SALEM, Oregon — A sign near a busy road in Salem, Oregon reads: “Jesus loves strippers. Honk if you agree,” and some have taken issue with it — but not for the reason you might think.
“Jesus loves strippers because Jesus loves all,” Cynthia Shaver, executive director of Pole Gems said.
Shaver said she worked as a cocktail server in a strip club about 20 years ago.
“One thing that I realized is that these people working in these clubs — sometimes the conditions are hard. It’s a hard job,” Shaver said.
To help adult entertainment workers, Shaver says Pole Gems provides free and low-cost services. They’re using the sign to raise awareness of their fundraising efforts.
“We are a faith-based organization. But our mission is not to try to convert people. We offer counseling. We offer all kinds of stuff. We throw baby showers. We fill in where people may not be able to afford like, their electric bill,” Shaver said.
Those with the group Salem Community Vision aren’t happy about the sign and the problem they say it represents.
“It’s just a mess. It makes Salem look tacky,” Brian Hines said.
Hines is on the Steering Committee for Salem Community Vision. They took to Facebook, criticizing the sign.
“I mean one, it’s way bigger than the usual political sign. I mean, it’s smack dab in the right-of-way. It’s obscuring the vision, the sight line to the intersection. It didn’t have to do with the message. We had no idea what Pole Gems was. Personally, I kind of like the idea of ‘Jesus loves strippers’ even though I’m not religious. I mean who doesn’t love strippers?” Hines said.
A spokesman for the City of Salem confirmed the “Jesus loves strippers” sign is out of compliance. Hines said several other signs in Salem break the law as well, and his group has posted about them. The city spokesman said he’s 99 percent sure at least two campaign signs for city council positions are in violation.
“So it’s kind of no wonder maybe that they’re not really eager to enforce the ordinance that prohibits them,” Hines said.
“I have never heard of such controversy over a sign,” Shaver said.
Shaver said they took down their sign post and replaced it with sign holders on Monday afternoon, July 3rd after a code enforcement officer talked with them. She said he told them all of their signs are non-compliant due to size regulations, but the city only took action on the one in the right-of-way because of complaints.