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March 16, 2016

Commentary: Anti-Porn Conference in Utah Deemed A Success

SALT LAKE CITY—What a stroke of luck for Morality in Media's the National Center on Sexual Exploitation's "Utah Coalition Against Pornography" anti-porn conference last Saturday that, just the night before, Utah legislators stayed up into the wee hours to pass State Sen. Todd Weiler's resolution declaring that pornography is a "public health menace"! If nothing else, it certainly gave Latter Day Saints [sic] Church Elder Jeffrey R. Holland something to talk about. "Society must see this evil like the epidemic it is," Holland told the 2,700 or so attendees at the 15th edition of the conference in his keynote address. "This ought to be seen like a public health crisis, like a war, like an infectious fatal epidemic, like a moral plague on the body politic that is maiming the lives of our citizens...  We do need to see this like avian flu, cholera, diphtheria or polio. It needs to be eradicated." Conference leaders and activists apparently spent quite a bit of time talking about a study from the religiously oriented Barna Research, commissioned by preacher John McDowell, titled "The Porn Phenomenon"—even though the full study isn't due to be released until next month, though Barna did manage to leak a few excerpts at a press conference in late January that are supposed to support McDowell's anti-porn position—except that they don't. For example, according to Barna, "Practicing Christians are twice as likely as others to experience guilt" about watching porn, though in society at large, "Only a small minority of adults who use porn report much 'guilt'" about its use—except many of them, including Barna itself, don't seem to know what it is: "Most Americans do not believe full nudity or especially partial nudity qualify as porn," the study found. And then there's the kids: According to Barna, "Teens and young adults have 'encouraging' or 'accepting' conversations toward porn," and "When they talk about porn with friends, 89% of teens, and 95% of young adults say they do so in a neutral, accepting, or encouraging way. That is, only one in 20 young adults and one in 10 teens say their friends think viewing pornography is a bad thing." Boy, you'd think that porn is now as much a part of society as cellphones! Hell, according to the study, 56% of the under-20s think that not recycling is "usually or always wrong," compared to 32% of them who said the same about watching porn. But it gets worse; now nearly half of them sexting as well: "62% of teens and young adults have received a sexually explicit image and 41% have sent one." And if you want to know who's scared shitless that someone will discover that they use porn, it's the clergy. After noting that, "Overall, 21% of youth pastors and 14% of pastors admit they currently struggle with using porn," the study's authors admit that, "87% of pastors who use porn feel a great sense of shame about it," while "55% of pastors who use porn say they live in constant fear of being discovered." And that's a legitimate fear, since "41% of adult Christians think that pastors should be fired or asked to resign if they are found to be using porn." Holland also made reference to the doctrinal "report" released last November by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, titled "Create in Me a Clean Heart: A Pastoral Response to Pornography," which AVN will be analyzing in a future article. "These good bishops declared the exponential growth of the pornography industry … bordering on a 'public health crisis,'" Holland said. "[No] real headway can or will be made in this battle until there is a much deeper, much broader, and frankly much more fearful concern about the actual threat of pornography than we presently see in society in general." Perhaps Americans' lack of fear about porn stems in part from the fact that nationwide, rape and sexual assault are at all-time lows, according to the FBI, and have been getting lower since the late '80s. But according to biblical scholar Holland, looking at porn is pretty much the same as rape, as he quoted the Book of Matthew 5:27-28, which declares, "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." But fear not: Holland has a solution, and it's "F.A.S.T.": Flee from porn; Ask God for help; Strive "constantly to win the battle" against viewing porn; and Triumph "by believing that victory is possible," even if you're not there yet. "Above all, I would have those struggling with pornography ask God for help. I would ask and ask until my throat was hoarse, I would knock and knock until my knuckles were bloody," Holland preached. "It may take days, it may take years, it may take much of a lifetime, but I believe in the reward of persistent effort."

 
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