Former stripper goes from porn to being born again

Heather Veitch once worked as a stripper and acted in soft-porn movies.

That was before she became a Christian. A year ago, she devoted herself to talking about God with people in the sex industry.

She changed her ways, but still plays up her sex appeal.

The ministry she formed with two other women, JC’s Girls Girls Girls, has a Web site featuring the three in glamour photos shot by a porn film director. They go to porn conventions and pass out Bibles wrapped in T-shirts that read Holy Hottie.

Veitch, who lives in the unincorporated community of Pedley northwest of Riverside, said looking attractive helps her reach people most churches have ignored. Women who work as strippers or act in porn movies size up other women based on their looks, she said.

“People criticize me for having big hair and big makeup. I understand the culture of these girls. They respect that,” said Veitch, 31. She wore no makeup and let her blond hair fall around her shoulders during a recent interview in her home.

Strip-club Visits

Veitch said she became a Christian out of fear over the way she was living her life. But she’d rather use humor and a warm manner to gain converts.

She goes out to one strip club every month with as many as five other women.

They offer to pay for lap dances to get a stripper’s private time. Then, they talk to her about God. Only one club manager has asked them to stop, and they did, she said.

The approach has drawn big media attention. CNN covered the ministry’s recent visit to a porn convention in Las Vegas, MSNBC’s Tucker Carlson has interviewed Veitch, and two British newspapers have run stories about her.Veitch doesn’t try to keep track of how many people say they’ve become Christians, or are considering it. But the interest she’s generated keeps her scrambling.

She said she gets around 400 e-mails whenever a high-profile story about her appears. She and a partner answer them all.

Aside from her looks when she’s dolled up, Veitch doesn’t seem like someone who would walk into a strip club or take part in a porn convention.

She and her husband, artist Jon Veitch, don’t even watch R-rated movies.

She cuts hair two days a week at a Riverside salon, and she and her husband are raising two children, ages 5 and 13.

Few Question Outreach

JC’s Girls began a year ago, but only recently began getting funding from Veitch’s church, Sandals Church of Riverside. Her pastor, Matt Brown, blessed the idea as she described it while cutting his hair.

Brown said few of the church’s approximately 1,700 members have questioned Veitch’s outreach, and can only remember one member who asked about the way the women in JC’s Girls dress.

“What good would it do to send the ‘church lady’ to an erotica convention? She’s going to get laughed out of the building,” Brown said.

“I’m not saying there are not limits. I don’t think Heather has reached them.”

Sandals Church, a Southern Baptist congregation that meets at California Baptist University, is putting $50,000 into the ministry this year. That’s a relatively small sum given its $1.8 million budget but a sizable portion of what it spends on outreach.

Brown said he wants his church to be conservative in doctrine, but not in how it gets its message out.

The Bible, he noted, repeatedly tells how Jesus ministered to prostitutes.

Some of the money the church spends on the ministry goes toward a salary for Veitch. But, she said, she expects to keep putting some of her own money into it.

Another of the women behind the ministry, Lori Albee, said her family also has put a substantial amount of money into the ministry.

Albee, a former first-grade teacher, said talking to strippers has been an eye-opener. Many have thanked them effusively for coming to talk, she said.

“People tend to think there are some people in society that are not reachable. I came to the realization that no, everybody’s reachable,” Albee said.

JC’s Girls isn’t the only one attempting to pull people away from the porn industry and toward Christianity.

A Corona man and a Lake Elsinore man started the XXX Church, which uses a Web site to reach out to porn users.

JC’s Girls’ methods do sound unusual, though, said Scott Rae, a professor of Christian ethics at Biola University in La Mirada.

Rae said he didn’t see any problems with the ministry, as long as those involved do not have to compromise their beliefs and do not adopt the values of the sex industry.

“It doesn’t sound like they’re in danger of that,” Rae said.

Millennium Scare

Veitch didn’t take a straight path toward proselytizing.

She grew up in Muscoy, a semi-rural, mostly low-income unincorporated community just outside San Bernardino.

She became pregnant with her first child while attending continuation school.

Her mother began going to a Pentecostal church while Veitch was a teenager. Veitch went a few times, too.

The church gave her a fear of hell that stuck with her, though it stayed in the background for years.

She worked as a stripper for four years, starting out in relatively tame venues like Club 215 in Colton, a bikini bar at the time.

She acted in a few soft porn movies, none of which are readily available now.

Her fear of going to hell intensified in 1999 with all the media hype about the millennium.

So she went to beauty school, became a Christian and married Jon, who became one, too.

She and her pastor, Brown, said they hope someday they can offer women in the sex industry better ways of making their living, perhaps by helping them receive college scholarships. But Veitch said she doesn’t think churches should expect women to quit jobs in the sex industry before entering a church.

“What we say to that is, ‘Do we ask gluttons to stop eating too much before they come to church?’ ” Veitch said. “Sin is sin.”

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Source

(Listed if other than Religion News Blog)
The Press-Entreprise, USA
Feb. 19, 2006
Shirin Parsavand, The Press-Enterprise
www.pe.com

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