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Mich. Church Slammed for 'Porn Weekend'

A Jackson-area church has run into criticism for its widely publicized "Porn Weekend" — an event the church says is designed to promote an anti-pornography campaign.

Westwinds Community Church (search) in Jackson County's Summit Township created a stir last week when it rented three billboards to promote "Porn Weekend" on Saturday and Sunday. The billboards came down this week.

"The road to hell is paved with good intentions," said Angela Kitchen, a Jackson mother who said the church's intent was admirable but its tactic misguided.

Officials and members of the church defend the billboards and this weekend's program, citing the growth of pornography in magazines, movies, on TV and over the Internet.

The events include presentations by Craig Gross, a founder of the anti-pornography Internet site www.xxxchurch.com.

The church also will screen an R-rated documentary on the pornography industry, "Missionary Positions." The documentary was filmed at a pornography convention and is not suitable for children, officials said.

Children, instead, can watch "The Incredibles" at the church.

The anti-pornography message is the first in a four-week series designed to help people fight addictions to behavior that clashes with Christian beliefs, the church says.

Church spokesman Randy Shafer told The Jackson Citizen Patriot that Porn Weekend is meant to educate the community on the effect of the sex trade and to offer help for those caught up in it.

Jay Porter, who used to attended Westwinds, said the congregation has hooked up with what he considers a cynical and maybe sinister organization.

"They are making a mockery of Christianity," Porter said of www.xxxchurch.com. "Saying `Jesus Loves Porn Stars' is leading people down the wrong path."

Porter said Wally the Wiener, a 25-foot penis, is not an appropriate teaching tool. Nor is it right to advise children that "God kills a kitten every time you masturbate," he said.

The site uses the kitty analogy, it says, in a lighthearted manner. It recommends teens should e-mail each other to keep a lid on raging hormones. "Ask your buds if they killed any kittens this week," the site advises.

Tina Hufnagel, a mother of three boys, said the billboards were offensive.

"It opens up a can of worms we should not have to discuss with young children," she said. "My 15-year-old son asked, `Why is a church having a porn party?"'

Angela Kitchen, spokeswoman for Family and Minor Empowerment (search), said Westwinds was doing a good thing offering education and help for those with pornography addictions, but the billboards went too far.

"Many of us find it morally corruptible," she said. "What do you say to a 10-year-old who asks, `Mom, why are they having a porn party?"'

Shafer said those who were upset with the three billboards, which came down this week, were missing the point.

"Pornography is such a huge issue and usually is not discussed in church," he said. "Polls say that 56 percent of men struggle with pornography. We try to hit it head on and get people talking about it."