Psychic Discrimination In Uptown Yucaipa

Psychic signThe faithful in Yucaipa, California don’t want psychics in their town. After all, what’s next? Soon you’ll have meetings of people being told wild stories about miracles and virgin births and resurrections, and…oh.

This is one of those situations where the intolerance of religious Americans undermines their own cause, though I  know they don’t see it that way.

John Johnson is asking Yucaipa for a home occupation permit so he can continue to provide psychic readings, which he has done without incident for decades. However,  it looks like opposition from surrounding neighbors at the public hearing might foil  Johnson’s efforts to let his home business pass muster as  a nonconforming use in a commercial zone. This makes no sense to him. (It makes no sense to me either.)

“I’ve never hurt any children or gone astray,” he said at the hearing. “I don’t take drugs nor have any tattoos. You people judge me without even knowing me…. I’m a devoted Catholic.”

No, the godly of Yucaipa think you’re evil, John. Here are some of the comments at the meeting:

George Bedlion Sr.: “I don’t want to see a psychic reader in Uptown Yucaipa. My church sponsors the soap box race and we just don’t want to see this kind of influence. It’s opening something that is not very good.”

Joél Vincent, a pastor from First Assembly of God Church: “I believe that danger and harm is brought to our community if we encourage this  and God’s own judgment on our city. There’s concern for our children, our youth and all our citizens. I think the Lord would like us to be a city that is thinking of him and is focused on him.”

John Pohl : “Why would you want to come to Yucaipa? We don’t need a business like that. Yucaipa believes in the morals of the Lord and they don’t need a thorn in their eye.”

Flora Pohl: “I do not like psychics and I do not approve it. There’s so many bad things and I’m not for it. He can pick up and go back to where he came from.”

Ceasar Flores:  “If we permit this, than anything else (can come here). We do not approve or believe in this. Not any part of it.”

Yolanda Flores: “What’s next? Like my husband said, someone’s gonna sell drugs in front of our church? I’m sorry but I don’t believe good people would go into this business. I’m sorry. I’m against this.”

I think I can summarize these trenchant arguments thusly: “We don’t like what you do and it clashes with what we believe, so even though it is legal, you can’t do it because we say so. “

So much for the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It’s good to know the core values that led to the founding of this country by religious people oppressed for their beliefs are still vigorous and strong. Sarcasm aside, how ethically inert does one have to be not to recognize the hypocrisy and unfairness of saying to someone “our faith in the supernatural tells us that your faith in the supernatural is harmful”? The growing hostility to religion in the U.S. has led to the oppression of psychics in some jurisdictions: when organized religion was strong across U.S. society, belief in psychic readers, faith healers, mediums and related phenomenon was widespread and accepted. The line between these and religious activities is thin beyond discerning, but never mind: John Johnson’s enemies don’t comprehend the slippery slope they are leaping down.

As I did when discussing New York’s dubious conviction of a psychic for fraud last year, let me quote the superb dissent of Justice Jackson in U.S. v. Ballard, in which the Supreme Court upheld the conviction of a faith healer for fraud:

I should say the defendants have done just that for which they are indicted. If I might agree to their conviction without creating a precedent, I cheerfully would do so. I can see in their teachings nothing but humbug, untainted by any trace of truth. But that does not dispose of the constitutional question whether misrepresentation of religious experience or belief is prosecutable; it rather emphasizes the danger of such prosecutions…. I find it difficult to reconcile this conclusion with our traditional religious freedoms….as a matter of either practice or philosophy I do not see how we can separate an issue as to what is believed from considerations as to what is believable. …How can the Government prove these persons knew something to be false which it cannot prove to be false? If we try religious sincerity severed from religious verity, we isolate the dispute from the very considerations which in common experience provide its most reliable answer.

…William James, who wrote on these matters as a scientist, reminds us that it is not theology and ceremonies which keep religion going. Its vitality is in the religious experiences of many people. “If you ask what these experiences are, they are conversations with the unseen, voices and visions, responses to prayer, changes of heart, deliverances from fear, inflowings of help, assurances of support, whenever certain persons set their own internal attitude in certain appropriate ways.'”

If religious liberty includes, as it must, the right to communicate such experiences to others, it seems to me an impossible task for juries to separate fancied ones from real ones, dreams from happenings, and hallucinations from true clairvoyance. Such experiences, like some tones and colors, have existence for one, but none at all for another. They cannot be verified to the minds of those whose field of consciousness does not include religious insight. When one comes to trial which turns on any aspect of religious belief or representation, unbelievers among his judges are likely not to understand and are almost certain not to believe him.

These religious people want Johnson’s business to be rejected by the government because they don’t believe in what he does. In doing so, they are engaging in conduct that is indistinguishable from religious intolerance and persecution. They are also providing one more compelling reason for skeptics to mock and persecute them.


Pointer: Alexander Cheezem (Thanks!)

Source: News Mirror


19 thoughts on “Psychic Discrimination In Uptown Yucaipa

  1. It’s only hypocrisy if they sing a different tune when the boot is on the other foot. E.g., James II was suspected of only endorsing religious tolerance for both Catholics and the equally repressed Dissenters as a stalking horse to let Catholicism come to the top in the three kingdoms. The Protestants thought he was a hypocrite who would do a Revocation of the Edict of Nantes thing to them as soon as it was convenient; however, there was nothing hypocritical about their own intolerance towards Catholics since they had never claimed the benefits of tolerance in support of their own position, but rather a sounder grasp of True Religion – they were determined to keep Dissenters down all along anyway. Similarly, you can’t call these people hypocrites if they never supported tolerance for others as part of their own belief system, whether their faith(s) benefitted from it incidentally or whether they personally benefitted from the lack of civil strife it brought, but only if they deliberately used tolerance to entrench themselves before seeking to kick that ladder away for others.

    By the way, given the nature of this administrative process, having a home based psychic practice around is not legal if they say they don’t want one; legality is the wrong test for the ethicality, at any rate in this case. Your wording is like saying that, because it is legal to give, it must always be legal to take (regardless of whether the owner wants to keep).

    • Two points.
      1) The post was about religious intolerance, not the definition of hypocrisy.
      2) Denying this permit for religious reason would most CERTAINLY be illegal by being unconstitutional.

    • I understand the point, but it obscures what’s going on. It is hypocrisy—they are just too ignorant to realize it. They accept the protection of a Constitution enabled by a Declaration that establishes the principle that one cannot be denied the right to live and work based on belief systems. They are denying someone that themselves, based solely on his professed beliefs. That’s hypocritical, but someone would have to explain it to them. Yes, we have not heard them specifically say “Americans all have an equal right to live and work anywhere they please regardless of belief. I am assuming they would say that, and then their testimony would in fact be hypocritical. Are they obligated to grant a variance? No. But that reason for granting a variance—“the belief he espouses in his business is “bad” or “wrong” or “will bring down the wrath of God” would never pass judicial muster.

  2. If he had been providing psychic advice for decades, obviously enough people have benefited that he could make a living. What got them so suddenly het up? I wonder what else is involved.

    These are an apex type of religious bigot if even other Christians are condemned; anti-Catholicism has been violent at various times and places in the US, so I suspect there is a strong element of this going on too. ‘We don’t want any other beliefs like in those terrible big cities here.’

    I think there may be some circumstances where psychics can be fraudulent and worthy of lawsuits, magician’s sleight of hand and chicken innards instead of actual treatments, But faith or the placebo effect can help a patient deal with the side effects of conventional healing or as a comfort as well. Psychic advisers have a long history, dream interpretation was in the Bible, so they really have no leg to stand on. If they honestly believe that advice from beyond is evil, I wonder how strong their faith really is.

  3. These people have too much time on their hands. Leave the poor guy alone. If some people are credulous enough to believe in psychics, it’s their business.

  4. Inability to detect one’s own hypocrisy seems to cut across every part of the human experience. Thus there will ever be a need for someone to point it out. Sadly, even those who point it out are victims of it. It’s the kind of nice little circular firing squad that probably amuses whatever supreme being each person admits to. Claiming to be humble is one of it’s delightful subtopics.

  5. These religious people want Johnson’s business to be rejected by the government because they don’t believe in what he does. In doing so, they are engaging in conduct that is indistinguishable from religious intolerance and persecution. They are also providing one more compelling reason for skeptics to mock and persecute them.
    No kidding.
    The comments by the faithful immediately bring to mind The Crucible by Arthur Miller (Salem Witch Trials).
    And yet, the calender on my desk says 2014.
    I’d be afraid to live in this area, they might mistake my cat-owning or herb-growing as something it is not.

    • I live in this area and there are plenty of spiritual people that are just that…scared to believe in what they believe in. Now I can see why they are…

  6. I live in Yucaipa. I couldn’t believe this article. It is like an Inquistion. If it wasn’t so seriously flawed in so many ways it would be laughable. I’m sending a reply to the News Mirror on this for next week. And possibly go to the meeting on the 25th..

    • Which article? Mine or the paper’s?
      HOW is it seriously flawed? Those quotes are pretty self-explanatory.

      I love it when I get comments like this—“you’re wrong, this argument is flawed”, but no clue as to what your objection is, if you know. That makes a comment useless, non-constructive, and cowardly. If you can’t articulate an argument better than this, don’t waste our time.

    • sorry…not this one but the article about John Johnson in the News Mirror…I couldn’t wait to frame up a reply to the News Mirror. As I reread I can see your confusion.The churches did the same thing to the first Tattoo Parlor. We have a cute little uptown area that is looking for businesses. We have Market Nights and all kinds of fun things going on around the area. I’m a firm believer in religious freedom…any religion (even though being psychic is not a religion). and after reading what these yahoos are saying I definitely want religion out of the government. I am interested in going to the meeting on the 25th. I am a member of 2 churches, one here in town ( Unity of Yucaipa) and am a Novitiate of Novus Spiritus as well.

  7. the flaws that I see are religion in the government in Yucaipa, John Pohl asking Mr. Johnson why would you want to come to Yucaipa? ( talk about rude!) Yucaipa belives in the morals of the Lord (why are you speaking for me?). Flora stating he can go back to where he came from. It reminded me of one of my favorite movies about acceptance, Chocolat. One of my favorite quotes come from Pere Henri “Listen, this is what I think: I think we can’t go around measuring our goodness by what we don’t do, by what we deny ourselves, what we resist, and who we exclude. I think we’ve got to measure goodness by what we embrace, what we create, and who we include.

    • That was great quote. You understand why I didn’t add it, I hope: the post was about the intolerant attitude and the irony of the outrage against psychics.

      Thanks for specifying your position—I really could not tell from the first comment.

      • I posted this article, Ethic Alarms” on my fb page. I am very glad that someone outside the area can see what’s going on here..

  8. Jack…I went to the special Planning Commission Meeting last night and guess what? Our inept Planning Commission stonewalled again 3 to 3..I spoke ( I was nervous as hell) and my friend, Mary Breslin spoke as well. Please read the article in the Yucaipa News Mirror. It should be up on the computer by tomorrow. It is so ridiculous that this man is having such a hard time and losing money trying to just get into this place. The Yucaipa lawyer even said by law there is no reason that this man could not proceed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.