A few years ago, Erich Sean and his buddy August Weisz started their “Ban Masturbation” movement. The campaign began humbly enough, as a simple Facebook page posting occasional articles teaching readers how to spot a masturbator, questioning if people who masturbate should be allowed to vote, or sharing news of a teenage girl who was “coincidentally” struck by lightning while touching herself. But soon enough, Stop Masturbation Now would become an internet sensation, inducing moral outrage and  media frenzy.

“The page got bigger and bigger, until it had nearly 80,000 followers,” Sean tells us over the phone. The more members joined his organization, however, the more his sinful opponents —  known as “masturhaters” — began to criticize and attack. To provide an outlet for opponents to direct their rage at, Sean and friends collaboratively invented “Lonnie Childs,” a personification of the anti-masturbation crusade who would become worshipped by many and despised by many more.

“We created him to be the figurehead of the movement,” Sean says, “because people like to focus on someone they can be angry with, as opposed to a whole movement. So I found a photo of some kindly old man — who many people say looks like a child molester — and he’s there if people need to be mad at a person.”

With the invention of Lonnie Childs, the narrative surrounding Stop Masturbation Now grew stronger. The foundation of the campaign rests on the premise that masturbation is the ultimate crime, and that all the world’s problems lead back to jacking off. Tax evasion, murder, and natural disasters, for example, all occur because someone touched their sin-zones.

The goal of the organization is to stamp out masturbation from the world. “We encourage heterosexual relations to procreate and create an anti-masturbation army. Once masturbation is eradicated and illegal, the world would be a more peaceful place,” Sean explains.

Needless to say, Sean doesn’t really believe this bullshit. Stop Masturbation Now was always intended to be satire, he tells us, but far too many people were being fooled. “I was baffled by how many people were suckered into it,” Sean explains. “My faith in humanity has taken a huge hit.”

In fact, since Stop Masturbation Now’s inception, millions of people have been duped by several of the group’s hoaxes. Their first ruse to take the Internet by storm was the Anti-Masturbation Cross, which would allow you to strap your children to a cross to keep them from touching their naughty bits.

“It was originally a child restraining device to keep hyper kids from hurting themselves, but we repurposed it to say it could prevent children from masturbating,” Sean tells us. The Anti-Masturbation Cross spread through social media like wildfire, bringing a flood of new attention to the organization. “We had around 25 million views, which crashed the web site and got us so many complaints on Facebook that the page got deleted,” he says.

Shortly after recovering from the cross chaos, Stop Masturbation Now’s bogus article — about a teenage girl being struck by lightning while masturbating — blew up on Twitter before getting picked up by the media.

Then, Sean hand-crafted a meme that fostered millions more views and millions more shares. “I took a picture of a friendly, smiling Jesus, and added something along the lines of ‘Addicted to masturbation? We can beat it together,’” Sean says with a laugh.

Tons more of Stop Masturbation Now’s content has since gone viral, but perhaps the most impressive prank of all involved a fake news story about Fappy the Dolphin, the group’s child-friendly mascot.

“Fappy was created by one of our early fans who wanted to be involved in Stop Masturbation Now. He wanted to make a mascot, so we went back and forth on which animal to use, and settled on a dolphin. He called it Fappy and ran with it,” Sean says.

Fappy’s founder, a prolific fake news creator, put together a story alleging that Fappy the Anti-Masturbation Dolphin had been arrested for public masturbation. The story instantly spread around the Internet, and Stop Masturbation duped countless idiots once again.

Those who fall for the group’s absurd hoaxes likely do so because there is little, if any, solid evidence to prove that Stop Masturbation Now is simply trolling millions. Quite the contrary, Sean and his fellow members have established a mildly convincing presence, a devout following, and an unbelievably elaborate lore.

Their brilliant conspiracy:  “Big Masturbation is promoting their narrative to control the populus. If you get them masturbating, they’re not worrying about other problems of the world,” Sean says.

To protect the woke fellowship from Big Masturbation, “We say our followers are living at a compound in Arizona, which is is outfitted with cameras to make sure masturbation is never happening. To be certain we’re not tainted with self-rape, Lonnie reviews the tapes every night — for hours. We have a neighborhood  watch, and we encourage people to report their neighbors,” Sean explains.

Of course, this holy community has also come under fire. “We’ve had people threaten to go to the compound and expose us to the Feds,” Sean says. Plenty have also accused Lonnie Childs of leading a cult, but his followers — Children Under Lonnie’s Teachings — would violently disagree.

If you choose to follow their path of enlightenment: worshiping Lonnie Childs, embracing the teachings of Stop Masturbation Now, and no longer engaging in self-rape, there may be salvation for you yet. “If you masturbate, you’re not automatically going to Hell. You always have a chance for Lonnie’s golden shower of redemption,” Sean tells us.

Organized religion may not appeal to most of the younger generations, but a faith with a charismatic cult leader, dank memes, and legendary Internet trolling may make this movement worth devotion. The battle led by Lonnie Childs and Stop Masturbation Now may not be sincere, but exploiting others’ stupidity is a religious experience as sacred and spiritual as any other. So praise Fappy the Dolphin, praise Lonnie Childs, and praise every member of Stop Masturbation Now for doing the Lord’s work. Amen.

[originally published August 21, 2017]