An unassuming "church" in a quiet suburb outside of Nashville, Tennessee, is facing potential immediate and permanent closure because it's not actually a church in the traditional sense — it's a sex club.
As reported by NewsChannel 5, the rouse was discovered in March when two undercover city inspectors popped by the establishment and paid $40 each (an "offering," if you will) to enter. What they witnessed inside was not exactly a run-of-the-mill worship service. According to the legal complaint, the two inspectors — Bill Earles and Christine Gibson — "observed patrons openly engaging in sexual conduct and intercourse" in private exam rooms and public areas.
An incredibly detailed surveillance report (details within are decidedly NSFW) recounts what Earles and Gibson saw taking place within the church. Some standout anecdotes include witnessing an allegedly pregnant woman have her breasts fellated by two men, and a lengthy interaction with two other patrons who enlisted Gibson's help in taking some sexy photos near a room labeled "CHOIR."
"I was shocked, quite frankly," said zoning administrator Bill Herbert of the lewd surveillance report. "Maybe I'm naive. I did not expect it to be as graphic as it was. [The investigators] witnessed sex acts and other acts that indicated that the property was not being used as a church."
This isn't the first time this particular Nashville mainstay has been entwined in legal drama. Called the Social Club (and operated by a group called Freedom 4 All, Inc.), the sex club has been an institution for swingers in the Nashville-area since 1980. The group moved to their current location in the suburban neighborhood of Madison two years ago after selling their old, more centrally located complex for $1.3 million, more than double what they purchased it for in 1998 according to the Washington Post. The new spot, which was once a medical facility, in Madison was perfect, save for one minor detail — it's located less than a mile from a Christian school.
Troubled by the thought of having a sex club operating nearby their kids, Madison residents tried to stop the swingers from swinging in their quiet town in 2015, when the move occurred. Karen Bennett, who graduated from the nearby Christian school herself, raised concern and even introduced a new ordinance regarding city zoning laws that prohibited any private events from being held at the Social Club's new home.
But the Social Club was able to circumvent the targeted new ordinance by rebranding itself as a church.
"They can sue us and say they want an injunction to stop us from operating, and we can say we have some tenets of the church sort of like the Ten Commandments," Larry Roberts, the longtime lawyer for the Social Club told the Washington Post in 2015. "Do not steal. Do not lie. Do not cheat. Do not commit any act that will be harmful to others. Do not commit adultery without the knowledge and consent of your spouse."
But now it seems as though the jig is up — the city inspectors visited the church and found that it simply does not fit the definition for a place of worship. While operating a sex club in Madison isn't illegal, per se, operating a sex club so close by a school (and without a permit) is illegal. The complaint seeking closure of the sex club/church, filed in May 2017, claims the club is violating several laws, including operating a sex club within 1,000 feet of an education facility and maintaining a public nuisance. One of the facts given to justify the complaint is that "the use of the property does not meet the definition of church under Webster's Dictionary."
Ricky Perry, head of the nearby Christian school, is personally very thrilled that legal action is being taken against his rowdy business neighbors. "I see it as a victory for our community," he told NewsChannel 5. "We will celebrate the fact that they'll have to go do this somewhere else. We wish it would be no other place, but it won't be in Madison."
A lawyer for the club told NewsChannel 5 he hadn't yet had time to read the full complaint but "continued to maintain that the business is a church."