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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. repoman

    These Flat Earthers need to focus on getting their own house in order and stop trying to impose their will on others.

    July 12, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
  2. just sayin

    Christ and his followers are offensive by nature

    July 12, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
  3. dr greg

    Maybe the religious scholars could spend their time more productively with joint statements deploring global terrorism instead of worrying what people are watching in their hotel room? Just sayin......

    July 12, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • Answer

      They won't. They have an issue with "s-e-x" and anything to do with it.

      They can't get passed "s-e-x" because they can't control what people do in their private life. That is a sin to them, what they can not control.

      July 12, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
  4. Christopher

    "...it is morally wrong to seek to profit from the suffering, degradation, or corruption of others." Seems these holy people would better serve mankind by going after usurers. Usury, a huge sin, is rampant in this age and has caused tremendous, measurable damage to mankind, compared to their pet project's theoretical damage.

    July 12, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
  5. Jerry McLeppo

    H. L. Mencken totally nailed this one 90 years ago in 12 words:

    "Puritanism: the haunting fear that someone, somewhere is having a good time."

    July 12, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • just sayin

      I would also attach Islam to that statement as well.

      July 12, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
  6. Sumo

    Why can't religious fundamentalists just keep their noses out of everyone else's business?

    July 12, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
  7. Uff Da Bear

    Mary should have aborted Jesus. We already have too many dang mexicans in this country. Amen.

    July 12, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
  8. Sy2502

    And once again, religious fanatics are trying to impose their beliefs on everybody else. What's new!

    July 12, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
  9. Smack Dab

    Jesus was baptized with the seminal fluid of Ron Jeremy.

    July 12, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
  10. Ryan in Miami

    Those religious groups have forgotten that one of God's greatest gifts is the gift of agency. We have our free agency to either watch p-o-r-n or abstain from watching. The decision should be up to us (and our consciences if we have them), and not some arbitrary third party.

    July 12, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
  11. Ramen

    The hotel's business is hospitality and profitability, the church's business is morality. STFU.

    July 12, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
  12. Kirk Cameron

    Blindly believe in something, regardless of logic or reason. Don't ask questions. The church has all the data you need.

    July 12, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • Ramen

      Amen, and pass the collection plate.

      July 12, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • Ray Comfort Has All The Answers! They're Stupid Answers, But He Has Them!

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4yBvvGi_2A&w=640&h=360]

      And this guy got very jealous of Ray and tried to outdo him using . . . peanut butter:

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZFG5PKw504&w=640&h=360]

      July 12, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
  13. MTG

    Look at the positive side, could mean cleaner bed sheets??

    July 12, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • Ryan in Miami

      [Like]

      July 12, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Almost certainly results in cleaner remote controls! They have a pretty big eewwww factor.

      July 12, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
  14. Tim Teobw

    I get excited by reading the bible. A lot of hot, guy on guy action in there.

    July 12, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
  15. lolcat

    I'd like to ask the various members of the pr0n community, actors, directors, producers, and viewers, to join me now in creating a joint letter to the hotel industry, asking them to remove the bibles from all hotel rooms.

    July 12, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • MTG

      That is damn funny!

      July 12, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • Ramen

      That's awesome!

      July 12, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • WASP

      nah i'm just thinking of sueing every last one of them due to religious descrimination. they place bibles in the drawers, but no koran or torah or pagan or buddist scripture book............so if i sue who thinks we can make it class action suit?

      July 12, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  16. kevin

    how novel...a christian and muslim were able to put aside their disagreements about a matter of faith that can neither be proven nor disproven. they must be at least 12. was it written in crayon?

    July 12, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • Ramen

      LOL!

      July 12, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
  17. TruthPrevails :-)

    It seems rather simple...don't like it, don't order it. No-one is forcing anyone to par-take in it and if someone enjoys it, so be it...it is their personal life to do as they wish with and as long as no-one is harmed then it is really not the business of anyone else.

    July 12, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
  18. Cardinal

    "it is morally wrong to seek to profit from the suffering, degradation, or corruption of others" – Is that part about p o r n or about the religions?

    July 12, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • GAW

      Could be both.

      July 12, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • nojinx

      Unlike religions, the por.n industry is regulated.

      July 12, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
  19. Joxer the Mighty

    I love Jesus so much I want him to bend me over.

    July 12, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
  20. nojinx

    Reduce use of por.n in one of the most se.xually repressed of modern nations, built on a 300+ years history of Puritanical dogma and suffering from a recent rise in Fun.damentalism? Where, in this repression, we consume more por.n than any other nation?

    Good luck with that.

    July 12, 2012 at 1:00 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.