The Church with the Strippers Out Front

Peaceful controversy done the American way.

Ever since adult entertainment became legal in most places, it has not been uncommon in the more religiously devout parts of the country for local churches to picket and protest when a strip-club or sex shop opens its doors.  Sometimes the churchy types get tired of hanging around in the seedy part of town and go home; other times, the holy rollers drive the customers away and the erotic business out of business.

And then there's Warsaw, Ohio, where the Columbus Dispatch brings us this eyebrow-raising news:

The battle that has heretofore played out in the parking lot of George's strip club - the Foxhole, a run-down, garage-like building at a Coshocton County crossroads called Newcastle - has shifted 7 miles east to Church Street.

Every weekend for the last four years, Dunfee and members of his ministry have stood watch over George's joint, taking up residence in the right of way with signs, video cameras and bullhorns in hand. They videotape customers' license plates and post them online, and they try to save the souls of anyone who comes and goes.

Now, the dancers have turned the tables, so to speak. Fed up with the tactics of Dunfee and his flock, they say they have finally accepted his constant invitation to come to church.

It's just that they've come wearing see-through shorts and toting Super Soakers...

They sat in front of the church and waved at passing cars but largely ignored the congregation behind them.

Do you suppose this increases attendance?

So the picketed abruptly become the picketers, and we are met with the peculiar sight of bikinied strippers cavorting with a church in the background.

This sounds like the prelude to a war, but it's not.

...The churchgoers largely ignored the dancers. Except for Stan Braxton. He stopped and held hands with Lola, a 42-year-old dancer who made $200 on her Saturday night shift, and prayed for her salvation.

Lola, who wouldn't give her last name, said she was grateful for Braxton's prayers and his time...

The first few weeks, [Pastor] Dunfee piped the sermon outside. But that "agitated" them, he said, and made them dance in the streets. [emphasis added]<.p>

This almost friendly tit-for-tat has continued for some weeks now, and what don't we see?  No Molotov cocktails thrown through the door of the church; no strippers assaulted and disfigured by knife-wielding thugs.  As far as street protests go, dancing is about as nice as it gets.

Instead, there are two wildly opposite and conflicting views expressing their opinions in a noisy, visible, but entirely peaceful, orderly, and democratic way.

Will it end?  Does it matter?  The protests and counter-protests could go on for years, nobody doing anybody any harm and everyone on both sides feeling much better about themselves.

The church is doing God's work in confronting sin, and the strippers are making their club into a nationally-known destination.  American freedom at its finest!

We can't help but reflect on the news that a gay bar is planned next door to the infamous 9-11 Mosque in Manhattan.  There are gay bars next to churches and synagogues, and there is no violence.  Does anyone think that's likely in this case?  Or will there be a permanent cordon of New York's Finest protecting... well, which one?

For that matter, what on earth would happen to a strip club in a Muslim nation?  Can we even imagine such a thing considering that fundamentalist Iranian Muslims have burnt alive entire full theater audiences watching an ordinary movie much less live nude girls, and un-burkhaed women walking on Islamic streets are liable to have acid thrown in their faces?

Of course, many of the most notorious terrorists were fond of strip clubs and prostitutes to prepare themselves for their expected reward of 72 virgins; history thankfully does not record their anticipation of the 28 young boys also awarded to martyrs in Allah's Paradise.

And so we have an object lesson on almost everything about Islam, as distinct from Christianity, that you need to know.  That, and an unaccustomed pulchritudinous view on the way to church.

Read other articles by Hobbes or other articles on Society.
Reader Comments
This is more of a win for the church than the strip club.

Anyone that likes to visit the strip club but desires discretion (more than a few, I'm sure) won't go anywhere near it now. Not only is the church recording driver's license numbers and posting them on its website, but now the national media is watching the scene. The wayward husband is even more likely to get caught now than ever before.

As far as believers go, those that agree with the church will come from further away to support the cause. Anyone that's currently a member isn't likely to leave over this. This has given them the national attention to rally even stronger.

Watch for the strip club to go out of business in the near future. Don't underestimate a Christian church's ability to clean up the local town. It's happened over and over again.
August 16, 2010 8:53 AM
I think that 42 year old dancer might have appreciated those prayers. (Please, God, just a few more years....)
Not sure about the effect this will have. Guess it depends on who you are, but visiting a strip club isn't quite the disgraceful as frequenting hookers. The married guys will stay away, but the core constituency of young guys won't care.
Over all, the important thing to remember is that this is being played out peacefully, with a certain amount of humour and good nature. And I'm pretty sure strippers are allowed to attend church as long as they put something on.
August 16, 2010 10:24 AM
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