Coalition Works to Fight Pornography with Faith
By Ryan Morgenegg, Church News staff writer
- The 11th annual Utah Coalition against Pornography conference was held in downtown Salt Lake City on May 18, 2013.
- One of the tools that can help fight pornography is education.
- The coalition consists of organizations and individuals who have united to oppose pornography.
“I want people to know that pornography is not acceptable. … It is harmful. It damages relationships, lives, and families. People need to educate themselves on how damaging this stuff is. But they also need to know that there is hope.” —Pamela Atkinson, chairman of Utah Coalition against Pornography
“Where Utah unites to fight pornography” was the battle cry for attendees of the 11th annual Utah Coalition against Pornography conference in downtown Salt Lake City. More than 1,200 people from across the nation participated, a number that continues to grow each year.
“How do you fight a multibillion-dollar industry?” asked Mark Shurtleff, former Utah attorney general and opening keynote speaker at the conference. “You do it with faith—faith that you can make a difference, faith that you can help an individual.”
Using an analogy from the Bible, he related the fight against pornography with putting on the whole armor of God. He said in any battle one needs to be prepared. Gross darkness covers the earth right now, he said, and the right tools are needed to fight it.
One of the tools that can help fight pornography is education. He spoke about the wide availability of pornography with mobile devices. It is called “porn in a pocket.” He cautioned parents to be aware that new mobile apps allow kids to take pictures and send them to each other advertising that the photos can only be seen for a few seconds before they disappear forever. But the truth is the photos don’t disappear and can be retrieved indefinitely.
In addition to keynote speakers, attendees listened to experts in several smaller sessions address topics such as what teens wish their parents knew about pornography, secrets of the Internet, healing a marriage damaged by pornography, and practical steps for turning the tables on pornographers.
One of the presenters, Clay Olsen, is a young film and marketing professional who dedicates his time and talents to working with teenagers to “fight the new drug.” He said that previously the age at which kids are exposed to pornography was 11. New research indicates that first exposure comes around age 9, he said.
“I want people to know that pornography is not acceptable,” said Pamela Atkinson, chairman of UCAP. “Even soft porn is not acceptable. It is harmful. It damages relationships, lives, and families. People need to educate themselves on how damaging this stuff is. But they also need to know that there is hope.”
Ms. Atkinson explained that she enjoys seeing people get help through the conference. “A woman approached me last year and thanked me for the conference. She said it saved her marriage.”
The concluding keynote speaker at the conference was Patrick Trueman, former chief of the U.S. Department of Justice Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section. He served on a federal level 20 years ago and explained that pornography has changed a lot since that time. “Pornography has become America’s pastime,” he said. “It is more popular now than baseball.”
Pornography is changing beliefs and values, said Mr. Trueman. People are adopting the values of pornographers. One of the falsehoods out there is that pornography is an element of freedom. In reality, it is an element of destruction. He called pornography “an untreated pandemic of harm” that destroys marriages by leading people to desire extramarital affairs.
Mr. Trueman indicated that Utah has good state laws in place against pornography. “Back when we used to do raids on pornographers in California, we would consistently see a sign in the mail rooms that read ‘Do not ship to Utah,’” he said. He added that the proliferation of pornography today is due to the lack of enforcement of laws that are already on the books.
UCAP consists of organizations and individuals from various backgrounds who have united together to oppose pornography. The purpose of the conference is to address issues that “threaten the foundation of happy life” and to protect children and families from pornography. Its website is utahcoaltion.org.