Behold, the future is being revealed and it looks bright for fortune tellers, clairvoyants, tarot card readers and anyone claiming to contact spirits in this corner of northern New England. Soothsaying might still be banned in some parts of the country, but St. Johnsbury has repealed the ordinance against peering into the future that it had on the books since 1966."When the ordinance was lifted, I actually felt a large weight lifting from my shoulders," said Maria Pawlowski, a tarot card reader. "It was veryoppressive to have to refrain from something that was as natural to me as breathing."Fear of fraud has prompted many communities to ban fortunetelling but critics say it's not government's place to decide whether such personal beliefs or practices are fraudulent. Last year in Philadelphia, city inspectors shut down more than a dozen psychics, astrologers and tarot-card readers after discovering a decades-old state law that still bans fortunetelling for profit.
year, Louisiana's Livingston Parish made soothsaying, fortunetelling,
palm reading and crystal-ball gazing illegal; a Wiccan minister filed a
challenge to the law in federal court.
Other laws are on the books
or have been challenged in Nebraska, Tennessee, Florida, North Carolina
and Oklahoma, said Charles Haynes, a seniorscholar with the First
Amendment Center in Washington.
A ban in Lincoln, Neb., was struck down by a federal appeals court in 1998 as unconstitutional.
"People have the right to
believe in these things and to predict the future, to say what they
think and even to charge money for it," Haynes said.
has no power to determine whether or not these people are committing
Critics of such bans warn
that other activities could be called into question if the government
has the power to decide whether fortunetelling is fraudulent or illegal.
"We have people who predict
what the stock market is going to do. We have people who predict the
weather and get paid for it," said Haynes.
St. Johnsbury lifted its
ban in July at the urging ofpsychotherapist......
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