San Diego Denomination: nondenominational
Address: PO Box 78268, Corona, CA
Founded locally: January 9, 2002
Senior pastors: Mike Foster and Craig Gross
Congregation size: n/a
Staff size: 4 part-time
Sunday school enrollment: n/a
Annual budget: $60,000
Weekly giving: n/a
Singles program: n/a
Sunday worship: n/a
Length of reviewed service: n/a
Wally the Wiener, a 15-foot inflatable penis, stands erect behind XXXchurch's "Erotica LA" booth. Wally is just one of XXXchurch's attempts to get attention from the 40,000 pornography fans and stars at the convention. "We have to use outrageous methods to get people to pay attention," said Craig Gross, a pastor, and one of the founders of XXXchurch. In 2002, Pastor Gross and Pastor Mike Foster founded XXXchurch to create porn awareness, accountability, and recovery to people inside and outside the church. Pastors Foster and Gross have received a lot of attention because of their involvement in the pornography industry. "At the Erotica show, people are wondering why two pastors are here," said Gross. "But this is exactly the place Jesus would go. He wouldn't stand outside picketing the porn industry. He would want to meet these people individually." This year, XXXchurch's booth gave "Jesus Loves Porn Stars" T-shirts to porn stars. "We handed out 245 free T-shirts. This is a way for us to plant seeds with porn stars and help them get out of the industry," said Gross. "We stay in contact with many of the porn stars to keep a dialogue going." Last month, Trinity James was the first porn star to leave the industry through this campaign. "Trinity was living in Las Vegas and has been doing porn and legalized prostitution for four years. She realized that this is not something she can do any longer." XXXchurch raised $14,400 to assist James's transition, which included the cost of the move to Indiana and tuition to cosmetology school. Gross said he hopes this is the first example of many porn stars' exodus out of the industry.
Since its launch, http://www.XXXchurch.comclaims to be the Internet's "#1 Christian Porn Site." XXXchurch's website forum has 168,679 posts from thousands of members who seek help from porn. "My wife caught me [looking at porn] today for the second time in our first year of marriage. Now I can't even look at her, and she can hardly look at me. This is isolating me even further," writes Chris Turner, a member of the site. "I feel like I'm out of options and I'm about to lose my wife. Please pray for me and us. Hopefully your prayers will succeed where mine have failed." Other posters confess porn has caused them depression, broken marriages, and destroyed lives. "I feel so weak. I start feeling depressed and then I masturbate because it makes me feel better for that bit of time, then I get more depressed," writes a poster under the username Onered.
"People think porn is harmless, it's just fantasy. But it creates a distorted view of sex," said Gross. "Porn gets you to do things you never thought you would. We've heard from people who have had marriages break up and one guy who went bankrupt from buying so much porn. We received one letter from a guy who got caught masturbating in a public place and was arrested. It gets worse; one guy ended up prostituting himself." To combat porn addiction, XXXchurch offers a free software program for people to download from their site. Whenever you browse the Internet and access a site that may contain questionable material, the program saves the site name on your computer. Every month, a person of your choice receives an e-mail containing all questionable sites visited within the month. XXXchurch hopes the information encourages conversations and accountability to people who struggle with porn.
Last year, XXXchurch launched a "Save the Kittens" campaign. "The campaign says, every time you masturbate, God kills a kitten. We know that's not true, but it gets people to talk about masturbation," said Gross. This year, XXXchurch launched the NOHO doll to ask girls not to dress like "ho's." The dress code tells girls to avoid buying or wearing: "tight pants that are cut so low that when I bend over you can see my g-string or butt crack, tight half shirts that show my six or not-so-six pack, tight shirts that are low cut to show my cleavage or short shorts that you can see my butt cheeks in." XXXchurch created Pete the Porno Puppet to raise awareness of children's access to pornographic material. "We walk a fine line. Churches and Christians donate to us, so we have to be careful how far we go. Often, it's hard to explain our antics to the church, but at the end of the day we hope to shock people to take notice of the issues. Some people try to pass laws, but we're not smart enough to figure out how to do that."
Foster and Gross launched an event for churches called Porn Sunday. "Porn Sunday is to create awareness and equip the church to talk about these issues. The church doesn't want to talk about porn. They want it to go away," said Gross. "A lot of churches write us off. They think that we go to these porn shows because we just want to see the chicks. Yes, we've seen our share of porn, but we're able to do this because we don't struggle with an addiction to porn." While Gross may not struggle with porn, a survey done by Christianity Today magazine found 37 percent of pastors admit to struggling with pornography and 51 percent of pastors admit that looking at Internet pornography is their biggest temptation.