The naked truth: Church fights to keep strippers away from kids’ playground

When members of Gateway Family Fellowship church in Drain, Oregon, discovered a strip club was operating near their building they jumped into action.

The result is a town ordinance that bans such businesses from being within 500 feet of locations where children gather.

Church members had reason to be concerned, since the strip club’s space — the upper floor of a bowling alley — is only 25 feet away from their worship center. And that 25 feet is occupied by a playground for children.

The Pacific Justice Institute, which represented the church, explained, “In June, Gateway’s pastor, Ray Perry, informed PJI that Top of the Bowl, an establishment that serves alcohol and hosts topless dancing shows with stripping and/or nude dancing, had opened on the top floor of the bowling alley’s building. Top of the Bowl makes no secret about the nature of its business, as its Facebook page features pictures and videos of its dancers. Top of the Bowl even uses a former school bus to transport visitors from a nearby adult novelty shop.”

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PJI lawyer Ray Hacke, who previously has been involved in fights over adult novelty shops, wrote to the Drain city council proposing the new requirement.

It was adopted Aug. 1.

“State and federal law both recognize that adult entertainment businesses pose a significant danger to children because of their potential to attract people who can’t control their lusts,” Hacke said. “While cities cannot ban adult businesses entirely because their offerings are a constitutionally protected form of expression, cities can regulate the secondary effects of such businesses by keeping them as far away as possible from places where children congregate. Such places include churches, which host youth groups, Sunday schools, and other activities for kids.”

Pacific Justice now is girding for a fight, as the city expects Top of the Bowl to challenge the law.

“Even though the law protects sexually oriented expression, cities have a compelling interest in protecting kids from the dangers attendant to adult businesses,” PJI President Brad Dacus said. “The city of Drain made the right call here, and PJI is honored to have played a role in the process.”


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