“Little do we realize that we are in the middle of the battle and that our future, indeed the future of all generations to come after us, depends on the outcome of this conflict which we now ignore,” said AFA founder Don Wildmon in 1984.
In December 1976, a young Mississippi pastor, husband, and father grew weary of trying to find appropriate television content for his four children. While many parents ignored content filled with vulgarity, violence, sex, and pornography, this pastor, Don Wildmon, could not look away. Six months later, he founded the National Federation for Decency (NFD) to combat all forms of offensive media with the truth of the Word of God.
As the saying goes, “sex sells,” and back then, so did pornographic magazines … in places visible to young eyes – drug stores, convenience stores, and the family marketplace. Noticing this, Wildmon was even more astonished and knew he must do something to end early exposure to pornography. However, he realized that the battle would be daunting.
Unsavory battle begins
“What we are up against is not dirty words and dirty pictures.” Wildmon continued, “It is a philosophy of life which seeks to remove the influence of Christians and Christianity from our society.”
NFD is now known as American Family Association, a much broader ministry built on Wildmon’s early campaigns. Many of those campaigns dealt with big-box stores, inappropriate magazines, and pornography.
“Pornography is not the disease but merely a visible symptom,” Wildmon said. “It springs from a moral cancer in our society, and it will lead us to destruction if we are unable to stop it.”
Seeking to stop the symptom from spreading, Wildmon worked hard to squelch the virus. One way he approached this task was through boycotts.
When it came to attacking pornography, Wildmon had no fear. Instead, he and his faithful supporters picketed, prayed, and pushed to get such filthy material out of stores.
One of the major magazines Wildmon went after was Playboy. In return, the hedonistic magazine condemned Wildmon at every opportunity. In October 1984, it ran a scathing editorial demeaning Wildmon and his supporters.
Concerning the editorial, Wildmon said, “I thank God that those who have an anti-Christian bias at Playboy would consider me and my ministry important enough to condemn.”
With perseverance and a lot of picketing, by 1986, big-name drugstores and federal prisons across the nation were pulling Playboy and other pornographic magazines from the shelves.
One of Wildmon’s comrades, Dr. Judith Reisman, played a big role in the 7-Eleven campaign. By all stretches of the imagination, the pair would seem unlikely allies.
Reisman was raised by communist parents and grew up believing the Left’s lies. Yet in adulthood, she became their worst nightmare. Researcher, author, teacher, and well-known conservative, Reisman made her mark to help ensure that pornography and sexual exploitation did not go unchallenged.
During the early years of Wildmon’s career and campaigns, he worked closely with Reisman, especially in convenience store campaigns. Together, she and Wildmon helped get porn magazines out of convenience stores. By 1986, 20,000 stores including 4,500 7-Eleven stores had completely removed the graphic material.
According to the AFAJ May/June 1986 issue, Southland, 7-Eleven’s parent company, attributed its decision to findings by the Final Report of the Attorney General’s Commission on Pornography.
AFAJ indicated that Southland’s decision was impacted specifically by a statement in the report that said, “[Pornography] indicates a growing public awareness and concern over a possible connection between adult magazines and crime, violence, and child abuse.”
Reisman’s initial passion for ending pornography was fueled primarily by her archnemesis, Alfred Kinsey, and his theories on sexuality. In 1948, Kinsey released what became his claim to fame. According to a 1948 Time magazine, at the time, his 811-page study, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, was selling as fast as Gone with the Wind.
Uncovering Kinsey’s ‘science’
In his book, Kinsey openly discussed unnatural types of sexuality and wrote accounts of horrific sexual experiments he conducted on children as young as two months old. Kinsey’s notes concerning the experimentation revealed that children were left “screaming, writhing, and falling in pain.” Later, Reisman discovered that hundreds of boys and infants were sexually abused in the name of Kinsey’s “scientific research.”
After uncovering the truth about Kinsey, Reisman made it her mission to stop the continuation of sexual abuse and showcase the dangers of pornography. In her studies, she discovered “erototoxins,” otherwise known as chemicals that flood the brain when pornography is viewed. Her studies proved that these toxins could rewire one’s brain and cause many negative issues concerning sex and relationships.
Before going to be with the Lord on April 9, 2021, Dr. Reisman continued an unrelenting campaign against pornography. She saw it as the pandemic it was and fought to raise awareness of its dangers. Her research perfectly complemented Wildmon’s activist approach.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says, “ Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor; for if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up!” (NASB).
Reisman and Wildmon lived out this verse by encouraging each other while advocating for those affected by porn’s harsh effects. In a 2011 interview with AFA vice president Ed Vitagliano, Reisman expressed concerns over time running out. She said, “The collapse is on us. I’m always surprised that we haven’t collapsed earlier.” It’s ten years later, and the collapse still threatens.
Indeed, there is an urgent need for believers to work together to eradicate the continuing tsunami of pornography that still pollutes the culture.
The question is, where are today’s bold activists in the church?
More resources on Porn Awareness Week
▶ The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE), caught hints of this collapse in 1962 after pornographic material was left outside an elementary school in Manhattan, exposing young children. Community members rallied together to do something about it. They wrote letters, met with mayors, and brought the topic of sexual exploitation to center stage through radio and television.
▶ NCOSE recently released The Public Health Harms of Pornography, a downloadable resource filled with information, insights, and data. It is available for free at endsexualexploitation.org.
▶ Pure Life Ministries has fought porn and sexual addictions for decades and offers at-home or residence-based recovery programs for addicts seeking deliverance. Learn more at purelifeministries.org.
▶ Covenant Eyes, an online accountability resource, offers help for those who battle porn’s lure. It lists these statistics from 2018 at covenanteyes.com:
• 28,258 users are watching pornography every second, on average.
• One in five youth pastors and one in seven senior pastors use porn regularly and are currently struggling [with addiction].
• 64% of Christian men and 15% of Christian women say they watch porn at least once a month.
• The first exposure to pornography among males is 12 years old, on average.
▶ See a related story/review of The Freedom Fight here.