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Craig Gross to base his war on porn in Las Vegas

Las Vegas- A minister who has achieved a degree of celebrity status for helping people addicted to pornography says he is moving his niche evangelical Christian effort to ground zero — Las Vegas.

Craig Gross, 33, has been running his XXXChurch from Michigan for seven years and traveling around the world delivering his message that pornography is toxic to family life.

In the next month he’ll be in British Columbia, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Australia. His campaign includes college campus debates with porn star Ron Jeremy.

Gross said he decided to relocate to Las Vegas — where he launched his ministry in 2002 at an annual convention of the adult entertainment industry — because of all the residents and tourists who find themselves tempted by the Strip’s adult environment.

“You’ve got escorts to your room in 20 minutes or less,” he said. “The temptations are more powerful and strong than any place I’ve ever been. You walk by magazine racks of pornography. You have guys handing you cards for escorts.”

Gross figures if he can minister at porn conventions, it should be easy to set up anti-porn booths at other conventions as a way to reach some of the millions of tourists who visit each year.

He has the support of the growing South Hills Church Community, a suburban church with about 1,200 active members, which plans to build a $15 million church near Interstate 215 and St. Rose Parkway. Gross will refer Las Vegas Valley residents who seek spiritual guidance to South Hills and will be working closely with the church. He is speaking at the church today.

“I don’t know that Craig has all the answers,” said South Hills Associate Pastor Nathan Phinney. “I don’t know that we have all the answers. But we care enough to ask the questions.”

South Hills Pastor Bret Johnson said he is excited to help Gross expand his ministry.

“He (Gross) has enough history that he has credibility in the Christian community,” Johnson said. “His concern for people shows through. He has contacts in and out of the industry.”

Gross, a shaggy-haired father of two, says pornography goes far beyond harmless entertainment because it threatens marriages and is emotionally harmful.

He plans to set up a 24-hour-a-day phone line staffed by ministry members to counsel persons dealing with addiction to pornography, and hold events such as “Porn and Pancakes,” a breakfast meeting aimed at educating men about the perils of pornography, and “Porn and Pastries,” a similar meeting aimed at women.

Gross says his organization, which will advertise itself on mobile billboards, will also provide rides for men who want to leave a strip club.

Above all Gross and his team — he said he has about seven people in town — plan to make themselves visible on the Strip to counsel people who seek them out.

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