HOUSTON, Texas — A Latter-day Saint woman who organized an anti-pornography conference held here Oct. 15, wanted to "appeal to as broad a cross-section of the community as possible."
Raelene Hill of the Spring Creek Ward, Klein Texas Stake, chose as the conference theme "Stand for Decency." Conference participants included Houston City Council members, state legislators, school officials, local religious leaders and concerned parents. They were trained in addressing the effects of pornography and what to do about it in homes, schools, and communities.
The conference was organized through American Mothers Inc. (AMI) and the Burbridge Foundation to appeal to a wide variety of community groups. Sister Hill is national first vice-president for AMI.
Planning for the conference began more than a year ago when the private Burbridge Foundation of Oklahoma City, and AMI teamed up to sponsor training sessions for civic leaders in various cities throughout the country.
Sister Hill chose her theme to reflect a proactive approach and complement President Gordon B. Hinckley's book, Standing for Something. Nationally recognized speakers addressed the problems of pornography, laws concerning it, and what parents and community leaders can do about it.
"Don't take away Internet privileges if you discover that your children are visiting inappropriate Web sites or saying things in chat rooms that you don't approve of. If you do, you will drive their Internet usage underground," said Dennis Shaw, chief operating officer for I-Safe, a federally funded program on Internet safety for schools. "We recommend teaching them critical thinking skills and talking to them openly rather than revoking their privileges."
Jack Samad, executive director of National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families, said: "Lots of teens and pre-teens like the music and fast pace of MTV programs and peers talk about these programs at school. A teen who wants peer acceptance — and what teenager doesn't want to feel included? — will feel left out if they simply reply that their parents won't let them watch MTV. We recommend sitting down with your teenager who is watching such a program and discussing it. Asking questions such as, "What values are being displayed by this program? What choices are these musicians making? Is it consistent with your values and the things we consider important?" Such facilitated family discussions enable teens to make good choices and have ready answers for others who may have different values."
When Houston North Stake President Richard H. Page, a Klein School Board member, took a personal interest, large numbers of LDS members began signing up for the conference. "Eventually, I think we had representatives from most of the 12 Houston area stakes as well as members who drove more than four hours from places such as Austin and San Antonio," Sister Hill said.
"We spoke to a group of clergy known as Northwest Assistance Ministries," Sister Hill said, "and many sent representatives to the conference.
"However, Father Marshall from St. Ignatius Loyola, a large Catholic church in the area, went even further by going back to his parish after our presentation and arranging for me to speak to their leadership board. Later, he introduced us to Monsignor Rossi, vicar of more than 112 parish churches in the Galveston/Houston diocese, who wrote a letter urging local Catholic members to participate.
"In President Hinckley's First Presidency message in the September Ensign, he urged us to get involved in our communities and address the debilitating effects of pornography," Sister Hill said. "Our neighbors are just as interested as we are in safeguarding their families, schools and neighborhoods."