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Utah College Still Plans to Offer Pornography Class Despite National Backlash


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A private college in Utah said it won't cancel its plans to offer an elective class on pornography for its upcoming May term even though the backlash on social media has been severely critical of the school. 

The course description of FILM-3000 Porn from Westminster College's online catalog explained that porn was "more popular than Sunday night football."

"Hardcore pornography is as American as apple pie and more popular than Sunday night football. Our approach to this billion-dollar industry is as both a cultural phenomenon that reflects and reinforces sexual inequalities (but holds the potential to challenge sexual and gender norms) and as an art form that requires serious contemplation. We will watch pornographic films together and discuss the sexualization of race, class, and gender as an experimental, radical art form."

Westminster, a private, nonprofit, accredited and liberal arts college located in Salt Lake City, found itself in the crosshairs of national social media attention after conservative commentator Candace Owens tweeted about the course last week.

"I thought this was a joke — it isn't. This is a pornography class that you can enroll in at Westminster College in Salt Lake City. The class description reads that porn is as American as apple pie and students will watch pornographic films together and discuss sex as an art form," she tweeted to her 3 million Twitter followers.

The class is worth two credits, according to the college's undergraduate catalog. 

Each spring, Westminster College offers students short-term, credit-earning experiences which can include study abroad opportunities or intensive study into subject matter often unrelated to their majors, according to Deseret News

"We have no intention to back away from offering this class. By and large, the campus community is supportive of that academic freedom and Westminster's commitment to talking about tough subjects," Westminster College's chief marketing officer Sheila Yorkin told the outlet. 

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Associate professor Eileen Chanza Torres, who will be teaching the class, told Deseret News the pornography studies course will meet twice weekly for three hours over the four-week term. She said the class is not for everyone as topics will include, rape fantasies, and violent pornography. 

Meanwhile, the college is also facing an online petition to drop the pornography class. 

"We call upon Westminster College to remove these classes from their course list. The Supreme Court has defined obscenity as 'completely devoid of scientific, political, educational, or social value.' We agree. Pornography is devoid of educational value and has no place in the classroom," the petition reads. "In these classes, young students and teachers watch pornography together in a classroom. This creates an unsafe environment for students and faculty and normalizes pornography in culture."

"These are not Utah values and these classes have no part in the Utah education system," the petition adds. 

As of Monday, 1,561 people had signed the appeal for Westminster to remove the class. 

In response to the criticism, Westminister College said in a statement: "Westminster College occasionally offers elective courses like this as an opportunity to analyze social issues. As part of this analysis, Westminster College and universities across the county often examine potentially offensive topics like pornography to further understand their pervasiveness and impact. Descriptions of these courses, while alarming to some readers, help students decide if they wish to engage in serious investigation of controversial subjects."

As CBN's Faithwire reported in February, Sathiya Sam, a Christian author who has developed a systematic process to help men overcome pornography addiction, sees a common thread woven through the stories of so many of the people he helps: there is "a demonic component" to pornography consumption.

"The reality is, when you engage in something as toxic as pornography, you're almost like literally dancing with the devil, like you're really engaging with something demonic and giving him a foothold," Sam told CBN's Faithwire, explaining that, while some men might experience early success in distancing themselves from pornography, many will relapse "because they have not built the spiritual maturity to actually sustain the breakthrough."

In 2018, a Gallup survey found 67% of American men ages 18 to 49 said consuming pornography was "morally acceptable" — a 14% increase from the previous year. More to the point, a wide-ranging study conducted by the Barna Group in 2016 found most pastors (57%) and youth pastors (64%) admitted to currently or in the past struggling with using pornography. An earlier study by Barna found 64% of men who self-identified as Christian used porn on a monthly basis.

As a Christian, Sam said his system, Deep Clean, lays the necessary spiritual groundwork to fight off porn addiction.

Sam said he still uses the faith-based practices — fasting, praying, reading Scripture — but now, instead of trying to earn some sort of spiritual capital with God, he does them to "enhance" his relationship with the Lord.

"That's a huge part of the recovery process," he continued. "It is learning to redefine yourself and see yourself as someone who is worthy of unconditional love and it's from that place of spiritual maturity that we can then have the spiritual breakthroughs, the deliverance, and everything else that will come later on."

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