APwv 08/15 0032 Krishna Discrimination By RAY FORMANEK Jr. Associated Press Writer NEW VRI

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APwv 08/15 0032 Krishna Discrimination By RAY FORMANEK Jr. Associated Press Writer NEW VRINDABAN, W.Va. (AP) -- The state Human Rights Commission says it will hear a Hare Krishna devotee's complaint that Marshall County Prosecutor Thomas White is discriminating against the religion. "I think it's very good that this matter is being looked into," Umapati Swami, the Krishna minister who filed the complaint, said Friday. "I think the people of this county ought to know the kind of people they have in office." The Human Rights Commission has scheduled an October hearing on the complaint. Umapati said he filed the complaint after his request for a state minister's license, required to perform marriage ceremonies and other religious duties, was delayed. "Instead of issuing the license, the county clerk turned my application over to the prosecutor," Umapati said. "The prosecuting attorney does not normally get involved in such matters. "The only reason he did is because he and the county clerk are disciminating against my religion." White has denied the allegations and said he is waiting for a member of the Governing Board Commission of the International Society of Krishna Consciousness to certify that Umapati is a minister. But the Krishna devotee said that certification may never come because ISKCON disassociated itself from the New Vrindaban encampment -- the largest Krishna community in the United States -- after accusing its spiritual leader, Kirtanananda Swami Bhaktipada, of violating the tenets of the religion. "My point is that ministers of other religions are not subject to this," Umapati said during an interview at the settlement where he is a spiritual leader. "What right do they have to ask a totally different church if I'm certified or not? "We are a legally separate church and registered as such by the state." The Human Rights Commission hearing is scheduled for Oct. 14 at the Marshall County Courthouse, according to a letter signed by Howard D. Kenney, the commission's executive director. "I have received the notice of the hearing but have not had a chance to examine it," White said. "We are continuing to review the matter." Kenney was in Bluefield attending the state's NAACP convention and not available for comment. According to the hearing notice, White has 10 days from the time he received the letter to respond to the charges. If no reply is made, the allegations may be assumed to be valid. Marshall Moss, a spokesman for the commission, said that a hearing officer and a member of the human rights commission will hear evidence presented at the hearing and decide whether Umapati was discriminated against for his religious beliefs. The commission will then decide what remedy, if any, is in order. Moss said that White or Umapati may appeal any decision made by the comission to the state Supreme Court.


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