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Strange religious bedfellows unite for letter against hotel By Dan Merica, CNN (CNN) – A letter penned by two notable scholars – a Christian and a Muslim – and sent to a number of different hotel industry executives has asked those hotels 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 Shaykh 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.” “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. The letter marks the joining of two unique men with two distinctly different faiths. Yusuf says they were able to put aside their disagreement on other issues because of their commitment to this cause. “We need to see that those things that are threatening our society today are much graver than anything that may divide us,” he told CNN. Reaction to the letter from some adult film stars – and even from some advocates for removing from hotels – was negative. Craig Gross, a pastor and the founder of XXXchurch.com, says the letter is an empty gesture with no power behind it. “It has got to be one of the dumbest letters I have ever read,” Gross said. “It is like asking the Internet to stop selling . It sounds good and all, but it isn’t going to happen.” But the letter’s authors argue that the Internet and hotels are different, with hotel owners directly profiting off the temptation of . “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 continued to use this argument in an interview with CNN. “Just because we are able to do something doesn’t mean it is what we should be doing. And just because you can sell these things doesn’t mean it is something you should be selling,” he said. In Gross’ opinion, this logic is a slippery slope. When planes offer access to WiFi, is that placing temptation in the path of those who may view on the Web? When hotels offer room service, he asks, are they tempting dieters? Gross has a long history of helping those with addictions, and his website is dedicated to getting people help. According to him, removing from hotels is a futile endeavor because of the "unfettered availability of on the Web. “ According to a 2005 report on the state of the adult entertainment by Adult Video News, a trade journal on the adult-film industry, 55% of hotel movie rentals are movie rentals. The average revenue from movie rentals, according to LodgeNet, a company that provides in-room entertainment services, was $16.51 per room per month in 2008. In the third quarter of 2009, LodgeNet brought in $64.8 million. This, however, included more family-friendly options as well. A 2011 report by Robert Mandelbaum at Colliers PKF Hospitality Research found that from 2000 to 2009, movie rental revenue for hotels in general decreased 39%. Even with the reported slip, Gross and other critics acknowledged there is a demand for adult entertainment. “This is supply and demand,” Gross said. “We spin our wheels doing all the wrong things. The issue is not that it is available; the issue is that people buy it.” Prior to this letter, however, some hotels had already pledged to remove pornography from their programming or had removed it. In 2011, Marriott International – a company founded by a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that continues deep Mormon ties – pledged to phase out adult content from all hotel rooms. The move came after groups like Focus on the Family met with Marriott officials to urge them to remove adult movies. “Adult content will be off the menu for virtually all of our newly built hotels,” read the Marriott statement. “Over the next few years, this will be the policy across our system.” Marriott is not the first hotel group to do this, though. Omni Hotels, a Dallas-based luxury hotel chain, removed all adult films from its in-room systems in 1999. According to other reports, adult-free programming is helping the Omni differentiate itself in the hotel market. Websites like cleanhotels.com look to help -free hotels by compiling a list of hotels that do not offer adult entertainment and leading people to them. Cleanhotels.com says it does so because its supporters want to know they are “supporting a facility that cares enough about the wellbeing of its customers not to make harmful pornographic movies available.” The American Hotel & Lodging Association, however, defends 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. Ron Jeremy, an adult-film star who has been in over 2,000 films, according to the Internet Adult Film Database, sees efforts to remove from hotels as attacks on freedom of speech. “What they have to understand is that freedom of speech works for all of us, not just for them,” Jeremy said about those who want to get out of hotel rooms. “This is a country that is secular; you have freedom from religion and freedom of religion. Give me a break.” While Jeremy said he is all for making sure kids in hotel rooms can’t get to – “I think that is marvelous” – he said he doesn’t see why adults shouldn’t watch “consenting adults have consenting sex.” "If a guy has a hard day at work or is at a convention and wants to sit down in his hotel room and puts on an adult film and plays spank the monkey, why can’t he do that?" - Dan Merica