SALT LAKE CITY — “Where Utah unites to fight pornography” was the battle cry for attendees of the 11th annual Utah Coalition Against Pornography (UCAP) conference in downtown Salt Lake City. More than 1,200 people from across the nation participated in the Utah conference, a number that continues to grow each year.
“How do you fight a multibillion-dollar industry?” asked Mark Shurtleff, former Utah attorney general and opening keynote speaker at the conference. “You do it with faith. Faith that you can make a difference. Faith that you can help an individual.” Using an analogy from the Bible, Shurtleff related the fight against pornography with putting on the whole armor of God. He said in any battle you need to be prepared. Gross darkness covers the earth right now, he said, and we need to have the right tools to fight it.
In addition to keynote speakers, attendees listened to experts in several smaller sessions addressing topics such as what teens wish their parents knew about pornography, secrets of the Internet, healing a marriage damaged by pornography and practical steps for turning the tables on pornographers.
“I want people to know that pornography is not acceptable,” said Pamela Atkinson, chairman of UCAP. “Even soft porn is not acceptable. It is harmful. It damages relationships, lives and families. People need to educate themselves on how damaging this stuff is. But they also need to know that there is hope.”
The concluding keynote speaker was Patrick Trueman, former chief of the U.S. Department of Justice Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section. He served on a federal level 20 years ago and explained that pornography has changed a lot since that time. “Pornography has become America’s pastime,” he said. “It is more popular now than baseball.”
Trueman indicated that Utah has good state laws in place against pornography. “Back when we used to do raids on pornographers in California, we would consistently see a sign in the mail rooms that read, ‘Do not ship to Utah,’ ” he said. He added that the proliferation of pornography today is due to the lack of enforcement of laws that are already on the books.
UCAP consists of organizations and individuals from various backgrounds who have united together to oppose pornography. The purpose of the conference was to address issues that “threaten the foundation of happy life,” which includes protecting children and families from pornography. Its website is utahcoalition.org.
EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org, Ryan Morgenegg is a multimedia specialist for the Deseret News.