Wiccan minister seeks to overturn ordinance against fortune telling

Posted: Friday, October 06, 2000

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- A pagan worshipper wants an ordinance banning him from practicing witchcraft struck from the books.

Monte Plaisance filed a lawsuit, backed by the American Civil Liberties Union, in U.S. District Court seeking to overturn a Terrebonne Parish ordinance that punishes fortune telling and palm reading with up to $500 in fines and one year in jail.

Plaisance said that on Aug. 18, a city detective showed up at the witchcraft museum he owns in Houma, a town of about 30,000 people about 30 miles southwest of New Orleans. The detective told Plaisance he was investigating a complaint about the goings-on at the museum.

Plaisance, a 28-year-old Wiccan minister who says he communicates with ancient Greek deities, let the detective photograph the museum's Tarot cards, altar, crystal balls, trident wands and pentagrams. The museum also serves as a church for a coven of about 20 witches, Plaisance said.

''I don't see that I'm a threat to anybody,'' Plaisance said. ''This is how we communicate with our gods and guide our lives.''

He was joined in the lawsuit by 19-year-old coven member Anthony Folet, a palm reader. The suit challenges the law on the basis that it prevents them from practicing their religion.

The ordinance was passed under a state statute that allowed local governments to regulate such activities, said Joe Cook, of the Louisiana chapter of the ACLU.

The ACLU argues that if the parish bans fortune telling, then it effectively bans weather predictions, fortune cookies, commodities predictions and doctors' prognoses.

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