Religious Alliance Against Pornography (RAAP)
The Religious Alliance Against Pornography (RAAP) was founded in the home of Cardinal John J. O'Connor of New York City in July 1986. Cardinal Joseph Bernardin and Dr. Jerry Kirk, Senior Pastor of College Hill Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati, OH served as Co- Chairmen. Twenty-eight leaders were present representing the Catholic Church, Presbyterian Church USA, United Methodist Church, Episcopalians, Southern Baptist Convention, National Association of Evangelicals, Pentecostals, the Greek Orthodox Church, National Council of Churches, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and three leading Rabbis, including the Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee. These leaders represented a constituency of well over 100 million Americans.
RAAP was founded because of its members' deep concern about the growing assault of pornography on our children and youth, it's devastating impact on marriages, and it's addictive nature for many. Since our founding we have grown in our understanding that not only is pornography a growing problem but it is directly related to the sexualization of the culture and to sex trafficking. There is no such thing as a strictly private use of pornography and all of our sexual behavior impacts beyond our individual lives to the culture as a whole.
Vision and Mission
The vision of the Religious Alliance Against Pornography is a culture free from pornography.
RAAP's mission is to create a broad interfaith effort to alert, educate, and mobilize all people to understand and combat pornography.
The primary purpose of RAAP remains the education of our own constituents. Our goal is to produce through education changed beliefs about pornography and its broad negative impact; changed behavior eliminating the use of pornography within the faith community; and movement toward lives of sexual purity as understood and defined by each of our members.
We believe the exponential growth of pornography in America and around the world is undermining faith community leaders, marriages, families and children. The impact on congregations is devastating and costly. We believe this is a crisis of immense proportions. It is impacting every denomination, faith group and nation, and all are equally vulnerable. We have learned that if people do not stand up against this scourge and stand together in this effort, the avalanche of pornography and the sexualized messages of the culture will get worse and worse.
The following principles undergird the vision and mission of the Religious Alliance Against Pornography, and serve as guiding principles for RAAP activities:
Sexuality is part of God's creation, to be understood as a positive, fulfilling, life-giving part of human experience within moral and ethical boundaries.
Pornography and the degrading sexualization of the culture is primarily a moral issue.
RAAP's concern is the harmful impact of pornography for all people.
RAAP is united in its fundamental conviction about human dignity and the value of all
RAAP asserts that the increase in pornography distribution and demeaning sexualized
messages through media, the Internet and emerging technologies, have produced
significant harm to countless children, teens, adults and families.
RAAP seeks to offer practical ways for people to protect themselves from pornography
and develop thoughtful arguments for disarming the messages of the sexualized culture.
RAAP maintains that a primary role of religious leaders is to educate people sensitively but intentionally about the increasingly destructive impact of pornography in their lives
RAAP encourages deeper moral discussion by equipping people with a heightened
awareness of their communal responsibilities.
RAAP strongly supports the freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment.
RAAP recognizes that certain morally objectionable material is constitutionally
protected speech while at the same time believing that some court decision have gone
too far in this regard.
RAAP believes there is a critically important supportive role for law enforcement and
public policy institutions in addressing the harms of pornography.
RAAP encourages the strengthening of laws and policies that protect all people,
especially children and youth, from the harmful effects of pornography.
RAAP is committed to using its influence on matters of legal and public policy when
RAAP encourages and supports others who are doing significant work related to this
RAAP recognizes the pornography industry in America unfortunately consists of not
only "back street" video stores but of major corporations, many of whom are household names. RAAP is committed to opposing the pornography industry in all these manifestations.
Throughout its history the Religious Alliance Against Pornography has done its work in two different, yet complementary ways. First have been actions as an interfaith organization using its influence with government and industry; second has been through encouragement, support and training of particular faith communities utilizing partnerships with other organizations.
Planned and led two major anti-pornography conferences in Washington, D.C. in 1984 and 1988;
Met and worked with Presidents Ronald Reagan and President George H. Bush and six Attorneys General encouraging strong federal law enforcement against illegal pornography;
Through partnerships with other organizations such as pureHOPE and Covenant Eyes has encouraged and supported the actions of many faith groups including Catholic, Nazarene, Assemblies of God, Muslim and the Orthodox communities;
Have held monthly conference calls with members to educate, encourage and take united actions;
Planned and led a 2011 conference in Baltimore, MD on pornography and its relationship to sex trafficking and teen prostitution;
Met with Catholic Cardinals for two days and then with Pope John Paul II in the Vatican in 1992;
Met with representatives of the World Council of Churches in Geneva, Switzerland in 1992;
Held the first international conference on child pornography and child prostitution in Manila in 1995 with forty nations and thirty-six denominations represented;
Challenged Abercrombie & Fitch in 2003 for the sexualizing of young people in their marketing program;
Been significantly involved with CTIA - The Wireless Association in calling mobile phone companies to provide adequate safety/parental controls on cell phones;
Worked behind the scenes directly with top executives of AT&T and General Motors during 2007 and 2008 resulting in both companies getting out of the porn business;
Continuing dialogue throughout 2013 and 2014 with Google and Face-book encouraging the development of further parental controls.
RAAP will continue to educate all Americans about the harmful impact of pornography and its destructive influence on marriages, families and young people. Within this overall educational effort we have established four key priorities for its ongoing and future work:
Helping all parents equip and protect their children and youth, especially related to the challenge of rapidly changing technology.
Promoting the RAAP website to educate and make accessible resources, research and related news items: https://www.religiousalliance.org/home
Expanding RAAP for broader involvement of faith communities, their leaders and constituencies.
Helping pastors, priests, imams and other faith community leaders in their personal lives and in leading and educating their members.
RAAP is a tax exempt 501(c)3 organization. We are an interfaith organization with representatives from Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Jewish, and Muslim faith groups. The Religious Alliance Against Pornography is one of the broadest faith groups ever established in the United States. RAAP has five Directors on its Board and 34 members on the RAAP Committee as of November 2014.
The Religious Alliance Against Pornography has always been led by co-chairs. Dr. Jerry Kirk, the founder of the group has served as one co-chair since RAAP was established in 1986. The other co-chair has always been a representative of the Catholic Church. Cardinal Bernardin of Chicago served until his death in 1996 and was replaced by Cardinal William Keeler of Baltimore. Cardinal Keeler was replaced as co-chair by Archbishop George Niederauer of San Francisco in 2006.
RAAP was staffed for many years by Dr. Jerry Kirk, its founder, and more recently has engaged Rick Schatz as its part-time executive director, beginning January 2015. The organization has been supported by significant volunteer efforts over the years and currently has an annual budget of $35,000. With added staff and expanded efforts in the years ahead our budget will need to grow. Support has come from its members, foundations and individuals.
A great strength of RAAP is its partnerships with both for-profit corporations as well as other not-for-profit groups. These partnerships enable the Religious Alliance Against Pornography to have an impact much greater than its limited budget and staffing would allow. Key partnerships have included the CTIA - The Wireless Association, Covenant Eyes and pureHOPE.
(Spoke with CTIA - The Wireless Association on 12.05.2014 - CTIA is NOT an acronym.
While members of RAAP have changed over the years, the organization continues to have a broadly based interchurch and interfaith membership. While these organizations of faith may view some things differently, they agree on the harmful impact of pornography and of our sexualized culture. See below for a current listing of RAAP members.
The Benefits of Membership
The battle against pornography is a daunting task. Pornography and sex businesses generate tens of billions of dollars each year in the United States alone. Standing together each faith community receives encouragement that they are not alone in this challenging fight.
Another critical benefit is the availability of the resources and capabilities of each member. Some members along with RAAP's partners have produced booklets, DVDs, sermons and training materials which can be used with great impact. No one has to develop all the necessary tools for this work.
Because of its interchurch and interfaith nature RAAP speaks with a strong and commanding voice to both government and industry. No one faith group has the strength needed to speak to these issues as effectively and persuasively as we can together. History speaks volumes about the power of our united voices.
Members have access to great expertise and knowledge on these issues. Key individuals within the Religious Alliance Against Pornography are world experts on the harm of pornography, rapidly changing technology used to deliver the sexualized message of the culture, the causes of addiction and solutions to it and many other related topics. Such expertise is not only available within RAAP members themselves but also through partnership with other organizations, speakers and authors.
Responsibilities of Members
Each faith group is expected to have a representative who will participate in the monthly calls of RAAP whenever possible. All members are to make the issue of pornography and the sexualization of the culture a high priority, recognizing that their members are all being impacted. Financial support of RAAP is needed and most appreciated but there is currently no obligation to do so.
Contact and Follow UP
For further information or to discuss joining RAAP please contact Joanie Rielage, Executive Asst. of the organization. She can be reached by email at [email protected]