PHOTO | SARA FRANCIS
Sam Flynn, left, and other members of the Prayer at the Porn Shop ministry pray the rosary in front of Calgary's Adult Source.
Sam Flynn is literally taking a stance against pornography. Since the spring, he's gathered a group of friends to stand outside a porn shop in Calgary and pray for an end to pornography. He calls his ministry Prayer at the Porn Shop.
"I think there aren't enough people saying this isn't good for your health or your relationship, this isn't love," said Flynn, a 25-year-old Mount Royal University business student.
"It's destroying families, it's destroying marriages, it's destroying relationships. It's making us love less because we don't look at people with love anymore, but with objectivity."
Flynn used Facebook to get the word out about his event and so far he's had a small but loyal following. The participants all sport a T-shirt that reads: Love women, fight porn while praying the rosary and Divine Mercy chaplet outside Adult Source, Canada's largest adult chain, which is located along the TransCanada Highway.
On one occasion a man stopped and encouraged the group, telling them he didn't know guys like them existed. Conversely, a lot of people drive by yelling out their window in protest, "I love porn." Flynn welcomes all reactions.
"If no one is out there saying we don't like this then they're not going to think differently," said Flynn.
Ultimately, he would like to see the pornography shop close down due to lack of business.
Flynn got the idea to start this ministry after hearing Australian Catholic apologist Matt Fradd speak on two different occasions about the evils of pornography. Fradd challenged his audience to do something tangible to raise awareness about the harmful effects of pornography, such as pray outside a pornography shop.
"My primary objective would be that the Holy Spirit would change hearts. You can close down a building and have hearts as deranged as they were when it was open," said Fradd.
In recent years, Fradd founded theporneffect.com, a ministry that exposes the harmful effects of pornography, while working for NET Ministries in Ireland. He continued his ministry after moving to Ottawa to work for NET Canada and was scouted by Catholic Answers to become a full-time speaker and apologist in San Diego this fall.
He believes not only that pornography is wrong, but that it's at the crux of many social issues, which devalue the person.
"Contraception and pornography are the fuel of the abortion industry because both say I want my pleasure, but I don't want the consequence of what this act may give.
"I pray outside abortion clinics whenever I can and so I think we can respectfully pray outside these porn shops as well," said Fradd.
To understand the issue properly, it's important to understand that pornography is not wrong because sex is wrong or the naked body is bad or shameful, said Fradd.
"The problem with pornography is not that it shows too much, but that it shows too little of the human person, that it reduces the beauty and mystery of femininity to a collection of body parts to be used rather than a person to be loved," he said.
"Men who are called by God to be protectors become consumers. The woman who was meant to be a treasure becomes a target. I think we go to pornography to pacify something hurting within us, some loneliness within us, but it backfires in a huge way."
While Fradd works to expose pornography for what it is, he also tries to point people to the source of healing - Jesus Christ and the sacraments.
As someone who struggled with viewing pornography in high school, Flynn knows first hand how challenging the temptation can be, but he also knows the healing grace of God. The ministry he's started in Calgary has helped solidify his stance against pornography and opened up the door to talk about purity.
"Its like, okay, let's pray for each other and everyone we know because we all need prayers for purity," said Flynn. "Our faith is strengthened when it is shared."
The next Prayer at the Porn Shop will take place outside Adult Source in Calgary on 16th Avenue on Dec. 10 at 3 p.m.