Georgia’s Christian right comes out against bills aimed at child prostitution

The season’s most disputed issue may have just surfaced at the state Capitol.

The weight of the state’s Christian right movement just came down in opposition to a pair of bills that would steer young girls under the age of 16 into diversionary programs instead of arresting them on charges of prostitution.

The press conference came just hours after several hundred people turned out to support the measures. (My AJC colleague Ernie Suggs has more details here.)

Representatives from the Georgia Christian Alliance, the Georgia Christian Coalition, Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition, and the Georgia Baptist Convention all put in appearances. Republican candidate for governor John Oxendine appeared around the edges of the afternoon press conference, but did not speak.

At issue are two separate bills, one in the House and one in the Senate. Both are sponsored by Republicans.

“Who will benefit from the passage of H.B. 582 or S.B. 304? I’ll tell you who – the very profitable and growing pedophile industry,” said former state senator Nancy Schaefer of north Georgia. “It is imperative that these bills be defeated.”

Some opponents said the bills amounted to decriminalization, which amounted to legalization. And would lead to more prostitution, not less, they said.

“Decriminalizing that means the police would have absolutely no interest in it at all,” said Sue Ella Deadwyler, who writes a Christian conservative newsletter. “They wouldn’t arrest the girls, they wouldn’t pick the girls up, they wouldn’t protect them from influence on the street from the pimps and the johns. It would be an absolute cultural upheaval in our state. Never in the United States, as far as I known, has juvenile prostitution been legalized.”

Renee Unterman of Buford, author of the Senate bill, confirmed that she had been in contact with opponents of her legislation. She said a compromise was in the works.

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106 comments Add your comment


February 1st, 2010
3:09 pm

Do these Christian Right people have any critical thinking or reading comprehension skills at all? Have they spoken to a police officer and done their research about what happens when a child is picked up for solicitation?

This gives police officers more of a choice in a situation than simply arresting the child, which I am pretty sure they don’t want to do anyway. How many police officers pass by these situations because they know their only option is an arrest and not something that will truly help the victim?


February 1st, 2010
3:13 pm

My god, I had no idea that children under the age of 16 were actually being arrested and put in jail to begin with for this. If they aren’t old enough to consent to sex, how can they be old enough to violate the mens rea element of the criminal statute? I think the better policy is to track these kids down so the police can find the johns and put those folks in jail. This reform makes total sense to me.


February 1st, 2010
3:13 pm

The bill’s opponents seem to have not been following this issue over the past few years. Last year’s change through SB 69 ensures that police will not just walk on by children being exploited on the streets. Instead, they are now required to report them as abused children so that they may be provided appropriate services, instead of treated as criminals. And no one is legalizing prostitution. It will continue to be a serious felony for anyone to pimp or pander a child. The focus of prosecution will simply shift from the child victim to the adult exploiter.

Mike K.

February 1st, 2010
3:17 pm

“Do these Christian Right people have any critical thinking or reading comprehension skills at all?”

HP is that a rhetorical question? You’ve seen how they react to things like evolution and Sunday alcohol sales.


February 1st, 2010
3:22 pm

More of the same. This will undoubtedly be defeated in an election year. Whatever happened to the separation of Church and State?

ryan v

February 1st, 2010
3:29 pm

Dear god, can we buy a right-wing interest group in Georgia with any common sense whatsoever? How is providing a treatment alternative to jail for underage prostitutes a bad thing???

And what cops do these people know? The cops I know would absolutely step up to help a child get off the streets. The bill isn’t saying prostitution isn’t illegal. It provides options beyond jail which isn’t the right environment for the child either.


February 1st, 2010
3:43 pm

Christian Right Grandstanding! They’re grabbing for headlines and hoping no one reads the real bill. Their tactics are, in effect, evil, as ignorance and unintended consequences are evil. Don’t they realize what it’s like in jail, where the girls learn from older prostitutes? Can’t believe they haven’t made teen pregnancy illegal by now — oh, erase that, they may see this and float a bill…

Swede Atlanta

February 1st, 2010
3:48 pm

Do these opponents really think that the fact these kids are arrested is a deterrent to this kind of crime? It is the same mentality that thinks that the threat of the death penalty prevents people from commiting capital crimes.

These kids are out there because they are desperate. They are often homeless, abused or abandoned. They are often the victims of the sex trade. The current system isn’t serving them well.

We do need to go after those that use and abuse these kids. They need to be dealt with fairly but harshly by our legal system. But these kids are victims. They need help, not jail.


February 1st, 2010
3:58 pm

Why are people surprised about the christian right’s response because I’m surely not. You folks in the Jawja let the dogs out nw they’re coming back to bite you. These groups nevr have a=had any positive ideas or solutions about anything, just ignorance and a bunch of meandering rantings about God and country. When wil, you people wake up. You have nothing but a bunch of ignorant clowns running your state and now you wonder whay these sub-humans are protesting the bill?

The only way to get your state moving again is to throw out the trash. People, it is imperative that you thorw out this christian trash along the bumbling politicans that support them!!

Sam Smith

February 1st, 2010
4:08 pm

Another perfect example of how the Xtian “right” is completely wrong!

Jesus! Save me from your followers!


February 1st, 2010
4:49 pm

“Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world” red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His site; Jesus loves the little children of the world”

Well unless they are being exploited, used and abused. If “The Church” was doing something besides “buildings and budgets” and “property and pensions” these children would be rescued and cared for, not this “they WILL to do this sin”!

Was it Mark Twain that said, “The worst advertising for Jesus is Christians”?


February 1st, 2010
4:51 pm

If Ralph Reeds involved,money must be involved!


February 1st, 2010
4:57 pm

AMEN! Base

And if a news camera is close by “freedom of the press” is these folks “right”. They can’t separate politics and purpose. Jesus called them Pharasee among other select descriptions.


February 1st, 2010
4:58 pm

The Christian right are a bunch of intolerant, hateful bigots. Sadly, they have most of our politicians in their back pocket. Georgia will continue to be a backward state as long as we let these nutcases tell us what to do. They would love to establish a Christian Taliban in the state and country.

[...] as they’re still in the womb. But as soon as they’re born, they’re on their own: Georgia’s Christian right comes out against bill aimed at child prostitution. The weight of the state’s Christian right movement just came down in opposition to a pair of [...]

Grant Park

February 1st, 2010
5:21 pm

Are these the same people who said children will die if people get to vote on the issue of Sunday alcohol sales?


February 1st, 2010
5:29 pm

Oh, the irony of denying U.S. citizen children the same protection and benefits afforded to immigrant sex trafficking victims by President Bush under federal law… help the foreign victims but lock up American kids for falling prey to the commercial sex marketplace.


February 1st, 2010
5:30 pm

With apologies to Major Clipton……

“Madness! Madness!”

Alabama Communist

February 1st, 2010
5:33 pm

Finally! The Glenn Beck Religious Wingnuts have reveal themselves as a promoter of Child Slavely by the State. “Hey Danno! Booked that Pagan 8 year old for standing on a corner without a HO licence in the name of a Kickass Republican Jesus”….


February 1st, 2010
5:41 pm

What about their weed?

[...] the Christians would come out against a bill to try to help children under 16 who are forced into being prostitutes. The weight of the [...]


February 1st, 2010
5:48 pm

I had to reread this a couple of times to make sure I was missing something. This is just another example of how our educational system is failing our community. Can’t these people understand that they are not legalizing it, they are encouraging treatment instead of punishment for these poor girls. These young girls are merely victims that need help. Decriminalization will lead to prostitution?!? Everyone please stay away from logical fallacies. Misjudged slippery slopes are not acceptable tools in a worthy argument.


February 1st, 2010
6:00 pm

Sam Smith – I believe the expression is, “The Christian Right is neither.” And yes, they have proven that once again with yet another slew of misguided, alarmist piffle. God help us!


February 1st, 2010
6:01 pm

The scary thing is that some people will actually vote for those politicians.


February 1st, 2010
6:03 pm

I am a born again Christian. These people are not my Christian leaders. I am glad that Senator Schaefer is a FORMER SENATOR. Who ever beat her should receive a contribution from everyone reading here for taking her away from the Capitol.

For the record Nancy SCHAEFER is no relation to Senator David SHAFER.

The Christian Right

February 1st, 2010
6:13 pm

The Christian Right was at the Capitol at 10:00, not at 2:00. Those who showed up at 2:00 obviously do not understand the issue or what the bill does to protect children. The bill still allows law enforcement to take children into protective custody, just like they do in cases of child abuse (parens patrea)…which these cases are.


February 1st, 2010
6:31 pm

The bill will have unintended consequences. It will prevent the state from prosecuting the aduls who pimp those young girls.


February 1st, 2010
6:32 pm

It’s funny how this article is claiming that all the Christians were there trying to stop these bills. I was with the largest church group there (several hundred) and we were trying to get these bills PASSED.

It is indeed a very heated debate, but the perspective of those who agree with the bill is that it is wrong to arrest a girl who has been sexually trafficked, instead they should be sent into rehab and the pimps arrested (as it is, pimps only get a few weeks). The rehab would be payed for by a tax on pornography and strip clubs, which in my opinion fits with the other “sin tax” taxes that are in place, whether or not those are right.


February 1st, 2010
6:39 pm

@John – the bill has a specific provision (in Section 3) to address your concern and ensure that pimps and johns can still be prosecuted. No one wants to see the true offender — the exploiting adults — go free!

Sick of Republicans

February 1st, 2010
6:44 pm

Albert, I am with you 100%. Agree with everything you say.


February 1st, 2010
7:17 pm

Where in these bills does it divert the underage kids to “diversionary” programs? These bill do nothing but stop prosecution for prostitution for people under 18 or 16 (depending on the version of the bill). Are the diversionary programs another bill or statute?

[...] the Georgia Talibaptist Association (aka the “Christian” Right, and specifically -from Jim Galloway – the Georgia Christian Alliance, the Georgia Christian Coalition, Ralph Reed’s Faith and [...]

[...] Wing Watch points out that Eagle Forum is not alone in opposing this bill.  They are joined by the Georgia Christian Alliance, the Georgia Christian Coalition, Ralph Reed’s Faith and [...]


February 1st, 2010
7:33 pm

Good opportunity for a GOP guvna candidate to come out and try to bridge a communication gap here.


February 1st, 2010
7:36 pm

Well, if nothing else, this article gave Christian-hating liberals to show what bigots they are.


February 1st, 2010
7:40 pm

The truth is that, regardless of what you think about their policy recommendations, the “Christian right” that the hateful bigots here love to attack are clearly far more engaged in trying to end child sex-trafficking than the wonderful humanist liberal critics here.

You folks could make your voice heard on this matter. Have you? Have ever really contributed to any cause? I’d be shocked to find out that any of the hateful bigots here have ever done anything for anyone.

Ask yourself, bigots. When is the last time you got involved in anything that benefited someone else? I am sure that none of you do squat beyond demonize strangers and sleep alone at night,

Like most liberals, you are a bunch of hypocrites.

Some Other Mike

February 1st, 2010
7:44 pm

If you need a reminder of why our view of religion in the public square is so skewed, this is a better one.



February 1st, 2010
7:47 pm

Love to see the modern-day Stalinists come out and mow down the Christians once again. Equating Baptists with the Taliban is slander (or is it libel?) at best and perjury at worst (It’s BS either way), but what do you expect from those who traded Karl Rove for Karl Marx? Having said that, I too am a little befuddled that they would be against it; it would benefit these groups to go back and read the bill fully, as it might cause them to change their minds.


February 1st, 2010
8:02 pm

Mike, the liberals’ answer to this problem is to not have a problem; abort (i.e. kill) the child before it’s born so you won’t have to worry about it being exploited. Problem solved.


February 1st, 2010
8:03 pm

G.K. Chesterton: “The best argument against Christianity is Christians.”


February 1st, 2010
8:07 pm

Religion is the root of all the problems in the world today, not government or God.


February 1st, 2010
8:15 pm

…I am sure everyone is falling over to be like you as well…a godless person with no conscience, no hope and total engrossed in self…just what the world needs.


February 1st, 2010
8:50 pm

When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the Flag and carrying a Bible.


February 1st, 2010
8:54 pm

Everybody in this country is a GD moron. We need to line ourselves against a wall and shoot us.


February 1st, 2010
9:21 pm

North Avenue Presbyterian Church, a PCUSA congregation (the liberal bunch), were the first to try to help the children forced into prostitution in Atlanta. They were not on the Capital steps, not in front of the news cameras, and not promoting any political position. They were trying to save children.

So all you folks on the “right” in this blog prove even again that you need to consider the board in your eye before you worry about liberal splinters.


February 1st, 2010
9:22 pm

Fascism is already here, courtesy of the Democrat Party, being used as a tool by secular radicals.


February 1st, 2010
9:24 pm

Wow the liberals here sure do hate us christians. I mean really hate us. I thought they preached tollerance? I am a little confused about the bill, It does seem like with it, loop holes could appear to help out the pimps and johns. I think it should STAY illegal however the girls be required to go into protective custody. Now see that was not hard at all, a civil response without spewing any hatred. Oh yea JESUS saves.


February 1st, 2010
9:25 pm

Ralph, you’re wasting your time here at the state level. Our once great nation needs your moral guidance.

The Republican Party is a cesspool that needs cleaning up. The ungodly Republicans are expected to re-elect Sen Vitter. He paid hookers to change his diapers. Yuk.

Then there is th current Republican Governor of South Carolina. This guy lied, lied lied. This guy also *%&%#, &^%$^&, and &%$##^ himself crazy with a hot Argentine babe. His wife is still mad.

Then there is that Sen Ensign. What a creep.

The new symbol of the Republican Party is a sex symbol who posed NUDE for a major magazine.

The Christian Right lost one of its own, Republican Presidential spiritual adviser Reverend Haggard. You wouldn’t believe what he did.

Then there was another Christian Right tragedy involving Ralph Reed and that pesky Indian gambling payola.

Who could forget Republican Larry Craig. You wouldn’t believe what this guy did. Lol.

Republican House Speaker Glenn Richardson. What a mess. You wouldn’t believe what this guy did. Weird.

And finally, go to the prison Linda Schrenko is in. Stealing funds to fund a face lift is a desperate cry out for help.

Ralph your Party needs you.


February 1st, 2010
9:29 pm

In the liberal dictionary, “tolerance” means “whole-hearted agreement and support, or else.”

German Shepherd Dawg

February 1st, 2010
9:49 pm


Thanks for a completely irrelevant reiteration of offenses by Republican politicians, I could produce an equally useless one recounting the misdeeds of Barney Frank and friends, but that would be complimenting your useless effort with one of my own. Republicans are useless idiots. Democrats are dangerous and useless idiots. The lesser of two evils is still evil. So what’s the point?

We need politicians that are less concerned about party politics and more concerned about the well being of American citizens. Everything Barack Obama does isn’t inherently bad just because it’s him doing it. Most of what he does is bad because its contrary to the best interests of America. Does that make him a bad person? No. It makes him a bad president.

Was everything Bush did good? Don’t be silly, of course not. But the current crisis is not all his fault, nor is it all Obama. Bush helped make things bad, and now Obama is making it infinitely worse.