NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Veteran entertainer Art Linkletter and the parents of slain Columbine High School student Cassie Bernall endorsed LifeWayonline during a May 25 kickoff for the Internet filtering system and service of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Joined by a pastor and two sexual addiction counselors, the group endorsed LifeWayonline as an effective way to protect Internet users from pornography and hate sites.
LifeWay President James T. Draper Jr. noted, “Over 60 percent of websites are pornographic. When you add in the hate- and violence-based sites, you have a huge problem,” for which LifeWayonline can be a part of the solution.
LifeWayonline utilizes artificial intelligence that is 99 percent effective in filtering objectionable content. For example, while some filters deny access to any word associated with the word “breast,” LifeWayonline enables access to medically related sites for a person searching for information about breast cancer.
Tim Vineyard, director of LifeWay’s e-business group, explained that LifeWayonline filters objectionable material out at the server, never even allowing it to make its way to the user’s home, office or school computer.
Linkletter, a television and radio personality for more than 60 years and author of “Kids Say the Darndest Things,” said, “A child is the most precious thing we ever touch, and we’re putting them at risk every day.”
Speaking earlier to a group of young children about Internet safety, Linkletter said he told them, “Life is a picnic, a picnic in the mountains, by a beautiful stream, with lots of trees and flowers everywhere. But look over there. There are some wild animals that might bite you. And one of those flowers might be poison oak or poison ivy. And you could drown in that stream if you fell in.”
“Children need to be guided and guarded about all the terrible things to come — Internet, television and radio,” Linkletter said. “We are living in dangerous times for our children.”
Children must be cautioned “that living your life without danger is impossible,” he said. “Part of our responsibility as adults is educating children to the dangers of life, the dangers of the Internet.
“I am proud and happy to give my support to this great organization [LifeWay] and what they are doing for our children with LifeWayonline,” Linkletter added.
Brad and Misty Bernall of Littleton, Colo., lost their daughter, Cassie, in the violence of the Columbine High School shootings in April 1999. Misty Bernall wrote a book, “She Said Yes,” chronicling Cassie’s journey from a rebellious young teenager involved in drugs and Satanism to her Christian conversion experience and the events leading up to her murder.
The Bernalls have traveled the country speaking about the courage their daughter showed in answering “Yes” to the question asked by her killer, “Do you believe in God?” just before she was shot.
Brad Bernall said, “Our faith was in shambles at our feet, but Cassie’s last word touched the world. Cassie’s courage has given other kids in the Columbine community courage to speak out about their faith.”
Rubel Shelly, minister at Woodmont Hills Church, affiliated with the Church of Christ, said he was honored to be an endorser and encourager of LifeWayonline. The time has come for Christian people to join together to do something about pornography and its devastating effects on people, he said.
“I’ve counseled pastors — Church of Christ, Baptist, Nazarene, Methodists — who have been involved with Internet pornography. It crosses denominational lines,” Shelly said.
Admitting his own fear of pornography, he said, “I’m scared to death of it. I don’t go to any of the sites because I know I might not come back. I’m not foolish enough to believe that I’m not vulnerable.”
Shelly noted, “I’m certain no one goes to that first pornography site planning to get addicted. But many people are just naive; they just don’t realize what’s out there.”
He added, “We have access to lots of wonderful things on the Internet, whole libraries, but so many things come in uninvited. We need some sort of protection. I’m just grateful to Dr. Draper and LifeWay for the energy, time and expense they have put into LifeWayonline. Pornography is not a Baptist, Church of Christ, Pentecostal, Nazarene or any other denomination issue. It’s a purity issue.”
Two licensed counselors who specialize in sexual addictions and recovery, spoke of how easy it is for people to get caught in a downward spiral when they get involved in Internet pornography.
Mark Laaser, executive director and co-founder of Christian Alliance for Sexual Recovery, Inc., and author of the discipleship study “Faithful and True: Sexual Integrity in a Fallen World” published by LifeWay, said people are becoming desensitized to all the sexual images surrounding them.
“We’re not always aware of the stimuli of a sexual nature that is out there,” Laaser said. Even young children are exposed to the sexual stimuli of magazine covers at the grocery story checkout lines, he said, noting, “The magazines are at the children’s eye level.”
Christians cannot afford to be silent, Laaser said, suggesting that churches sponsor Internet awareness seminars to let people know of the seriousness of the problem as well as support and encourage LifeWayonline.
Marnie Ferree, marriage and family therapist with the Woodmont Hills Counseling Ministry, said her practice with women who are struggling with sexual addictions has told her how important it is for people to learn how to protect themselves.
Ferree said that women, being more relational, have a greater tendency to turn to chat rooms for sexual stimulation, which often leads to physical meetings.
“I’m seeing a woman now, a pastor’s wife, who got involved with chat rooms,” Ferree recounted. “She told me that in one week, she met with four different men for sexual liaisons. She had met them all on the Internet.
“We can offer these women grace, as well as help,” she said.
More information about LifeWayonline is available at info.lifewayonline.com or by calling 1-888-454-5965.
Additional photo posted in the BP Photo Library. Photo title: THE BERNALLS.