The Porn Pastors: XXXChurch.com
A crusade to bring salvation to an unlikely industry.
Feb. 2, 2007 — -- 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."