When police discovered thousands of pornographic images on the home computer of a man involved in the leadership of a nearby church, Darrell Brazell wasn't surprised.
"They said they found something like 6,000 images on his computer," Brazell says. "That sounds like a lot, but it's not. You can download that much in a very short amount of time."
Brazell knows. He was addicted to pornography for nearly 15 years.
"It's a very common misconception that somehow ministers are above all of that," he says. "The truth is, ministers are humans too, with the same weaknesses and frailties as any other person."
Brazell, who says he has been "clean" for 10 years, is pastor of New Hope Fellowship in Lawrence, Kansas. He counsels and coordinates faith-based support groups for men addicted to pornography, and a large number of the men he counsels are ministers. When a minister realizes he is addicted to pornography, the efforts to cover up the problem lead to inner conflict, which can create growing frustration and hopelessness.
"The trouble is, for many years, pornography and addictions related to it have been able to fly under the radar," Brazell says. "Then, along came the internet, which allowed free and perceived anonymous access to pornography practically anytime, anywhere. And you won't ever stop it completely, people being people, but you can make the church property as clean of it as possible."