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Church wants to pray away strip club

There is a showdown between a Little Rock church and a popular adult entertainment establishment. Both the church and the adult business operate out of the same plaza. The pastor of the church hopes his positive example will drive the business away.
There is a showdown between a Little Rock church and a popular adult entertainment establishment. Both the church and the adult business operate out of the same plaza. The pastor of the church hopes his positive example will drive the business away.

A Little Rock city ordinance prohibits any adult establishment from operating within 750 feet of a church. So why is the Paper Moon located right next to one church and directly across the street from another?  Business leaders promote it as the most electric after hours party in town.

"Places like that breed all type of problems," says Elder Ronald Wilkerson, Pastor of Faith Temple Deliverance Church.

When he moved his church here a year ago, he called the city to see if he could get the Paper Moon kicked out.  "The possibility of prostitution, drugs, married men going on and looking at women," he described.

Now he's taking a different approach to accomplish the same mission.  "Our job is not to commend them for what they do but to live a life and present them in such a way that they might want to be saved," Wilkerson said.

"A few of our performers themselves are Christians," said a manager with the Paper Moon who didn’t want to be identified.

He told us he sees no problem operating close to two churches.  "If you read the bible, where did Jesus Christ go? Where did he hang out? Not all the time naturally but he went where he knew people were who could possible listen to him," the manager said.

Planning and Development Director Tony Bozynski showed us a Little Rock city ordinance saying sexually oriented business can not operate within 750 feet of a church. The ordinance goes on to say an adult cabaret, where there's regular nudity, and live performances exposing certain body parts or sexual activities is considered a sexually oriented business.

City leader's say it all boils down to wording and precise definition.

"Not knowing what's taking place in that particular establishment, it's possible that it {The Paper Moon} doesn't meet that definition," Bozynski said.

Wilkerson says he's sure his faith will overcome his frustration.  "We had drugs and gambling houses in the community but they're gone now so we see some progress," he said.

We also talked to the owner of a Christian beauty salon also located in the same plaza. She says when she comes to work every morning there are still patrons in the parking lot who went to the Paper Moon. She says she doesn't complain either, she prays.

Pastor Wilkerson says the city told him since the Paper Moon was in place first, he could move to that location at his own discretion. The Planning and Development department says it's up to city enforcement staff to make sure adult establishments are following the guidelines in the city ordinance.

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