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Can the Christian crusade against pornography bear fruit?
After avoiding talk about sex from the pulpit for years, pastors are now speaking out against porn.
August 21st, 2011
01:00 AM ET

Can the Christian crusade against pornography bear fruit?

By Ashley Fantz, CNN

Atlanta (CNN) - He is a good Christian, Michael is telling his two therapists. He goes to church most Sundays. He’s a devoted husband and father of two daughters.

“But when I would leave on business trips,” he says, “I knew I was going to get to be someone else.”

“Prostitutes, porn - I took anything I wanted.”

Sitting on a comfortable, worn couch, Michael glances out the window and sees a reflection of himself set against the parking lot of this suburban Atlanta office building. He fidgets, runs his fingers over his closely cropped blond hair and straightens his green tennis polo. He clears his throat.

Above his head hangs a poster covered in words describing feelings - angry, anxious, sad. On it is a big yellow cross.

Therapists Richard Blankenship and Mark Richardson wear solemn but empathetic expressions. Certified counselors and Christian ministers, they tell him they know how to listen and nod for him to continue.

“I’ve had a record of purity since March when I confessed to my wife,” says Michael, whose name has been changed by CNN.com to protect his privacy. “No porn, no masturbation.”

“Awesome,” Richardson says, leaning forward in his chair. “God knows you’re trying.”

This is Michael’s second week at “Faithful and True – Atlanta” a 16-week counseling program that, like dozens of others like it around the country, combines traditional psychotherapy with the Bible in an attempt to treat addictive behavior.

Blankenship, a devout Christian who once struggled with sexual abuse, says his own ordeal has helped him to treat and “graduate” nearly 500 Christian men and women with similar addictions in the last five years.

He says he has helped people achieve what he calls “sobriety,” which means resisting porn and lustful thoughts.

Though controversial in secular circles, much of the evangelical Christian world has been cheering this relatively new kind of therapy. Many believers, including many Christian leaders, consider it a powerful tool for fighting what they say is one of the modern church’s biggest problems: porn addiction.

A crusade is born

Not long ago, it was unheard of for a pastor to talk about sex from the pulpit.

Today, clergy are talking about porn.

Many evangelical pastors say they don’t have a choice. The Internet has made porn unavoidable; it’s everywhere. And porn, they say, leads to a lack of intimacy in marriage, threatening the biblical mandate to get and stay married.

In the past few years, Christian leaders have established online ministries to tackle the problem, hosting anti-porn podcast sermons and Web chats. The popular evangelical blog Crosswalk.com recently ran an article headlined “How many porn addicts are in your church?”

Christian publishers, meanwhile, have produced a wave of recent books on the subject, including popular titles like “Porn-Again Christian,” “Secret Sexual Sins: Understanding a Christian's Desire for Pornography” and “Eyes of Integrity: The Porn Pandemic and How It Affects You.”

Evangelical pastor Jeremy Gyorke recently came forward to talk about how porn has affected him. In July, the 32-year-old confessed his porn addiction in a sermon at Wyandotte Family Church, just outside Detroit.

“I’m part of a generation of Christians who grew up keeping your mouth shut about your personal life,” he says. “Goodness no, we didn’t talk about sex.”

“But now that we have a little say in the attitude of the church, we’re taking a different approach,” Gyorke continues. “We’re putting it all out there, saying you don’t have to keep secrets. Come forward and admit that you’ve made a mistake, and you can be healed.”

Gyorke said he confessed to his congregation after his wife caught him looking at porn and told him it made her feel inadequate. She wanted him to seek help and to be transparent as a man of God.

Gyorke ultimately decided that viewing any porn, even once or twice, is a problem for believers.

“It’s like a gateway drug,” he says. “You can’t just have a little look. If you look at porn, you’ve already given your heart and spirit away to someone who isn’t your wife.”

As he wrote his sermon on the matter, Gyorke felt tremendous anxiety. “I thought it would make or break me to them as their pastor,” he says.

But his flock reacted with empathy and support. Several congregants approached him afterward to say that they, too, felt that they’d acted against God by looking at porn.

Different interpretations

Though the words “porn” and “masturbation” don’t appear in the Bible, Gyorke believes the biblical verdict is clear. “Sexual immorality is mentioned a lot in the Bible, and that is what porn is,” he says.

He quotes the Gospel of Matthew: “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

“Porn is lust, and lust is a sin,” the pastor said.

Many religious scholars say that such a view reflects just one of many interpretations.

“One school of biblical study says that desire is a problem and needs to be monitored as a serious threat to salvation,” says Boston University theology professor Jennifer Wright Knust.

But Knust points to scriptural passages that appear to endorse sexual desire, including the Song of Solomon, a poem that some scholars say depicts two lovers graphically describing each other’s anatomy in an ode to unmarried sex.

“This is not new. It’s a cherry-picking of scripture used to address what’s happening right now in popular culture,” says Knust, author of the recent book “Unprotected Texts: The Bible’s Surprising Contradictions on Sex and Desire.” “The new thing is that it’s being used by so-called Christian therapists.”

Knust says the anti-porn trend in Christian therapy reflects new questions in broader society about what constitutes an appropriate relationship, about gender roles and rules, and about what marriage really means.

“People are concerned and confused, and want to know if God is speaking to us in our sexual roles,” she says. “Can we find answers in divine revelation? People have always hoped that there can be certainty in the Bible.

“There is no certainty,” she says. “It’s interpretation.”

XXX churches

A few weeks after delivering his confessional sermon, Gyorke organized a Sunday event at his church intended to help keep congregants away from pornography.

He gave out study guides with scriptural verses related to lust and showed a slick video from XXXChurch, the main Web-based group for the Christian anti-porn movement.

The video opens with a mock-pharmaceutical infomercial for a product called “Lustivin.” It raves about how wonderful the drug can make you feel in the short term but then lists some major side effects: premature relational difficulty, divorce, shallow relationships.

Craig Gross, a young pastor from California, co-founded XXXChurch.com in 2001. Its URL was meant to snag people who were surfing the Web for dirty pictures.

“Ten years ago, when I wanted to bring the church up to date, everyone was like, ‘This won’t work. People will be confused about what you’re doing,’ ” Gross says.

“It was controversial at the time, but the church is always behind the times,” he says. “We should have had a XXXChurch.com in the late 1990s if we really wanted to get ahead of this problem.”

The site was slow to catch on for its first few years, but now gets millions of clicks a day from IP addresses around the globe, Gross said.

This year, XXXChurch sponsored Porn Sunday, a national anti-porn event that included hundreds of churches across the country screening a video starring Matt Hasselbeck, who's now quarterback for the Tennessee Titans, and other Christian NFL stars.

Soundbites from the players speak to the struggle between porn and faith.

“Sex is an awesome thing that God designed,” Hasselbeck says in the video.

Jon Kitna, a Dallas Cowboys quarterback, talks about surfing the Web and getting deeper into porn sites. “[You] see this [link] and it leads you to a link to this … ” he says. “And pretty soon, I’m into a world that I never really knew existed.”

For $7 a month, XXXChurch offers porn-detection software that fires off automatic e-mail alerts to a subscriber and his or her chosen “faith buddy,” a kind of whistle-blowing system designed to keep Christians from going astray.

Achieving “sobriety”

But some Christians have gone much further in their attempts to tackle porn addictions, literally rearranging their lives.

When Jeff Colon, a self-described recovering porn addict in Kentucky, confessed his addiction to his wife, she told him to get help or find a divorce attorney.

It was the early 1990s. Christian sex addition counseling was unheard of. But Colon’s pastor - to whom he’d also confided - called other church leaders and learned of a Christian counseling retreat called Pure Life Ministries, a kind of Christian compound that includes a chapel and all-male dormitory on 44 acres in western Kentucky.

Today, Colon is the president of Pure Life, which he credits with saving his marriage.

He says the program has cured thousands of men of their porn addictions through a six- to 12-month program of one-on-one or group therapy sessions.

The live-in program costs $175 a week. Men must move to the campus and live alone, with wives having the option of talking to Pure Life counselors by phone. Most insurance plans don’t cover Pure Life - a moot concern, really, because most program participants quit their jobs to relocate.

That’s what Colon, who was working as an elevator repairman, did. “I don’t regret it for a second,” he says. “It was a hard time not because I lost my job or had to move from my family. It was a tough time because I had nearly lost my connection with God. That is what’s most important in life.”

Pure Life’s curriculum relies heavily on Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, which stresses that if one lives “by the Spirit,” he will not “gratify the desires of the flesh.”

The scripture goes on to say that those who gratify the flesh “will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Women are not allowed on campus during the initial phase of treatment.

“People who don’t follow Christ aren’t going to get what I’m saying, but it was like intense Bible study that helped me understand how selfish I am as a sinner,” Colon says. “Basically, you have time to talk to God, and for him to show you the way to sobriety. And I’ve been sober for 17 years.”

For Colon, sobriety means abstaining from looking at porn, masturbating and performing any other sex act not involving his spouse.

“You learn that lust is just a state of mind,” he says. “If you lust for someone other than your wife, what you do is replace that lust with prayer. And you have a heart change.”

Indeed, Colon says that God was central to his recovery.

“I know secular people don’t get it,” he says. “But if I had a sponsor who was just another person, a person who is fallible, telling me to stay clean, it’s just not as powerful as God telling me that.”

“Women … drowning in this addiction”

Men aren’t the only ones who have started thinking that way about porn.

According to the creator of accountability2you, a Web-based service that dumps all the pornographic material someone surfs into his or her spouse’s e-mail inbox, roughly half of his 10,000 monthly subscribers are women.

“The Christian Church has started to realize that we’re sexual, too, and we are just as visually stimulated as men and we look at porn,” said Crystal Renaud, author of the recent book “Dirty Girls Come Clean,” a memoir about her own addiction to porn.

For the past year, the 26-year-old with punky-streaked hair has led Christian women’s porn addiction counseling sessions. Her Dirty Girls Ministries website has 450 members.

“I’ve met women who will lock themselves in a room and look at porn all day, ignoring their kids or their jobs,” she says. “I feel like I can relate because that’s all I cared about, getting my high. There are so many more women out there drowning in this addiction, you have no idea.”

Though there are few statistics to support Renaud’s claims about the extent of the problem, Christian media outlets like Today’s Christian Woman have recently run stories about women consuming porn, often theorizing that the habit starts with explicit romance novels.

Renaud has received a sexual addiction counseling certification from the American Association of Christian Counselors, though she is not licensed by secular organizations like the American Psychological Association. She promotes a five-step program she’s devised called SCARS - Surrender, Confessional, Accountability, Responsibility, Sharing - which encourages women to confess to each other about their desire to look at porn as a means of saying no to it.

In her memoir, Renaud writes about becoming a chronic masturbator and porn addict at age 10, after stumbling upon a dirty magazine in her brother’s room. It was a confusing, scary experience, she writes.

“My mother made it very clear what the parameters were when it came to sex, and there wasn’t a discussion beyond that,” Renaud said. She describes her relationship with her father as rocky, but wouldn’t elaborate.

In high school, Renaud was a leader in her Christian youth group, but she was also interested in porn. “I felt so bad and I wanted to stop looking at porn because that wasn’t what the Bible instructed,” she says, “and I knew God didn’t want me doing that.”

When she was 18, Renaud arranged to have sex for the first time at a hotel with a person she met in a Christian chat room. She says she went to the hotel but broke down in tears in her room and left before meeting the man.

“That was my rock bottom,” she says. “I remember being there and sobbing, thinking, ‘What am I doing risking my life to meet someone at a hotel I don’t even know?’”

Renaud said that she depends on God to keep her clean and that God is a kind of sponsor or monitor. When she wants to look at porn or masturbate, she and God have a kind of conversation, and the desire passes.

A crusade’s critics

The father of Christian-based porn and sex addiction therapy has a word for this “pray-away” method of sobriety.

“Hooey.”

Dr. Mark Laaser pioneered the Christian response to porn and sex addiction in the 1980s and chides counseling centers like Pure Life for what he says is their near-total reliance on prayer.

“Alcoholics don’t wish really hard to not be addicted to alcohol,” he says in a phone interview from his busy therapeutic practice in suburban Minneapolis. “The field of addiction is much deeper than opening your Bible.”

He’s pleased that more Christians are openly talking about pornography and sex addiction, but Laaser says he’s concerned that some Christian leaders and therapists are confusing sexual sin with sex addiction.

“Men come dragging into my office because their wives have caught them masturbating and labeled them addicts, or they’ve had one affair and they are now looking to have their affair excused by addiction,” he says.

“One affair doesn’t mean you’re a porn addict,” Laaser says. “Looking at porn occasionally doesn’t make you a porn addict. Those may be poor decisions, but they are not necessarily caused by clinical addiction.”

Porn is estimated to be a multibillion-dollar industry in America alone, banking at least 10 times what it did in 1970, the first time the U.S. government evaluated the retail value of the nation’s then-fledgling hardcore film, television and retail market.

During that same decade, Laaser had become the porn industry’s ideal customer. He was constantly on the hunt for it.
As a devout Christian, he spent a lot of energy trying to keep his porn a secret, especially from his wife, Debbie. His guilt distanced him from her emotionally, he says, and began eroding their relationship.

At the time, there was virtually no established psychological research, or mainstream therapy, for sex addiction. So Laaser reached out to secular 12-step programs, using Alcoholics Anonymous’ framework as a guide to reaching what he called sexual “sobriety,” abstaining from sex outside of marriage and avoiding masturbation.

“I remember thinking I wish my problem were drinking because I could get help easier,” Laaser said.

By the late ’80s, Laaser says, he was on the road to sobriety, combining therapeutic methods he’d learned while pursuing a doctorate in psychology from the University of Iowa and a divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary.

“It began to seem very evident to me that secular therapy does not work as effectively for Christians,” he said. “And that’s because the secular world … to us as Christians, seems less moral. Sex is everywhere in secular society - television, film, billboards. It’s just so much a part of life that it is excused.

“Christians just aren’t going to seek out a secular therapist - they won’t seek therapy at all if they don’t have some aspect of Christianity woven into their treatment.”

In 1992, Laaser authored the first book on Christian sexual addiction, titled “The Secret Sin.”

“The Christian church, both Protestant and Catholic, is experiencing tremendous turmoil in the area of sexuality,” it began. “The problem seems epidemic.”

It sold barely enough copies to stay in print.

In 2005, the publisher changed the title to “Healing the Wounds of Sexual Addiction,” and Laaser added chapters on Internet porn. It has sold 75,000 copies.

In Laaser’s care, a patient will undergo psychiatric evaluation, just as he would in the secular world. Laaser wants to know if the patient has any symptoms of depression, ADHD or anxiety. He says many sex addicts suffer from other mental health issues.

“You may need to go to a meeting every day, or connect with a sponsor; you may need to check in with this office once a day,” he said. “Every client is different, but we’re essentially helping them establish boundaries and restrictions.”

Some secular therapists have warmed to this kind of approach.

“The deeply religious were a group that were hard to reach years ago because they had extreme shame connected with their addiction,” says Tim Lee, a licensed social worker in New York with a specialty in sex and porn addiction treatment.

But Lee and Pennsylvania sex therapist Dr. John Giugliano, both members of the Society for Sexual Advancement - a national nonprofit think tank of licensed sex therapists - worry that therapy can become overly focused on dogma and ignore the patient’s real-life issues.

“If you spend your time in session talking about what God thinks and what the Bible says, you don’t get to understand what the patient thinks and what happened in their life up to that point that explains why,” Giugliano says.

Even within the world of Christian therapy, some counselors criticize the methods of other religious counselors.

Richard Blankenship, the Atlanta-based Christian therapist, studied under Laaser in the early 2000s. When Blankenship set up his practice in Atlanta to treat sex addicts, he used the same name as Laaser’s ministry, “Faithful and True,” adding only the word “Atlanta.”

But Laaser wants to make it clear that he has no association with Blankenship’s practice and doesn’t agree with some aspects of Blankenship’s program.

Blankenship doesn’t rely enough on psychological expertise, Laaser says. Laaser objects to a therapist telling a patient that an addiction may be patterns repeated through generations, as Blankenship does. And Laaser disagrees with Blankenship’s habit of connecting a patient’s addiction to a biblical character’s family tree.

Abraham’s family tree

For the rest of his therapy session at Faithful and True, Michael circles emotions from a list that Richardson and Blankenship have provided. He circles “anxious” and then describes a fight he had with his wife about his infidelity.

Blankenship responds to Michael’s description of the fight by saying that addiction is generational, mentioning the Kennedys and the Fondas.

Then Blankenship queues up a PowerPoint presentation on a laptop, showing Michael a family tree he has designed around the biblical story of Abraham.

It has a lot of boxes. There are several pages.

Abraham, Blankenship says, was a guy who committed some sexual transgressions, like fathering a child with Hagar while his wife was barren. Ultimately, God forgave him.

Michael starts talking about his own family. He describes a difficult upbringing with a father whom he said was philandering and verbally abusive. He says sex wasn’t talked about at his house when he was growing up.

Before the session ends, Michael is assured that there’s no reason to think that he won’t kick his addiction. He’ll be on a new path, Blankenship says, toward “sexual integrity.”

The 90-minute session comes to a close with a prayer.

Blankenship and his co-counselor Mark Richardson lower their heads.

Richardson asks that God look after Michael. He asks God to bless this therapy process. Michael is heading out into the world, he says, heading back into a culture of temptation and lust and ungodly ways.

Look after him, the therapist says, keep him on the right path.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Church • Sex

soundoff (3,536 Responses)
  1. FreedomFighter

    ASK, if he is so all powerful then why has he been hiding so long? Obviously if he showed up flying in the air every once in a while in a flaming charriot and saved some of the suffering people in the world we sad unbelievers out there might actually find faith. But while there is so much pain, suffering, raping, robbing, disease and murdering in the world that he aledgedly hates, how can you expect anyone to believe he exists? Until he decides to stop hiding and act like he actually cares I think it more likely we'll get a balanced budget than he exists.

    August 21, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • SCAtheist

      Wow! Obviously no chance.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • Gene

      Once you read all these responses there is no wonder all that happens. man does want he wants God allows him to. But be asures one day he is coming back in the clouds and I promise you it will not be exciting for most.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
    • SCAtheist

      Jeez I have no idea what you just said.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Gene, your answer was mutated.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
    • FreedomFighter

      Basically its the old no responsibility fall back. God hates sin and suffering and so forth, but he lets it happen. They'd have you believe he exists because he doesn't do anything and hasn't done anything in so long. Doesn't it seem odd that he lets little children get abused in disgusting ways, while he has the power to stop it. In fact, since he knows everything he watches it happen. If you have the power to end suffering of little children at the hands of sick people and you don't then you are evil. Let your god judge himself and leave those of us who try to live a decent life alone.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
    • asrael

      Gene seems to be addicted to the notion that he can write a coherent post...

      August 21, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
    • ASK

      If you have to see him to Believe in him that is not Faith. You will first have to believe in HIM and you surely find him.

      Ask and you will receive, Seek and you will find, Knock and the door will be opened. It affirms he will, not he may. Have Faith and seek him!

      August 21, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • FreedomFighter

      Fair enough. For the past two thousand years christians have been asking for all kinds of miracles. Your good book says that faith as a grain of mustard seed can move mountains. Much like we don't have any actual pictures of bigfoot, I don't recall seeing any pictures of war, poverty, hunger or anything else ending. So, do you guys not actually have faith, or is that part of the book wrong?

      But wait if that part is wrong, then maybe more of it is. Come to think of it, its been written and translated literally thousands of times over thousands of years and that was done by mortal men who are at best imperfect. I wonder how many other things they got wrong. Basically there is as much scientific fact that Santa Claus exists as there is that HE exists and I stopped believing in santa long ago. How about you?

      August 21, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • ASK

      Faith is a personal experience, I cannot talk you into Faith, you have to be willing to have Faith. I am sure you have planned out the rest of the week, you seem to have faith for this, how come you don't have Faith when it comes to God.

      Jesus lived on this planet, he died for the sins of all mankind and he rose again, he will come back again!!!!! you can either have Faith and believe in him as your savior or not, the CHOICE is yours ....

      August 21, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • FreedomFighter

      Because if I truly belived the way you do I'd have to believe that god is evil and I can't bring myself to do that. If your god exists and he sees so many people suffering and he does nothing then he is evil. If he watches children being abused and does nothing then he is evil. If he sees people starving and he does nothing then he is evil. Your god supposedly loves everyone and sees everything yet he does nothing. It's great to say its a "choice", but children do not choose to be born to parents who abuse them or who were addicted to cocaine and so are born with birth defects. How is it love to know people aren't going to belive and then burn them for all eternity. Where was your god when those poor Anthony children were killed?

      If he exists at best he doesn't really care at worst he is a self agrandizing meglomaniac who loves to torture those weaker than he. For my part I'd rather think he exists, but we don't have it written down quite right. After all, the Romans, the Greeks, the Muslems, the Egyptians and who knows who else have just as much of a chance to be right as you and they truly believed they were right just as you do.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • nonterrorist

      He is not hiding. He reveals hImself through his word. When God created the world, it was good. There was no evil here, but God gave to man the responsibility for this world. God doesn't commit the crimes that go on in this world. Man does. That's why God sent his Son into this world, to redeem a corrupted race. The whole entire Bible is about who Jesus is, and what he has done to redeem mankind. The Old Testament explains the fall of man, and God's object lessons and promises regarding the coming Messiah. The New Testament presents Jesus as the promised Messiah who redeems mankind to the extent that mankind is willing to cooperate. There are two parts to the redemption of mankind. The legal part, which Jesus took care of by shedding his blood on the cross, in place of every sinner to be redeemed, and the acceptance part. The acceptance part is up to each individual. You can choose to follow Christ or not. For each person that chooses to follow Christ, the world becomes a better place. The redemption of mankind is a process that takes place over thousands of years. It began in Genesis, and it will be finished in Revelation. In the meantime, evil people may do evil things, and innocent people may suffer, but God is not to blame, because he has sent his Son into the world to redeem it.

      August 21, 2011 at 11:20 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Prove that the bible it the true word of god, nonterrorist, and prove that your god exists. Until you can do that, your faith is simply wishful thinking.

      August 21, 2011 at 11:25 pm |
  2. Richard Lynn Moore

    I would like to know the name of the model that chose to put a 'playboy' inside the Holy Bible. I dont think he knows what hes doing. He needs prayer.

    August 21, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
  3. Lee

    fda has a point...I am not here to shove religion down any ones throat but man other sure have been shoving atheism and agnosticism down my throat.
    So, why do people feel the need to put down Christians and there beliefs?
    simple, they think that mankind has all the answers and are offended by the possibility that there is one who knows more then us humans..and that is why we have all the arguments from Evolution to the new Astronaut theory .
    In the not so distant future we will see how much man thinks he knows ..
    .Oh and by the way.. I will say no to being chipped or marked in any way. In other words I will not sell my soul.

    August 21, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
    • SCAtheist

      Because they have been putting us down and for all religious time. Heck I have to stay undercover in SC to keep a job.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • Colin

      Lee, Christian beliefs would be harmless foolery if Christians weren't constantly trying to force the rest of us to live according to their beliefs but they do – hence we oppose it.

      A few quick examples include – (i) a woman's right to choose; (ii) use of condoms and other contraceptives; (iii) basic $ex education for teens; (iv) teaching evolution in school; (v) assisted suicide; (vi) gay marriage; (vii) treating drug abuse as principally a medical issue; (viii) population control; (ix) buying alcohol on a Sunday; and (x) stem cell research.

      In each of the above ten issues, Christians want to tell non-Christians what we must do based on the supposed wishes of their Bronze Age sky-god. Not coincidentally, on every such issue, they are wrong. Not just a little wrong, but spectacularly and stupidly wrong.

      I am sorry, but I will oppose them at every level. To me, the most effective way of doing so is pointing out the sheer absurdity of their beliefs in public forums such as this, so as to weaken the underlying social support and impetus for such draconian views.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Colin, the problem is that there are other folks on the other side...Christians, that have or do not have issues with your examples. Your still stuck with that stupid notion that all Christians believe the same. To use your reasoning I guess somewhere in your mind that all Atheist, naturally would be “for” the items you list.

      You are sorry. When you make blanket statements you do nothing but strengthen support for Christians.

      Tell me this, when your method continues to fail ….what will be your next move 🙂

      August 21, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
    • Colin

      Mark, I accept that there are atheists and Christians all over the map on most, if not all, of the issues I listed. Further, I have no issue with that. What I object to is when Christians try to tell non-believers what they must (as opposed to "should") do on these or any other issue, based on their primitive sky supersti.tion.

      They are free to change minds, but not to dictate actions through, for example, control of legislatures.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>”Mark, I accept that there are atheists and Christians all over the map on most, if not all, of the issues I listed. “

      That is a good first step my friend. Colin, what you do is take your cues from history. You become Rosa Parks, … not Malcolm X.

      The control of Government is by the people, its been that way for a while. If the “people” in your state, say South Carolina, want “blue laws”, then we face a dilemma of who is controlling who.

      For example, let us use the “blue law”. On that I can understand if I was a Atheist that wanted to buy a 60 plasma TV on Sunday before noon, I would p'ssed. At the same time I would be upset if my kid came home as was told that he could not do a book report on a story in the Bible, Koran or Torah.

      What both the Atheist and the Faithful face is someone is dictating to us and in the same way controlling us. The sooner we find middle ground and a space of coexistence will be for the better.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
  4. fritz

    SCAtheist – you are so correct............a little vino de casa, or a lot, and one's ready for a whole lot of Dionysian pleasure........maybe Ms. Bachmann would like to take notes on what she's missing?!

    August 21, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • SCAtheist

      Throw in Palin and you have a g on g deal!

      August 21, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
  5. what

    This article is about Christians fighting p o r n, what are atheist so mad about, I can see satan being offended, atheists????

    August 21, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
    • SCAtheist

      We are not angry – we think your dimwitted and hilarious.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      You think that of every Christian?

      August 21, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • SCAtheist

      I think that most Christians just believe it because of how they are raised. The idea that the Bible is a logically coherent book is preposterous. It contradicts itself all over the place. If you think you are looking at that honestly without preconceptions, and you think it's true, then yes you are dimwitted.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Ahh...most. Does that not contradict a bit. That folks hold the Bible as true, if you ever notice, is normally pointed out the contradiction by other persons of Faith. It is only the Atheist that comes in and feels that they are the first to question or interpret the scripture differently. People have been looking for advantages over their adversaries for thousands of years and their first strike, on a religious basis, is to get their enemy to accept their interpretation. This can be seen also in other areas of Human history, such as the Consti'tutions around the world.

      You do sound a bit angry though, its what rabid extremist on all sides do. Ridicule first, when the enemy continues to hold and grow, move to the next step. Just like always there are those of us in the middle that grow tired of you extremist, be you people of Faith or Atheist.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
    • nonterrorist

      SCAtheist, how much of the Bible have you actually read? Please provide examples of alleged contradictions, and explain how much time you spent researching the allegedly contradictory statements before you concluded that the Bible is "full of contradictions." If you can convince everyone that the Bible is not to be taken seriously, then you don't have to obey its precepts. If you were to accept the premise that the Bible is truly the Word of God, what things in your life would have to change? Let's be honest. Those things are the reason you find the Bible to be "full of contradictions."

      August 21, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
  6. Gene

    I am very offended by someone placing a playboy mag. inside the Holy Bible. Just goes to show the world we live in has no respect for anything.

    August 21, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Oh brother. Your bible must be a pretty frail thing if it can't stand the touch of nudie mag as fundamentally tame as Playboy.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • jeebus

      acting like a biased absolutist is no way to go through life. grab a beer and get over your hatred of free speech.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • Colin

      tallulah13 -there you are ! Of course you can copy and past what I wrote.

      The more we educate people, the sooner the Bronze Age sky-god will shrink to regional irrelevance.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • Bob

      You'll never see an article on "Behind the scenes how the ACLU and the media is out to destroy Christianity".

      August 21, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • J.W

      The Bible has a lot of men having affairs and other talk about s.ex. The Bible is at times as s.exual as playboy is.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • SS

      think they should have had that playboy in a bible and a quran

      August 21, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Thanks, Colin. I appreciate it.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Tallulah and Colin .... do you two need some time alone? 🙂

      Just let me know, I am sure I can get my pastor to open the church for a quickie wedding.

      l"chaim

      August 21, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  7. Bo

    ===========@HotAirAce================== Google: exotic matter proof that god exists. click on: cosmic proof of the existance of god I do not agree with Hugh Ross about creation of man ======================================

    August 21, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Sadly the author of the piece decided that Einstein was a believer. Einstein never actually said it himself.

      He did however, say this: "The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish.

      "No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this," he wrote in the letter written on January 3, 1954 to the philosopher Eric Gutkind, cited by The Guardian newspaper.

      I will admit that I don't know if he actually believed in some higher consciousness, but he certainly didn't believe in any gods created by humans.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      I read a bit of the article, until I couldn't stop laughing. I humbly suggest that any time a believer quotes Einstein or Stephen Hawking (especially Stephen H given his most recent book) as support for their position, the bullishit is flying! And it seems that they creationist/ID crowd are critical of Ross too.

      August 21, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
  8. Grey Witch

    They may be trying to get rid of P.O.R.N. or fight it but that will never happen. This is a FREE country and as long as it's free P.O.R.N. will always be around. And I'm glad I'm no Christian. Besides most of those trying to get rid of P.O.R.N. are scared of it because they like it just as much as the person watching it or reading it. We are humans and all humans like S.E.X. I don't care who you are.

    August 21, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
  9. Martin Luther

    "Christian leaders consider it a powerful tool for fighting what they say is one of the modern church’s biggest problems: p*rn addiction."

    Remember the good ol' days when the church's biggest problem was witches? Man I wish they were still doing that, I would much rather read THAT article on CNN.

    Also, big ups for CNN and their ballsy picture of the playboy on the bible, how cheekily sacrilegious.

    Can't we just agree that anything religion or God is true to the extent that the devotee needs and wants it to be true...there is no objective truth to any of it, that we may know, so why all the divisive rhetoric. God exists because lots of people need him to exist. God doesn't exist for the people who feel they don't need him to exist. Let's just leave it at that.

    August 21, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • SCAtheist

      God exists because people need him? That's ridiculous. Let's layer the picture with a Penthouse and a Koran.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • Grey Witch

      Hey I'm a Witch. I don't want them chasing me down. Honestly I have more love and openess than the Church who Damns everyone. I accept everyone for who they are and don't believe anyone is going to a burning place. Even you. All us witches do is work magick to help the world and ourselves. Honestly Prayer is magick.You ask for something to happen and by divine powers it happens even if its not exactly what you asked for.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
  10. fritz

    What would Jesus do? I actually think he'd like to kick back with a cold one and watch some g on g action.........that to atm!

    August 21, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
    • SCAtheist

      After all his first miracle was changing water into wine.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
  11. Cole

    this is the problem with unified religion. believe what you want to people and dont conform to rules because you want to "fit in"

    August 21, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
    • Adam

      People's ignorance of religion is staggering. People's religious beliefs typically are rooted in a love of God and a desire to do His will. Not getting into a club or obeying arbitrary rules.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
  12. Blame Bush

    S e x is NOT a sin, ergo, p o r n (like alcohol) is an addiction, and cannot be treated as moral failing.

    Amazingly dumb depictions of s e x by the p o r n industry are not art, they are trash that doesn't deserve our attention.

    Organized religion knows that s e x is the easiest way to get inside people's heads, so they harp on s e x is sin so they can control you with fear, guilt, shame and bilk you of your money.

    Believe ANY religion at your own peril.

    August 21, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
    • Blame Bush

      Finally, I got something posted, after spelling harmless words like s e x and p o r n.

      Wow, worst case of an overdone filtering I've ever seen, NONE of which is stated int he Terms of Service. Amateurs.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
  13. Nash Carlisle

    I agree with talezspin, the Quran gets far great favoritism over The Bible, "The Holy Bible." But then again the media has it's own agenda what ever that is. Still though This picture should be removed. If not, I would encourage all Christians to boycott whatever CNN advertises on it's site for the remainder of the year. Or just find another source of news. Perhaps not all media orgs are this bias and crass.

    August 21, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
    • jeebus

      gee, what would that other source be – fox news? lol
      you are a sly one. i wonder if anyone has written a dissertation about the connection between christians and low intelligence quotients?

      August 21, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • sgreco

      you mean because it doesnt share your view.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
    • SCAtheist

      Here we go again – the Christian persecution complex – it should be in the DSM – it's the Xtians doing all the persecuting.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Well, if they did put a Playboy in a Koran then Atlanta, where CNN is based would become a serious target.

      The thing is, I wonder what it will be like when the militant Christians become drawn out of the shadows.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • Denise

      Yes! All christians should boycott CNN, great idea, then the rest of us don't have to sift through your ignorant remarks.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Again, another christian who doesn't consider context. This is a story about how christians are dealing with p0rnograph. Not a thing in the article about islam. A playboy in a koran would be silly in this context.

      August 21, 2011 at 11:29 pm |
  14. Adam

    76% of America are professing Christians. Atheists need to show some respect to the ocean of people out there who believe in Christ's divinity. Continuing with the disrespectful rhetoric will get them nowhere.

    August 21, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
    • Spiffy

      How are you being disrespected?

      August 21, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • jeebus

      that is not correct. debunking your professed factual truths will open people's eyes to the reality of how harmful some religious people can be throughout history, including yourself.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
    • Rob Best

      So if you are not the majority you need to show respect but if you are the majority it doesn't matter?

      August 21, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • Adam

      On a daily basis from atheists on comment boards. Also listening to atheists debate: typically they resort to insults. The vast majority of atheists I've encountered have been disrespectful and down right mean. Not all, just most.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • sgreco

      when you show respect to your brother for his different beliefs, we will show respect to you for yours.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
    • FreedomFighter

      Unfortunately submission is the only thing most christians are willing to accept. Those of us who don't believe shouldn't be required to act like we do just to make you feel good for believing in fairy tales.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
    • Bucky Ball

      Prove it. When did you get that statistic ?

      August 21, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • tallulah13

      So what you're saying is that because there are more of you, everyone should just shut up and let you do what you want? Thank goodness for the wisdom of our Founding Fathers who put the wall between church and state after seeing how religion suppresses freedom.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Jee- If your goal is alienation then all you will get is reflected "troll" type responses. As an Atheist said a few months ago, there is a difference in stating what you believe and stating that another is wrong.

      All your statement shows is that your post will lean towards being a Troll'ish.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • Denise

      Respect works both ways, doofus. How many christians show respect for atheists? Why can't anyone become president of the USA unless they profess to be christian? How about you go to hell?

      August 21, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
  15. bill11

    good thing putting a picture of a playboy on bible isn't offensive or anything...would you do that to other holy books? If you are trying to inform or persuade radical or moderate christians, you likely won't get very far as they won't get past the provocative image.

    August 21, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
    • Denise

      Bible pages make great toilet paper!

      August 21, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
  16. Blame Bush

    why can't I get even a small polite post to show up on here?

    August 21, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
  17. Steve

    CNN, stick to what you know. You dont know or understand religion.

    August 21, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
    • jeebus

      proclaiming your divine expertise makes you look like a fool.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
    • asrael

      Steve, stick to what you know. You don't know or understand CNN...

      August 21, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
  18. jeebus

    in summary, it appears that christians are afraid of 'expressing freedom', afraid of making their god angry, afraid of exploring their innate desire and biological urges. that's too much fear. they should just try to enjoy life for as long as it lasts and stay out of other people's private business.

    "i will not fear. fear is the mind killer."
    -paul atreides

    "fear leads to anger. anger leads to hate. hate leads to despair."
    -yoda

    August 21, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
  19. keylargo

    "Can the Christian crusade against p0rnography bear fruit?"....... of course it can, there will be some docile sheep that will follow anyone claiming to be next to god. Then there will be an army of phony Christians professing to be rabid adherents while carrying on in their own sleazy world as always. Then there will be guys like me who tell them "we don't want any", when they knock on our doors.

    August 21, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
  20. bad2worse

    I love p0rn and Jesus too. What kind of people are these?

    August 21, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
    • ASK

      Ask HIM the question, why ask the mortals this q?????

      August 21, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
    • jeebus

      @ask: i would prefer to ask 'her' if you could give me 'her' phone number or email address.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
    • Reformed Hypocrite

      @bad2worse: It's simple: they're hypocrites. I enjoy p.o.r.n.o.g.r.a.p.h.y and I'm a Catholic. But I am a human being first (that God created in his image according to the bible).

      August 21, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
    • TheBigJeez

      @bad2worse There is nothing wrong with p0rn, in fact p0rn laid the very foundation for Christianity. If it weren't for Joseph's p0rn addiction that caused him to neglect my mother's needs, she never would have gone out and gotten picked up by "God" at a sleazy singles bar, and yours truly, your lord and savior, would never have been born. Also, had Joseph not been distracted by the p0rno magazine he was engrossed in when my mom told him that B.S. about my being the son of God, he never would have believed her. Those of you who are disgusted by p0rn really need to lighten up, b/c Heaven is really just one giant red light district.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • ASK

      u silly you are still on WWW and how silly of u to ask for email.

      Just PRAY to HIM, your earthy mind cannot think beyond phone/e-mail, tsk...tsk...

      August 21, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • jeebus

      @ask: oh, good comeback. your sarcasm is duly noted. now about that email address? can you at least send me a picture of her?

      August 21, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.