American Decency Association

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American Decency Association
Founded 1999 by Bill Johnson
Type Christian right organization
Key people
Bill Johnson, President

The American Decency Association (ADA) is a non-profit organization associated with the Christian right based in Fremont, Michigan. Its principal cause is against pornography and "indecent" media. The ADA was founded in 1999 by former elementary school teacher, Bill Johnson, the first-named state director of the American Family Association (AFA) from 1987 to 1999.[1] The organization was formally known as the Michigan chapter of the AFA. The mission of the ADA, according to their official website, is " educate its members and the general public on matters of decency; to initiate, promote, encourage and coordinate activity designed to safeguard and advance public morality consistent with biblical Christianity."[2]


The tactic of choice for the ADA is letter-writing and threatening boycotts[3][4] to advertisers and retailers who indirectly support media that the organization views as indecent. The ADA recognizes the power of the media consumer to influence what media that sources choose to portray. The ADA focuses especially on lobbying advertisers for media they find indecent through letter-writing. They are active in many different mediums, but especially television, radio, and magazines. The ADA also produces an e-mail newsletter informing their members of current campaigns and issues, urging them to action.[4]

Abercrombie & Fitch campaign

In 2001, the ADA, along with the Concerned Women for America, participated and led a boycott of Abercrombie & Fitch, a popular clothing retailer. The boycott was in response to the planned publication of the A&F Quarterly, which contains images of nude models. A&F chose not to publish the magalog, and A&F Chairman and CEO Mike Jeffries claimed that this was a response to the September 11 attacks in 2001. The ADA viewed the boycott as a success, albeit a temporary one, since A&F would publish another issue in January 2002.[5]

The ADA continues to take issue with the marketing strategies of the retailer, and in a July 21, 2006 e-mail newsletter, the ADA reported in-store pictures of a man with no underwear wearing unbuttoned pants, and a woman covering her bare breasts with her hands. Also, the newsletter reported a picture on the A&F website of a topless woman laying on top of a naked man.[6]

Victoria's Secret campaign

Victoria's Secret is a lingerie retailer with stores in many malls. The ADA's view on the retailer is that it "sells lingerie in an inappropriate and immoral manner and therefore contributes to the sexual objectification of women and the desensitization of moral sensibilities." The ADA campaign in Michigan malls uses the lobbying tactic of letter-writing and phone calls, threatening a mall-wide boycott. The ADA's mall-wide boycotts recognize the influence that all of the other stores in the malls may have on Victoria's Secret, since a mall-wide boycott is disruptive to all stores, regardless of their standing with the ADA.[7]

The motive of the campaign has been attacked by at least one independent media source, which claims that the ADA is only interested in promoting biblical morality in secular society, and while they disapprove of the objectification of women, the motive is focused on the indecency and immorality of the marketing techniques, instead of the advancement of women's rights.[3]

Detroit Pistons dancers

In 2006, the ADA opposed the distribution of a calendar depicting Detroit Pistons dance group, "Automotion" members in swimsuits. The calendar was given away to fans during a December basketball game, and then sold to legal adults for $13 in Pistons' stores. A member of the ADA described the calendar as "legalized prostitution." The ADA opposed the calendar by means of its e-mail newsletter, and said that since the basketball team counted women and young children among its fans, the calendar was inappropriate. The proceeds of the calendar went to charity.[8]

In January 2006, Brother Rice High, a Michigan Catholic school disinvited Automotion to an alumni fundraising event after repeated urging by the ADA. The ADA held that the event "legitimizes pornography and the objectification of women." Though the high school's decision was made in response to public pressure instead of an admission of wrongdoing by the principal, the ADA still viewed it as a victory. The dancers planned to donate their time to the fundraising event.[9]

Other campaigns

Movie Gallery

The Movie Gallery was a video and game rental chain, with some stores that offered an "adults only" section. It was one of the few national chains with select stores that offered pornography. The Movie Gallery was actively picketed by members of the ADA, and members were encouraged to call the corporate headquarters and threaten a boycott.[10][11]


The ADA campaigns against the following magazines in two ways—first, by pressuring grocery and convenience stores to remove the magazines from the checkout aisles, and second, by monitoring the companies that purchase advertising in the magazines, and pressuring those companies through letter-writing.[12]


The ADA provides a list of television advertisers for selected networks, and monitors shows on the major networks for indecency.[13]

ABC shows


The ADA receives some funding from the Holland, Michigan based Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation, which funds many other Christian right groups including the Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, who both received a little over a million dollars in 2003 and 2004, and 2003 and 2005, respectively. The Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation also gave money to the Promise Keepers, and the Concerned Women for America. Many other local and national groups associated with the religious right have received money from the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation.[15]


  1. "Our board". American Decency Association.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Mission Statement". American Decency Association.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Michigan Religious Right Organization Leads Boycott against Victoria's Secret". Media Mouse. December 12, 2006.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Vision Statement". American Decency Association.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Abercrombie and Fitch Cancels Holiday Quarterly". CWFA. October 19, 2001. Archived from the original on November 21, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Abercrombie & Fitch back at it again". American Decency Association. July 21, 2006. Archived from the original on August 11, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Victoria's Secret". American Decency Association.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Pistons dance team's calendar draws group's ire". The Associated Press. January 11, 2006.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Brown, Jim (January 25, 2006). "Catholic School Disinvites Detroit Pistons' Dancers; Decency Advocate Applauds". AgapePress.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Movie Gallery". American Decency Association.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Are Movie Gallery Video Stores Bringing Hard-Core Porn to Your Community?". Mind the Media.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. 12.0 12.1 "Prurient Magazines". American Decency Association.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Television Indecency". American Decency Association.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "A look at ABC's programming". American Decency Association.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Holland's Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation Major Local and National Supporter of the Religious Right". Media Mouse. February 27, 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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