The Next Big Challenge for Clergy

The temptation of online sex sites seduces evangelicals

BY: Lauren Winner


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In March, Focus on the Family and Zogby International surveyed 1,031 adults--Christian and non-Christian--and found as many as 20% of American adults have looked at a sex site online. The number, Focus says, is about the same for Christians: One in five people in the pews has looked at web porn. Broken down further, the survey shows that one in every three men has looked at a sex site, and close to half of men under 35.

Privacy--and lack of accountability--help to explain the increased interest in porn. "There's a whole population of adults getting hooked who wouldn't have before," says Laaser, "because of the social prohibitions on purchasing pornography in a drug store or bookstore. Now they're just a click away in the privacy of their own home."

Laaser says women are increasingly wandering into the once-male preserve of pornography. As recently as five years ago, women who got sucked into cybersex usually stuck to chat rooms. Now they are heading straight to the porn sites.

Although Christians are interested in tackling porn from the demand side, they haven't overlooked the question of limiting access to web porn. Last spring, Laaser testified before a subcommittee of the Senate Commerce committee. He urged Congress to crack down on web porn.

Both political parties talk about responsible web use. But, says Steve Watters, Focus's internet research analyst, "when it comes to something like this, both sides are being lobbied by the tech industry not to limit free expression on the internet."

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