PUTNEY, Ky. – Michael Braithwaite says money woes are forcing him to switch from turkey to chicken this Thanksgiving, a year after a religious awakening prompted him to switch his porn shop to a Christian bookstore.
Business has been slow from the day Braithwaite decided to burn his $10,000 inventory of vibrators, leather goods, books and other porn paraphernalia, and restock the shelves with Bibles and Christian materials.
“The problem is that some of the Christians are still waiting to see if my walk with the Lord is real or not,” he said Wednesday, yet another slow day at Mike’s Place (formerly known as Love World).
“I tried to go bankrupt a couple of months ago, but I couldn’t afford it,” Braithwaite said. “I didn’t have the $800 that the attorney wanted to start the process.”
Churchgoing neighbors had done everything they could to close down Braithwaite’s store last year when he sold sexy unmentionables. An obscenity charge was eventually dropped after he had his dramatic religious – and business – conversion.
Braithwaite had hoped a Christian bookstore would be booming, especially in a conservative mountain community where there is seemingly a church around every corner.
Some churchgoing neighbors do frequent the store, including some of the same folks who once tried to prosecute Braithwaite. But he said more need to stop in.
The Rev. Joe Howard, pastor of Putney Missionary Baptist Church and one of the ministers who helped burn Braithwaite’s former inventory, said members of his congregation buy Bibles and other goods in the store. He acknowledged that there are still many in the community who are uneasy about shopping there.
“A lot of people still are leery of him,” Howard said. “I’m not. I knew him before, and I can see a big change in him. He’s not making the money he made before, but he seems to be a whole lot happier.”
Howard said the Apostle Paul received the same cold shoulder when he first converted to Christianity because people were afraid of him. Howard said acceptance came in time for Paul, and it will come for Braithwaite.
“It may take a miracle,” Braithwaite said. “But I believe it will happen.”
Braithwaite, tears in his eyes, said he isn’t complaining. He said he’d rather eat a scrawny chicken with God’s blessing than a fat turkey without it.
“I’m here to serve God,” he said. “He will meet my needs.”