Jay, maybe we should take a breath from national politicsfor a few days and get local.  I live in Montgomery County, Maryland,just outside of Washington.  I was quite surprised to learn from a gueston my radio show that diviners or others who seek to forecast the future cannotobtain a business license in the county. According to county lawyers this is to prevent people “from being takenadvantage of” since the county thinks fortunetelling is a “scam”.


Now, a man named Nick Nefredo is suing to get a license forjust this activity.  He is a member ofthe “Roma” (aka “Gypsy”) culture and he believes that he has a free speechright to tell people about their futures as he sees them.  Apparently, he doesn’t have a specificreligious belief backing him up, but frankly I don’t know why he would need it.


There are plenty of other diviners, members of the pagan andWiccan communities, who now tell me that they fear being stopped fromexercising their religious beliefs in forecasting the future as well.  Some use tarot cards; others use astrology orcast bones. 


Why aren’t Christians jumping to the legal defense ofdivination?  After all, doesn’t everychurch promote, in one way or the other, the reality of an afterlife.  In fact, act one way and you’ll be morelikely to go to Heaven; act another way, it is perpetuity in Hell.  This is prediction of the future, isn’t it?


And this isn’t just an issue in one county in Maryland.  It is being fought about in Livingston, Louisiana(where another case has been filed). Last year, 16 shops were shuttered in Philadelphia because occupants werecommitting the misdemeanor of fortunetelling “for gain or lucre.” On the otherhand, Casper, Wyomingrecently repealed its anti-fortunetelling ordinance as did the state of North Carolina.  So, Jay, which side are you on?

More from Beliefnet and our partners