A new campaign kicks off in Memphis.

Larry Parrish of Memphis, Tennessee, dedicated most of his time as U.S. attorney to prosecuting violators of federal pornography laws. From 1972 to 1976, he prosecuted 60 defendants. Because of the connection between organized crime and pornography, and because of the shady business dealings of many of the peddlers, the FBI and the IRS joined in. Before it was over, Parrish and his staff had compiled nearly 20,000 pages of evidence.

But his steadfastness went largely for naught. Though 59 of the 60 he prosecuted were convicted, Parrish was crushed by the light sentences they received. One of the prime movers of the film Deep Throat, for example, who was also involved in organized crime, was sentenced by a federal judge to nine months in prison and a $15,000 fine. Most of the other sentences were similar—the longest jail term was only 18 months.

It was Parrish’s growing awareness of the government’s message on the pornography issue—which, he says is, “We don’t care”—that led to his resignation in 1977. But today, the Religious Roundtable, a conservative organization with chapters in all 50 states, and the New York City-based Morality in Media (MIM), are trumpeting a different message. They believe people are concerned about America’s pornography plague. They are trying to take that message to the president of the United States.

Late in January, the two groups cosponsored a banquet in Memphis to kick off a national campaign against pornography. The master of ceremonies was the Roundtable’s effervescent president, Edward McAteer, a staunch Southern Baptist. McAteer, perhaps more than any other person, is responsible for the marriage between politics and the Religious Right. He has been to the ...

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