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TOOWOOMBA, Australia, October 17, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — Civic and spiritual leaders in this mid-sized city near Queensland’s east coast have united to fight pornography to save marital relationships from breakup and women from violence.

A gathering of 200-300 people heard speeches from Mayor Paul Antonio, social activist John Minz of Toowoomba Together, and Christian leader Letitia Shelton as well as testimonies from women whose marriages were wrecked and young men whose lives were ruined by porn.

Civic pride appeared to be the unifying theme for the “A City Free From Porn” campaign, which asked supporters to take a pledge that was handed out to all in attendance on business cards. “Taking the pledge” was an important part of the 19th century temperance movement in the United States and Canada.

“I acknowledge that viewing pornography promotes exploitation of women and violence against women and it damages families,” the pledge states. “I commit that I won’t view porn and I will help create a city free from porn.” 

“We must begin a journey with one step. I think what we’ve focused on today is the real value of proper relationships,” Antonio told the crowd gathered in a city park.

Later, Antonio told LifeSiteNews that no one could doubt that pornography “is one of the elements of violence within the family. Many young ladies have had horrific experiences with porn and there is no doubt it has the characteristics of an addiction.”

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The push for the campaign comes from Toowoomba City Women and its founder, Letitia Shelton. The organization was founded a decade ago to bring churches of many Christian denominations together in social ministries aimed at protecting and supporting girls and women through such programs as summer camps and residences for unwed mothers.

Shelton is downplaying the religious aspect of fighting porn and instead stressing the civic benefits of reducing the violence against girls and women that pornography encourages. “Ideally, we’d like [boys and men] to realize the harm it can to a community, to look at what porn can do to a life,” she said. “The ideal is a place where every human being is valued.”

She draws hope from the success of the anti-smoking campaign despite the resistance of the billion-dollar tobacco industry. “In 50 years, they’ve been able to highlight the dangers of smoking,” she said. “They haven’t eradicated it, but there’s a lot less smoking going on.”

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