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Strange religious bedfellows unite for letter against hotel porn
Hotels' in-room movie selections should not include porn, according to two religious scholars.
July 12th, 2012
11:03 AM ET

Strange religious bedfellows unite for letter against hotel porn

By Dan Merica, CNN

(CNN) – A letter penned by two notable scholars - a Christian and a Muslim - and sent to a number of different hotel industry executives has asked those hotels to remove pornography from their company’s in-room movie selections.

Robert P. George, a professor at Princeton University and the past chairman of the conservative National Organization for Marriage, and Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, co-founder of Zaytuna College, a Muslim school, wrote the letter to urge hotels “to do what is right as a matter of conscience.”

“We are, respectively, a Christian and a Muslim, but we appeal to you not on the basis of truths revealed in our scriptures but on the basis of a commitment that should be shared by all people of reason and goodwill: a commitment to human dignity and the common good,” reads the letter.

The letter marks the joining of two unique men with two distinctly different faiths. Yusuf says they were able to put aside their disagreement on other issues because of  their commitment to this cause. “We need to see that those things that are threatening our society today are much graver than anything that may divide us,” he told CNN.

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Reaction to the letter from some adult film stars - and even from some advocates for removing porn from hotels - was negative.

Craig Gross, a pastor and the founder of XXXchurch.com, says the letter is an empty gesture with no power behind it.

“It has got to be one of the dumbest letters I have ever read,” Gross said. “It is like asking the Internet to stop selling porn. It sounds good and all, but it isn’t going to happen.”

But the letter’s authors argue that the Internet and hotels are different, with hotel owners directly profiting off the temptation of porn.

“We urge you to do away with pornography in your hotels because it is morally wrong to seek to profit from the suffering, degradation, or corruption of others,” states the letter. “You are placing temptation in their path - temptation for the sake of profit. That is unjust. Moreover, the fact that something is chosen freely does not make it right.”

Yusuf continued to use this argument in an interview with CNN. “Just because we are able to do something doesn’t mean it is what we should be doing. And just because you can sell these things doesn’t mean it is something you should be selling,” he said.

In Gross’ opinion, this logic is a slippery slope. When planes offer access to WiFi, is that placing temptation in the path of those who may view porn on the Web? When hotels offer room service, he asks, are they tempting dieters?

Gross has a long history of helping those with porn addictions, and his website is dedicated to getting people help. According to him, removing porn from hotels is a futile endeavor because of the "unfettered availability of porn on the Web. “

According to a 2005 report on the state of the adult entertainment by Adult Video News, a trade journal on the adult-film industry, 55% of hotel movie rentals are porn movie rentals. The average revenue from movie rentals, according to LodgeNet, a company that provides in-room entertainment services, was $16.51 per room per month in 2008. In the third quarter of 2009, LodgeNet brought in $64.8 million. This, however, included more family-friendly options as well.

A 2011 report by Robert Mandelbaum at Colliers PKF Hospitality Research found that from 2000 to 2009, movie rental revenue for hotels in general decreased 39%.

Even with the reported slip, Gross and other critics acknowledged there is a demand for adult entertainment.

“This is supply and demand,” Gross said. “We spin our wheels doing all the wrong things. The issue is not that it is available; the issue is that people buy it.”

Prior to this letter, however, some hotels had already pledged to remove pornography from their programming or had removed it.

In 2011, Marriott International - a company founded by a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that continues deep Mormon ties - pledged to phase out adult content from all hotel rooms. The move came after groups like Focus on the Family met with Marriott officials to urge them to remove adult movies.

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“Adult content will be off the menu for virtually all of our newly built hotels,” read the Marriott statement. “Over the next few years, this will be the policy across our system.”

Marriott is not the first hotel group to do this, though. Omni Hotels, a Dallas-based luxury hotel chain, removed all adult films from its in-room systems in 1999. According to other reports, adult-free programming is helping the Omni differentiate itself in the hotel market.

Websites like cleanhotels.com look to help porn-free hotels by compiling a list of hotels that do not offer adult entertainment and leading people to them. Cleanhotels.com says it does so because its supporters want to know they are “supporting a facility that cares enough about the wellbeing of its customers not to make harmful pornographic movies available.”

The American Hotel & Lodging Association, however, defends the right of hotels to choose what services to offer in their rooms.

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“In-room offerings such as this are made available based on market demand, are not offered in all hotels, and are subject to the same legal review all hotel operations are subject to,” read a statement from Kathryn Potter, senior vice president of marketing and communications for the association.

Ron Jeremy, an adult-film star who has been in over 2,000 porn films, according to the Internet Adult Film Database, sees efforts to remove porn from hotels as attacks on freedom of speech.

“What they have to understand is that freedom of speech works for all of us, not just for them,” Jeremy said about those who want to get porn out of hotel rooms. “This is a country that is secular; you have freedom from religion and freedom of religion. Give me a break.”

While Jeremy said he is all for making sure kids in hotel rooms can’t get to porn - “I think that is marvelous” - he said he doesn’t see why adults shouldn’t watch “consenting adults have consenting sex.”

"If a guy has a hard day at work or is at a convention and wants to sit down in his hotel room and puts on an adult film and plays spank the monkey, why can’t he do that?"

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Christianity • Islam

soundoff (1,415 Responses)
  1. Bob

    Im completely OK with you being all religious and all, but – and I am not targeting any particular faith – KEEP IT TO YOURSELF!!!!!

    July 12, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  2. WeWereOnTheMoon

    Ok, " leaders", so you heard about S.e.X, stop being obsessed about it, try it or shut it.

    July 12, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  3. Bill Jones

    More proof all religions are worthless and run by fools (and crooks, and pedophiles, and bigots, etc.)

    July 12, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  4. ArthurP

    So a ten year old is old enough to understand the concept of a.nalogy (or perhaps more correctly, a metaphor) et al when it comes to the Bible but not when it comes to other books. You know the ones the Religious Right keeps trying to ban from school libraries.

    July 12, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • ArthurP

      Damn .. wrong place 😦

      July 12, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • VanHagar

      Don't worry about wrong place–we all do it. As for the banning of books–your preaching to the choir. I disagree with banning of any books–a parent should use discretion directed at the maturity of their child. Some analogies/metaphors are difficult for children to understand–that's why we as adults have to put it in context.

      July 12, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  5. Tom Paine

    These guys are just the leading edge of what will be. One day Christians and Muslims are going to learn they have much more in common than they imagine.

    July 12, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • peter

      Soon they will join forces against thinking people and try to make everyone believe the same fairy tales that dominate their narrow-minded worldviews.

      July 12, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Yeah, They're both nuts!

      July 12, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  6. lance corporal

    is there no end to what the radicals who want to control every one can get upset about?????????????

    I've stayed in tons of hotels that offer por n, I have never watched it once (not to say I never watch por n tho)
    it has always been an OPTION, no one has ever tried to FORCE me to watch it.......
    and there are soooooooo many options for por n these days isn't a bit late to be upset about hotels offering it

    this is just more of the same radical right hoooey trying to rile people up over NOTHING

    July 12, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  7. oggybleacher

    And please ban all Kevin Smith movies while you are at it. They totally suck harder than Jenna Jameson ever will.

    July 12, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • lance corporal

      hey clerks II changed my life............
      I used to m'bate to meg ryan, now it's rosario dawson
      OK not a big change but still

      July 12, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Who is Kevin Smith. Doesn't sound like a Pawn name. Steele, Diesel or Depth is a pawn name. Kevin smith sounds like a coach at Penn State.

      July 12, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  8. Heywood

    its about choice

    July 12, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • VanHagar

      Its easy to disregard the clearly recognized correlation between p.orn and s.exual assault when you simply want to exercise your rights.

      July 12, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      @VanHagar
      Source or it didn’t happen.

      July 13, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      That’s what I thought.

      July 24, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
  9. WeWereOnTheMoon

    Just wondering, do they know about Internet? Who watches hotel adult movies anymore anyway? Thank God religion doesn't controls progress anymore. P.S. Why religions are so obsessed with S.e.X?

    July 12, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  10. Honey Badger Dont Care

    I cant get all the free pr0n that I want on my laptop. Just need that SWEET free interweb.

    July 12, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      cant = can

      July 12, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  11. Ken Margo

    More religious crap. If we did everything so called "religious leaders" wanted us to do, the world would still be blanked up.

    July 12, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  12. VanHagar

    @Arthur...Hey 10 year old–its an analogy (or, my mistake, more appropriately a metaphor). There. Done.

    July 12, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • VanHagar

      Sorry all, that was meant for below.

      July 12, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  13. Fr33th1nk3r

    If you don't want to watch it– change the channel. Maybe they should ban the Gideon's Bible instead?

    July 12, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • Johnjon

      please, don't ban the bible............... I need a coaster for my drink.

      July 12, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  14. Reality

    You must be kidding?? There are over one million internet po-rn sites many with innocent sounding names. Lots of luck trying to ban them in hotel rooms or anywhere else. Google or B-ing or Yahoo it to verify said statistics.

    July 12, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • Huebert

      Their are FAR more than one million por.n sites.

      July 12, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  15. Anon

    KEEP YOUR BS MORALITY AND RELIGION TO YOURSELVES!!!!

    July 12, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  16. Informed

    CNN is pathetic. The article is about p0r.n but any comment containing the word is automatically censored. Absurd!

    July 12, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  17. Informed

    So, remove the p0.rn, but lets keep the graphic head blowing off action films and the senseless violence in horror films playing away. Such hypocrites.

    July 12, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  18. WeWereOnTheMoon

    What is it about religion that constantly makes people want to ignore or change reality? Don't those "religious leaders" remind you of agents Smith from the "Matrix" ? Lol

    July 12, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • matt

      not really worth an LOL is it?

      July 12, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  19. ArthurP

    But Bibles are OK.

    Ezekiel 23:20 There she lu.sted after her lovers, whose gen.itals were like those of donkeys and whose emis.sion was like that of horses.

    July 12, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • VanHagar

      You do know that the verse you cite has nothing to do with s.ex right? You do know that its an analogy right?

      July 12, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • HOLY JESUS

      @VanHagar

      The whole religion is an analogy LOL, there is no reality in the bible's analogies. lol u funny

      July 12, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • ArthurP

      Tell that to a ten year old.

      July 12, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      You can't spell analogy without "anal"

      July 12, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • VanHagar

      @arthur....Hey, 10 year old. Its an a.nalogy (or perhaps more correctly, a metaphor). There. Done.

      July 12, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • ArthurP

      And the of course the ever popular Biblical in.cest::

      Song of Songs 4:9

      "You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride; you have stolen my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace."

      July 12, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • VanHagar

      Arthur....please stop while your behind. Your embarrassing all the other atheists. The reference to sister is as a sister in faith–not biological. Are you, in fact, that 10 year old your were concerned about?

      July 12, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • ArthurP

      So Genesis is not to be taken literally then it is just a.nalogy (or perhaps more correctly, a metaphor) or maybe even imagery. If that is that case then what is all the fuss about Evolution?

      Oh it's not. OK I get it, it is only the po.rn that is a.nalogy (or perhaps more correctly, a metaphor) but Genesis is the absolute truth as God breathed it.

      July 12, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • VanHagar

      Arthur...are you drinking? You are you talking about? I'm not going to respond to some rambling discourse.

      July 12, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • VanHagar

      My own goof–typed too fast. "WHAT are you talking about?" was the desired response.

      July 12, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  20. Dan

    Can they replace the bibles in hotels with some other work of fiction?

    July 12, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • HOLY JESUS

      I LOLED

      July 12, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
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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.