Tarot Problems

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  May 17, 2010 — 2 Comments

The practice of reading tarot cards isn’t confined to any single religion, but because the dominant monotheisms generally frown on divination, and adherents to various minority religions readily engage in the practice, it’s often become a bone of contention. Usually such conflicts take the form of moralistic anti-divination ordinances, which are then challenged in court, but these conflicts play out on a smaller scale as well. Take the recent case of Lupa Cutliffe, a tarot reader in Duluth, Georgia that was kicked off a contracted tarot-reading job after religiously motivated complaints were made.

“My husband, John Cutliffe is an employee of Fry’s Electronics in Duluth Georgia.  They are celebrating their 25th anniversary this week and as part of the celebration they’ve hired a variety of entertainers.  On the list of approved entertainers was “tarot reader”.  John saw this a few weeks back and mentioned to management that his wife is a professional tarot reader.  They wanted me so the details were worked  out and I was contracted to be there yesterday afternoon for three hours.

I arrived more than an hour before I had agreed to start and began to set up.  There was a bit of discussion about whether I would be outside or inside.  I explained that because it was breezy and threatening to rain I did not want to read outdoors.  We compromised and found a shady, sheltered spot near the front door.  As soon as I started my first reading there was a sudden bit of activity and anxious looks between my husband and the organizers.

When I’d finished the reading my husband came over and explained that someone had called corporate and complained about Fry’s hiring a tarot reader.  It seems they were offended based on their religious beliefs.  I was asked to move out to the edge of the parking lot or alternately to leave without pay.  We countered with an offer to move inside to a quiet video conference area away from traffic and that was refused.  Assistant store manager Adam Hale told my husband in no uncertain terms that if I did not move to the parking lot I would not be paid.

Other members of staff did the best they could to handle an unpleasant situation, however Mr. Hale was rude and inconsiderate.  Fry’s could easily have explained to the complainers that I was hired as an entertainer and was harmless and easily avoided.   Instead they chose to persecute a person who was there in a professional capacity to do a contract job based on the complaints of a few religious bigots.”

Cutliffe is asking folks to contact Fry’s and complain about her treatment, and has provided contact information (also on Facebook). One of the assistant managers has promised that she’ll be paid, as initially agreed, but Cutliffe is more concerned with how the situation was handled, and the message it sends.

“Please do consider letting Fry’s know that caving to a vocal minority was a bad idea. I am not evil, nor is the practice of reading cards likely to mean that I am in league with the devil. Don’t let them think that everyone in this area is afraid of harmless entertainment and a potentially thought provoking practice. In this competitive market a company cannot afford to make a mistake like Mr. Adam Hale did today by reacting to pressure from some nasty, fearful people.”

The big problem here, aside from the rude and inconsiderate manager, is the false assumption that tarot-reading can be treated as just another parlor game, with readers hired out for parties like clowns and jugglers. Tarot readers can be, and are, hired out for events, but usually the party-thrower makes sure they won’t run afoul of religious sensibilities in the process. The fact that Fry’s got complaints isn’t the fault of Lupa Cutliffe, and if they misjudged their clientèle, they should have handled the matter with professionalism, instead of trying to treat her like a pariah. So let’s treat this as an object lesson in how not to engage the services of a tarot reader, and hope that other businesses are taking note.

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Jason Pitzl-Waters


  • http://twitter.com/lupaloo @lupaloo

    Thank you.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    Vanessa M!? Well, that's real specific…