Clipper Staff Writer
BOUNTIFUL — To fight for the eradication of pornography is no small undertaking, but it’s a fight John L. Harmer has taken on.
The Bountiful resident saw the need to join in the battle 15 years ago when in Washington D.C., and with Edwin Meese, former attorney general of the United States as trustee, established the Lighted Candle Society.
“We saw how significantly we were losing the war against pornography,” said Harmer, at a dinner held last week to honor one embroiled in the fight.
After researching what was already being done, they came up with a three-pronged approach to the battle.
The organization has sought to engage in civil litigation against pornographers, Harmer told the audience. They also are working to fund medical research on the effects of pornography on the brain, and to publish information that will help families “combat the scourge of pornography,” according to their website.
The first study on the brains of those affected by pornography involved two return missionaries, one who was addicted to pornography, another who had never seen it.
“The difference, in terms of reaction, was stunning,” he said. According to the organization’s website, pornography is thought to be even more addictive than heroin.
Hundreds gathered in Salt Lake City on Wednesday to honor – and to help finance – the work of Elly Risman, a Muslim woman from Indonesia who has worked to fight the insidious danger that is rampant in her country.
Before presenting her with the Guardian of the Light Award, Risman was introduced by Elayne Wells Harmer, who honored her for being “fearlessly dedicated,” and sacrificing her time, finances and physical well-being to travel throughout the islands of Indonesia “at great personal risk.”
In 1998, Risman and two friends began to recruit and train mothers to help teach parenting skills. As their volunteer force grew over the years, they became aware of the harm caused when advances in technology brought pornography to homes and children.
“The crime of pornography and its negative impacts had become a tsunami that hit the world and Indonesia as well,” she said.
They learned about children still in elementary school who were pregnant. They learned of violent crimes against children perpetrated by those who use pornography.
From 2009 to 2010, 67 percent of the children interviewed had seen pornography. In 2013, that number had risen to 95 percent.
“Supervised by the many, many uneducated, ignorant or busy parents,” she said, “one could only imagine the damage inflicted.”
It is Risman’s aim to educate those parents, to teach them about the changes that happen to a brain addicted to pornography.
While in Utah, she will meet with therapists, educators, ecclesiastical leaders and others to obtain teaching materials to take with her to Indonesia.
Harmer is working, along with other experts, to develop “a more sophisticated” curriculum to help Risman educate mothers and work with young people “who have become entrapped by pornography,” according to the website of the society.
Proceeds from the dinner will be used to support her studies and the curriculum development.
Risman hopes to raise awareness of the dangers of pornography with both the government and the people.
“We are still hoping that the government can strengthen their control over media with pornographic content,” she said. “We also hope that fathers play their roles again in raising their chidren, because we believe that they hold the key of family unity in order to combat the dangers of pornography.”
The Wednesday dinner also included an address by Rabbi Moshe Averick of Chicago, who drew a clear contrast between the ways of animals and the ways of humankind.
“Make no mistake about it,” he told the audience, “there is a powerful allure to seeing oneself as simply another creature in the animal kingdom. It cancels out ultimate responsibility.”
He talked of the value of life, of the existence of God and of the free will that allows man to make decisions and proves he has a soul at the same time.
“If you wish to produce a society that produces human beings,” he said, “then you need a father and a mother.
“The incubation chamber for a human being is marriage and family,” he said.
Those interested in learning more about The Lighted Candle Society and its resources, can go to thelightedcandlesociety.org.