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July 01, 2017

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I encourage anyone who is concerned about this gross violation of the City sign code to send the City a complaint using their online complaint form: http://www.cityofsalem.net/Pages/report-neighborhood-problems.aspx

The Strip Church was founded by a former stripper who knows what goes on behind the scenes. What's so wonderful about what they do is they don't go in and preach at the girls and bouncers. They say "God loves you no matter what you do in your life." While that may not seem like a good message to you, it's amazing what happens when you treat people with kindness rather than derision. Most people in their circumstances are told they're lost. That they're disgusting. That they're worthless. That they're not worthy of God's love. Even so called "Christians" shout those things in protest at them from the parking lot. The Strip Church believes that as Christians, they're called to love, not judge. I think that's a powerful message for anyone, regardless of your religious affiliation.

What the ladies at The Strip Church do is amazing. They go into the clubs and say "we love you. God loves you. Jesus loves you. You're not worthless. You're not disgusting. You're not lost." And it works. People are being saved. They're being helped. They're getting out. Some are finding God some aren't but that's okay. The point of the Strip Church is not to convert, it's to help sex industry workers in whatever way they can. I personally love to hear the updates about women who've left that life and are now being helped to build lives outside the strip clubs. Getting away from pimps and finding meaningful work. And as for the ones who choose to remain strippers??? They at least know they're loved.

My uncle was a prison librarian for many years. He wasn't a religious man at all. His message was very similar to what the Strip Church teaches. "You're worth something. You deserve an education. You deserve a better life." I don't see strippers as being any different. It's just a different kind of prison. Please remember, many of the women in strip clubs are victims of childhood sexual abuse, sex trafficking and even domestic abuse. The message of The Strip Church is "you deserve better. You're worth so much and we love you. Jesus loves you." I think they're wonderful.

You may WANT the Strip Church to go after the corporations but in saying that, you've missed the whole point of what they're trying to do. They're trying to reach one person TODAY. Just one. That's like saying "don't go feed the homeless, go after the big corporations that keep wages low and keep people homeless." Or "go after the government for not doing enough to create low cost housing." Noble goals that will in the long run create less homelessness but what do you do while you're fighting the BIG fight?? A fight that can take years. You go out and you feed the homeless. You make sure you get food in their bellies today. Or a roof over their head tonight. The Strip Church tells people you are loved TODAY. Right now.

I highly encourage you to educate yourself about sex trafficking in Oregon and then definitely get involved. The horror stories you'll find are the very reason The Strip Church exists. I know many atheists who are involved in stopping sex trafficking all over the country. It's an important cause. Most women who enter the sex trade do so as minors. Most are abused by those who are trafficking them. Instead of criticizing the Strip Church without really knowing what they're about, maybe sit down with them and talk. I think that's often what we're missing in this country today. We assume so much without really talking to one another. You might find that you have more in common with these Christians than you think you do. And you might find you want to help tackle sex trafficking in your community. It's a worthwhile cause!

There is NOTHING religious about what these ladies are doing. Religion is ceremonial and theological. What they are doing is simply passing along the love that has been given to them by God to others. I had a daughter there in the clubs. She ended up there after her father walked out of her life. I would have given anything had a group of woman walked into the club and told her she was loved valued and adored before a predator did....who trafficked her. Many over the years have done wrong, even evil things in the name of religion. Jesus hated religion. I'm so very grateful for people who understand the difference in religion and a spiritual walk with God.

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