SALT LAKE CITY — If the face of the Hon. John Harmer, a former California state senator and lieutenant governor, appears worn and tired it’s because he is fighting a 40-year battle with images he doesn’t like to look at and words he hates to read. Harmer, the founder and chairman of the Lighted Candle Society, now in its sixth year, is leading a charge against pornography, whether it is found in magazines and books, movies and television, or popping up into our homes uninvited via the internet.
Harmer doesn’t fight this battle alone. On May 8 at the annual Guardian of the Light Awards Dinner at Little America in Salt Lake City, Harmer and the Lighted Candle Society will honor Michael Reagan and Pamela Atkinson for their efforts. San Francisco Archbishop George H. Niederauer, former president of the Utah Coalition Against Pornography, will give the keynote address at the dinner.
Reagan, the adopted son of the late President Ronald Reagan and his first wife, Jane Wyman, is the host of the conservative radio talk show, "The Michael Reagan Show," is syndicated through Radio America. He will be honored for his anti-porn efforts on the national level. Atkinson, a local activist who took over the reigns of the Utah Coalition Against Pornography from Bishop George Niederauer after he was named archbishop of San Francisco, will be recognized for her anti-porn stand on the local level.
In an interview with the Intermountain Catholic, Harmer said it is through the efforts of people like Reagan and Atkinson that the Lighted Candle Society is ready to achieve a much broader base.
"When I created the Society, I was aware of many similar organizations doing the same work. A lot of our money has gone to those organizations. I wanted to fill a void."
Harmer has found that void – it is research and the training of law enforcement and prosecutors to effectively fight pornography in the courts on behalf of individuals who have suffered because of the use of pornography. "It is much like the court battles that have tackled tobacco marketing," he said
In a new book Harmer co-wrote with Bountiful Researcher James B. Smith, "The Sex Industrial Complex: Americas Secret Combination, Pornographic Culture, Addiction and the Human Brain," Harmer takes on corporate entities and the powerful movie industry "that are profiting from the production, distribution, and financing of pornography. They support each other and use presumably independent entities such as Planned Parenthood and the ACLU (The American Civil Liberties Union) to protect themselves."
"The Sex Industrial Complex," Harmer’s editor notes, "documents the rise and cultural saturation of pornographic propaganda and ideology throughout the 20th century. From the ACLU to MTV and motion pictures; Harmer lays out the history, social implications, and societal impact of a worldwide pornographic culture."
Harmer said the research of Dr. Judith Reisman, to whom the book is dedicated, "reveals that frequent use of pornography creates addiction and brain damage in the structure and the function of the brain. Through the use of fMRI’s (functional magnetic resonance imaging) we can now watch the human brain react to the stimuli of violence and pornography."
Dr. Reisman’s research and that of the University of Pennsylvania’s Dr. Mary Ann Leyden, Harmer said, provide the protocol for an estimated $2 million – $3 million study the Lighted Candle Society intends to undertake and publish on the harmful effects of pornography on the human brain.
"People have no idea how powerful and dangerous these images are and how pervasive they become to a person addicted to pornography," Harmer said.
For further information about the Lighted Candle Society, The Guardian of the Light Awards Dinner, or "The Sex Industrial Complex" go to: www.lightedcandlesociety.org.