WASHINGTON - Two notable Christian and Muslim scholars have teamed up against porn services offered in American hotels, asking hotel executives to remove pornography from their company's in-room movie selections.
Robert P. George, a professor at Princeton University and the past chairman of the conservative National Organization for Marriage, and Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, co-founder of Zaytuna College, a Muslim school, wrote the letter to urge hotels to do what is right as a matter of conscience, CNN reported on Thursday, July 12.
We are, respectively, a Christian and a Muslim, but we appeal to you not on the basis of truths revealed in our scriptures but on the basis of a commitment that should be shared by all people of reason and goodwill: a commitment to human dignity and the common good, reads the letter.
Joining two different faiths, the initiative was introduced to curb porn in US hotels, a hugely lucrative industry for American hotels.
One vendor of pay-per-view content brought in $65 million in revenue in one quarter of 2009, working out to nearly $260 million a year.
Adult Video News, a pornography industry trade magazine, estimates 55 percent of all pay-per-view content in hotels is pornography.
Putting differences aside, both scholars showed commitment to their cause.
We need to see that those things that are threatening our society today are much graver than anything that may divide us, Yusuf told CNN.
Though there are no official figures, America is believed to be home to nearly eight million Muslims.
Logging in and browsing pornographic sites is forbidden in Islam because a Muslim is always commanded to lower his/her gaze.
Wasting lives and times doing things which Allah forbade them to do, these acts cause psychological and social injury, Muslim scholars say.
A Muslim is always commanded to spend his time in useful things, cherish what benefits him in the present, plan for his coming days, and always make the reward of the Hereafter his/her top priority.
The scholars' initiative faced criticism as an empty gesture which holds no power behind it.
It has got to be one of the dumbest letters I have ever read, Craig Gross, a pastor and the founder of XXXchurch.com, told CNN.
It is like asking the Internet to stop selling porn. It sounds good and all, but it isn't going to happen.
The American Hotel & Lodging Association also defended the right of hotels to choose what services to offer in their rooms.
In-room offerings such as this are made available based on market demand, are not offered in all hotels, and are subject to the same legal review all hotel operations are subject to, read a statement from Kathryn Potter, senior vice president of marketing and communications for the association.
But the letter's authors argue that the Internet and hotels are different, with hotel owners directly profiting off the temptation of porn.
We urge you to do away with pornography in your hotels because it is morally wrong to seek to profit from the suffering, degradation, or corruption of others, states the letter.
You are placing temptation in their path - temptation for the sake of profit. That is unjust. Moreover, the fact that something is chosen freely does not make it right.
Yusuf also rejected the argument of the hotels' association.
Just because we are able to do something doesn't mean it is what we should be doing, he said.
And just because you can sell these things doesn't mean it is something you should be selling.