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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.

The church of porn and football

“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. If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

    ".. 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 .." ... Truths, scriptures & reason all used in the same sentence LOL!

    July 14, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • jamest297

      🙂
      🙂
      🙂
      :0
      🙂

      July 14, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  2. No Invisible Friends

    While you're at it, please remove the Bibles from your hotels also. Either that or place the Koran, Talmud, Vedas, Laozi, etc. in the rooms.

    July 14, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • 1question

      Amen. The bible contains a lot more immorality than an adult film. And has ruined many, many more lives.

      July 14, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      So, the best defence against censorship extremist is to be a censorship extremist as well?

      What about those of us in the middle that might not have a issue of the Bible in the night stand adult video content on the television?

      Are we to choose from either of the sides?

      July 14, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  3. kurt

    More religious thugs trying to force their belief systems on everyone else. Not even newsworthy.

    July 14, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
  4. jack

    Religion has tried to control society for the last 2000 years.All religion has brought forth is death and destruction. Control you're rapist priest, and the blood thirsty legions killing in the name of Christ and Allah them Try to control what I watch.

    July 14, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
  5. MYOB

    “to do what is right as a matter of conscience.”

    Practice what you preach, Gents. If you don't want to see it, watch the cartoon channel instead.

    July 14, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • silly

      if they want to see live p-o-r-n.. all they have to do is visit a catholic rectory or go to the vatican. The pope is the queen of p-o–r-n

      July 14, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
  6. ChocolateQueen

    I can understand why they want p0rn gone from hotel rooms. This is a room that is rented for a night, where as Internet is in my home and it's something I pay for every month. But a person who is addicted to p0rn will find it anywhere he/she can, and banning it from a hotel room won't change the fact that they are addicted.

    I have seen p0rn destroy marriages, parent/child relationships, cause loss of jobs, etc. It is just as destructive as an addiction to booze or heroin.

    July 14, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • jamest297

      So, what's your point? Why should someone deign to interfere with folks ruining their lives? It's the Nanny State mentality gone amok – aided and abetted by religion.

      July 14, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • Sanity

      Alcohol has destroyed lives & marriages
      Gluttony
      Money issues
      RELIGION
      Point: People destroy their lives and relationships. Each person needs to be responsible for him/herself & we don't need anyone's idea of a diety waved in our face about it.

      July 14, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • Hypatia

      You have issues that go far beyond an internet forum, Get some professional help.

      July 15, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
  7. Father Jimmy

    Prayer changes things–about as frequently as placebos do.

    July 14, 2012 at 9:55 am |
  8. Jim P.

    Tell you what, you don't like it, don't watch it. Ask the hotel to block it in your room so it won't reach out and ***** you in the night too, just to be safe.

    Anyone who pays to watch that sort of thing doesn't know how to work the Internet anyway.

    Be interesting to see usage figures when these religious groups have conventions, bet it goes *way* up along with the bar revenue.

    July 14, 2012 at 4:53 am |
    • 311mortimer

      If you don't like it pick a sleazier hotel.

      July 14, 2012 at 8:32 am |
  9. 1question

    "it is morally wrong to seek to profit from the suffering, degradation, or corruption of others"

    Was he talking about the adult film industry or religion here?

    July 14, 2012 at 2:38 am |
  10. Kudos Mariott!

    way to go!!! good job! keep up your quality service and yes remove all offensive content that debases the human mind.

    July 14, 2012 at 12:33 am |
    • Lewis Keseberg

      Just to be clear, you are talking about the Bible, right?

      July 14, 2012 at 1:02 am |
    • Jim

      No, they're probably Protestant, which means they're talking about the Book of Mormon.

      July 14, 2012 at 8:23 am |
  11. Reality

    Googling "free po-rn". About 83,200,000 results. Yahooing "free po-rn" , 143,000,000 results. Binging "free po-rn", – 146,000,000 results. And they want to remove a few movie channels??????????????????

    July 13, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
  12. Hawkeye321

    Debbie Does Days Inn.

    Motel 6-ty 9.

    Howard's Johnson.

    July 13, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
  13. Vinster

    Well, as their letter says, just because you can do a thing, it doesn't follow that you should do it. That's as true for writing pointless letters urging businesses to trample First Amendment rights as it is for religious figures exercising their own First Amendment rights. Of all the dumb things I've read today, this one just about takes the cake.

    July 13, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
    • Dan I

      The First Amendment is not involved here. The First Amendment applies only to GOVERNMENT regulation of speech. Last time I checked Hilton wasn't a government.

      July 13, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
  14. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    July 13, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      In my pants.

      July 13, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • just sayin

      Tom Tom returns. God bless

      July 13, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
    • Steve - Dallas

      No, it doesn't.

      July 13, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!: .

      July 15, 2012 at 9:59 am |
  15. Fritz Hohenheim

    Americia must be the second prudish country in the world, right after Iran. I dont want religious nuts to dictate what I can and can not access. And besides: "right" is in my eyes the right for an adult to chose what he or she want's to access, not what some people with a bronze age story telling book want me to do and think. Put religion where it belongs: In the churches and keep it out of our bedrooms and schools.

    July 13, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • just sayin

      Moral decency , ethics and prayer belong in every school and bedroom. One nation under God. God bless

      July 13, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • just sayin

      And when I say 'under God' I mean in a hot, bondage way. God bless.

      July 13, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • stupid followed to its logical conclusion

      steals someone else name and thinks they are a wit.

      July 13, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • Gary the Grammarian

      Bronze Age story book? Well, really, I guess some early parts of the Old Testament were in the Bronze Age, but most was Iron Age. And "story book" is misleading. For one thing, it was oral tradition first. To speak of it as "story book" implies that it was written for purely entertainment purposes at a time when people could bind pages together effectively.

      But, I wouldn't expect people who think everyone with ethical concerns other than just "let people do whatever they want" to be discerning enough or caring enough to use more precise terms. It sort of comes with the territory of being uncritically and ignorantly hostile, I suppose.

      July 13, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
    • jwt

      prayer and god are in no way necessary for moral ethics – god has no place at all ever in school or home. Unless people want it there for their own purposes.

      July 13, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      So, while you want the schools to be open to so many other cultures and lifestyles we should choose to exclude those of Faith and tell them that they need to keep that part of their lives in the homes. That did not work for the extremist of Faith and Religion when they said the same to the Gay and Lesbians, so you actually believe it will work on any group in this society now?

      I think that the days of hoping that groups would take their voices from the public sphere are past.

      July 13, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Mark

      The law as it is now is fine. Prayer in school cannot be mandated by the school or by a teacher/administrator, which is as it should be. Students can still pray in school, can have after school bible groups, and whatnot, as long as it is seperate from any actual authority within the school.

      July 13, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      Hawaii, I agree. There are those though who are marching through one school door saying that there should not be a prayer group in the school.....and then the extremist on the Faith side saying that the Gay and Lesbian groups should not be.

      Its once again the voices of intolerance on the extremes of all sides. With us in the middle caught in the crossfire.

      July 13, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Well I definitely agree with you here.

      July 13, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
    • jwt

      agreed.

      July 14, 2012 at 8:06 am |
    • sam stone

      keep it in your homes and churches, and out of the public school system

      July 14, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Sam, then you are no different than other folks that are declaring that this group or that not have a public voice in society. You, the 700 club types, the klan types, and the Al Sharptons of the world .... etc etc....

      Why, can yall just leave us who have found a way to tolerate each other alone.

      July 15, 2012 at 1:16 am |
  16. Just Claims, No Truth

    So god gives us free will only to have his followers do everything they can to take it away....

    Yeah, that makes sense...

    July 13, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  17. QS

    "...the fact that something is chosen freely does not make it right."

    What a perfect description of religion!

    July 13, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • Gary the Grammarian

      ...or any political outlook other than "democracy" (however defined, and however actualized).

      My, such an irrational hatred of religion here. What a shame, really.

      July 13, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
  18. jamest297

    Your religion might be bulldookey if:

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtX_R-V5Cws&w=640&h=360]

    July 13, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Denise

      Awesome, appropriate video. Thanks Jamest297.

      July 13, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • whybs on twitter

      good video. Cut it down to 2 mins in the next version!

      July 14, 2012 at 1:34 am |
    • whybs on twitter

      keep the w_anking portion! Even priests/pastors/imams/rabbi/Vatican folks could relate to that! 🙂

      July 14, 2012 at 1:37 am |
  19. ROBERT RAY

    MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS

    July 13, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  20. Mitch

    So they ask, “to do what is right as a matter of conscience.”

    How about you theocrats let other people decide to follow their own consciences. You know, that little thing called 'Freedom' that Americans are supposed to believe in.

    I don't know about you; but my ancestors came here centuries ago to GET AWAY from having a religion they did not believe in forced down their throats.

    July 13, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • Rundvelt

      Not to mention they seem to ignore the horrible things their bible upholds. I mean, like how Jesus, who is kind and merciful, decided to have expensive oil poured upon his head. When the apostiles suggest that he sell the oil and feed the poor he replied.

      "You will always have the poor with you, you will not always have me."

      So Jesus took the oil to leave a nice smelling corpse. I'm sure that made the starving children feel better. I mean, if the saviour of mankind cannot have a good smelling body, I mean, what point is there to living?

      July 13, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • Rundvelt

      Not to mention the time Jesus told a woman that she was beneth him and he would not help her. Cause I hear that all the kind and merciful people in the world look down on others. Quite the quality character Jesus is.

      July 13, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      >>>"How about you theocrats let other people decide to follow their own consciences."

      You must be new to America. The Nanny state is striking at everyone on all sides. You have mayors saying that you can not be trusted to purchase different sizes of fast food and down to moves that want to restrict more and more aspects of American life. As a Christian I am against this move because por'n is legal for adults and if one wants to watch it in a hotel room let them go for it. At the same time do not try to lay down the erosion of personal freedoms at the doorsteps of Faith and Religion. Everyone wants to force others into their view of how society should be run or look.

      July 13, 2012 at 9:31 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.