Gov. Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann

The Mormon church-owned Deseret Morning News in Salt Lake City published an editorial criticizing Mormon presidential candidate Mitt Romney for profiting from the pornography industry as a board member of the Marriott International hotel chain.

The paper pointed out the former Massachusetts governor “caught a bit of flack last week” from critics who charged he did nothing during his 10 years on the board to reverse the corporation’s policy of offering pornography on TV in its rooms.

“Even if the subject never came up at a board meeting, one can argue that at least part of the $25,000 plus stock he was paid annually for his board membership came from the money some hotel guests paid for access to the films,” the Tuesday editorial said.

Romney leads polls in the key primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire. In nationwide surveys, he generally has ranked third or fourth.

Last week, Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, and Phil Burress, president of Ohio-based Citizens for Community Values, both took aim at Romney over the issue.

“Marriott is a major pornographer,” said Burress. “And even though he may have fought it, everyone on that board is a hypocrite for presenting themselves as family values when their hotels offer 70 different types of hardcore pornography.”

In 2000, the company’s Mormon chairman and CEO, J.W. “Bill” Marriott Jr., defended the pornography policy in a letter to Bill Johnson, executive director of the Michigan-based American Decency Association.

“The in-room entertainment operators who provide our systems rely upon a certain volume of movie types in order to be economically viable,” Marriott wrote. “If we were to eliminate the ‘R’ and non-rated offerings, the systems would not be economic.”

Romney, whose first name is Willard, is a namesake of the hotel chain’s founder, who was a close friend of his father.

On the campaign trail, Romney has condemned pornography, telling graduates at Regent University in Virginia that it poisons “our music and movies and TV and video games.”

But the Mormon-owned daily acknowledged the business “is indeed lucrative.”

Nevertheless, several hotel chains have decided to forgo the profits, and a website called assists travelers in finding places that subscribe to its “Clean Hotels Pledge.”

The pledge recognizes “the addictive nature of pornography” and points out “that marriages, families and careers have been devastated because individuals have developed an addiction to pornography after being lured into viewing a pornographic movie in the privacy of their hotel room.” Children, also, can accidentally be exposed to images that “can have a lasting negative effect.”

Gary Glenn, president of the American Family Association of Michigan told WND that when “the church-owned newspaper in Salt Lake openly rebukes two of the most high-profile, nationally well-known members of the LDS church – a presidential candidate and a brand-name corporate CEO – that’s an event of seismic proportions.”

“It will make this issue particularly difficult for Romney to defend,” he said. “What does he say, that his own church is wrong on the issue of pornography?”

The church’s official website, Glenn points out, says members “should avoid pornography in any form and should oppose its production, distribution, and use.”

Related special offer:

“The Marketing of Evil: How Radicals, Elitists, and Pseudo-Experts Sell Us Corruption Disguised as Freedom”

Previous stories:

Romney’s ‘constitutional bungling’ criticized

‘Vote for Romney is vote for Satan’

Romney created ‘gay’ marriage, family groups say

Family group: Mitt Romney chose ‘gay’ marriage

Previous commentary:

Don’t be fooled by Romney

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.