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Controversial Performer From Stronger Men’s Conference Speaks Out, Cites Christian Faith in Defense of Performance

Alex Magala Mark Driscoll Stronger Men's Conference
Screengrab of Alex Magala performing on Britain's Got Talent via YouTube @Alex Magala

Alex Magala, the sword swallower who opened James River Church’s Stronger Men’s Conference this past weekend (April 12), released a statement in response to the criticism he has received online and onstage by controversial Pastor Mark Driscoll.

Describing Magala’s performance, Driscoll said that a “Jezebel spirit opened our event.”

“The same thing that’s used in a strip club for women who have the Jezebel spirit to seduce men,” Driscoll said. “In front of that was a man who ripped his shirt off like a woman does in front of a pole at a strip club.”

RELATED:Mark Driscoll Kicked Off Stage for Calling Out ‘Strip Club’-Like Performance at Stronger Men’s Conference

During the act, Magala ripped off his shirt, swallowed a sword, and climbed a vertical pole before sliding back down face first with the sword still in his mouth.

Driscoll was kicked off stage by conference host and James River Church’s lead pastor John Lindell before he could finish his sermon. Lindell could be heard yelling, “You’re out of line Mark…you’re done.” Driscoll then exited the stage.

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Lindell then walked onstage and addressed conference attendees, telling them that Driscoll was wrong for not coming to him privately before publicly criticizing Magala’s performance.

Lindell and Driscoll later returned to the stage and publicly reconciled. Driscoll apologized and went on to preach the second part of his sermon. Lindell joined Driscoll to “vocally process” the sermon with him.

Magala is a two-time Guinness World Record holder, an “America’s Got Talent: The Champions” top performer, a “Britain’s Got Talent” top performer, winner of “Russia’s Got Talent,” and a 2014 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony performer. He also has a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

At one time, Magala worked in both women’s and gay nightclubs as a pole dancer. Images that are still on his Facebook page show Magala in sexually provocative poses and performing at a strip club.

RELATED: ‘The Jezebel Spirit Literally Castrates Men’—Mark Driscoll Plugs His ‘Most Controversial’ Sermon Series Ever

In a statement Magala sent to ChurchLeaders, he said that he felt “compelled to clarify the context and intention behind my specialty act.”

“My performance, which some have controversially likened to inappropriate entertainment,” he said, “is deeply rooted in a historical and cultural tradition that dates back over 1,200 years and has since become a respected discipline showcasing human strength and agility.”