top of page


“Preachers VS. Porn: Christianity's War on Sexx”

by Mark Kernes, 2023

This was never meant to be a book.

PVP is a compendium of articles written for Adult Video News, a magazine dedicated to the adult entertainment industry, its stars, and reviews of movies. As anyone should know, the adult industry has often been the target of censorship advocates. But under the First Amendment of the Constitution, there are not one set of rights for pornographers and another for Bible-toters. The same laws and rights protect all of us equally. To protect your own freedom of speech, you must defend the rights of everyone.

That is what Mark Kernes wrote about for years at AVN. And that's what this book is about. Sorry if you were looking for actual pornography; there's none in this book.

What we do have is mostly Kernes opinion of various efforts to ban this or that pornographic movie or close a bookstore that were then in the news. These campaigns were invariably founded by right-wing, semi-literate, Born-Agains. Predictably, Kernes doesn't think too highly of them. As you might guess, neither do I.

One weakness of the book is that the majority of the chapters in the book are just that: numerous articles in which he tells you how dumb and hypocritical these people are. At times, Kernes falls back on name-calling, which is embarrassing to read even when we agree with him.

Another weak spot is that some of these segments are decades old. When he writes about a particular legal case that was in the news and ends the article with, “Stay tuned to find out what happened,” it's hardly news because the case was resolved in court many years ago.

Fortunately, there are other articles in which Kernes does actual reportage, where he quotes various legal claims and defenses and makes a case for the First Amendment. For example, at one point, Kernes infiltrated an actual convention of Religious Right censor-wannabes and reported on the disinformation they spew. This is a great story and one that should be reprinted often. Here Kernes shows the tactics that religious bigots use to curb and eliminate our Constitutional freedoms—after all, there's no commandment about freedom of speech in the Bible. And if the right-wingers need to bear false witness by inventing fake statistics and twisting facts, they will happily do so. In this lengthy chapter (31 pages), Kernes exposes the hypocrisy, intolerance and devious lies of the Religious Right and meets them with cold, hard facts.

I was especially interested to learn that the Religious Right and the Freedom of Speech activists agree on one point—neither of them are happy that the Supreme Court does not have a clear definition of obscenity. Giving it a clear definition would eliminate a great number of nuisance cases and give people in the industry firm guidelines for the work they produce. As things stand, such “standards” are often set by the local District Attorney or the judges who try the various cases. As such, our standards today can vary wildly between one jurisdiction and the next.

This article comes with an epiphany for Kernes: he learned that the RR had given up on pushing a moral agenda. They had learned that the only way to stop the adult entertainment industry is financial. Make pornography unprofitable and pornographers will get out of the business.

Yeah, that worked. In the twenty-three years since Kernes wrote his article, the industry has only grown. Adult material has become ever more acceptable with American men and women. Meanwhile, church attendance continues to plummet.

The book's subtitle seems incorrect. Christianity isn't waging war on sex; after all, they're the one's who came up with the line, “Go forth and multiply”. No, their war is against our freedom of speech—and often our freedom of (from) religion. Their war is against America and everything it stand for. And every freedom we cherish.

Throughout the book, Kernes annotates his quotes and statistics. Rather than present the annotations at the end of each chapter, however, he books them in the End Notes at the end of the book—which is fine. There they are listed by the number of the chapter to which they refer. That's also fine, except the chapters themselves are never given numbers! Trying to hunt down the source of those quotes and statistics is nigh impossible! And the chapter numbers in the Table of Contents don't line up with the chapter numbers in the End Notes.

Still, the information is good. I would have edited down the entire book, putting all the material about one subject or legal case in one section, and have other sections focusing on other subjects. If I'd edited it, the book would be half the size it is. Currently, it's a brick.

That doesn't make it bad, just heavy.

I received a copy of the book for review purposes. That in no way affects my review score. I'm giving three stars for the opinion pieces and the name-calling. I give five stars for the genuine reportage. That averages out to about a four.

4 stars.


Recent Posts
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page