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"Hookers for Jesus": Former Sex Workers Spreading the Gospel

The Vegas-based ministry Hookers for Jesus has set out to "hook, help, and heal" those still in the industry.
 
 
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The following is reprinted with permission from Religion Dispatches. You can sign up for their free daily newsletter here.

Annie Lobért knows that sex sells. The 16 years she spent as a stripper, prostitute, and high-class escort, most recently on the Las Vegas Strip, taught her that. And although she’s been out of the game for years, has since accepted Christ and gotten married (to Oz Fox, lead guitarist for the Christian metal band Stryper), Lobért appreciates the allure of her former lifestyle. Calling herself a hooker for Jesus, she has set out to “hook, help, and heal” those still in the industry.

Lobért, a curvy peroxide blonde, has been unabashed in flaunting her God-given gifts to draw attention to her Vegas-based ministry, Hookers for Jesus. At the 2008 Adult Entertainment Expo, for example, a 40-year-old Lobért (dressed in a tight black tank top with strategically placed pink letters spelling “HOOKERS” above a silver ichthus) confronted some of the industry’s most renowned promoters alongside Heather Veitch, a former stripper with a ministry of her own. While their message wasn’t particularly well-received by the adult filmmakers or the stars who work for them, Lobért and Veitch had no trouble finding fans among the expo’s 40,000 visitors.

Some Christians Think We are Just Cheap Harlots”

“A lot of guys pose for photos with us and when they go home and look up what’s on our T-shirts, they learn what we’re about,” Lobért explained to Telegraph reporter Philip Sherwell. “We call it booby-trapping.”

But those who attend adult entertainment fairs aren’t exactly Lobért’s target audience. Her conspicuous appearance is also meant to attract the other women posing for photos and signing autographs, the women outside and in the casinos, the women working the Strip—the women she is trying to save.

“The girls can relate to who we are and how we look in a way that they can’t with some of the typical frumpy Christians who come here,” Lobért told Sherwell. “We don’t preach to them and we’re not judgmental. We tell them that God loves them, even if they are hookers or strippers or porn stars. We offer help and advice—we do whatever we can for them.”

Last December, cable viewers got a taste of what it might be like to minister in “America’s prostitution capital” in the three-part series Hookers: Saved on the Strip. The show, which aired on the crime-and mystery-focused network Investigation Discovery, profiled Lobért and Hookers for Jesus and, in true reality docudrama fashion, the personal stories of three women who have been “saved.”

In a segment she calls “ Saturday Night Love,” Lobért brings her “takes one to know one” attitude to the Strip, boasting that she can spot a working girl anywhere. Equipped with gift bags full of beauty products and Bibles, she offers support and encouragement, and an invitation to church.

“I’m serious about this,” she tells one woman who stuffs Lobért’s business card into her bra. “God really does love you and he loves girls like us. And you know what? You don’t have to quit working. You can come to church. Just like you are.” Despite their sincere efforts, Lobért and Hookers for Jesus have drawn their share of criticism. “Some Christians think we are just cheap harlots and tell us so,” she says. “But to be honest, we really don’t care.”

Even the television show, which begins with a warning about its potentially disturbing content, seems to favor sex over religion, the hookers over Jesus. “The parts that you will see is what [Investigation Discovery] chose to portray,” Lobért explained to The Christian Post:

 
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