Any time writers take on an issue in a public forum, they often receive feedback from their readers. Sometimes the feedback is of gratitude and praise; at other times it can be critical or even worse.
I started writing for Mormon Times more than two years ago and have received my fair share of honest, heartfelt, often eloquent, passionate and supportive e-mails and calls. The feedback I received from last week's article about the Marriott's decision to do away with porn in their hotels was especially telling and insightful, as well as unusually unanimous.
Due to the large volume of responses, I will not be able to share them all, but I have chosen to share a few that represent the majority of your sentiments. I hope you'll read and enjoy.
1. "I completely agree with your recent article. I, too, agree that they should discontinue this practice immediately, or at least sooner than five years. As a convert to the church and not wanting to be judgmental, I was surprised and disappointed that this type of material was available in their hotels.
"While it is an individual's decision whether to watch this material, why would a reputable business, such as Marriot, support the porn industry?"
2. "I, too, like you am disappointed in the reasoning. Right is right and wrong is wrong. Period."
3. "I totally agree. ... If Marriot is such a great place to stay because of all the services they offer, then getting rid of the porn option ASAP would only make them better. It is disappointing that they would mask their move because of money instead of morals. BE a leader, Marriott, and stand up for what is right!"
4. Thank you for your insight as to this matter. I couldn't agree with you more. ... I am gravely disappointed, and I personally would choose to stay ay an OMNI hotel for their proper choices. Thank you for the insight.
5. "Ten to 15 years ago, when I was traveling heavily and usually stayed in Marriotts due to frequent stayer awards, I twice wrote the company expressing my surprise and disappointment that a company that was so distinctly associated with the Mormon church — Book of Mormon in the room, the well known story of the Marriott father and son, etc. — would offer such entertainment. I was, and still am, disappointed they never so much as acknowledged receiving the letters, which really surprised me. I think that people judge a organization by its members. Marriott, in allowing adult films in its rooms, regardless of the reason, and the owners letting the world know they are Mormons sheds a bad light on the church.
"We as members know we have our agency, and the church does not tell us what to do or not in our business dealings other than being honest with our fellow man, but non-members still relate what we do back to the church, and thus judge the church by our actions. This in itself should have the Marriott stopping the movies regardless of the profit or non profit. The best thing would have been for them to be like the other hotel chain and just do what is right because that is what good human beings do, regardless of what religion they are. Also we do not know, we assume the Marriott's have a controlling interest. But if they do not, it might not even have been their decision, it might have been the Board's decision; still looks bad for the church to people who know the Marriotts are Mormon."
6. "Recently read your well-written column on Marriott phasing-out porn on their in-room televisions. As a result, I contacted Marriott via e-mail to suggest they flash-cut to 100 percent porn-free immediately. Also called their customer service number, and just as I did in the letter, FIRST thanked them effusively for taking the first step and then urged them to please not wait five years to complete the second step. Corporate bigwigs (like most people) like getting thanks. So, why not thank them? They are doing a good thing. Here is the e-mail website I used: https://www.marriott.com/suggest/suggest.mi
"As a Marriott Rewards member with nearly a million points to use, I hope they will give the suggestion you made in your column some serious consideration. Thank you for writing about it. I then followed up by calling Marriott Rewards at (800) 450-4442 and asked them to connect me with Marriott Customer Service. They did, and, again, I thanked them and urged them to hit the kill switch immediately. Interestingly, the first person I talked to had no idea Marriott had done this and was more than happy to help get me to the right people."
7. "Thank you for your article in Mormon Times. I appreciate you articulating what many of us were thinking. I remember years ago I was shocked to learn that adult videos were available in Marriott hotels. I was fresh out of BYU, and I couldn't imagine that they were the same Marriotts who the BYU Marriott center is named after. I actually concluded that it must be a different Marriott family or that they had sold the hotel and name to others who did not share their beliefs."
This is just a sampling of the responses I've received. Clearly there's a consensus as to the right choice: Eliminate porn from all Marriott hotel rooms, and do it in an expeditious manner.
I am far from a technical expert, but five years seems an unreasonable amount of time. If they discovered a nasty chemical in their hotels, I guarantee you they would have a solution for it immediately. To me, pornography is like a "poisonous chemical" with dire consequences for those who view it.
Over the last 25 years I have treated many who have paid a heavy price because of their addiction to pornography. It has destroyed marriages, families, careers and ultimately the very individuals who engaged in it. I realize it is naive to say that we can stop its spread; it is a multi-billion-dollar industry, and it continues to grow and spread to every fiber of our communities and lives. However, it is not naive to say let's remove it from the hotels we stay in.
Perhaps if the hugely popular Marriott chain follows the example of the Omni hotel chain, others will emulate them. I would like to envision a time when families checking in to their hotel rooms don't have to worry about porn.
I urge you to raise your collective voices and contact them. Together we can make a difference: one e-mail at a time, one phone call at a time. This is one cause we can all be united about!
Thank you for your continued support and encouragement.