Lapdancing church…..

So life is slightly manic at the moment!  However I have found maternity leave a great inspiration for finding things to rant about and now have found 5 minutes to myself (!) to blog about one of them…..the lapdancing church!

In Bournemouth it seems churches are OBSESSED with building projects – I guess this may reflect an ongoing trend elsewhere but I wouldn’t want to speculate!  One of the local congregations looking to expand their empire (I said I was going to rant!) has undertaken a massive development in the heart of the town.  This particular brand of christian denomination does not have an egalitarian theology and I think personally has a sappy complementarian approach that smacks of, at best, patriarchy in disguise and, at worst, blantant misogyny.  Masked behind the ‘we value women BUT’ argument I have struggled to balance their theology with the justice I see advocated by Jesus and his radical treatment of women.  All this aside I was shocked to see the hoardings of this congregations building works.  Granted the building is also going to be student accomodation, but clearly a development by the church (their own signage is on the hoardings), I was amazed to see a poster for a local lapdancing club!

As a signed up, happy-to-shout-it-out, feminist I am not a big fan of lapdancing clubs.  I think they perpetuate the objectification of women, an issue which has far-reaching consequences.  Sex as commodity and women as property to be brought and sold are not what I see as Kingdom values.  Why, oh why, then are this church seemingly, by default (or not,) advertising this kind of  ‘service’ on their development?  Does no-one else see this as an issue?

I have contacted the church to ask them why the advertising appears on their hoardings.  Their response was disappointing claiming the hoardings are owned by an outside company and so, as such, they have no control!  I don’t know that I believe this in all entirity so I am pursing an activist approach and looking to get my own advert on display.  I may go for a poster for Rob Bell’s new book, or maybe one for the local spiritualist church.  I wonder what would move them to action.

Because for me the issue is that they don’t seem to see the issue.  I can’t help but think there may be a bigger reaction to something that they can evidently contradicts their theology, but perhaps their own view of women (submissive / second-class?) is actually inherently linked to their passivity on this problem.  If you hold that a woman is not really a full person, but merely subject of her husband (heaven forbid she is single) then how women are treated is of little importance.  But it is important to me!  What does it say to those in my community?  That the objectification of women is fine by us as christians?  That lapdancing is another consumer product that we as Church will happily endorse? 

So I am really happy for people to join me on my mission to get the church to make the company remove the advert.  The company must have a price – how much will they pay to remove the poster?  How much is the rsepect and dignity of women worth?  How much do we care about modelling a radical, justice fuelled, non-compromising faith over empire building?  Who’s with me?!


31 Replies to “Lapdancing church…..”

  1. Now that you rant is over, perhaps the church concerned really does not have any control over the advertising policy on the hoardings (for which I imagine they are now embarrased)? As for conflating lap dancing and spiritualism with Rob Bell, come on. He may be unpopular in some quarters but most rational people who have read his book and even disagree with some of what he has written feel that the book is worth reading.

    1. Thanks Ian. I agree with the Rob Bell point however I do think as his book has provoked so much criticism it would make a stir bigger than that of a lapdancing poster! : ) I know of many people who would not read the book but blantantly tear it to shreads (not wholly rational).
      I know the church in question may be a difficult situation re: advertising but they are investing a whole lot in this development and must have some leverage … speaks volumes!
      Thanks for your thoughts.

  2. I’m definitely with you as well Ruth. What can we do together to stop them objectifying women?

    Excellent piece of writing.

      1. Unfortunately the truth is as long as there are women who are willing, or encourage men to objectify them(and that includes both strippers and girls who do themselves up nice and take advantage of guys buying them drinks, or wear THAT dress to manipulate their husbands) there will be men who oblige. we need to look at the roots of the problem.
        love your neighbour as yourself is extremely deep!

  3. That’s a disappointing response from the church, I agree (fyi I know which group of churches you mean and have had my own experiences with them). In my opinion they should be taking a stand and should have made an effort to make sure different advertising was used. In the past I have noticed a certain ambivalence towards issues like this from some people in the church/some churches. I think issues like this can be ignored due to the focus on growing churches/evangelism/church life. Things which don’t figure in church life or affect those at the church can be seen as not much of an issue. This isn’t the right attitude to take. Could something be started up via Twitter and Facebook perhaps, in order to raise awareness?

    1. Thanks Hannah. I agree that the focus on ‘church life’ one that is inward looking, seems to take precedence over other issues at times.
      I think on online campaign is a good idea.
      Thanks for the comment : )

    1. That sounds great! I think I will try a ‘can we help you as a church to get the poster removed?’ approach so any outside pressure would be fantastic. I just don’t think they think it is a real issue – anything to bring it to the forefront is worth doing.
      Thank you!

  4. Doh! Time for some flyposting, surely, as well as talking to the church. A picture of the ten commandments on stone tablets might be nice.

    I don’t understand why churches accept the idolatry of the market so unquestioningly. Just because a company has paid for an advert doesn’t make that advert ok.

  5. Thanks everyone for your comments.
    I think I will contact the church and ask them how we can help them get the poster removed – maybe setting up an online campaign and writing to them.
    Will get on with it : )

  6. Ruth- good stuff as ever. Yeay for you. Why don’t the members of this church (one guess as to who…)take some action? They may not control the poster site but what’s to stop them adding some thought provoking stickers or creative destruction to the board? Is a bit of light radical vandalism more of a moral crime than standing up for what should be a christian value of equality? Actually I’m surprised the moralists (as anti-feminist as they can be) haven’t got outraged anyway. I hope you can find some people to be activists alongside you, if I can help from the world of the internet I’d love to x

  7. I think that to imply a difference in theology over the role of women in Church means that they advocate using women as sex objects is a massive and unfair leap. Maybe you need to let go of some of your bitterness/issues about these churches? (I am not a member of this church stream and I don’t agree with their stance on the role of women)

    1. Thanks for the comment. I agree I do go over the top but I am trying to be a bit provocative! I do however believe that the issue of women in church is a justice issue which indicates something of how we view women and their value. This for me is not such a massive leap to then look at how women are seen and valued in terms of objectification – both issues are, for me, about the dehumanisation of people. Maybe a little heavy on the sarcasm (am slightly sleep depreived : ) !) but am not looking at challenging the church just because of bitterness, but because of a genuine belief that equity and fairness are kingdom values.

      1. Just wanted to clarify that the unsurnamed ‘Jon’ above wasn’t this Jon. This Jon thinks you’re right about this being a matter of dehumanisation. And besides, I think the approach you’ve outlined demonstrates that this isn’t about bitterness. I also think you’re super. That is all.

  8. I wonder if the heart of the theological matter is actually less about women and more about money.

    A church that is building big has most likely bought into the capitalist ideal.. that pretty much everything is bought and sold.. That’s the undignifying force in this- that they choose money over anything else. And capitalism is also the undignifying force that means that lap dancing clubs prosper.. (speaking in sweeping statements here I know, its not just capitalism.. )

    You also might want to point them to St Paul’s Hammersmith who had a much more proactive relationship with advertisers..

    1. Agreed, Jude.
      I remember discussing this particular church building project with a member of the church in question. I understood from that conversation that the construction company is building student accommodation with the church building being based on the ground floor? I’m not sure if some kind of ‘deal’ was done… perhaps only the church itself can answer that one!
      My question to the church member at the time was, “Do you know how the construction company is financing your church premises?” I didn’t get an answer. Does the end (a shiny new church building), therefore, justify the means?

  9. Perhaps a letter to the local paper? They are always hungry for copy. There may even be local feeling from the community against the club anyway from concerned residents who, even if they are not approaching it from a Christian point of view or even your ‘this is disrespectful for women,’ don’t want the sort of men who attend hanging around the neighbourhood.

  10. Hi! Amen to everything in the Blog. Very good stuff!

    I would like to say that I think the main issue is POWER, power over women, to objectify them, power by having a bigger, better building, power by having as much money as possible.

    I think every issue in the world is about power and the use of it. Which is why Jesus’ whole message and life was about the giving up of power. Shame so many parts of the Church haven’t yet realised that!

  11. Just to let everyone know that I drove past the church building site yesterday and the poster had gone!!!
    Not sure what has happened so am investigating – think the lapdancing club may have gone bust (no pun intended!)
    Thanks for all your input – still think it is worth pursuing with the church about why the poster was up for so long (months).

  12. This raises lots of very interesting questions. I think the lap-dancing billboard is almost a distraction from bigger questions; not because that is not an issue, but because they probably didn’t like it either.

    I think some bigger questions are these:
    • why are large city-centre churches like this usually male-dominated “we like women BUT”
    • in this day & age why is Jesus’ radical and continuous approach to women overlooked in
    favour of a few verses in Paul’s letters
    • what is it with male-dominated leadership and building projects?
    • finally, can you justify being a “signed-up, happy to shout about it” feminist? Extremes are needed to ensure the pendulum swings, but replacing a male-dominant philosophy with a female-dominant philosophy doesn’t quite work. I’m all for a radical, life-changing and culture-changing setting-people-free kind of equality. And yes, i know, that usually begins with men releasing women first…!

    Thanks for your post, i got it via Andy Mason.

  13. Kevin – feminism is not a female-dominant philosophy – far from it. It *is* a ‘a radical, life-changing and culture-changing setting-people-free kind of equality’.

  14. Hi 🙂 Really enjoyed reading this blog and the comments that followed. It has certainly challenged me to consider how much I let simply pass me by because I can’t be bothered to do anything about it. Ashamedly, I fear this is far too often. So, thank you for the challenge!

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