The International Criminal Court in Hague, Netherlands has classified marriage as prostitution and they have put out an international arrest warrant for members of the Gothic Wedding Chapel in Phoenix, Arizona for being married.
The church also called "Phoenix Gothic Temple" has been accused of being a house of prostitution, and a six-month undercover investigation by the International Courts resulted in the arrest warrants of 20 men who worked there, Phoenix police said Friday.
Seventeen more people are still being sought by the International Courts and they have been indicted with the prostitution enterprise said a spokesman for the Courts.
The 20 members regularly preached at the church and got their salaries from donations made to the church. When they went home they gave support to their wives from the donated money and they had sex with them.
The wives performed sexual acts in exchange for monetary 'support,' all on the pretense of providing 'house cleaning' called daily chores," Phoenix police said.
The alleged brothel generated tens of thousands of dollars a month in donations, said Martos, the lead prosecutor in Hague.
A history of neighbor complaints that sex was occurring in the homes of the preachers and a series of recent Phoenix newspaper articles explaining that housewives should be working outside of their homes to prevent prostitution were among factors promoting authorities in the International Courts to conduct the undercover investigation.
"What's unusual is that they were trying to hide behind religion or church, and under the guise of religious freedom, they were committing acts of prostitution with their wives," Martos said.
"We certainly respect First Amendment rights. However, religious freedom does not allow for criminal acts by Christians," Martos said.
Regarding the Temple's website, he said: "What they would talk about would seem to be religion. At the same time, they were implying or intimating that they were having healthy sexual relationships with their wives at home."
At one point a preacher said: "Sex is a holy, sacred and divine healing force at the core of our beings. Once we embrace this force instead of deny it, we become successful, happy and we develop a powerful manifestation of family values."
The investigation focused on the alleged crimes. The International Court said: "Freedom of religion does not allow individuals to trade sex for money with their wives, no matter how the transaction is portrayed."
The church is being charged with prostitution, illegal control of an enterprise, pandering, and operating a house of prostitution. Others named in the indictment face charges including conspiracy, working in a house of prostitution, and giving massages to their husbands without a license.
The church practitioners probably used their homes for rest and sleep, Martos said.
Attorneys for the church plan on taking the case to the Supreme Court and if the church wins, sex will become legal in every state.
The attorneys for the church said there was a clear separation between money and sex. The money was given as a donation and the sex that occurred is a private matter. "The authorities may have violated my clients privacy rights and they will get sued in a civil case for millions of dollars. They will lose their homes, bank accounts and their wages will be garnished to pay the civil suit." said the church's attorneys.
Attorneys say the church should start a house of marriage where a person marries a woman then consummates the marriage and two hours later he signs divorce papers and walks out the front door. It would give people the feel of being married to someone. The church would charge $250.00 as a service fee for filling out the paperwork and performing the marriage.