Red Alert! Judging from the timing, by the time you get to read this it may be all over ba

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Skeptic Tank!

Red Alert! Judging from the timing, by the time you get to read this it may be all over bar the shouting. If it isn't, then the threat will not necessarily have gone away and fast action will be appropriate. It seems that Geoffrey 'Witchfinder General' Dickens (Member of Parliment) has opened up a new can of worms in the form of a campaign to get an amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill currently before Parliment. In his guise as self-apponted protector of children from dangers which exist only in the warped minds of some fundamentalists, he is trying, so it seems, to proscribe any kind of occult activity in this country by backdoor methods. The proposed amendment would make it an offence, punishable by upto five years imprisonment, for anyone to permit, entice or encourage a minor to participate in or be present at any ceremony or other activity of any kind specified in the relevant subsection. As one might imagine, the relavant subsection reads like the blurb for a Dennis Wheatley novel: "....ceremonies or activities of or associated with Satanism and other Devil Worshipping, Black Magic, Witchcraft or any activity to which section 1 of the Fraudulent Mediums Act (1951) applies." Before you come over all complacent about the fact that no responsible occultist or organizations would allow minors to be involved in any way, let's just get this into perspective. That won't wash because this pernicious piece of busybodying is a catch-all, on two counts. The first is the words 'entice or encourage.' You don't have to permit anything. If you have kids, just talking about occult matters at home could, carried to it's logical conclusion, get you thrown in jail. "If you don't condemn it, you encourage it." It's that good old fundamentalist standby - 'if you're not with us, you're damned!' The second catch-all is tying the ammendment to the Fraudulent Mediums Act. This woolly piece of legislation which ultimately, if the legal machinery gets cranked up to major on it, puts the onus on you to perform to order and in a manner which would satisfy even The Amazing Randi, to prove that a) it works (so it can't be held to be deception) and b) you're not using it just to get some poor punter to part with his/her hard-earned cash. This is the rub. The Fraudulant Mediums Act is mainly about people paying for occult services. In the hands of the right legal-eagles, this one could put a stop to any sort of consultative service the tenets of which are not part of the currently established scientific (provable) paragdim. The only let-out from this one is if what you do is solely for entertainment. I'm sure the consultant astrologers of my acquaintance would be far from delighted to be classed as entertainers since it's the very image they have been trying so hard to get away from! What's more, just in case you need reminding, the Fraudulant Mediums Act applies to those who 'act as a Spiritualist medium or to exercise any powers of telepathy, clairvoyance or other similar powers.' Which is just about everything given biased interpretation. As I said, these are back-door methods. They appear reasonable enough on the surface as far as Joe Public is concerned but, once enacted, they take a lot of getting rid of. Forget high ideals of constitutionally upheld rights of belief and religious tolerance. We need concerted clout to beat this one and the timing looks as if it's been done deliberatly to prevent the opportunity of rallying any opposition. Fortunately, SAFF has enough supporters and has been hammering away at these issues for long enough to be taken notice of. (Who do you think got hold of the details of the proposed amendment ?) Chris Bray (God, Goddess, or any other deity of your choosing, bless him) has put everything else to one side to try and organise the sudden and unmourned death of this one. He/SAFF deserve and desparately need your support - like yesterday - if it is to be scotched. Don't put it off, get in touch today and offer your help. SAFF's address is 6-8 Burley Lodge Road, Leeds LS6 1QP, England Tel:(01144 532 from the states, 0532 in UK) 751309. Well there you are.... Read, Digest, and ACT !

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