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Arizona church Phoenix Goddess Temple taking religious freedom too far?

Arizona church Phoenix Goddess Temple taking religious freedom too far?

A six month investigation resulted in the arrest of 20 women and men who worked there, police say.    Is it a church, or a cathouse? Exactly how far should religious protections extend?   These questions are being asked in the wake of the raid of the Phoenix Goddess Temple, which we reported on a few days ago.    They tried to run the temple under guise of being a church, which makes this case especially unique.

CNN reports:

Authorities are still searching for 17 more people — all of whom have been indicted — in connection with the prostitution enterprise, said Sgt. Steve Martos, a Phoenix police spokesman. The 20 people arrested so far have been charged with prostitution or other offenses, police said.

During a Wednesday search of the Phoenix temple and two church-related sites in nearby Sedona, police seized evidence showing that "male and female 'practitioners' working at the Temple were performing sexual acts in exchange for monetary 'donations,' all on the pretense of providing 'neo tantric' healing therapies," Phoenix police said.

The alleged brothel generated tens of thousands of dollars a month, Martos told CNN.

A history of neighbor complaints, a recent Phoenix newspaper article, and the temple's website were among the factors prompting authorities to conduct the undercover investigation, Martos said.

"What's unusual is that they were trying to hide behind religion or church, and under the guise of religious freedom, they were committing acts of prostitution," Martos said.

What makes this case so interesting is the great lengths these people went to in order to circumvent prostitution laws. People believe that the First Amendment is a blanket protection of religious groups, shielding them from the general laws of the state when conflicts occur.   Sgt. Steve Martos replied in reponse on CNN: "We certainly respect First Amendment rights. However, religious freedom does not allow for criminal acts," Martos said.  Regarding the Goddess Temple's website, he said: "What they would talk about would seem to be religion. At the same time, they were implying or intimating that they were giving sex therapy."

The temple also had a house and office in Sedona, as well as the main complex in downtown Phoenix.  The Sedona house seemed to be used for rest and sleep, police said.

About Dakota O'Leary

Dakota O'Leary is a freethinker, and often sassy, scholar of theology and literature. She got her Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Theology from the State University of New York College at Buffalo, and her Master of Arts degree in Theology and Literature from Antioch University-Midwest. She is a contributing writer focusing on eschatology, biblical prophecy, and general religious news. Dakota is a co-host of the God Discussion radio show, offering insight to the news stories of the week. We like to call her "our in-house Biblical prophecy expert" as her articles on eschatology have received over 200,000 views on God Discussion.
  • IMHO, after exploring the this story, Elise is a madam and the workers there are prostitute, using religion as a cover up. I do not think the Hindus had her set up in mind when they thought up said goddess and I seriously doubt Elise or her so-called followers can quote a word of the Hindu text involved, much less give an actual definition, without twisting them, of the words they use.

    Granted, there are poor (financially) Hindu parents who give their daughters over to Devadasi and those young girls are today prostitutes, but in the past, that supposedly was not what it was about. Over the course of history, Devadasi girls has changed into something corrupted, from what I understand. I don't think Tantra was meant to be what this group has turned it into either. I think this group twisted and perverted it to suit their needs and desires.

  • whatever may be the reason of their this deeds but they should be given punishment for that as they were using GOd and Goddess name i mean if they want to do anything then why to take shelter of God and doing wrong thing dont be two sided this is my personal views

    • 😆 The problem is, you can't have theirs or anyone's deity testify to any of that. So what if they used a god. The fact is, they were prostituting and the so-called religion is no excuse.

  • If these people were actually helping people relieve sexual tensions, they were providing something real to people, which is more than most religions do. There were times in history when priestesses were prostitutes, and an encounter with the priestess would be an encounter with a goddess. As usual, the state is coming in and enforcing laws that are rooted in religious morality, and therefore unconstitutional in themselves.

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