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ANALYSIS: Feds' 'blind eye' to obscenity

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
WASHINGTON (BP) -- Health officials warned Americans back in 2009 of the possibility of a major outbreak of the potentially deadly swine flu and President Obama declared it a national emergency. But another pandemic, one less discussed yet more destructive, has infected lives in every city, every community and perhaps nearly every church.

Call it the pornography pandemic.

The prevalence of porn is well-known. In this digital age, the images are no longer limited to salacious magazines or adult stores. Such content is readily available on the Internet, smart phones, cable and satellite TV and in hotels.

No longer do viewers have to actively look for it; it looks for them.

By some estimates, the porn industry brings in more than $13 billion per year. That dwarfs revenues by the four major professional sports enterprises -- the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball -- each of which takes in only single-digit billion-dollar revenues annually.

But what many may not realize is that distribution of obscene pornographic material is illegal. As the Supreme Court has ruled, such obscenity is not protected by the First Amendment. Yet at the behest of the current administration, federal prosecutors -- whose job it is to help quarantine the infectious and illegal porn pandemic from spreading -- are turning a blind eye to its purveyors.

The silence on the issue is deafening. Under the current administration, the Justice Department has not initiated even one case against obscenity violators.


Now many in the faith community as well as some lawmakers are demanding that the nation's top enforcement agency step up to the task.

In an effort spearheaded by the War on Illegal Pornography coalition, more than 5,100 individuals signed a joint letter to House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Fred Upton, R.-Mich., and House Judiciary Committee chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, urging them to "hold hearings on the harm from pornography and the need to vigorously enforce U.S. laws prohibiting distribution of obscene adult pornography." The April 4 letter, which also represents Southern Baptists' Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and more than 125 other organizations, laments that the Justice Department "has stopped all enforcement of these laws at a time when our nation is suffering an untreated pandemic of harm from pornography."

The letter builds on, and points back to, a letter by 75 congressmen and 42 senators sent a year earlier to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder urging him to vigorously enforce federal obscenity laws. "Illegal adult obscenity contributes to violence against women, addiction, harm to children, and sex trafficking," the lawmakers wrote. "This material harms individuals, families, and communities and the problems are only getting worse."


One former top Justice Department porn investigator knows this all too well. "Addiction to pornography is now commonplace among adults and is even a growing problem for children and teenagers," Patrick Trueman, president of Morality In Media and former chief of the child exploitation and obscenity section in the Justice Department under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, writes in a new pamphlet titled "The Pornography Pandemic."

"Few who are addicted will get help, and the consequences can be lifelong and severe," Trueman notes.

"Pornography is an ugly corruption of that which God created for good," says Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Richard Land, quoted in the pamphlet. "It perverts and distorts all of the God-given purposes for sexual intimacy."

Knowing where to find help for porn addiction is part of the battle. The ERLC offers a number of resources at its Issues at a Glance page on pornography at In addition, Trueman, who spoke at length on the issue during the "Richard Land Live!" broadcast May 5, has launched a new website,, to provide resources to help individuals who are ensnared by pornography to find a way out.


As the pornification of America continues to sweep onward with pandemic force, it must be met with a no-tolerance defense. That includes the Justice Department restarting prosecution of obscene pornography distributors and those ensnared by porn seeking the help they need to overcome their addictions. Only then will we begin to see a purification of America.

Doug Carlson is manager for administration and policy communications for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission's office in Washington, D.C. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook ( and in your email (

Copyright (c) 2012 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press


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