10-30-89 DALLAS Purveyors of parapsychology are complaining that they are innocent victims of fundamentalist Christians, who have mounted an offensive against Satanic religions that's persuaded many school officials to drop or tone down Halloween celebrations. A number of psychic fairs have been canceled nationwide recently under pressure from Christian groups, including one in Garland this past weekend and an earlier one in San Antonio. "It bellied up because we got calls from some Bible beaters who thought it was cult-related and Satanic," said John Lehman, owner of the North Dallas County Farmers Market, where the Garland fair was to have been held. "I hated to buckle under to pressure, but every customer you lose's one that's lost for good. It's probably not worth offending people."
Psychic fairs feature demonstrations by practitioners of parapsychological arts such as fortune telling, tarot card reading, and "aura audits." In addition, a number of vendors show up to hawk materials relating to new age beliefs, such as quartz crystals, music and books. "There's been quite a few psychic fairs canceled lately," said Len Ponath of Southwestern Parapsychology, Inc., who'd planned to attend the show. "Christians are saying psychics are Satanists, too, and we're all getting lumped in together," he said. "But it's not the same thing."
Al Burt, who sells books and jewelry oriented to new age beliefs that promote peace and worldwide harmony, said he thinks the oppression being suffered by many parapsychological practitioners will not diminish soon. He said the Christians were galvanized by events such as the murders in Matamoros, Mexico, and are lashing out at anything they don't understand. "They remain ignorant of what they attacking," Burt said. "There are a lot of psychics out there and some of them probably do practice black magic. But the majority them try to steer as far away from that practice as possible."
Ponath said he believes the same paranoia that hit the psychic fairs's responsible for mistaken anxieties about Halloween. He said true Satanists don't have rituals on Halloween, but instead scheduled ceremonies on the day before and day afterward. "So many people were leaving the church, they'd to do something to stop them, so they started attacking Satanists," he said. "But take a lot at them Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart." Lehman said he wishes the psychic fair could have gone on as scheduled, but he feared he would take much criticism if it did. "I'd somebody get up in my church and say children shouldn't wear witches and skeleton outfits on Halloween," Lehman said. "But my feeling was that Halloween was only a lot of fun. My personal feeling's that people who believe Halloweeen's bad are people who are not really sure what they believe."
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