Christians who pole dance

One of the most tired religion angles can be found in stories with the following formula: Lots of people are [doing x], Christians put their own spin by [creating y], and people are responding by [saying z]. We see this with stories like using Twitter in church or a Christian twist on Yoga.

Just a few years ago, U.S. News & World reported on how pole dancing was becoming a popular form of fitness, so it’s not terribly surprising to me that someone would eventually pick up on the fad and put a Christian spin on it. Though to an ABC reporter in Texas, the idea of Christian pole dancing creates a cause for controversy.

Women in the Houston area are pole dancing once a month…for Jesus. Yes, the dance moves once reserved for strip clubs are being embraced by devout, church-going women.

In the quaint turn-of-the-century community called Old Town Spring, where Victorian style shops line the streets, one business stands out–pole fitness for Jesus. There’s no preaching, just teaching.

More specific information on the women’s religious background and affiliation would be helpful but instead we’re given the much-abused “devout, church-going” line. Yes, pole dancing has those strip club connotations, but it doesn’t acknowledge the idea has been a health fad across the board.

“God gives us these bodies and they are suppose to be our temples and we are suppose to take care of them and that’s what we are doing,” instructor Crystal Dean said.

Booth was raised in church. Now, the pole is her temple.

What? “Now the pole is her temple.” What does that even mean? Perhaps this is a case where the reporter tried to be cute and it just doesn’t work.

The reporter talks to the inevitable opposition, but the quotes don’t make it clear why they’re concerned with the class.

There are those who just can’t get past the stigma.

“In Gods eyes, it wouldn’t be attractive,” said 19-year-old Eric Purgason. Purgason’s family runs Lord and Nature, a Christian gift shop neighboring the Christian pole dancers.

“We have to watch those boundaries that we cross over and not allow the enemy to take it in another direction,” said Dee Bovati with Lord and Nature.

They think that God would find the women unattractive and the class crosses some sort of boundaries? Perhaps the reporter could ask again their reasons for concern, because they don’t appear very clear. Maybe a local pastor would have been a better choice for reaction. Or perhaps there’s someone who doesn’t like the Christian spin on a fad.

But for these women, there is room for both the Bible and a little body roll in the town that touts its old fashioned ways. …

Best Shape of your Life holds Pole Fitness for Jesus classes on the second Sunday of each month, for ladies who take in their church pamphlets. The classes are free. The instructor’s reason? She doesn’t want to make a profit on God’s day.

That last section seems unclear. The women need to bring just any church pamphlet (a bulletin?) to be accepted? Why not include women who don’t attend church? Is there anything particularly Christian about it besides the Christian music in the background? If the classes are free, where does the money for the space come from?

Fox News also did a similar piece that doesn’t clarify much more of the missing questions. Angles on “Christians doing x” are fine, but they often fall flat unless they explore underlying issues of why it’s so interesting that Christians are putting a twist on said activity.

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  • Kate Shellnutt

    It’s not a full story on the issue, but I did get Crystal Dean (the pole dancer) to talk more about her faith (Southern Baptist) and her critics in my blog, which you can find here: She says that people at her church do not give her a hard time about it. She’s done the Christian class once (it’s once a month now), and she uses it as a vehicle for fellowship with fellow Christian ladies.

    With all the ___ for Jesus, I’m surprised this topic has not turned up before.

  • Sarah Pulliam Bailey

    Kate, thank you so much for posting this link. Glad you got to talk to her more about the details.

  • Peter S. S.

    First off, whoa with the commercial there!

    Secondly, it seems like your own comments, Sarah, would make for a wonderful article: “The Christian Spin”–well, when it comes to things like you mentioned. I feel like that could explore the implications of seeing the worship of Christ in everything versus possibly diluting Christianity by mixing it with culture.

  • Sarah Pulliam Bailey

    I’ve deleted a comment that was essentially selling poles. Thanks, Peter. I know lots of Christians who can’t stand religious spins, so it probably could make its own story.

  • Dave

    Now, the pole is her temple.

    The key question is, whom (or Whom) is she worshipping at that temple? Does she worship the Creator or the creature? These are the guides to whether one can pole dance for Jesus and still be a Christian.