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Laura Seitz
Clay Olsen speaks to students during the "Fight the New Drug" assembly at South Hills Middle School in Riverton on Wednesday, October 26, 2011. "Fight the New Drug" is a youth driven organization dedicated to raising awareness on the addictive and harmful potential of pornography.

I was once asked if I would ever consider posing for Playboy magazine.

This was back in 2003, right after I had competed on “American Idol.” We were on the “American Idols Live!” tour, and one night after a show, our tour manager was talking to me in the back of our big bus. He asked me if there was a chance I would pose nude if they agreed to pay me a lot of cash.

“How about $100,000?” he asked.

“No,” I replied.

“500,000? Half a million dollars?”

“No.”

“Come on!” He said. “OK. A million. What if they offered you a million? You can’t tell me you would turn down an offer to take your clothes off for $1 million dollars!”

I didn’t even flinch. “My integrity is worth so much more than that,” I said. No amount of money — no matter how large — was going to change the way I felt.

Needless to say, he thought I was crazy. After all, a million dollars is a life-changing amount. Some would say I’d be crazy to turn down such an offer. But I was taught from a very early age that my body is special. It is sacred. My sexuality is not something that should be paid for, leered at or on display. It is something that is meant for one person and one purpose, and that is what makes it so beautiful.

Pornography, in all its forms, distorts this.

Clay Olsen, CEO and co-founder of Fight the New Drug, has made it his mission to educate people about the damaging effects of pornography.

“We are the first generation in the history of the world to face the issue of pornography to this intensity and scale,” reads a statement on fightthenewdrug.org. “We’re also the first generation with a scientific, fact-based understanding of the harm pornography can do. With that knowledge, we feel the responsibility to share with others that porn harms the brain, damages relationships and affects society as a whole.”

Olsen and his team have created a huge campaign to bring this awareness to people all over North America. They have traveled to more than 300 schools, talking to teens about avoiding and overcoming addiction, and have billboards with the phrase “Porn Kills Love” dotting the country.

And they’re getting attention.

Samantha Allen, writer for The Daily Beast, recently wrote an article about how FTND appears to be the Mormons’ way of trying to impose their values on the world. But here’s the thing: FTND is not a Mormon campaign, although its values certainly align with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“With an all-inclusive approach, we carry our anti-pornography message across borders of religious beliefs, political agenda and social backgrounds by presenting it as a public health issue rather than as a moral, political or religious argument,” FTND states.

Allen argues that there has been little evidence to support FTND’s claims that porn does indeed kill love, noting in a different article about a study that has been recently published in Biological Psychology that argues that porn may not be “addictive.”

But another study published by Cambridge University argues against that theory.

Lead researcher Valerie Voon said, “There are clear differences in brain activity between patients who have compulsive sexual behavior and healthy volunteers. These differences mirror those of drug addicts.”

The study goes on to say, “Another key finding is that compulsive porn users did not ‘like’ the porn any more than the control group. This aligns perfectly with the ‘addiction model’ as addicts experience strong cravings to use (wanting), but don’t like ‘it’ (whatever ‘it’ may be) as strongly.”

28 comments on this story

Whether pornography has been “proven” to be addictive, one thing is for sure: When viewed compulsively, it is extremely harmful and dangerous. What makes pornography “kill” love is the fact that it takes that very element out of sex that is supposed to be an expression of love and total commitment. Sex without love — especially the kind pornography promotes — is so damaging because it bonds an individual to an act rather than a person. Porn makes a mockery of intimacy by exploiting both the performer and the user. It can become all-consuming.

In her article, Allen quotes a female porn star who calls FTND’s “Porn Kills Love” statement “threatening” and “preposterously untrue.”

Threatening? Perhaps to her, as her career could be in jeopardy if enough people get behind this incredible movement to keep sexual acts where they should be: in a loving, enduring, committed and totally loyal relationship between two married people and behind closed doors.

Carmen Rasmusen Herbert is a former "American Idol" contestant who writes about entertainment and family for the Deseret News.