Get On Your Knees And… Pray? Arizona Church Busted For Prostitution

Patrons at a temple in Arizona called out god’s name often, but they weren’t doing it in prayer. The Phoenix Goddess Temple was operating under the guise of a house of god, but Arizona police allege that the place of worship was actually a whorehouse.

According to police, the Goddess Temple provided “religious services” for cash donations.

ABC reports that the Phoenix Goddess Temple has been operating in Arizona since 2009. A reporter for a local newspaper visited the brothel and wrote an in-depth story about the “religious services” provided by the Phoenix Goddesses. Once the story broke, police opened up a 6-month investigation that resulted in the arrest of 18 people.

Phoenix police spokesman Steve Martos said.

“They were committing crimes under the guise of religious freedom. It’s a sad situation when people are trying to hide behind religion and church to commit a crime.”

Another 19 people are still being sought by police. The 18 arrested today face various charges, including prostitution, pandering, and conspiracy.

Maricopa county attorney Bill Montgomery said:

“I’m going to call it like I see it. They had a brothel, they had a madam, they had prostitutes and they had johns. The johns were paying prostitutes for sex. That’s illegal. It’s a blight on the community and we took action to take it down.”

Of course, the Goddess Temple didn’t refer to its clients as Johns. Instead, Johns were referred to as “seekers” in the Goddess Temple, sex was referred to as “sacred union,” and prostitutes were called “goddesses.”

The Goddess Temple offered classes on tantric sex and “sessions” of sexual healing. “Seekers” were given suggested donation prices but had to sign a form that said that they were not paying for sex and that all touching was consensual.

So what do you think? Was this just a whorehouse that was operating through the loophole of religious freedom? Or did the Goddess Temple truly have something spiritual to offer?

Montgomery said:

“We’re not viewing this in any way as somehow protected by the first amendment. This is not religious expression. This is a criminal activity and those responsible thought they were being too clever by half by coming up with different terms.”

Tracy Elise, who founded the Goddess Temple, defended her organization last February. Elise, who was arrested today, said:

“There’s no science and provability about this [healing system]. But it works.”