A California-based web ministry created nearly 20 years ago to combat pornography addiction and witness to those in the adult entertainment industry has a new owner.
Carl Thomas, a former staff member at XXXchurch who left the organization a couple of years ago to pursue his own ministry Live Free, acquired the website and many of its entities. He gained official control on Monday.
A former porn addict who credited XXXchurch with aiding his recovery, Thomas told The Christian Post that he felt called to acquire the ministry earlier this year due to a "weird nagging feeling" that led him to reach out to founder Craig Gross to "see if he wanted to release it” after Gross moved on to pursue another endeavor in 2019.
XXXchurch will become part of Thomas’ Live Free ministries. The exact details of the transition remain confidential due to various nondisclosure agreements, according to Thomas.
When it came to what changes may occur to the ministry, Thomas noted that initially, the XXXchurch mission statement was to be "all things to all people” and was focused on "awareness, prevention, recovery."
Thomas said that while the website "has done a lot of good work" and other organizations have shown up to tackle the problem, pornography addiction remains a major issue.
He plans on "shifting the focus" away from having to prove that pornography is a problem, concluding that "most people know that already." Instead, he wants the ministry to focus on helping people discuss their issues and get help.
"The real issue as far as I am concerned, especially when it comes to this, is the fact that even today,” explained Thomas, “we can't really talk about sensitive issues like porn, like masturbation, like infidelity. We can't talk about this stuff in an open context because of the shame."
"If people feel like they can't pursue recovery or freedom or get into these conversations without being looked down upon or marginalized or kind of pushed off into the corner ... they're not going to step out and ask for it because they don't want to be embarrassed."
Thomas believes that this fear of shame over discussing issues like pornography addiction was “the main problem” that he wanted XXXchurch to tackle.
“It’s the fact that we still treat this thing with kid gloves, and we shouldn't. It’s just a part of life, and it’s like physical fitness, financial fitness, all this stuff. It’s just a part of life, and it's part of just growing and getting better,” said Thomas.
"We want to be the voice for change. ... This has to become a normal topic at some point, and until that does change, we're also going to be that community that provides people, connect people with those communities where they can find that type of help."
As part of the leadership change in 2019, Gross announced that former porn star Brittni De La Mora and her husband, Rich, would take over the ministry.