Psychics are protected by religious rights?

Psychics’ practices protected by religious rights, lawyers say – South Florida

What a South Florida family of psychics did for 20 years was criminal fraud, federal prosecutors say. But the Marks family’s defense team says it was something very different — religion, free speech and a sincere belief in spiritual healing.

Nine members of the Fort Lauderdale family of Roma, or gypsies led by fortunetelling matriarch Rose Marks, were arrested in August on federal fraud conspiracy charges and accused of defrauding their clients of $40 million.

Defense attorneys are attacking the criminal indictment on several fronts, hoping to get the charges dismissed before a proposed trial date in November.

Lawyers have argued in court papers that the family members had a constitutionally protected right to practice fortunetelling and spiritual healing because it is a part of their religious belief system and fortunetelling is legally considered to be free speech.

Tip: @edzardErnst on twitter

Their lawyer is saying that his client, Nancy Marks, 42, did nothing but try to help people, in line with her personal spiritual beliefs.

“Nancy Marks’ conduct is rooted in her religion and spirituality,” Gottlieb wrote. “Based upon this prosecution, the defendant has lost her livelihood and has been unable to make a living using her historical religious and spiritual gifts.”

That is ABSURD! No such GIFTS have ever been shown to exist in anyone ever, let alone that the Marks’ have them. And, even if it is a religious rights issue, that does not exempt you from the law. I’m pretty sure that’s well established in case law. Talk about REACHING!

Here is what they say:

Because the U.S. Constitution and the Establishment Clause guarantee freedom of religion, the lawyers argue that the government shouldn’t be allowed to prosecute the Marks family for pursuing their beliefs. Courts have ruled that religious beliefs don’t have to be “acceptable, logical, consistent, or comprehensible to others in order to merit First Amendment protection,” the lawyers wrote.

And taking money for services is consistent with other mainstream religions that use the donations for the upkeep of places of worship and to cover other expenses, the attorneys wrote.

Nancy Marks’ behavior was no different from that of “religious teachers, preachers, and healers and demon chasers,” evangelists and the Psychic Friends Network, whose shows are often televised on cable where donations are sought, the lawyers argued.

Well, let’s not venture into the gray area of what above-board religious institutions do. But let’s be clear – they took advantage of people’s beliefs as do MANY others. And people should be aware that this could happen to them. But according to the witnesses, they were promised something that the Marks would not have been able to deliver. The family took valuable items from their clients without ever returning them. That’s plain old stealing.

It just appears that the religious freedom angle is once again being abused. I don’t think this will get them very far. While I don’t have much sympathy for their victims, some who still even feel the Marks’ helped them, it’s fair that this family be put out of business.

More from earlier: “Marks” of a psychic scam (Update: Nancy Marks in jail)

  5 comments for “Psychics are protected by religious rights?

  1. Chew
    April 9, 2012 at 2:26 PM

    Funny how the defense attorney didn’t mention “Thou shall not steal.”

  2. April 9, 2012 at 2:38 PM

    I don’t buy it as a defense either.

    But how is it all that different than Oral Roberts saying he needs donations or his god will kill him? Or what about the money Harold Camping got donated to spread the word of the Rapture’s date? It’s a fair question, I think.

  3. Chew
    April 9, 2012 at 7:13 PM

    Yeah. I agree it’s not all that different. But Roberts and Camping were rather up front about what they wanted the money for. They did use the money they got, or at least some portion of it, for what they said they wanted it for. Roberts for his university, Camping for spreading the word. Billboards ain’t cheap.

  4. luvmyGod4eva
    April 14, 2012 at 2:38 PM

    I’m a practising Christian and offering a “tithe” or choosing the way of philanthropy, is NEVER fraud. Especially if we support legitimate churches who help the “needy” in their communities. Liberals and atheists would prefer their government to do this and we all know how THAT has worked out so far! 🙁 However, you shouldn’t compare the church to obvious charlatans who were intent on taking as much as possible from gullible parties willing to believe anything they told them. Your argument is typical of liberal media, showing the usual left wing bias of the press toward people of “faith”.

  5. April 14, 2012 at 2:51 PM

    You are making some unwarranted assumptions there. NO ONE ever said anything about liberals and atheists. The story is about the lawyer trying to make this case into a religious one. My comment regarding other religions doing this was more about faith healers and televangelists who beg for money or God will claim them. THAT’S FRAUD in my book. If you willingly give you money to help a cause, that’s fine but soliciting money under false pretenses is stealing.

    Do you think that psychic help is a religion and she was entitled to take those people’s things?

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