A new documentary on a former stripper turned evangelist is stirring controversy within the Christian community between supporters of the film and those against the ex-stripper's unorthodox way of ministering to sex workers.
The documentary, "The Pussycat Preacher," which was released Friday, follows ex-stripper Heather Veitch as she struggles to start a ministry for women in the sex industry. The film chronicles the formation of the ministry JC (Jesus Christ)'s Girls – from Veitch gaining acceptance from other women at her church to bringing a few women from church to minister at strip clubs.
Perhaps the most controversial part of the ministry is its method of evangelizing those in the sex industry.
Veitch and her team, mostly women from her church, go to strip clubs and hire strippers for private lap dances. But instead of getting a dance, they use the time to talk to the strippers about God. They also invite the strippers, without pressuring them, to go to church and "check it out."
Before they leave the Christian women also offer to pray for the girls and offer resources and assistance to transition out of the sex industry.
The documentary noted that surprisingly the sex industry has welcomed the ministry, but some in the Christian community have been more hesitant to support it.
Veitch's pastor – Matt Brown of Sandals Church in Huntington Beach, Calif. – is among those who support the ministry. The film documents how he receives cold stares and an e-mail box filled with angry letters after his support for reaching out to the sex industry.
Critics say Veitch still looks too much like a stripper with her platinum blond hair and heavy makeup. They also have problems with the ex-stripper taking Christian women into the "dark world" of strip clubs for so-called "outreach."
But Brown has refused to back away from the ministry. Instead, he gave $50,000 of church money to support the ministry. But a rumor soon circulated that the $50,000 was being used by Brown to buy lap dances for himself. Brown found himself on the verge of losing his church facility which was housed on the campus of Southern California Baptist University.
The church, however, was able to resolve its differences and ended up uniting in support of JC's Girls ministry. Sandals Church is also still located on the campus of Southern California Baptist University.
Meanwhile, Veitch moved to Las Vegas last year where she is reaching out not only at strip clubs but also adult entertainment expos. And she claims she's winning souls.
"The Pussycat Preacher" is not yet rated but documentary filmmaker Bill Day said it is very "PG" and has no nudity or offensive language.