BY BLAKE HANSON
Churches are known to service the community in many ways. Happy endings are usually not one of them. The Daily Mail reports...
“Arizona authorities say a six-month investigation has resulted in the arrest and indictment of 18 people connected to the Phoenix Goddess Temple, where undercover investigators say they found workers performing sex acts in exchange for money.”
So you’d think those workers would have a pretty good excuse, right? Instead, the workers are actually defending the church, speaking out to KSAZ.
REPORTER: “They call themselves whole body healers, offering nude live coaching sessions and prostate massages.”
CHURCH MEMBER: “I say to people call me what you will, but at my church I’m labeled a practioner, at my church I’m labeled a shaman.”
CHURCH MEMBER: “Sometimes people just need to be hugged for an hour and a half, is there something incriminating about that?”
At least one blog is jumping to the church’s defense -- calling foul play on authorities. A Pagan blog, The Wild Hunt, offers this analysis...
“Even if no charges are brought from this current investigation, the writing is on the wall. It’s obvious the police are looking for any excuse to shut these temples down. The question now is, should they be able to? Even if some sessions end in ‘happy endings’ aren’t their activities protected by law so long as they don’t directly charge money for sex?
Their acts might not be listed in the Ten Commandments, but church members says a higher power is definitely being defiled - in this case - the members' First Amendment rights. KNXV has more...
REPORTER: “You know they genuinely believe they did nothing wrong here, they say they did not accept money for sex. And it sounds like all of them are willing to stand by their beliefs, even if it means staying in jail, or going to prison.”
CHURCH MEMBER: “I wasn’t concerned about prostitution law, my concern is first amendment rights to practice my religion.”
But a police spokesperson tells CNN-- the law is the law.
"What's unusual is that they were trying to hide behind religion or church, and under the guise of religious freedom, they were committing acts of prostitution.. We certainly respect First Amendment rights. However, religious freedom does not allow for criminal acts.”
The New Times reports indictments have been brought against 33 people.
22 of those are for prostitution.