Trafficking, porn and silence in America's churches
While some churches have come alongside the U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking — which has locations in four states and Washington, D.C. — to help their efforts to save young boys from trafficking, Malone said many others have turned a blind eye.
"I think it's an obedience issue, to be honest with you," he explained. "Many people that say they're Christians don't read the Bible, so they don't know what God says. But it's clearly mandated and commanded in the Bible to take care of orphans. These are modern-day orphans because they're on the streets, they're being sold, a lot of the boys are runaways that were trafficked, they may be trafficking themselves.”
"The definition, to me, of an orphan, trafficked children fit in the biblical terms under orphan, and there's a lot of Scripture that commands us to take care of orphans," Malone added. "So these are the modern-day orphans, a segment of them. It's not a choice; it's obedience. We, as believers, can we pick and choose what scripture we're going to obey? No! We obey all of it as best we can. We all fall short, we know that, but I think it's a mandate to the Body of Christ, to believers, to help orphans, and these trafficked kids are orphaned.”
The father of two said that sadly, he's had a difficult time getting churches to get on board because it can be viewed as a foreign issue that has nothing to do with the U.S. Many people in churches, he said, are even unknowingly complicit.
"Dealing with churches across the country, there are some issues that they're dealing with. First of all, they don't believe it's happening in their backyard or in their community, and they're wrong! We can prove it's happening in almost every community,” Malone declared. "Secondly, it’s sexual in nature, so they don't think that they can touch that because it's just icky or whatever they want to say."
"There are direct connections in many instances to pornography. We know that sitting in the church pews, anywhere from 25 percent to 50 percent of the men have some kind of sexual intimacy issues, and they're looking at porn, either regularly or they're addicted to it. We know the numbers are fairly close for pastors, too, and there's no accountability.”
"So this is a direct message, I believe, to believers and to the churches that the pastors have to stand up and be courageous and be bold about what they talk about from the pulpit,” he maintained. “This is an issue: pornography, sexual issues and sex trafficking of children.
"I'm sorry, but that's what the world is dealing with, and that's what pastors need to explain or to preach about to their congregations.”
Washinski interjected, adding: "Along those lines [churches can] offer solutions to men and women with sex and porn addictions, with sexual trauma in their own background, which leads them to victimize. It leads to their own addiction to pornography.”
Pornography's direct connection to human trafficking
“We like to think that that's separate, but the problem is that human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal enterprise in the world today. Why is that?” Washinski posited. “That's because the sex industry, the pornography industry, is thriving like never before. There are not enough willing participants to meet the demand. That's where the victimization of human trafficking comes in. Where traffickers are exploiting vulnerable women and children to participate in the pornography that our churchgoing men and women are engaged in.”
In August, after more than 100 members of Congress urged the Department of Justice to investigate the porn site OnlyFans over its content involving the sexual abuse of children, the site announced that starting Oct. 1, it would be shutting down all pornography accounts. Soon after that announcement, however, the site, which has 120 million users worldwide and generated over $2 billion in 2020, reversed its decision.
The news came after global headlines exposed the pornography giant Pornhub for monetizing child sexual abuse, rape and sex trafficking on its platform. The uproar led payment processors to stop doing business with the site.
Data compiled by Webroot Cybersecurity found that over 28,200 users are watching porn every second, and 35% “of all internet downloads are related to pornography.”
Although some might argue that porn is predominantly an adult industry, Webroot Cybersecurity reported that data collected from 400 million web searches showed that “youth” was the most popular term related to sexual searches online. The word teen is one of the most searched terms on Pornhub and has been in the top 10 searches for several years.
Malone believes that few churches are tackling these issues and many others avoid discussing them because of the enemy’s spiritual hold.
"It's spiritual warfare,” he asserted. “We know that he comes to divide and conquer; he comes to bring confusion and chaos. 'He comes to kill, steal and destroy,' as Jesus said. One of the main ways he's doing it is through teaching young men and women the sexual template that they should use is what they see in this hardcore, violent, child abuse type of pornography.”
"It happens all over the world, but in American, Western civilization, boys and young men, in general, are looking at stuff that's establishing, in their brains, a perspective, a mindset as to what healthy sexual relationships look like. It's definitely not according to the Bible or according to any kind of what a healthy God-fearing relationship would look like,” Malone stressed.
Even in non-Christian circles, Washinski’s said, “it's unhealthy.”
“In America, erectile dysfunction is off the charts and why is that? It's because people can't have sex with their partners because they've engaged in so much pornography that they can't relate or get aroused by their partner,” she added.
"What we've also learned," Malone said, "is that when boys and young men start looking at this stuff, eventually it gets to a place where they can't be satisfied by what they see on the screen. So they have to go and actualize and do it. Instead of watching it, visualizing it, they have to go act on it. They can't be satisfied, so they have to go looking for it elsewhere, and that's why we see a supply and demand.
"There's a demand for this, for men to be gratified or satisfied sexually, and they can't get it either at home or by watching it anymore, so now they're out buying for certain sort of acts and behavior.”
Gabriel Pagan, an associate pastor at Love Revolution Church in Columbus, Georgia, shared his own experience with porn and a trafficking scare he experienced as a teenager. The outspoken Christian who denounces his old lifestyle and regularly speaks out against pornography said he can see how “porn plays into sex trafficking in my own life.”
“When I was first introduced to sexual abuse and porn, I had no understanding of what happened to me. I just know whatever I was doing felt good in the moment,” he revealed. “As porn became accessible in faster mediums, I thought it was normal to emulate what I saw in the community upload section on websites such as Pornhub and Xtube. I didn’t talk to my parents about my sexual experiences and all I had was porn to look to.”
“This led to me being 15 years old and looking for ‘daddies’ in public bathrooms and welcome centers,” he admitted.
Pagan explained that one day while he was fishing for men in the bathroom and “lingering at this site for some time, an older man saw” his behavior and “tried to follow” him.
“A voice spoke inside me clear as day: ‘If you don’t get out now, you are going to get kidnapped.’ After I walked out of the bathroom after avoiding the man, I talked to the lady at the front desk of the welcome center. She said she would call the cops and then she drove me home."
Pagan, who now ministers to people across the country at Freedom Marches, boldly declared that Jesus set him free from being gay, but acknowledged that the bathroom incident did not “satiate” his appetite.
“I desired to be raped and was able to feed this fantasy through porn,” Pagan added. “I struggled with a sex addiction that drove me to suicidal idealization, and then I met Jesus Christ in 2012. He filled the void I was looking for in porn.”
Pagan is now married with a son and twins on the way.
Homosexuality and identity confusion are regularly seen in boys who have been trafficked, and the U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking safe house works to provide stability for the boys in their program. During this reporter's visit to the safe house, one of the young boys asked for prayer against same-sex attractions because he wanted to be free from that lifestyle.
The U.K.-based nonprofit Internet Watch Foundation, whose aim is to remove child porn from the internet, noted that in 2019 over 100,000 URLs offered access to child sexual abuse imagery. In the U.S., 1 million reports are received each month, according to The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Jeannie Ortega Law is a reporter for The Christian Post. Reach her at: email@example.com She's also the author of the book, What Is Happening to Me? How to Defeat Your Unseen Enemy Follow her on Twitter: @jlawcp Facebook: JeannieOMusic