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29 November 2011

Faithfulness Matters campaigns against website profits

Faithfulness Matters campaigns against website profits

Faithfulness Matters is a coalition of people, churches and other organisations who believe that no one should make money from breaking up relationships.

Jon Kuhrt, who started the campaign, explains: "The focus of Faithfulness Matters is to challenge companies who run websites which specifically encourage people who are married or in committed relationships to have affairs. We believe that this is not legitimate business for responsible companies to be involved in."

The campaign started when Jon saw an advert for one of Global Personals' websites: "I was driving with my family and my five year old son said out loud: 'Daddy what's a ma-ree-tal affair?' I looked up and saw a huge billboard which promised 'instant excitement' through cheating on your partner." Jon wrote to the Advertising Standards Agency but they rejected his complaint, saying it "did not offend against widely held moral or cultural standards".

"So I set up a Facebook group about it and we got lots of people involved and put pressure on the company which led to the advert's withdrawal," he said.

Now the focus of the campaign is on the companies that run and profit from websites that facilitate people having affairs. Global Personals, one of the largest providers of online dating services, is one such company. They were nominated for two National Business Awards recently - but supporters of Faithfulness Matters lobbied the judges for the awards with concerns about their ethics. This affected the marking for the awards and Global Personals did not win.

Many Christian organisations have supported the Faithfulness Matters campaign from its outset, including the Evangelical Alliance, Theos, Community Mission, CARE and Jubilee Centre. Dave Landrum, the Alliance's advocacy director comments: "At a time when children and communities need the security of committed, trusting relationships, it is reprehensible for a company to seek to make a fast buck by encouraging marital infidelity. The bond of marriage should be off-limits to such enterprises. Faithfulness really does matter for us all, and we all have a responsibility to value marriage, not denigrate it."

The campaign is open to anyone who wishes to endorse its statement, which can be done by sending a simple email to faithfulnessmatters@gmail.com following the instructions on the website.

Faithfulness Matters has attracted much attention and its website includes quotes of support, such as: "I welcome this campaign, and pray that it succeeds in encouraging a deeper and more honest debate about marriage and faithfulness in society. I work in the field of homelessness and there can be no doubt that the stories of the people who struggle most to find their way in life almost always begin with a broken relationship or an absent parent. Thank you to all who are leading this." Alastair Murray, deputy director of Housing Justice.

An Early Day Motion in support of the campaign has been tabled in Parliament and 28 MPs from across the parties have signed it so far. (An Early Day Motion is a formal motion submitted for debate in the House of Commons. Although rarely debated, an EDM allows MPs to draw attention to an issue or event they feel strongly about.)

Global Personals at first complained that Faithfulness Matters is an 'unelected body' but have now agreed to meet with a delegation from the campaign on 5 December.

Faithfulness Matters wants its powerful message to come across in a positive, peaceful way. To support the campaign, sign up via the website, encourage your local MP to sign the Early Day Motion and pray - particularly for the meeting in early December.

To find out more, and to endorse the statement, see http://faithfulnessmatters.net 

The Faithfulness Matters statement is as follows:

We believe that faithfulness between people in committed relationships matters. It matters for individuals, for families, for children and for our communities. We believe that commitment, trust and honesty are key cornerstones of a healthy society.

Because of this, we do not believe that running websites specifically focused to encourage married people to have affairs is legitimate business for a responsible company. We do not believe anyone should make money from breaking up relationships.

We call upon the companies engaged in running websites which encourage people to have affairs to withdraw from the partnerships involved and close these websites.