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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

    Sure, phase out the pr0n. But they're going to lose quite a bit of revenue to their "morals". But if it makes 'em happy, I'll just bring my own pr0n from home.

    July 24, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  2. nemesis

    I'll never stay at another Marriot. What is one supposed to do on those business trips?

    July 24, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  3. nemesis

    Oh grow up!! Don't the remotes have channel changer buttons in the hotels these dudes stay in? If you're worrying about your kid getting a biology lesson, try being a parent and pay attention to what your kid is doing. It's called parental responsibility. If YOUR sensitivities are getting bent, change the freaking channel...

    July 24, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  4. totalpeace

    I know when I go to a hotel with my kids , my heart stops when the Adult channel option screen pops up...my 3-year old could order an adult movie, its that easy. If they are to keep that option in hotels, simply add one of those spam fields, where the viewer has to add one of those 8 digit codes that they see on the screen...but taking the remote is easier I guess.

    July 23, 2012 at 4:41 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Or better yet… why don’t you take responsibility as a parent and watch your kid?

      July 24, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
  5. Cadiz

    I do not know why the author considers these two as 'strange religious bedfellows'. Islam and Christianity agree on much ore than they disagree, particularly on what acts are considered as sin. You need to get out more.

    July 23, 2012 at 4:02 am |
  6. Billy

    Now a days dedicated folks from the industries jump on the net as soon as something is published. If you talk against gun control, people from gun industry will jump in. If you talk against P0rn, P0rn industry will jump in. Amazing, in today's world every thing is acceptable, So should be nothing wrong if the Men, Women, Congressmen, Teens and what the hell, bring in the kids too for se-x education too, if they all watch P0rn, nothing is wrong, yes, nothing...

    July 22, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
  7. jimbo

    While they're at it, remove the bibles from the hotels.

    July 22, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • barlowc

      Love it.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:24 am |
  8. dicky

    ..how many people were and are killed due to religion?!!!?! maybe we should start by removing religion...??!

    July 22, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • Cadiz

      Not so many as have been killed due to lack of religion. Hitler was an atheist and was Stalin and Chairman Mao. Try not to let your biases cloud your view of the world.

      July 23, 2012 at 4:00 am |
    • Bradley

      Hitler was a Christian, genius. Read Mein Kampf and his speeches instead of believing the BS your pastor spews out.

      July 23, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      @ Cadiz
      Yea! And the U.S.A. was founded as a Christian nation lol. You theist never fail to amaze me with your revisionist history.

      July 24, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • jaugustine

      thats the people not the religion

      July 24, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  9. jorge washinsen

    I see we are bring censored today.Always happens when they hire weekend replacements.

    July 22, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • LinCA

      @jorge washinsen

      You said, "I see we are bring censored today.Always happens when they hire weekend replacements."
      CNN uses WordPress blogs for their opinion pieces, and they use automated censoring that looks for words, or fragments of words, that are considered offensive. If your post doesn't show up, it most likely had a forbidden word in it.

      On the Belief Blog, repeat posts, even those that were previously censored and not displayed, will show a message stating that you posted it before.

      The following words or word fragments will get your post censored (list is incomplete):
            arse             as in Arsenal
            bastard
            bitch
            cock           as in cockatiel
            coon           as in cocoon
            cum             as in circumstance
            cunt
            douche
            effing
            fag
            ftw
            fuck
            homo         as in homosexual
            horny
            jackass
            jap
            jism
            kinky
            kooch
            nipple
            orgy
            pis
            porn
            poo           as in spooked
            prick
            rape         as in grape
            sex           as in homosexual
            shit
            slut
            smut
            snatch
            spic         as in despicable
            tit               as in constitution or title
            twat
            vag           as in vague
            whore
            wtf

      To circumvent the filters you can break up the words by putting an extra character in, like: consti.tution (breaking the oh so naughty "tit").

      July 23, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • open cinnamon shoe

      Or just dont be so brazen as to have an opinion that isnt sanctioned. My posts get culled regularly with no naughty words. its my naughty habit of thinking for myself that causes problems.

      July 24, 2012 at 9:59 am |
  10. Steve

    I did not realize Marriott was a religious organization. I travel on business and just cancelled my executive membership with them.

    July 22, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • Ben

      They are not a religous organization. As the article states the founder of the chain happens to be a member of a religion. If you are going to avoid all corporations founded by a member of a religion you are going to have a hard time doing business. Unless of course you are just avoiding members of this one religion?

      July 23, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  11. Pope Benedict

    It's ok to do it, ok to think about it, and ok to talk about it, but it's not ok to watch it. Why?

    July 19, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
    • PAUL

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNkV7QpdnZc&w=640&h=360]

      July 20, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
  12. HeavenSent

    Carnal, carnal, carnal,Carnal, carnal, carnal,carnal, carnal,Carnal, carnal, carnal, carmel, carmel, carmel, carmel,carmel, carmel, carmel,carmel, carmel, carmel

    I am hungry now

    Amen.

    July 16, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • jimibivkoi

      Hungry for a priest's c0.ck....

      July 23, 2012 at 12:18 am |
  13. NotAgain

    Once again religious zealots telling everyone what we can and cannot do! If they do not want to watch p0rn they can simply avoid purchasing that service or going to that channel. It is NONE of their business what others decide to watch. I do not care for p0rn in hotels but I do care about my freedom to watch it if so I desire! I do not believe in any religion and/or god... so why am I forced to be in a room with a bible?? I will start a movement, such as this ridiculous one, to remove the insulting bible from every hotel room as I am sure there are lots of people who do not believe or are of different religions so why should one belief be imposed over another?

    July 16, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • Canadian

      I remove the book from every hotel roon I stay in...I have for many years. I rip ito pieces and throw it in the garbage....where it belongs

      July 22, 2012 at 1:15 am |
  14. Richard From Florida

    Churches again trying to tell us what we can and cannot do in our bedrooms, and they think that they are unjustly attacked.

    July 16, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • Walt

      Well, it's a shame you think they are "trying to tell you what to do". In fact, their intention is to benefit the person. I'll stop there because it's evident you wouldn't understand the concept.

      July 16, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • Thinker

      Walt, they ARE attempting to control the options another person has. Yes they are doing it in the belief that they will help people. That does not change what they are doing. For example: It would probably be better for me if I ate less beef, but I certainly would not want Hindus to advocate the removal of beef dishes from restauraunts. Just because you believe that something is wrong does not mean that everyone necessarily agrees with you.

      Really the line should be drawn at prohibiting acts that cause actual phisical harm to others. Things like stealing, killing, drunk driving, that kind of thing. There is no evidence that watching adult films causes people to go out and hurt others or significantly increases the risk of them doing so.

      On the other hand, these are private businesses and it is their choice as to what products and services they will offer. So while I don't like that religious groups attempt to control what others do, so long as they aren't doing it in government (or directly infringing on others rights, which is generally against the law anyway) they are free to do as they feel is right.

      July 18, 2012 at 9:20 am |
    • Who invited me?

      THINKER

      Why do you like going around and respondiing to posts days after they wreposted?

      July 18, 2012 at 9:23 am |
    • Thinker

      1: Boredom.
      2: Because people still read posts days after they were posted. As you demonstrate.
      3: Why on Earth do you care?

      July 18, 2012 at 10:04 am |
  15. JustaNormalPerson

    They want to get rid of it because they can't control themselves not to watch it at hotels. Must be tough to be a religious fanatic.

    July 16, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • HeavenSent

      No matter how many times you repeat this lie, it remains a lie.

      Yes, satan and his minions lie to all humanity. Then they go to the eternal flames where their own personal worm feeds off of them, is never quenched ... for eternity.

      July 18, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • Nietodarwin

      Valid point there, just normal person. I just feel sorry for the brainwashed bible thumpers, but it amusing you got such a righteous bite to the bait right off the bat. (Almost poetic person)

      July 19, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  16. Hypocrites

    P o R n......P0RN.......P O R N. OK, continue you're discussions...

    July 16, 2012 at 11:13 am |
  17. 60minuteman

    A Christian and a Muslim check into a Hotel together. AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. (I thought sure this was going to be a bad joke).......

    July 16, 2012 at 10:48 am |
  18. PantyRaid

    Funny how CNN makes articles about pr0n, but they still filter the word in the comments.

    July 16, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • PantyRaid

      And just how is pr0n (when spelled correctly) a bad word?

      July 16, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • Who invited me?

      Const i tution is a bad word because of its t i t

      July 16, 2012 at 9:58 am |
  19. idunno

    LMAO another group proving how far behind the times they are.

    Yes, get rid of hotel pr0n, that way people can't watch it at hotels anymore. While you're at it, make the hotels get rid of their free wifi and ban people from bringing their laptops to their rooms.

    Idi0ts.

    July 16, 2012 at 8:29 am |
  20. wasserball

    If their letter is not a religious commitment, why did they emphasized their religions? Seems odd to me. They should have made their commitment request as scholars, but as I know, it's religious thing.

    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.

    July 16, 2012 at 8:25 am |
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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.