33 charged in the massive raids of the Sedona Temple and the Phoenix Goddess Temple

Dear BnG community.  These raids have hit us hard in Arizona, and we are devastated for the loss of the Temples.  Please stay with us as we will be putting out much more information, calls to action, and ways that you can get involved.  To begin, won’t you please go to http://goddessbless.org and sign their petition?  And will you or your organization consider signing on to this letter of support?
love and rage,
Surgeon
For Immediate Release9/17/2011, Tucson AZ

September 7th, 2011 Yavapai County and Maricopa County Sherrifs raided the Sedona and Phoenix Goddess Temples and arrested eighteen people.  A SWAT Team descended on the two temples detaining practitioners at gunpoint.  To date thirty-three  people have been charged, and the temples are being investigated as brothels.  Temple practitioners were paraded in front of the waiting media, and their mug shots and legal names publicized.

Both Temples hold legal status as churches, and no minors, weapons, or drugs were found on the premises of either Temple.  Tracy Elise, the founder and High Priestess of both Temples is still in jail along with 7 other people and her bail is set at an astonishingly high half a million dollars.

These arrests came after six months of undercover operations by the Yavapai County and Maricopa County Police Departments.  It is the largest sex work related bust in Arizona since 2008, when the Desert Divas prostitution ring was busted, with over 100 people charged, including phone operators and photographers.  There were no minors found in that investigation either.

We believe that these arrests, and all other arrests of consenting adults engaged in healing or sexual practices equate to a modern day witch hunt.   In many cases, the money being spent by the police force to arrest, intimidate, and establish undercover sting operations is coming from large scale anti-trafficking campaigns intended to target child prostitution.  Instead, the money donated by a public horrified by images of young children in cages, and sensationalized stories of sexual slavery is diverted into operations like the so called “Operation Goddess Temple.”

In press conferences, Police spokesmen say that Temple practitioners were engaging in acts of prostitution under the guise of religion.  We say that the Arizona Police are using valuable funds, and unnecessary force to arrest consenting adults under the guise of protecting citizens and saving children.

Whether one believes in the validity of Tantra or sexual healing practices as a religion, it is not the charge of the government to legislate morality.  Sex is legal in this society.  Criminalizing prostitution, massage, and healing sexual practices bears all the injustice and inefficacy of prohibition, sodomy laws, and religious intolerance.

We demand the immediate release of all those arrested in affiliation with the Phoenix and Sedona Temples.  We demand an end to police raids for non-violent crimes.  We demand an end to the persecution of practitioners of sexual healing, and the decriminalization of prostitution.

To support the Goddess Temple directly, please visit http://goddessbless.org
To take action and support decriminalization, please visit http://swop-tucson.org

Sincerely,
SWOP-Tucson (Sex Workers’ Outreach Project, Tucson chapter)

For further information, or to speak directly to a spokesperson from SWOP-Tucson for press or media, please email info@swop-tucson.org

5 Responses

  1. Great to see signs of outrage. It may be time for at least the western edge of the USA to mature a bit in its attitude to sexuality.

    In trying to understand American male sexuality a little better, I watched some of the “American Pie” movies. I think this raid may well have been more or less an accident.

    I have heard that your police and enforcers are drawn from the lower classes of your society … ones who did not have the “college experience”. Bill Montgommery, who seems to be the chief antiphilliac in the matter, for example, went to a military school.

    These boys missed out on spying on the cheerleaders’ change rooms, video recording their friends getting blowjobs and getting over their repression and prurience in general. They certainly never discovered Stiffler’s Mom or the rudiments of tantra.

    … so, when they find themselves in “authority”, with modern surveillance gear, it is probably to be expected that they would do this kind of thing.

    It is, of course, absolutely ridiculous … I will be really surprised if (even in America) this makes it to a trial.

    A much better case could be made for investigating Christian, and especially RCC “Churches” where the ritual they call “communion” happens. This ritual is commonly rumored to involve alcohol and mock-cannibalism. Worst of all, children (by the American definition of ‘child’) are sometimes included in the ritual.

  2. I have a REAL issue with assuming that healthy male sexuality begins with violating the private, person space of young women (spying on girls in dressing rooms) and making amateur porn, likely without the consent of the girls who are consenting to the sex in the first place. There is NOTHING healthy about this.

    While American sexuality is not healthy right now, a large part of that unhealthiness regards the lack of respect for the consent of women (as we’ve seen expressed with anti-prostitution sentiment from feminists, among many examples).

  3. I agree, Amanda. Nothing healthy about it at all.

    Prostitution is a patriarchal phenomenon, characterised by a pressured work-rate and exploitation. Only the exploiter/pimp and perhaps the customer could be said to be committing any kind of “crime”.

  4. Prostitution isn’t inherently patriarchal. Rather, it becomes patriarchal when it exists in a patriarchal society, like many institutions do. Also, sex workers should have the right to define for ourselves how we feel about our customers, and I like many of my customers in the legal Nevada brothel system. They’ve been a lot kinder and more respectful toward me than many people outside of sex work have, including some of the anti-sex work folks. I’m not trying to speak for every sex worker, just myself.

  5. Yadda yadda yadda. Let me break the entire issue down for ya in two hundred words or less.

    Part 1

    I own myself. You own yourself. All human beings own their own selves.

    Since I own myself, I can do what I please with my body. That is the definition of ownership.

    If arbitrary laws exist dictating what I can and cannot do with my body, then apparently I do not own myself.

    The person who does not own their self is a slave.

    Part 2

    The violation of one individual’s rights equals the violation of all individual rights.

    Therefore, if I cannot do whatever I choose with my own body than you are not free.

    Part 3

    NO VICTIM = NO CRIME

    In a free society (minus the threat of more aggression being initiated by those hired to protect and serve) if someone is victimized, they will seek help and redress.

    Since they own their own self (and their property) if they choose not to seek help/redress, it cannot morally be forced upon them. Regardless, every crime must have a victim.

    Society is nothing but a group of individuals, and the state is nothing but a group of individuals who have given themselves a bunch of fancy titles and sometimes choose to dress up in funny costumes with robes and badges and pretend this gives them extra rights.

    Neither “society” or “the state” can be a victim. In and of themselves they are nothing.

    In summary, if you think anything prostitution related can possibly be a crime, you must also think that:

    An imaginary entity can be victimized

    And that:

    You are a slave

    Got it?

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