Richlands occult shop owners vow to fight ban on tarot card readings

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Richlands occult shop owners Mark Mullins and Jerome Vandyke hope to fight what appears to be a ban on tarot card readings in Richlands after police ordered them to stop reading cards for the public earlier this month.

Mullins and Vandyke said that when they opened their book and gift shop, Mountain Magic, in July, they were told they couldn’t charge for readings. So the two decided to do them for free. Then, in early October, police told the owners that they were in violation of the town’s zoning ordinance simply by performing the readings.

“Every time I do [a reading], it’s because someone asked me to. I’ve never done it for someone who didn’t ask,” Mullins said. “I’m basically offering people advice. How can you tell someone they can’t offer advice?”

Mullins, who says he is a pagan, equated the restraint to ordering a Christian business owner not to pray with their customers.

“For me, the tarot deck is my Bible. I’ve been reading tarot for 30 years. When they take away my Bible, I have no way to offer people advice."

Town Manager Tim Taylor said that because current zoning ordinances do not expressly permit a business owner to read tarot cards for their customers, it is prohibited.

“The laws are generally written to tell you what you can do. They don’t leave any room for guessing,” Taylor said.

He explained that although Mullins performs the readings for free, it is still deemed part of his business because the readings are performed in his place of business.

“We’re not in the business of what you charge people; it’s the activity of what you’re doing,” Taylor said. “Right now, that type of activity is not allowed as a business. But that doesn’t mean you can’t add it."

Mullins argues that when he applied for his business license, fortune telling and palimistry were among the examples used under the nature of business category.

“How can you offer something you don’t allow,” he said.

“That’s like posting a help wanted sign, interviewing and hiring someone, and then saying ‘we don’t have a position open here,’” Vandyke added.

Mullins and Vandyke had planned to attend the Oct. 10 Richlands town council meeting but decided against it at the last minute.

Opponents of the shop did attend the meeting though, with several speaking out, citing the shop’s merchandise, its proximity to nearby churches and “satanic stuff” as causes for concern.

Vicky Ward, Norma Mabe, Sheila Stanley and Paul Vandyke all expressed concern that items such as tarot cards, pentagrams and other products go against Biblical principles.

Stanley, pastor of Open Window Whorship Center, said the shop should not be allowed to be located so close to churches, noting that the shop is just a stone’s throw away from her church.

But Mullins and Vandyke said their beliefs are simply misunderstood. They said they feel like the whole ordeal is a personal attack on them and on their religion.

“They said we were calling up the devil [but] we gathered on the full moon and prayed for those affected by the hurricane,” Mullins said.

“What this really seems to be about is, I feel, they really want to close us down,” Vandyke said, noting that people have taped things on the store’s sign and yelled slurs at the business owners.

Mullins said the ban on readings could hurt sales.

 “It brought people into the store to get a free reading– just like any business that offers something free— and while they waited their turn, they shopped around the store,” Mullins said, adding that customers would sometimes come back days after their readings to purchase their own tarot decks.

Mullins and Jerome Vandyke plan to petition the planning commission and town council to add the tarot practice to the list of permitted uses.

Taylor explained that a similar instance in which a practice was not permitted cropped up with a tattoo parlor in 2014. The owners petitioned the planning commission to add tattoo parlors to the list of permitted uses before they opened up shop.

“A few years ago, we didn’t have any tattoo parlors. He made a request and went through the process and it got added,” Taylor said.

While resident signatures are not required to petition for an addition to the town’s permitted uses, Mullins and Vandyke said they want to prove to the commission that there’s an interest.

“We thought if we got a petition showing that people are interested, maybe they will open it up,” Vandyke explained. “One man can’t speak for everyone, so I’m getting signatures to prove people want it.”

On Tuesday, the petition had about 400 signatures.

Despite some, now high profile, outrage, the two said they’ve made quite a few new Christian friends this month.

Baptist Bobby Goodman started out as a customer when Mountain Magic opened. He now frequents the shop just to chat.

“It’s no different than any of the other religions,” Goodman said “Everybody has a different way of worshipping their god or goddess.”

A shop owner in neighboring Smyth County went through a similar battle in June. Before the shop’s Labor Day opening, members of a downtown church recorded a video on Main Street, condemning the planned shop as “a danger to the community.”

Tavane Taylor, who opened Eclectic by Nature, said that community members in Marion rallied to her side, however.

Like Richland’s zoning ordinance, Marion’s doesn’t specifically mention tarot readings or other forms of divination.

Mullins and Vandyke said they plan to petition the planning commission soon, but they want to gather more signatures first. They said they are unsure if they will attend the next town hall meeting.

“We’ll have to consult the tarot,” Mullins said.

Jasmine Dent Franks can be reached at jfranks@wythenews.com

Correction: Eclectic by Nature does not offer tarot readings at its Marion location. This story has been edited to reflect this information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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moonshadow

This is an open-shut case, you just have to go through the motions. Even the most conservative judges will have to concede that you have a right to practice your religion freely. I am also happy to see the supportive Christians that have replied.

The U.S. constitution as well as the Virginia constitution is on your side in addition to various state laws.

As for the church next door, I'd just look at them and say "you're no peach of a neighbor yourself..." smh....

I've got news for those holier than thou hypocrites: Until the day comes where American falls under complete and total religious tyranny, there really isn't a lot you can do about an occult store on your block. This ain't the middle east, and I've had to sit here and endure countless news feeds of the "religious right" constantly spouting off on "religious freedom" as a means to discriminate against LBGT people, nix birth control, and other such measures, and now you're going to sit here and try to shut a non-Christian business down?!?! Is your religion so weak it can't even stand on it's own without having to have the state enforce it's views?

Of course I'm only speaking generally, I'm not saying the overall Christian faith is weak, but these zealots sure don't mind running to the government wanting to shut down free enterprise when the business doesn't suit their fancy! What of religious freedom now???

Where are you Mike Huckabee??? Kim Davis?? Hrmmmmmm???

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Druidsage

I will come down there and fight for you if you need me. I am so disgusted with this behavior these days. They do not have the right to place these demands upon you. These are illegal actions and pure discrimination and rights violation.

FoxyBrianna

Not surprised that all of a sudden christians come to defend them. You get more flies with honey than with vinegar. But it doesnt matter, what matters is some people are putting their nose where it doesnt belong. Christians not only want ten commandments and crosses on every street corner, they also want to shut down and destroy non christian buisnesses. Well, always fight back, and be very careful as to who one considers an ally, because some of those christians are just there in the background because they want to see Pagans come to Jesus.

Amanti

Tim Taylor says that because zoning laws tell you what you can do in a business, and there's no room for guessing, then their beauty salons must have been expressly told they can push the cuticles back during a manicure. A grocery store owner must have expressly been told he can open boxes containing merchandise if the boxes are clearly marked. An auto body shop must have expressly been told how shallow a dent can be pulled out; any deeper and the quarter panel must be replaced. A veterinarian must have been given the precise measurements of the cages in which animals recover after surgery. No room for GUESSING? The zoning laws would have to be contained in a book the size of War And Peace, and the Preface would have to read, "If we've left out any aspect of your business, you must apply to add it to the law."

Druidsage

I am Priestess Kelyla Spicer and I took on Front Royal Va on the very issue of Tarot readings and the discrimination around it. Look up the Town of Front Royal and Tarot card issues. They cant do this to you. You have rights. Not only religious but business ones as well. Lawas that apply to yours must then be applied to all other religious based businesses as well. Its a true definition of selected choices in local government and its illegal. You have a suit on your behalf.

Tavane

I am the owner of Eclectic By Nature in Marion, VA and Greensboro, NC. We do not offer readings of any sort at our Virginia location as there are ordinances preventing it. So long as those laws are in place, we will not offer readings. The people of Marion have been very welcoming, for which I am very grateful. My shop is there to serve the entire community. Customers who wish to have readings can do so at our NC location or other towns that have done away with “fortune telling” laws.

Larrymullinsjr

Their main opposition is actually from wicked people who think themselves self righteous but their evil anti Christ worshipers, if your both a Christian and conservative then to me that's an oxymoron, it don't exist because the Jesus from the bible was a liberal socalist Jew, he rebelled against the strict religious pharisee that dominated his time and now we see people being religious pharisee in His name? Don't make sense but it's not entirely their fault, most don't even realize it because they been taught that and brainwashed by these evil Capitalist American evangelist preachers who only get into preaching their perverted versions of God's word to push political agendas and make money, Shakespeare was correct when he said even a demon can spout scripture to make people believe him. The Bible said the devil can appear as an angel of light, Jesus also said in these days people will do all kinds of wicked things in his name but at the Judgement he will tell them to depart from him, He never knew them. I'm a Christian and I say let them do their thing because even King Saul in the bible consulted a medium for advice and it's said the answer came from God.

J1d3w

In my humble opinion, the Constitutional argument supporting this shop's "right" to do readings for whomever, is invalid, on at least one front. This is because, as one post mentioned, "Congress shall not...."

Marion is NOT Congress. This isn't even a states' rights issue. This is a Marion issue.

Second, I wonder if the same Marion officials support, in any way, Halloween, a holiday all about the dead. Even Satanists celebrate Halloween within this context. My guess is that, yes, these same Marion officials do not prohibit much if any part of Halloween. As far as I know, not only have these same Marion officials NOT denounced Halloween, they actually and explicitly endorse it.

Oh the irony....

moonshadow

You are correct, and prior to the civil war, that argument would have held up. The bill or rights do plainly indicate that it is congress that may not decide a religion. However, you are not taking into account the 14th amendment which makes all natural born U.S. residents legal "citizens" in the United States and in the State in which they reside, also in the amendment it states:
"No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
Marion, like Richlands falls within the jurisdiction of the their respective counties which fall under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth of Virginia, which under the 14th amendment is REQUIRED to apply due process and EQUAL PROTECTION to ALL citizens of the United States.
This isn't a "Marion" issue, as Virginia is a "Dillon Rule" state, which means that no municipality or county can enact any ordinance or law unless it has been approved by the state legislature, and again, by the protection of the 14th amendment, Virginia, likewise can not restrict one groups freedom of religion or speech unless they restrict everyone's.

SO that being said, that the only way they could legally pull this off would be to make any type of religious activity unlawful at any place of business. I.E. saying a prayer in a Christian book store to ask God for various blessings, or have any sort of religious activity whatsoever would have to be rendered illegal as it would not fall within the Christian book store's business license.

And FWIW, Christians practice divination and interpret omens all of the time. Why just a few years ago, on Living Faith TV (broadcast right here in the Clinch valley) I saw a program where a pastor located in Lenoir City TN was peddling a "blood of Jesus" oil where he promised if you sent money you would be richly blessed..... sounds like WITCHCRAFT to me!!! But you didn't see the "religious right" getting all up in arms about that.... noooooo... "that's religious FREEDOM"...

Oh the irony indeed!

Taz2010

Constitution of United States of America 1789 (rev. 1992)

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.......

So why is this ok for them to treat these guys like this

Litstar

I stand behind u guys 100% and I will be in to sign that paper .. luv u guys and fight for what we believe in .....message me if u need anything I'm here for u all ...

TabSpencer

I'm sry but in my opinion, this is a violation of the constitutional rights of these shop owners & those who choose to visit the shop or believe what they believe! I support you from Marion Va and would live to sign your petition!

Larrymullinsjr

This is directly in violation of the first amendment. They are correct in saying it's no different than Christian business owners praying with patrons. For the so called Christians concerned about them being near church's I say that if they truly are believers (as I am a Christian) and followers of Christ then they have nothing to fear and the fears displays their lack of faith. It also displays a lack of respect for our country's constitution, people's rights, and disrespects God because they are not following Jesus call to pray for people, treat other how you want to be treated, and have faith that God will protect them. People should respect our greatest amendment of the Constitution which is of course the first but more importantly to follow the greatest commandment of Jesus which is LOVE. Give them their rights!!! £

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