Salvation Army Rep.: Adult Industry, Human Trafficking Connected

CINCINNATI, Ohio — In an interview this week conducted by conservative news site CitizenLink.org, a representative of the Salvation Army asserted that the legitimate adult entertainment industry is involved in human trafficking and suggested that adult content production is a form of modern slavery.

Lisa Thompson, identified in the CitizenLink article as the “liaison for the abolition of sexual trafficking at The Salvation Army National Headquarters in Virginia,” currently is traveling around Ohio giving speeches to “raise awareness” concerning the problem of human trafficking.

While the timing could be coincidental, Ohio is home to a major battle going on between advocates of sexually explicit free speech — including the groups Dancers for Democracy and Citizens for Community Standards — and the Cincinnati-based antiporn organization Citizens for Community Values.

Asked if she believed there was a connection between the adult industry and “sex trafficking,” Thompson replied, “I definitely see a connection.”

“You have pornography that’s used as a form of instruction so that those who are inexperienced sexually can be trained on what’s expected of them when they’re trafficked and prostituted around the country,” Thompson said. “You have trafficking victims being used in the production of pornography, because they are under complete and utter control of other people; they are forced to perform the most degrading and difficult forms of sex acts.”

Thompson elaborated by explaining her view that by merely viewing pornography, individual consumers contribute to the problem of human trafficking, because looking at adult content adversely affects men’s attitudes, and their sexual expectations of women.

“What I fear, for even the one average guy who's looking at pornography, is that what he’s getting exposed to is somebody else’s conceptualization of sexuality, and what it means to be sexual with a woman,” Thompson said. “I can tell you that those depictions of sexuality are exceedingly violent, they’re exceedingly degrading to women, and I fear that eventually, over time, his brain is absorbing this, and he’s getting this message that, ‘Oh, well this must be what women expect.’

Representatives at Xenophon Strategies, which handles media relations for the Salvation Army, told XBIZ that they weren’t sure whether the Salvation Army had an official position concerning a connection between the adult industry and human trafficking. A Xenophon representative offered no further information or comment on the situation by press time for this article.

Free Speech Coalition executive director Diane Duke told XBIZ that the alleged connection between the legitimate adult entertainment industry and human trafficking is completely unfounded.

“We are a legally viable and legitimate industry,” Duke said. “We deal with adult content produced by and for consenting adults — period.”

Asked if she’d ever been contacted previously by media outlets to comment on the alleged connection between the adult industry and human trafficking, Duke said, “I’ve never had anybody ask me about it before, because it is absolutely absurd.”

On the Salvation Army website, the group asserts in its position statement on human trafficking that “[h]uman trafficking is undeniably correlated to pornography, prostitution and other aspects of the sex industry in our society,” and that this relationship “exposes the evil and materialistic elements of the sex industry that both feed off of and contribute to the exploitation of vulnerable and helpless individuals.”

Other statements about pornography on the Salvation Army site suggest that the group’s opposition to adult entertainment is founded at least as much on a religious objection to sexually explicit material as it is to any purported association between the adult industry and sex trafficking.

“The Salvation Army opposes pornography in all of its forms,” states the group’s position statement on pornography. “We believe that human sexuality is a gift of a loving creator. The Bible presents sexual intimacy as a privilege that is ordained and blessed by God within the context of marriage. Pornography attacks and distorts God’s design. It depersonalizes sexuality, emphasizing the carnal to the neglect of loving relationships and commitment.”

The statement concludes by affirming the Salvation Army’s support for “education on the dangers of pornography,” and encouragement of “wholesome sexuality based on the teachings of the New Testament.”

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