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Richlands permits ‘Mountain Magic & Tarot Reading’ after ACLU suit

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RICHLANDS, VA (WVVA) -- Mark Mullins has been reading tarot for more than 30 years. He opened 'Mountain Magic & Tarot Reading' nearly 3 years ago to share his religious and spiritual life with his community.

Mullins claims he wasn't given proper permits to advertise, or even perform tarot readings on his property; and was banned from doing so.

"We felt like we were being restricted from just offering advice to people," he recalls.

This move forced him to close his doors temporarily.

"At first, I was just doing [free] readings to bring customers in," Mullins remembered. "That's what people came in for, and while they were in they'd buy something.. so it was a big hurt on our business."

The ACLU of Virginia was informed of Mullins' situation and wrote several letters to the Town of Richlands, asking it to reconsider.

The organization never received a response.

The ACLU then sued the Town of Richlands on behalf of Mullins, for violating his 'free speech and freedom of religion rights.'

9 months later, a settlement was reached.

Under the settlement agreement, town officials agreed to change a zoning ordinance that now allows tarot reading and similar practices; according to the ACLU. The town also granted Mullins a license to read tarot as part of his business - and he received a monetary settlement for lost wages.

"Again and again we've had to turn people away," Mullins said. "Now everyone's happy because they can come here and get their fortune told, and other people can open places to tell fortunes now."

"You don't have to worry that someone's gonna come arrest you for reading the cards," said Mullins' husband, Jerome VanDyke. "You don't have to feel like you have to hide to do something you believe in."

WVVA has reached out to officials with the Town of Richlands for a statement. Request for comment was not returned by time of deadline Friday.

Jade Burks

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