The Catholic Thing
Is Marriott a Pimp? Are the Christian Brothers? Print E-mail
By Austin Ruse   
Thursday, 04 March 2010

It used to be you had to go out and find porn. It was always furtive because it was always public. Whether walking into a sticky theater or a smelly porn shop, almost always in some broken down neighborhood, you had to declare yourself in front of strangers – “may I have that" – and even risk being seen by people you knew.

Porn used to be a smaller business because most folks were not willing or able to go out and get it. And the time between temptation and purchase was at least long enough for the better angels sometimes to take over. No longer. Porn addiction is skyrocketing in the United States for all ages and both sexes because porn is now immediately and privately available.

Your Internet provider gives you unlimited access to the most degrading images of human sexuality. Your local cable company likely offers dozens of hard-core movies to choose from in its pay-per-view menu. Not only do you not have to seek out porn in dangerous neighborhoods; the porn merchants have now invaded our private spaces. They now come into our neighborhood, into our homes, and there is little we can say about it.

The largest purveyor of hard-core porn in America is a smarmy company called Vivid Entertainment, whose “actresses” (no more than prostitutes), are called “Vivid girls.” One of Vivid Entertainment’s closest collaborators, however, is Marriott Hotels. Millions of porn viewings occur in the hotel rooms of the good Mormon Bill Marriott, or through pay-per-view channels offered by Time-Warner, Comcast, and Verizon, or through Internet service provided by these same companies. These so-called mainstream businesses are the hard-core porn merchants of today and they make hundreds of millions of dollars at it.

While it is shocking that seemingly good American companies make money on hard-core pornography, even sadder is the Catholic dimension to this sordid business. The largest investor of Catholic money in the world is Christian Brothers Investment Services. It handles the funds of 1,000 Catholic institutions including dioceses, religious orders, and even Catholic organizations like the Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights.

The Christian Brothers have an investment policy on pornography. They do not invest in companies “whose primary line of business is products or services aimed exclusively at inducing sexual excitement or a prurient interest in sex.” This means that they have no problem investing in companies whose secondary or tertiary line of business is hard-core porn. The Christian Brothers are not so nuanced on tobacco investing or investing in “militarism and violence.” Putting money into such companies is ruled out by the Christian Brothers.

Do the Christian Brothers own companies that peddle hard-core porn? Thomas Stobhar, an investment expert who follows such issues, says yes. He says that the Christian Brothers own stock in Lodgenet, the largest purveyor of hard-core porn to hotel rooms. They promote such titles as “Black Inside Me,” “Young Girl Fantasies,” “Ultimate Threesomes,” and “My Horny Neighbors.” They also invest in hotels and telecommunications companies that are among the largest sellers of porn in the world.

In a BBC interview aired last year, the president of Christian Brothers Investment Services-European Union, Brother Louis De Thomasis, was asked about this. Thomasis said the Christian Brothers remain in such companies in order to change them from within. When the interviewer pointed out that over the previous years the Christian Brothers had offered not a single stockholder resolution on porn – though they had offered dozens of others on such topics as tobacco, the environment, and arms’ sales – Thomasis said his conscience was clear and ended the interview.

It’s not like companies cannot turn off the porn spigot. They just have to forgo porn profits. And some have been willing to. Apple recently banned all iPhone applications that are pornographic or even sexually suggestive. Though it is not advertised, Apple also has the best porn filter/blocker of any computer company. Before it was sold, the Adelphi cable company based in Philadelphia did not offer porn on its pay-per-view service. Some hotel chains, like the Midwestern Drury chain, do not offer in-room porn. The Wi-Fi service just started this week on Amtrak’s Acela trains blocks porn sites. It is possible to block porn even in the most public spaces.

Imagine a Catholic businessman far from home, a long day on the road, frustrated, and lonely, emotional guard way down. He checks into his room, decides to watch a movie and there on the pay-per-view menu he sees the word ADULT tempting him to profound impurity. Imagine a teenage girl misspelling the name of Britney Spears in an Internet search engine and being swarmed by hard-core sites. Marriott profits from this. Time-Warner profits from this. The Christian Brothers profit from this. Are they pimps? Pimps are those who profit from the work of prostitutes. You decide.


Austin Ruse is the President of the New York and Washinton, D.C.-based Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), a research institute that focuses exclusively on international social policy. The opinions expressed here are Mr. Ruse’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of C-FAM.

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Comments (20)Add Comment
Present at the Beginning
written by Ars Artium, March 05, 2010
Several decades ago The New York Times Magazine (Sunday edition) published an advertisement for videos offering "sex therapy for married couples" with demonstrations. In reply to my protest, the editors stated that this is a matter on which reasonable persons disagree and that, therefore, they would continue. And so it began.
written by Joseph, March 05, 2010
Who are to blame, Austin, the purveyors or the consumers? I choose to sin or not sin; resist the devil and he will flee. So when a Catholic checks into a hotel room, he can pick a porn flick to watch or reach for a Gideon Bible. Man was given a free will.

As for the Christian Brothers, this is not the first, nor will it be the last, case of corporate hypocrisy. The bottom line, clearly, is the interests of investors/stockholders, not the salvation of souls.
written by Linda, March 05, 2010
Thanks for this article. I had no idea of the Christian Brothers investment strategy on this. I hope you send this article to Laura Ingraham. She has a very large listening audience and people need to hear about this issue. As for me, we will no longer be staying in Marriott hotels and I intend to write a letter explaining why to Bill Marriott.
written by Jacob, March 05, 2010
Yea I agree...only people who agree with TCT writers 100% on the issues will ever pass through the gates! haha

But seriously isn't one of the big parts of the bible Jesus forgiving Mary Magdalen? So you think Mary Magdalene is gnashing her teeth in hell right now? Christ was just messing with her about eternal salvation?

Pornography is wrong obviously but lets be careful here about setting ourselves up as the judges of Christ's about some low down pimps (judges).
The Root of all Evil
written by William H. Phelan, March 05, 2010
Thank you, Mr. Ruse, for this timely alert. Is it not strange how the love of money exposes our institutions, whether they be the Christian Brothers or Notre Dame University? The Mother of God told Lucia, the Fatima seer, that "most souls are in Hell because of sins of the flesh." Michael Novak, on this site, wrote a few years ago that there would be great gnashing of teeth and that very few souls would be saved.
Good, but...
written by Nathan, March 05, 2010
Mr. Ruse,

I agree with your arguments but question the necessity of using explicit titles--I would have liked to have shown this to my colleagues, but did not think it prudent due to the list of movie titles, etc. Never the less, thank you for the exposition; you do good work!
Ora pro nobis
written by Willie, March 05, 2010
I am shocked to hear that the Christian Brothers are involved in such filth. I presume you are referring to the Brothers of the Christian Schools. The teaching order founded by St. John Baptist de LaSalle. Having attended a Brother's prep school where I met the most honorable teachers, I indeed feel sick. The winds of the Antichrist are, as Paul VI said,are blowing through the Church.
Straw Men
written by Thomas C. Coleman, Jr., March 06, 2010
Jacob, Mr. Ruse did not say that any specific person was in hell. As a Catholic he would never do that. Nor did he deny the Saving Power of Christ for those who repent. Our Lord told adulteress (who we don't know was Mary Magdelen), "Sin no more," not "Do what you like, sister." You misrepresent both Mr. Ruse and the Gospel. And Joseph, Catholics may not sin against charity by ignoring the evils place before our fellow men or done to "willing" participants such as "actresses."
Which Christian Brothers?
written by Gaff, March 06, 2010
Mr Ruse, it a sad story you tell, and certainly one that needs to be told. However, to publicly defame the "The Christian Brothers" places upon you an obligation for precision and accountability that are lacking in your piece. To my certain knowledge there are at least two separate orders that are called "Christian Brothers." Could there be other groups who have co-opted the name for their own purposes? What about the due diligence of their Catholic investors? The issue merits more rigor!
An observation
written by Kent Larsen, March 06, 2010
I'm not sure that I can agree with your reasoning. You seem to take a black and white view. Are your views like this on all moral issues? No grey areas? The responsibility to fill one commandment never conflicts with another? I can see many aspects of this issue that you didn't examine above.

I have to note that in dealing with the woman caught in adultery, Jesus suggested that only those without sin could cast the first stone. Notice he said without sin, NOT those who hadn't committed adultery
Apple filter?
written by Mark Smith, March 06, 2010
Thank you for an informative article. Given the plethora of filtering software available I'm interested to learn more about the Apple filter, e.g. is it built into Safari?
Fruit Trees
written by GB, March 06, 2010
"Pornography is wrong obviously but lets be careful here about setting ourselves up as the judges of Christ's salvation."

In fact, Jesus commanded us to judge a tree by its fruit.Translation: We are not allowed to judge MOTIVES, we are commanded to judge BEHAVIOR. This article is commenting on behavior of porn providers,investors & perps. That's the same Jesus did with the Pharisees: he judged their behavior. You're missing the point of John Chapter 8, Jake.
May God have mercy on us.
written by John Parisi, March 06, 2010
May God have mercy on all who look at pornography, also ones who do not look, but do not do anything to oppose it.
written by Liz, March 07, 2010
Porn - another by-product of women's lib. Free to be you and me.
Elucidate, please
written by mamaGT, March 07, 2010
Kent said:
"The responsibility to fill one commandment never conflicts with another? I can see many aspects of this issue that you didn't examine above."

I would like to hear more. I am having a very difficult time coming up with any possible contradictions found in following the Ten Commandments.
Wonderful article
written by Latter-day Guy, March 07, 2010
I was very glad to read this. The matter of Marriott Hotel porn already having been debated ad nauseum in the "Bloggernacle" (the LDS blogging community), I hope that sufficient pressure can be exerted by those who believe in the value of chastity to alter business practices that violate basic moral standards in pursuit of the almighty dollar. Thank you, Mr. Ruse!
Who is to judge?
written by Paul Wanat, March 07, 2010
As many previous commentators have quoted scriptor, and quite rightfully so. I'm afraid we are all missing the big picture(s). As others have said "let he WITHOUT SIN cast the first stone". Are there more then 25% of the people who commented with disgust' in their descriptive not guiltly of ever 'perusing' a 'adult film', commiting adultey, did we ALL 'save' ourselves from intercourse for the sacriment of Marriage? I will face St. Peter and be judged, but by him and the Lord, not by man.
Mr Wanat,
written by GB, March 07, 2010
Calling a thing or behavior by its true name is not "judging" it, it's identifying it. That's what Austin is doing in this article.The commentors are no doubt 100&#xgu;ilty of sin, porn or some other.The fact that we're forgiven doesn't prohibit us from correctly naming sin as sin.That isn't judging, that's mercy.Just like yelling "Fire" might save others in a burning building.Jesus' injunction was against the hypocrisy of pretending to be sinless, not against identifying sin.
written by SHARON LDS IN TN, March 08, 2010
THANK YOU , THANK YOU, THANK YOU....for making us aware of these facts. We are all responsible for being "on the watch" and "speaking out".
We need to make a stand as well in our choices of where to support any business or institution that is behind or a part of porn.
Quick idea = Do we sufficiently pray about the ilimination and irradication of all porn in our lives....that which surrounds or effects as well.
Let us call / emailing / or other means to notify them we are against porn NOW!
written by Cavaliere, March 09, 2010
Don't wait for the Mormon Marriott Corp to find religion any time soon. I remember Fr. Corapi's story of working as an accountant for a Mormon owned casino in Vegas. They had scruples about setting foot in a casino and gambling but no problem taking profits off the misfortune of others.

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