Right Star and the Porn Star -- Revised and Updated
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Oct 01, 2015 at 11:35:42 PM EST
An international network of some of the world’s most vitriolic Religious Right activists and self-proclaimed orthodox religious leaders is holding its ninth global conference in Salt Lake City, Utah this month. The World Congress of Families' (WCF) conferences tend to attract thousands of participants and prominent religious and political leaders from all over the world.

If past conferences are any indication, many Americans may be shocked, but not entirely surprised, by the proceedings.

“From Russia to Nigeria to Australia,” as my colleague at Political Research Associates Cole Parke explained regarding the WCF IX agenda, “a seemingly innocuous definition of the ‘natural family’ is quietly being used as the basis of new laws to justify the criminalization of abortion and LGBTQ people.”

Indeed. It has unleashed a rolling thunder of horrific anti-LGBTQ political activism, legislation, and violence. Unsurprisingly, the theme of the Salt Lake City conclave will be religious liberty, and the groups involved in the planning of the event are among the best known organizations of the American Christian Right. They include the Alliance Defending Freedom, Focus on the Family, Family Research Council, Americans United for Life, National Organization for Marriage, Eagle Forum, and the Manhattan Declaration.

Among the featured speakers will be Austin Ruse, the conservative Catholic pro-family leader who last year suggested violence against college faculty and administrators in response to a College Republican's libertarian views on sex, pornography, and women's studies.

Below is a revised and updated version of my story on the sordid episode.

Miriam Weeks, a Duke University sophomore best known by her stage name Belle Knox was much in the news last year. She was even interviewed by Piers Morgan on CNN. She said that working as a porn star was a better way to cover college costs than working as a waitress. She dreams of becoming a civil and human rights lawyer and an advocate for the rights of sex workers.  Her story became fodder for celebrity gossip, opinion journalists -- and a few thoughtful commentators -- after she was outed by a fellow student.  Since the outing changed her life, Weeks was aggressively harassed online and in person and threatened with violence, and even death.

But facts often fall before the compelling evidence of faith in one's own knee-jerk opinions. Conservative columnist Charlotte Allen, for example, thinks Weeks, aka Belle Knox may not be "a troubled young woman" so much as an opportunist -- and that the first-term freshman's women's studies major may be to blame. Austin Ruse also blamed women's studies and told a national radio audience that "the hard left, human-hating people that run modern universities" should "all be taken out and shot."

And that is where our story begins.

RightWingWatch got the audio.

That is the nonsense that they teach in women's studies at Duke University, this is where she learned this. The toxic stew of the modern university is gender studies, it's "Sex Week," they all have "Sex Week" and teaching people how to be sex-positive and overcome the patriarchy. My daughters go to a little private religious school and we pay an arm and a leg for it precisely to keep them away from all of this kind of nonsense. I do hope that they go to a Christian college or university and to keep them so far away from the hard left, human-hating people that run modern universities, who should all be taken out and shot.

The push-back to Ruse came faster than a college women's studies program can turn a freshman into a porn star. And Ruse just as quickly closed his Twitter account -- and Knox' porn career continued to soar.

Ruse, a leading "pro-life" activist as president of the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-Fam) had no more evidence than Charlotte Allen that women's studies in any way pointed Weeks to the porn industry. But the story may serve as a Rorschach test for Ruse's own violent predilections. Or not.  But at least there is better evidence for my speculation than there is for Ruse's claim that Knox's first semester in a women's studies program at Duke led her to start a career in pornography.  Ruse apologized for his violent rhetoric. He said "I have dedicated my life and career to ending violence" -- but he had nothing to say about the widely reported threats of violence against Weeks.

There are other facts that Allen and Ruse also ignored, and probably would rather that we not see.  Weeks is a libertarian and (at least at the time) a College Republican according to the student newspaper, The Duke Chronicle and an interview with New York magazine:

"I'm a libertarian who is forced to play within party lines because, at this point, our party isn't strong enough to get anything done without the backing of the Republican Party. It's really frustrating that when I tell people I'm in College Republicans they immediately assume I'm a bigot and a homophobe. Duke Republicans is completely pro-gay rights. Calling somebody a Republican is almost an insult and, personally, I hope the party moves toward a more libertarian style wherein they give rights to gays and more respect to women, and it's not so driven by religion or by theology."

(Who would have thought that the Duke Women's Studies program was so crafty that it could turn an unsuspecting freshman into a College Republican?  And so quickly!  Next thing you know they'll be turning freshmen into porn stars.  What will they think of next?)

The libertarian magazine Reason was pleased, and headlined it's story: "Duke Freshman Porn Star Wishes the GOP Would Get More Libertarian."

Ruse was subsequently fired from guest hosting at American Family Radio due to his violent on air outburst. According to an article in Business Insider earlier this year. since then, Belle Knox is also getting well known under her real name, Miriam Weeks, has continued her career in porn, and become a campus libertarian activist as well.

"I'm conservative," Weeks said. "I'm very socially liberal, but I'm very economically conservative."
Now, Weeks is the campus coordinator for Students for Liberty at Duke. In this capacity, Weeks said she brings speakers to campus, attends conferences and seminars, posts flyers, and maintains a presence for the group at school events. On the Students for Liberty website, Weeks identifies her "favorite figures in liberty" as Ayn Rand, economist Milton Friedman, and two other activists whose careers have included both sex and politics: porn star Nina Hartley and former call girl Maggie McNeill. Weeks brought her first speaker to Duke on Tuesday: Ayn Rand Institute head Yaron Brook. She immediately rattled off two names when asked about whom she would ideally hope to bring to the school next. "My dream list would be like Ron Paul, or Rand Paul would be really cool," Weeks said, adding, "That'd be pretty awesome." And given her affinity for the libertarian political dynasty, it should come as no surprise Weeks is ready to support Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) if he goes forward with his widely expected 2016 presidential bid. "I totally endorse him," Weeks said. "He actually graduated from Duke, so that's just another reason for me to love him."

Who died and made him a judge? Ruse doesn't seem to realize that despite his best efforts, his children may disagree with him. I am Catholic but I do not agree with Ruse at all. Ruse also shares Bill Donohue's tendency to anger and public excoriation of anyone who disagrees with them.

by khughes1963 on Sat Mar 15, 2014 at 01:48:49 PM EST

needs to be aware that Belle Knox also attended a elite private Catholic prep school before going to Duke. (Kids don't always turn out the way you want, no matter how much you try to mold and control them.)

But perhaps he can take consolation that at least Knox is still a Republican!

by Frederick Clarkson on Sun Mar 16, 2014 at 05:32:18 PM EST

So what's new? The pay for sex work can be better than any pay that a young woman could get from a "respectable" job. The male and female pearl clutchers need to reflect that fellow pearl clutchers (and perhaps they themselves) are the consumers of pron. The whole story reeks of Slow News Day.

by NancyP on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 08:22:43 PM EST
Whatever one may think of the matter -- it is not a slow news day story.

by Frederick Clarkson on Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 09:30:23 PM EST
my news sources tend to be internet or print "mainstream" (eg BBC) or NPR, not TV or commercial radio.

by NancyP on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 10:55:40 AM EST
Males too can find opportunity in the Sex Business. It should not be illegal. It just gives police forces a soft target to attack and make good publicity and keep their sanctimonious Christian values as part of our secular laws intact. Legality takes it out of the shadows and actually protects the workers and their clients in the entrepreneurial spirit the Capitalists claim they support.

by Nightgaunt on Fri Nov 20, 2015 at 07:19:16 PM EST

of this whole disgusting episode to remember it - so much has gone under the bridge so to speak.

I'm not too surprised that Ruse is going to speak at that conference.  The reality is that they want government in people's lives, micromanaging their sexuality and even thoughts... but don't touch their wallets or the economy - leave that to the rich to manage (they must be better at managing money otherwise they wouldn't be rich)!  

This is just more of the same.  I've been involved in the fight against the dominionists for years, and I had to be reminded of Ruse's connections and past history to even remember.  How much less will the "person on the streets" remember how he had reacted, much less the sort of attitude he took?

I think this is an example of how those types get zombified and back into "positions of respect" - and we can also get a view into how the dominionist organizations operate in animating them.  It also hints to me about the real ethics and morality of those in the organizational structure (and that of the structure itself).  Hate - good.  Sex (even in some instances love) - bad.

by ArchaeoBob on Fri Oct 02, 2015 at 12:33:33 PM EST

My daughters go to a little private religious school and we pay an arm and a leg for it precisely to keep them away from all of this kind of nonsense.
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What will they think of next?

by maroso on Thu Nov 11, 2021 at 06:06:50 AM EST
 But at least there is better evidence for my speculation than there is for Ruse's claim that Knox's first semester in a women's studies program at Duke led her to start a career in pornography.

by maroso on Tue Feb 22, 2022 at 07:34:25 AM EST

Her story became fodder for celebrity gossip, opinion journalists -- and a few thoughtful commentators -- after she was outed by a fellow student. ois.html

by madmardigan on Mon Apr 18, 2022 at 11:18:26 PM EST

This newly revised and updated edition of The Catholic Right Star and the Porn Star shines a spotlight on the culture clash between Catholicism and the porn industry.  real estate expert Fitchburg It serves as an important reminder of the complexities of human relationships and society at large. It is an insightful read that captivates the reader from start to finish. This book is essential reading for anyone seeking to gain a better understanding of contemporary social issues.

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The World Congress of Families (WCF) is indeed an international organization known slope for holding conferences and events that promote conservative and traditional family values from a religious perspective. These events often draw participants and speakers from various countries who align with the organization's views on social and religious issues.

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