Religious porn, also known as religious conversion and religious conversion porn, is a subset of religious porn that promotes religious conversion of non-Christians, including Christians, Muslims, Jews, and others.
Religious conversion porn has existed since at least the 1980s, when the website The Church of Scientology launched a series of YouTube videos featuring a pastor claiming that Jesus Christ had converted a woman to Christianity and that she was a “sexual deviant” after she converted to Islam.
As The Next Week explained in 2015, the videos featured a pastor using a pseudonym and claiming to be the “first” to perform a “Christian conversion” on a woman.
(Consequently, the pastor was labeled a “cuckold.”)
The videos are a major source of online hate and have been viewed more than 7.5 million times.
(See “The Church of Satan has a lot to answer for.”)
Today, religious conversion pornography has become a major threat to free speech, and in 2016, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of an ex-Muslim man who says that a religious conversion video he had recorded of his ex-wife, who converted to Christianity in 2013, was offensive to her.
The suit argues that religious conversion videos “have no place in mainstream American society and are therefore constitutionally protected speech.”
While religious conversion is generally illegal, it is still legal for pastors to use YouTube to spread their message of conversion and conversion porn to their congregations, a practice that violates the First Amendment.
In 2015, a federal judge in Utah ruled that religious porn violates the law and blocked the videos from being broadcast.
In June, the Supreme Court struck down a law that made it a felony for people who made “religious conversion porn” a felony.
This week, the court issued a ruling that will likely pave the way for the new federal law to take effect.
The court found that there are multiple instances of religious conversion that are protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments, and it said that religious conversions are “the bedrock of religious freedom.”
In the court’s ruling, Justice Elena Kagan wrote, “The First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion, including freedom of speech, speech that is protected by a First Amendment right, and the right to engage in religion without fear of prosecution for speech that purports to make religious claims or to advance those claims.”
But religious conversion remains illegal.
“There are plenty of other places that are free to express their religious views,” Sarah Binder, a lawyer with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, told The Next World.
“It’s up to the government to regulate it.”