Hookers for Jesus is an absolutely real non-profit organization started by Annie Lobert, a former sex worker, in order to save women from the evils of prostitution via the most condescending and judgy methods possible.
Hookers for Jesus wants to “save” women from sex work. Whether those women actually want to be saved isn’t really taken into consideration. There are so many issues with the way this organization, which purports to help women, actually is hurting them.
Hookers for Jesus considers all sex work to be sex trafficking.
Hookers for Jesus’ website makes it clear that they are all about helping victims of sex trafficking. A deeper look though and it’s clear that Hookers for Jesus uses the terms “prostitution” and “stripping” and “sex trafficking” interchangeably. They don’t seem to take into consideration the fact that many sex workers actually like being sex workers. To Hookers for Jesus, any woman in sex work is there against her will. Sometimes that will is her decision to be a sex worker, which she thinks she made all on her own, but Hookers for Jesus knows that women who choose sex work choose it because they are just misguided and haven’t come to Jesus yet, something which they will fix by giving them a gift basket.
Hookers for Jesus does nothing to help actual sex trafficking victims.
Although Hookers for Jesus wants you to think they are helping sex trafficking victims, none of their programs seem to do anything to address actual sex trafficking. They seem entirely focused on converting current or former sex workers to Christianity and convincing sex workers to leave sex work. For example, their Keeping Innocent Sisters Safe (KISS) Project is all about bringing bible studies and religious themed literature to women’s prisons. Other programs fund a team of volunteers to give Jesus-themed gift baskets to strippers or prostitutes in order to convince them to quit sex work and convert to Christianity. They also run religious events and support groups for former or current sex workers looking to leave sex work.
The only programs they run that might actually be helpful for sex workers who want to leave sex work is their financial support network and safe house, which provides monetary help and a safe place to stay to sex workers who are trying to leave the industry and need help transitioning. However, this help doesn’t come without strings attached. Hookers for Jesus says they “have developed requirements and criteria for participation that will encourage completion of the program and ensure self-sufficiency in the years to come.” They give no other information about what these requirements are or how stringent they are. Are they required to attend church? Can they go on dates or even have sex with someone of their choosing? Are they allowed to dress however they wish? Are any of the requirements things that are out of the woman’s control, for example a requirement to find a job within a set time period?
Even giving them the benefit of the doubt that their monetary fund and safe house do not have stringent requirements on the women they are purporting to help, not one of their programs addresses actual sex trafficking victims as they claim. Instead, they are focused on converting sex workers to Christianity and convincing them to leave sex work. The fact that they don’t even distinguish between women who are forced into sex work against their will, those that don’t want to be sex workers but economically feel they have no choice, and those that choose to be sex workers because they want to be is telling. To Hookers for Jesus all women in sex work are sex trafficking victims that need to be saved.
Hookers for Jesus shames women for being sex workers.
Hookers for Jesus treats all sex workers as victims and strongly implies that women who choose sex work are making a misguided choice. They say they are trying to establish “positive character traits and increase the young woman’s ability to make responsible decisions as involved members of our community.” In other words, women that choose to be sex workers are making “irresponsible” decisions and don’t get to be counted as “members of the community.” It’s cool though, because Hookers for Jesus will make all their future decisions for them in order to ensure they all meet a standard of responsibility.
Remember when I mentioned they have a program to give Jesus gift baskets to strippers? It’s called the Diamonds and Pearls program. The reason it’s called that is because “the purpose of Diamonds and Pearls is to let each lady know that her worth and value is above and more precious than the diamonds and pearls.” Hookers for Jesus believes that strippers are stripping because they don’t believe they have any self-worth. Although every individual is different and there is no doubt many women including strippers have a low self-worth, it’s condescending and super judgy to assume that all sex workers have a low opinion of themselves.
It’s particularly odd that they want women to value themselves more than diamonds and pearls, materialistic evidence of wealth. In Hookers for Jesus’ founder Annie Lobert’s memoir, she writes that “she became one of the most sought-after high-class escorts, fielding calls from celebrities, musicians, politicians, and other men with endless supplies of cash.” It’s hard to imagine that when Annie Lobert was an escort she thought of herself as having less worth than diamonds and pearls when she was literally making the equivalent of diamonds and pearls. In fact, if their problem with sex work is the treating of women’s bodies like a commodity, then why the fuck would you then compare women to literal commodities.
Hookers for Jesus doesn’t seem to realize that LGBTQ sex workers exist.
Only one page I could find on the Hookers for Jesus website makes any mention of male sex workers, the vast majority of whom are gay. Additionally, there doesn’t seem to be any mention of transgender sex workers who are disproportionally represented in sex work, likely because they face high rates of job discrimination.
Hookers for Jesus doesn’t seem to want to acknowledge that LGBTQ sex workers exist. Nowhere on their website do they make it explicit that they accept LGBTQ sex workers into their many programs or their safe house. Although it’s possible they just forgot to mention this, based on the paternalistic way they treat sex workers as mistaken non-believers who can’t make responsible decisions, I wouldn’t hold my breath expecting that they will treat queer sex workers equally and give them the same help they provide to cisgender heterosexual Christian sex workers.
Hookers for Jesus cares more about converting people to Christianity than helping sex workers.
It’s clear from everything on their website that Hookers for Jesus does not care about helping sex workers. If they did they would do things that provide actual help to sex workers, such as advocating for decriminalization of sex work, supporting the “ban the box” movement so that sex workers with a criminal history who want to leave sex work will find it easier to get a job, helping pay for lawyers to help sex workers who have been arrested, providing birth control, STD testing, abortion services, and other healthcare to sex workers so they can stay safe and healthy in their work, supporting the passing of laws that make discrimination against transgender people illegal, and so many other things, none of which involve Jesus-themed gift baskets, condescendingly telling women that you can teach them how to make “better” decisions, and requiring them to follow stringent religious requirements in order to get monetary or housing help.
Hat Tip to George for letting us know about Hookers for Jesus