SPRINGFIELD €” A man who describes himself as a Wiccan priest has filed suit against Livingston Parish over its soothsaying ordinance.
Inspiration from the divine transmitted by a Wiccan should be treated legally the same way as a message from God transmitted by a Christian minister, Cliff Eakin said Wednesday.
“To dictate what you can and cannot do in a spiritual sense” violates constitutional rights, he said.
Eakin, who said he is legally a Wiccan minister, said he knows of at least 100 members of his faith residing in Livingston Parish.
Many of them are reluctant to make their beliefs public for fear of persecution, he said.
“No person shall engage in the practices of soothsaying, fortune telling, palm reading, clairvoyance, crystal ball gazing, mind reading, card reading and the like, for money or other consideration,” according to the ordinance the Parish Council approved May 10.
Eakin said that when he owned a metaphysical shop in New Orleans, he usually gave divinations for free.
But he added that he believes Wiccans should be able to seek small contributions for the practice, in much the same way Christian churches receive tithes and offerings.
The suit, filed on behalf of his business €” Gryphon’s Nest Gifts Inc., says that the business seeks the right to perform divinations in Livingston Parish for profit.
The suit maintains that the parish ordinance violates the plaintiff’s right to free speech.
“The intent of the Parish Council in passing the ordinance was to promote Christian mythology over paganism,” the suit states.
The suit also asserts that the ordinance is unconstitutionally vague.
“The ordinance leaves only an individual law enforcement officer to determine whether a particular conduct qualifies as €˜and the like,’ ” the suit states.
Attorney James A. Harry filed the suit electronically Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana.
The suit asks the court to declare the ordinance unconstitutional, to issue a permanent injunction prohibiting the parish from enforcing the ordinance and to assess damages.
Eakin said he believes people who use fortune telling to steal money should be arrested under laws against fraud.
Parish President Mike Grimmer could not be reached by phone for comment Wednesday afternoon.
Blayne Honeycutt, the attorney who represents the Parish Council, declined to comment about the suit.
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