‘Ask for the change you want’: Conference in Utah emboldens crusade against pornography and bikini-flaunting billboards

(Courtesy of the LDS Church) At the Utah Coalition Against Pornography conference in Salt Lake City, March 10, 2018, Sister Joy D. Jones, Primary general president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said, “If we are going to have any hope of eradicating this plague (pornography) from the world, love must be both at the forefront and the foundation of all our efforts.”

Couples thumbed through books with such titles as “Pandora’s Box is Open, Now What Do I Do?” and “Shattered Hearts.” Parents pushed strollers past banners offering advice on how to talk to their kids. And scattered throughout the crowd gathered Saturday in Salt Lake City were people wearing red shirts emblazoned with the slogan: Fight the new drug.

“Doing something is better than nothing,” Suzanne B Spencer said during the 16th annual Utah Coalition Against Pornography (UCAP) conference, the second such convention hosted in Salt Lake City since Utah formally labeled pornography a public health crisis in 2016.

The gathering’s focus was to empower a community effort against pornography and embolden individuals to take action.

(Courtesy of the LDS Church) Sister Joy D. Jones, Primary general president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Joy D. Jones, Primary general president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, offered the event’s keynote speech at the Salt Palace Convention Center, telling attendees that “as the popular catch phrase says, ‘porn kills love,’ but let’s also remember that love kills porn.”

“I am here today as a concerned woman, mother, and grandmother,” Jones said, according to Mormon Newsroom. “This problem is affecting our boys and our girls, and we’re not talking about it enough.”

“For some reason, we don’t talk very much to youth and children about one of the strongest urges and biggest temptations they will face,” continued Jones, who oversees the church’s children’s organization. “Our reluctance sets them up to be taught primarily by the internet, other children or teenagers, or even Hollywood.”

Advocate Rebecca Pond and other speakers shared advice on how to address examples of pornography effectively, starting with a “sincere compliment,” followed by “asking for the change you want,” she said.

That technique, said Pond, an executive board member with the group Women for Decency, helped make images of a bikini-clad surfer disappear from a Costa Vida billboard after phone complaints to the restaurant chain’s corporate offices.

“I love their raspberry chicken chipotle,” Pond said, recalling her message. “But I really don’t like seeing this billboard.”

She said copies of a magazine were pulled from various doctors’ offices after she spoke up about a featured story claiming that pornography was healthy for men. Pond said she even used her technique against TV commercials she disliked during the Super Bowl.

Miriam Hall, an 18-year-old who won the Miss Springville-Mapleton pageant, went on to raise $6,000 to pay for anti-pornography assemblies in all of the junior high and high schools in Springville and Mapleton. Like-minded parents gave presentations in each city, and an anti-pornography book, “Good Pictures, Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids” began circulating in elementary school libraries in both communities.

“There are other ways you can support besides doing something that requires money,” said Hall, whose efforts also led the Provo City Council in 2015 to pass a formal resolution on the harmful effects of pornography.

On March 1, Hall also spoke in favor of a measure on Utah’s Capitol Hill to add materials on pornography’s harms to Utah’s sex education curriculum, to be taught to students twice between grades eight and 12.

That measure, House Bill 286, passed and now awaits Gov. Gary Herbert’s signature.

Liz Passey, the Wasatch County Council PTA president, spent two years preparing an anti-pornography presentation in Wasatch High School in Heber. She even recruited popular students at the school to reach out to their peers on the issue.

A photographer captured images of students from different social groups — student body officers, soccer players and cheerleaders — all wearing shirts that read, “Fight the new drug” and “Fight for love.”

“We as parents are not as cool as the student body officers,” Passey said.

Such campaigns, she said, sometimes meet resistance.

“What I have found is that the handful of people who — for whatever reason, it’s a sensitive topic — do not want this taught in schools, they can be very loud,” Passey said. “Some people don’t want to hear this.”