Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation - Global Summit 2018
- by Pierre Beauregard (UTS‘89)
I attended the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation Global Summit 2018 in Washington, D.C. from April 4-7. My involvement is a direct result of hearing about the Set Free Summit held in April of 2016 in North Carolina from Rev. Kevin Thompson, pastor of the Bay Area Family Church, who introduced it at the 2017Famicon.
In 2016 the organizers of the Blessed Marriage Project (BMP), which promotes marriage enrichment, learned about the ugly problem of pornography which affects singles and couples. They decided to tackle the problem; David and Mitsue Wolfenberger offered to sponsor 40 members of the Unification movement to attend the Set Free Summit. Rev. Thompson, a current student at UTS, attended and was floored by what he heard there, and spoke about it later in 2016 at an FFWPU event.
Rev. Thompson has a 13-year ministry working with people who struggle with pornography, helping them overcome their addiction. It is a continent-wide problem of epidemic proportions. Pornography is something that America and Canada must turn around. I took the first step and researched the Pure Mind Online website; they were asking volunteers to help others overcome a pornography addiction. I immediately registered for an intensive training course taught by Michael Leahey of Brave Hearts. I was on a mission, joining a crusade of freedom fighters for sexual integrity.
A year later, April 2017, saw the launch of the High Noon Summit held in Las Vegas. As of January 1, 2018, High Noon started Ascend a 90-day online porn recovery program with a weekly group meeting on Zoom, and text check-ins with accountability partners. The second 90-day program began recently, and I am one of the group facilitators. The results are very promising.
I have also been involved in raising awareness in Quebec about the sexual exploitation and pornography problems, partnering with Glendyne Gerrard of Defend Dignity, a ministry of the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada, with Isabelle Laurin, director of the Universal Peace Federation (Quebec) and Jehu Hernandez, a political activist.
On March 15, Laurin launched a petition for the Quebec National Assembly to control access to pornography and for the implementation of an awareness campaign about the harmfulness of pornography on young people. There is also a strong push for legislative action In Canada to have Meaningful Age Verification.
With financial support Defend Dignity, I was able to attend the DC Summit and meet with Arnold Viersen, the Canadian Member of Parliament (MP) from Peace River, AB. Together we held strategy sessions to advance the agenda against sexual exploitation and pornography in Canada.
There were many speakers. These are three areas which I thought were outstanding:
- An expert on the brain: Gary Wilson author of “Your Brain on Porn,” explained that pornography is addictive. This is an issue that still divides many but the evidence is overwhelming. Wilson is very convincing and well-researched, though opponents say that those who support this view of pornography are biased and religion-based, even though overwhelming scientific evidence points the other way. Wilson is actually an atheist, so it certainly doesn’t apply to him. He has a Ted Talk.
- We heard from a panel of survivors: Angela (mother of Jane Doe), Tom, Monique and Shamere. Hearing the stories of Angela, mother of a 15-year-old daughter who was sold on Backpage.com was heart-rending. Tom, who as a teen was caught up in the sex trade, was equally moving. Monique had a special impact on me, talking about how she had come out of the sex industry and became a missionary in the Philippines. Listening to their experiences helped me better understand the men experiencing porn addiction and the women and men victimized by sexual exploitation.
- Lastly, I was inspired to hear Ernie Allen, former president of the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children, speak on the topic of: “Protecting Children From Internet Pornography.” Allen has been deeply involved with the British Parliament in helping to enact legislation to put in place Meaningful Age Verification on the internet. Allen explained that online pornography is extremely damaging to children, whose brains are malleable. Referencing Wilson’s book, the teen years are the most vulnerable to addiction because that is when the brain is at its peak of dopamine production and neuroplasticity. Allen has been working with former British Prime Minister, David Cameron, who saw the absurdity in the fact that teens can’t buy an X-rated DVD in a store, but can go online and view the same movie without a problem.