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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. Art

    And maybe Churches and Mosques should lose their tax exempt status for illegally engaging in politics. And maybe Yusuf, should condemn Muslim violence. Surely he can find some to condemn, like every day.Art

    July 12, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  2. Squishy

    "Strange Religious Bedfellows..." So... they're *gay and religious intolerants? Well, that explains a lot.

    July 12, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  3. Danny

    Although it sounds good, this would never happen. The best way to avoid hurting your conscience is not even turning on the TV in the hotel room. Fixes a lot of temptations.

    July 12, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
  4. Sara Bean

    What happens in Vegas Hotel Rooms stays in Vegas Hotel Rooms

    July 12, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Mass Debater

      What happens in Vegas Hotel Rooms stains in Vegas Hotel Rooms...

      July 12, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
  5. Bootyfunk

    "“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."

    LIES! it is exactly out of their religious convictions that they call for censorship. sounds like these 2 have a problem not watching p.orn when they stay in hotels...

    July 12, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
  6. FrayedJeff

    Ah religion, trying to forcefully run people's lives since 0 BCE.

    July 12, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Oh, long before that Jeff.

      July 12, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • FrayedJeff

      You're right. I realized that after posting.

      July 12, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
  7. maxsideburn

    Dear religion,

    It's the 21st century and we're no longer afraid of solar eclipses or need to pray to spirits for good harvests. PLEASE GO AWAY. You are a poison to the human mind worse than any drug or addiction has ever been. How many people have died in the name of religion? Countless millions.

    It's not you, it's us...really. We've grown up and we just think it's time to go our separate ways. So please leave the inhabitants of planet Earth alone so we can have one less thing to fight about.

    Sincerely,
    rugga

    July 12, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      well said!

      July 12, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • FrayedJeff

      Here here!

      Thank you rugga!

      July 12, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • Mass Debater

      "It's not you, it's us...really." It's less like a high school break up and more like an abused wife trying to get out of the house before her abuser catches her and starts "educating" her with his fists...

      July 12, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  8. Nexus974

    Dear religious scholars...
    MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS!!
    Thank you,
    The American People

    July 12, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • Righteo

      According to studies, they are playing with their business, them blaming the hotel for making their behavior possible.

      July 12, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • SweetBabyJezuz

      Isn't "religious scholar" an oxymoron?

      July 12, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  9. MikeMazzla

    Sounds like TC would be a lot of fun at a party.

    July 12, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  10. Chris Hogan

    Give me a break. Haven't these pious idiots something better to do?

    July 12, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
  11. AverageJoe76

    How does God expect man to 'multiply and be fruitful' if 'Debbie Does Congress' isn't on the tube?

    July 12, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • sam

      LOL

      July 12, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
  12. Happy Dancing Gerbils in a Teabagger's Butt

    The following is a quote from palintwit... "Exhaustive research has shown repeatedly that the highest incidence of incest occurs in christian teaparty families"

    July 12, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • TC

      Easy to speak and quote words and even easy to conduct a study but it must be QA'd and confirmed which it probably is not.

      July 12, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • Answer

      "it must be QA'd and confirmed which it probably is not."

      Funny how you can post it but never apply it in your own life. You must really be afraid to break away from the security blanket.

      July 12, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      Fluffy can't dance. 😦

      July 12, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  13. TC

    Interesting to watch a person of fatih and in the spiritual world sitr up the hornets nest for posting rebuttals to atheists for attacking religion. Keep replying – solidifies your illogical position

    July 12, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • MikeMazzla

      Come to the dark side TC.. we know you want to.

      July 12, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Chuckles

      I'm confused

      Are you taking pride in posting inane things and watching the other side help correct you? Isn't pride a sin?

      July 12, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • TC

      No pride invovled – stating what is occuring. Are you easily confused?

      July 12, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • Keep it to yourself...

      "Interesting to watch a person of fatih and in the spiritual world sitr up the hornets nest for posting rebuttals to atheists for attacking religion. Keep replying – solidifies your illogical position"

      LOL... Congratulations on contradicting yourself several times in such a short post... It's impossible to be more hypocritical than that...

      July 12, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @TC,

      Good, I can feel your anger. I am defenseless. Take your weapon. Strike me down with all of your hatred and your journey towards the dark side will be complete

      July 12, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @TC

      You havent been posting rebuttals lol. You've been posting random assertions and completely ignoring any points brought against you. Pretty standard tactics for someone who knows that their position is stupid.

      July 12, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • Chuckles

      The easy confusion is a by product when discussing theology with believers on this forum. Is your definition of truth different than mine? You think that stating "facts" makes it true?

      July 12, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  14. And now for the ugly truth! Guess who is viewing it!

    * March 20, 2007: At a men's summit in Oregon before 2,000 men, Shelley Lubben of Shelley Lubben ministries challenged those who were struggling with porn addiction to stand. 30% rose to their feet. She immediately challenged them a second time, with the result that some 70% were standing.

    * March, 2007: At a small Christian conference in Austria, 75% of the 25 men in attendance admitted to being involved with porn; 50% within the past 6 months.

    * April 6, 2007: 70% of Christians admitted to struggling with porn in their daily lives. From a non-scientific poll taken by XXXChurch, as reported by CNN.

    * August 7,2006: 50% of all Christian men and 20% of all Christian women are addicted to pornography. 60% of the women who answered the survey admitted to having significant struggles with lust; 40% admitted to being involved in sexual sin in the past year; and 20% of the church-going female participants struggle with looking at pornography on an ongoing basis.
    From the results of a ChristiaNet poll reported by Marketwire.com

    * In December of 2000, the National Coalition to Protect Children and Families surveyed 5 Christian Campuses to see how the next generation of believers was doing with sexual purity:
    48% of males admitted to current porn use
    68% of males said they intentionally viewed a sexually explicit site at the school

    * Roger Charman of Focus on the Family's Pastoral Ministries reports that approximately 20 percent of the calls received on their Pastoral Care Line are for help with issues such as pornography and compulsive sexual behavior.

    * A 1996 Promise Keepers survey at one of their stadium events revealed that over 50% of the men in attendance were involved with pornography within one week of attending the event.

    * In 2000 Christianity Today survey, 33% of clergy admitted to having visited a sexually explicit Web site. Of those who had visited a porn site, 53% had visited such sites “a few times” in the past year, and 18% visit sexually explicit sites between a couple of times a month and more than once a week.

    * Out of 81 pastors surveyed (74 males 7 female), 98% had been exposed to porn; 43% intentionally accessed a sexually explicit website
    National Coalition survey of pastors. Seattle. April 2000.

    * In his book, "Men's Secret Wars", Patrick Means reveals a confidential survey of evangelical pastors and church lay leaders. Sixty-four percent of these Christian leaders confirm that they are struggling with sexual addiction or sexual compulsion including, but not limited to use of pornography, compulsive masturbation, or other secret sexual activity.

    * In his book "The Sexual Man", Dr. Archibald Hart revealed the results of a survey of some 600 Christian men, on the topic of masturbation:
    61% of married Christian men masturbate
    82% of these have self sex on an average of once a week; 10% have sex with self 5-10 times per month, 6% more than 15 times per month, and 1% more than 20 times a month.
    13% of Christian married men said they felt it was normal.

    * 34 percent of female readers of Today's Christian Woman's online newsletter admitted to intentionally accessing Internet porn in a recent poll.

    * In March of 2002 Rick Warren’s (author of the Purpose Driven life) Pastors.com website conducted a survey on porn use of 1351 pastors: 54% of the pastors had viewed Internet pornography within the last year, and 30% of these had visited within the last 30 days.

    * 47% percent of families said pornography is a problem in their home.
    Focus on the Family Poll, October 1, 2003.

    * In a survey of over 500 Christian men at a men's retreat, over 90% admitted that they were feeling disconnected from God because lust, porn, or fantasy had gained a foothold in their lives.
    As reported in an article on Pastors.com by Kenny Luck.

    In March 2005 Christianity Today published the results of a study called “Christians and Sex” in their Leadership Journal. 680 pastors and 1,972 laypersons were surveyed, with the following results:
    * 57% of pastors say that addiction to pornography is the most sexually damaging issue to their congregation.
    * Almost 9 in 10 pastors reported counseling a layperson on sexual issues once a year or more.

    State with the highest rate of porn consumption? Utah. Which also has one of the highest rates of rape as well.

    July 12, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • TC

      Too long and annoying.

      July 12, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • Happy Dancing Gerbils in a Teabagger's Butt

      * yawn *

      July 12, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Keep it to yourself...

      "Too long and annoying."

      Truth hurts, doesn't it TC???

      July 12, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • Squishy

      TLDR

      July 12, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      No, on this one I am in full agreement with TC.

      It is too long and too preachy.

      July 12, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • And now for the ugly truth! Guess who is viewing it!

      Actually, just pick one bullet. They are all Christian studies that show the same thing – that Christians are heavy consumers of porn.

      Study after study.

      July 12, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • FrayedJeff

      I live in Utah and have never been rap*ed... What am I doing wrong?!

      July 12, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @And now,

      I don't think that's a matter of debate. The two clerics in this case want the hotels to remove the temptation because they know it is the believers who consume most of the hotel p0rn, when they are away from their families.

      July 12, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • And now for the ugly truth! Guess who is viewing it!

      If I said that without providing support, Christians here would call me a liar.

      You've piqued my curioousity. Why would a person who chides people for not providing evidence also chide people for providing a lot of it? Why are people unwilling to read a developed discussion?

      Does this prove that we have become so conditioned that if the length of a writing or song or movie does not fit into certain narrow parameters, we subconsciously become uncomfortable with it? Movie makers rarely make comedies longer than 90 minutes, and any movie much beyond two hours will have an increasing dislike of the movie.

      Interesting. I guess we are Pavlov's dogs.

      July 12, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  15. Soldier

    Only if you remove the Bible, too.

    July 12, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  16. William

    if everyone wants to do what the hell they cannot do, let them do it

    July 12, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  17. Vancouverbob

    If these two self-righteous people would campaign for gays and lesbians to marry "because it is the right thing to do" I would support them, but they only want to do the right thing according to their intolerant beliefs. They could also start treating women as equasl to men as well

    July 12, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  18. LOL Religion

    If you want to get the depravity out of hotel rooms, start by removing the Bible.

    July 12, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  19. thes33k3r

    Religion strikes again.

    July 12, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  20. Keep it to yourself...

    Good people will always do good things and bad people will always do bad things... But in order for good people to do bad things, you need religion.

    July 12, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • thes33k3r

      Valid point. Should probably be in quotation marks though and credited to Steven Weinberg.

      July 12, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • TC

      For good people to bad – you need bad leaders regardless of the organization. For schools and hospitals to be built we needed Christians – secular world did nothing in this endeavor in the US.

      July 12, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • Squishy

      No sir, I wish it was that simple, but its not.
      Besides the definitions of 'good' and 'bad' being totally subjective, no one is totally either one way or the other.

      July 12, 2012 at 2:33 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.