You may remember last week’s story of a church in Ohio that was being protested by bikini-clad strippers fed up with being hassled by the pastor and his flock. The tense standoff is now showing signs of detente, with the pastor agreeing to meet with the owner of the strip club.
The pastor of the New Beginnings Ministries had so far been avoiding confrontation or debate with the nubile protesters outside his Sunday services. But this weekend, after hearing from two speakers who currently minister to women in the table-dancing trade, he changed his tune slightly.
“It’s not our job to tell these women that it’s time to get out of there,” one of the speakers, herself a former stripper, had told the congregation. “Just love them. Let the Holy Spirit draw them out.”
As church members left Sunday’s service, some approached the protesters and offered embraces rather than scorn.
“The girls inside really had an impact,” said one member of the congregation. “They made me realize I need to be more compassionate.”
The pastor himself even got his hugs in with the strippers, but not before being told their side of the debate.
“You think I’m a whore,” one dancer told the pastor. “I’m not. I’m trying to take care of my kids.”
The pastor has agreed to sit down with the owner of the strip club that he and his followers have protested on a weekly basis for four years. In addition to picketing the parking lot, church members have also posted license plate numbers of club patrons online.
Even though they’ve agreed to discuss things in a civilized manner, the pastor says he plans to continue showing up outside the Foxhole every weekend. And the Foxhole owner says he and the dancers will be outside the church every Sunday “until they stop.”