The American evangelical church, in its various denominations, has boldly sent missionaries to every corner of the world. But according to a team of evangelists based in Michigan, there's one industry in the homeland that's been largely ignored by the church. It's the booming business of pornography.
"I think the American church for a long time just kinda stuck their head in the spiritual sand on the whole issue of porn," says so-called "Porn Pastor" JR Mahon. "As far as Christianity here [in the U.S.] goes, we've got a lot of work to do."
Five years ago, Craig Gross, also a seminary-trained evangelist, created an online fellowship called XXXChurch.com.
The fellowship's title was designed to attract attention, and it was originally intended as a resource for Christians who were struggling with pornography. Trouble is -- they came to their own, and their own received them not.
"The adverse reactions came quick and came heavy, and to this day my inbox is filled with people that can't stand us, that hate us, that wish us to go to hell," explains Mahon. "Our biggest critics are Christians."
Some Christians may be even more critical now. "Nightline" traveled with the fellowship to the world's biggest porn convention in Las Vegas last month. The annual Adult Expo boasts two halls full of various exhibits ranging from the latest prosthetic devices, to hardcore high-definition films and handcuffs covered in pink ersatz fur.
The XXX Church set up camp, somewhat sheepishly, between the male gay section and the so-called Bang Bus -- a tired old minivan which is used to film sex scenes that are then sold via the Internet.
The Porn Pastors, as they call themselves, do not preach in open-air sermons at the convention, but instead seek to engage porn "delegates" in conversation and then hand out Bibles, which proclaim "Jesus Loves Porn Stars." And they are adamant that they are simply obeying the great commission at the end of Matthew's Gospel to "go and make disciples of all nations."
"We've got to meet them where they're at. That's the great commission," explains Gross. "I think that God is using people that work with Triple X Church to carry about his message, to carry out his plan."
And they believe that by giving out a free copy of the New Testament, somebody will eventually see the light.
"The Bible says the Word won't return void, so we've got to pray," says Mahon. "I prayed as I unloaded those Bibles in the booth before anyone got here. I prayed, 'God do a miracle in these peoples' lives.'"
They will need a miracle to stop this road show -- the business of pornography is now worth at least $13 billion a year. It drives Web traffic around the world and is at the forefront of digital technology. The Porn Pastors are like evangelists crying out in the wilderness but they believe that pornography is a serious danger, that it is delusional for men and disrespectful to women.
"It's not real. I mean the big deal is simple. It's not real," argues Mahon. "It's not a real relationship between a man and a woman. Everything the porn industry shells out to the world is designed to tell you what sex should look like, and how it should smell, and who you do it with and how you do it and when you do it. The reality is -- it is not reality."