UPF Las Vegas Hosts Forum on Pornography
Las Vegas, NV – In response to a serious epidemic affecting a great many youth and families in our country, an Interfaith Forum was held on June 15th at City Hall in Las Vegas entitled “How Pornography is Affecting Faith and Families”. Setting the stage, a UPF video and presentation on the Peace Principles was given by our national UPF President, Richard De Sena. To follow, a panel discussed many aspects of the issue.
Panelists introduced their concern on the topic. Andrew Compton, Assistant pastor for FFWPU stated that 95% of the young men in his church are involved in pornography, creating a prime interest for him in the topic and what can be done. Georgette Dante, an entertainer in Las Vegas, expressed a common myth that there may be some value in pornography, possibly preventing rape and giving people release. She emphasized how important values are in life and being a good example to the youth. She expressed concern that pornography is damaging to youth and therefore is a problem. Imam Mujahid Ramadan, a very educated and involved Imam in the Las Vegas community, expressed the challenge in helping young men and women to lead a moral life and to recognize we are spiritual beings. He expressed concern for temptations in life and the need to resist. Roberta Vander Voort helps to manage a clinic where issues of pornography addiction are dealt with. She is very serious that pornography addiction is like heroin addiction and it also causes great damage to the family. As an LDS member, she has had a lifelong commitment to family issues and support of the God-centered family.
Jerushia Hylton, a pastor and concerned wife and mother led the panelists in a series of questions about pornography. The Imam stressed that maintaining a connection to the spiritual aspect of life is key. Rev. Compton agreed, that the spiritual aspect is subject and physical is object, yet the spiritual is too weak to control the physical. He emphasized the need for good families and also the responsibility of society as a whole to deal with the availability of pornography. Imam said that even young children are being exposed to soft porn, mentioning Byonce, Jennifer Lopez. Now, with easy access, youth become easily addicted, that pornography affects the same part of the brain as cocaine. It’s easy to get in, hard to get out. Roberta mentioned the actual physical changes that take place in the brain. She said it is important for the spouse to be compassionate, to understand the physiological aspect of the addiction. It is an emotional affair the spouse is having with the ‘drug’ of pornography. Rev. Compton stressed it is not the addict’s fault. There is an industry out there that is very aggressively finding ways to hook people, the younger the better. Once people are addicted they cannot stop by themselves. They need 1.Counseling and 2. A mentor. Also, the support of the faith community is very important. Imam Ramadan emphasized also developing practices to strengthen the spirit, like fasting. Also, practically, teach about sex to the youth, that it is good and beneficial for marriage and should not be degraded, or engaged in in any way prematurely. Roberta spoke about the need for the spiritual leader to be involved with the expert who is dealing with addiction understanding and solutions. Her clinic is very involved and available for this.
On the subject of social controls, Rev. Compton mentioned that child pornography is illegal. Adult pornography is legal. There are organizations pushing for freedom of expression at any cost. Some barrier is needed to keep children from being exposed. There is a lack of protective laws against these evil businesses. Churches, Mosques, Temples, religious organizations need to be involved in the political scene. Ultimately, the Supreme Court needs judges who believe children need protection.
The forum ended with lunch and much sharing among the participants. There was energy and interest in solving this issue, as everyone could see, the effects on the individual and society are extremely damaging.
Reported by: Leslie Rigney, Executive Director, UPF Nevada