Minnesota metaphysical boutiques targeted with harassment

Cara Schulz —  November 29, 2016 — 26 Comments

WHITE BEAR LAKE, Minn. — Pagan-owned businesses face all the usual challenges of any small business: overhead costs, long hours by the owner, and maintaining a customer base. Yet they also face the additional challenge of being different than the mainstream, which can result in either an exchange of ideas and mutual respect with customers, or in confrontation. The Minnesota-based Enchanted Boutique often enjoys the former, but more recently experienced the latter.

7269788_origThe Enchanted Boutique is a metaphysical store that has as much product and services about angels and the paranormal as it does items specifically for Pagans and Witches.

On Nov. 18, Bonnie Gurney, owner of the Enchanted Boutique, was helping another customer when she noticed a woman hanging around the back of her store. As she later found out, the person’s name is Kristine Burque. When Ms. Gurney finished with her customer, she approached Ms. Burque to ask if she could help her. Burque asked about another metaphysical shop. Gurney told her that this other shop was out of business, but the owner still did tarot reading. Gurney then handed Burque a flyer about some of the services offered at the Enchanted Boutique, and the woman left.

Up to that point, the exchange was typical.

What Gurney didn’t know was that Burque is a devout Christian who feels a calling to witness in stores and places she feels are “diabolical.” Burque is known to the local Pagan community for her past activities at other business. In August, it is alleged Burque harassed the two owners of Collective Harmony Massage and Healing Arts. They hired an attorney to have Burque’s posts about them, one of which displayed their license plate number, removed from Facebook.

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Their attorney, Patrick Farley, told The Wild Hunt, “We did issue a Cease and Desist letter to Ms. Burque and threatened further legal action if she did not comply.” Mr. Farley said Burque was engaging in acts that damaged the reputation of the business, in addition to the harassment of one of its owners. Since Ms. Burque has complied with the terms of the letter, no further legal action is pending.

At the Enchanted Boutique, Gurney received a second visit from Burque. This time, she was holding a bible. “[Burque] stated that she wanted to introduce Jesus to me,” said Gurney.

In response, Gurney reportedly told Burque that she already knows Jesus, and that the store caters to many different religions and Gods. “She seemed uninterested in that, and continued to talk about my meeting Jesus. I told her that I was not interested and asked her to leave. She continued, and I asked her to leave a couple more times before she actually walked out of the shop.”

Burque shared her visit to the Enchanted Boutique on Facebook. She posted a photo of the store with the comment: “This had been a breakthrough for me. I can stand with God’s armor ON!! … and confront my first witch in person.”

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In a statement to The Wild Hunt, Burque said that she’s done nothing wrong, “I just wanted to share Jesus with her. No harm in that. There is nothing to report. I see you are not a Christian according to your timeline. I hope you seek Jesus. That is what all of this was about. To stir them up to pay attention because Jesus is be returning. Maranatha.”

Yet the question remains, when does proselytizing cross the line into trespassing? At what point does free speech and the ability to practice one’s religion turn into harassment and stalking? Is it when the unwanted contact is repeated over months, as it is alleged to have happened to the partners of Collective Harmony? Is it when there are social media posts showing your flyer being burned, or when someone drops off wood in the driveway of your home to “burn things?

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Burque’s posting of the store’s burning flyer [Facebook photo]

Farley has said that he has started paying closer attention to Burque’s Facebook page now that he knows that she is continuing her behavior toward another, “I am, of course, concerned for my clients.”

Gurney says she appreciates the support of friends and customers, “The support from friends and others on Facebook was incredible, which I really appreciate. Several people posted about it and all were very supportive.”

In a post on Facebook which has since been erased, Burque noted that she would not be going back to The Enchanted Boutique, but was glad to save one of its customers from Satan. Burque wrote, “My mission is complete and did what I set out to do, even though some agreed and others didn’t. I have no need to pursue this agenda any longer. … But, who is to say it was my agenda only, anyway?”

She continued on to say, “I heard a customer leaving from that shop say she is so glad she found herself and now she knows what her purpose is. She found a false god directing her into serving others through Satan. I don’t want anyone being being swayed into the occult world and being distracted from Jesus by practitioners working for Satan and being deceived themselves because Satan is the one talking to you, healing you temporarily, and has you working against God, but you don’t realize it.”

Cara Schulz

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Cara Schulz is a journalist and author living in Minnesota with her husband and cat. She has previously written for PAGAN+politics, PNC-Minnesota, and Patheos. Her work has appeared in several books by Bibliotheca Alexandrina and she's the author of Martinis & Marshmallows: A Field Guide to Luxury Tent Camping and (Almost) Foolproof Mead Making. She loves red wine, camping, and has no tattoos.
  • Kari Tornow

    Thank you so much for writing and sharing this. I will work with my friends I know up there to lend support and post where ever I can. Please keep us updated on this issue. Blessed Be!

  • Friday

    Amazing that lady thought she actually was accomplishing something.

    • Tauri1

      When I worked in Philly at a law firm, I had a woman who originally was Jewish and converted to some form of born-again Christianity, constantly follow me around the office saying, “I’m praying for you! I know what you’re doing!” Luckily she was only a temp and I was a permanent employee. She was soon gone, but really, you’re comment about she actually thought she was accomplishing something just goes to show how deluded some people are.

      • LawrenceNeal

        Deluded, exactly. Craziness expresses in many forms.

        • Tauri1

          I’ve concluded that extreme “religiousness” is actually a form of mental illness. Talk about crazy! My grandmother was a religious extremist and somehow managed to get the Catholic church to allow her to be buried in monk’s robes!

  • Katmandu2

    Hmmm….Maybe that customer found themselves by realizing they -didn’t- want to be like that woman.

    Thankfully, most of my encounters with proselytizers over the years have been friendly. We talk, go our separate ways, and that’s that. I live in the belt-buckle of the Bible Belt, so I know how to keep from letting the conversation get too deep.

    • Kalib Butler

      I live SE Oklahoma. We have a population of about 15k. Also have about 20+ churches.
      I get visits from Mormons (whom I flirt with), Jehova’s Witness, and “Christians” who want to share to word of Jesus with me.
      They try to get the point across that if you don’t believe in Jesus, you’re destined to burn in hell.

      Every time I’m asked if I’m afraid of going to hell for being an atheist, I said, “Yes, to the same extent that you are afraid of being eaten by a dragon.” She said, “But dragons don’t exist.”
      I don’t think she understood the sarcasm…

      • Tauri1

        Oh my! Priceless! I’m going to steal that line if you don’t mind. (No rhyme intended.) 🙂

  • Wolfsbane

    Gee, my fundamentalist cousin and his family lives in Minnesota. Whenever I hear about something like this happening, I always hope it’s not him or his family members involved. Looks like it’s not. Dodged that bullet once again.

    Do they make glue traps big enough to catch fundamentalist God Botherers?

    • Kalib Butler

      You can make one. Get a large sheet of plywood and apply generous amounts of rat trap glue. You can buy it by the gallon.

      • LawrenceNeal

        But, then you’re ‘stuck’ with them until they starve…

        • Tauri1

          This is why a zat’nikatel is needed. First shot stuns, second shot kills, third shot disintegrates… poof! No body.

          P.S. Please don’t take this literally because you know someone will. It’s meant as sarcasm. Oy! The fact I even have to write that makes me sad.

  • kenofken

    “…when does proselytizing cross the line into trespassing? At what point does free speech and the ability to practice one’s religion turn into harassment and stalking?”

    It becomes a chargeable trespass offense the minute they set foot on your property after being told they are not welcome. Store owners can, and do, ban people from their establishments for life or until they say otherwise. It’s perfectly legal so long as it’s not done for some unlawful discriminatory reason like race or refusing service on the basis of a person’t religion. Religion wasn’t the issue here. It was their conduct. They also don’t get to come back each day or week and stay until ordered out again. Once is enough, and after that, call the cops each and every time and press the complaint. Document it all. Security cameras and recorders are dirt cheap these days. If the local prosecutors won’t follow up the case, use the evidence in further civil action. Make it expensive and painful to screw with you. Never blink or back down a millimeter from these people.

    • Tauri1

      Absolutely!

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      Problem is, a lot of these types are hungry for martyrdom. Making it painful for them feeds that need. My approach is to argue religion with them; they usually don’t know nearly as much about it as they think they do, and I can either get them distracted if they’re not too tunnel-vision, or at least make them feel foolishly unprepared for their mission. Once I took on some street preachers with the considered position that Jesus was an unfairly unacknowledged Jewish prophet. The trick is to turn everything they say into support for your position, not theirs.

  • Kalib Butler

    You can’t force your religion upon someone else. You can offer, but you can’t force them to believe as you do. That’s not being Christian. That’s being a bigot…

    • Tauri1

      Christianity ceased being the teachings of Yeshua ben Yusef the minute Saul of Tarsus turned it into something other than just another Jewish sect.

      • “Yeshua ben Yusef”

        I see this so often and I just don’t know where people get this bad information from. Yusef is an Arabic form of the name Joseph, the original name in Hebrew, and in Jewish Aramaic, is Yosef (יוֹסֵף).

    • Friday

      Christians can look to someone else than )Pagans for image therapy, starting with behaving better toward others before trying to convince us they ain’t doing what they’re so publicly doing.

  • Diana Rajchel

    It strikes me that those that proselytize – and badger people who haven’t initiated while proselytizing – do it out of ego, rather than concern for others or love of their supposed God. Insisting that there is only “one way” to salvation is 1)assuming salvation is even necessary and 2)is just plain counter-productive to any real religious dialogue. It is about trying to nudge people who aren’t conforming to culture back into conformism – not about making good people be better people. If she were actually concerned about being a good person, she wouldn’t be bothering anyone and would be doing real Christian work such as helping the poor or looking for those with a disadvantage and lifting them up – NOT skulking around occult shops thumping a Bible and spewing rote entitlement.

    • emily

      I’ve always shared the opinion that proselytizers do so because they’re faith is weak and they can only convince themselves they’re “saved” by trying to tally God points. If your faith is strong and you’re happy with it, you aren’t threatened by different outlooks. This lady sounds like a bitch. I’d do a bind and banish if I were in that city, just to keep her away from me or mine.

    • Tauri1

      Unfortunately, what is passing for Christianity, has zilch to do with the teachings of Yeshua ben Yusef.

    • g75401

      Yep, I noticed the ego inherent with the statement “personal relationship with Jesus” the first time I heard it 35 years ago. A friend that affirms everything you think, do, and say. Amazing. And, yes, their actions are little more than authoritarianism. The problem is, their weapons of threats of ostracism work better with conservatives. They know fairly little of the mental workings of liberals. And definitely nothing of the mental workings of pagans.

      • kenofken

        Sometimes when I’m in a mood to screw with them, I’ll tell them I was saved by Jesus, and I’ll tell the story with a dramatic build up if they take the bait. It’s a true story, and the short version was that it happened in 1995 in Bloomington, Indiana. I was working out alone at the bench press in the back of the Iron Pit gym, went for broke to do 10 reps at my heaviest weight, and got….8 3/4. With that bar sitting across my chest and no one that I could see or even yell to, a sense of dread and despair came over me. About the moment I didn’t think I could hold on much longer, a man seemed to come out the glaring light of the overhead industrial halide lamp. The weight shot up off of me and I could breath. When I was able to sit up, my savior’s face came into view, a shorter clone of B-Real from Cypress Hill. His name was in fact…Jesus! 🙂 He pronounced his name as more Spanish than Aramaic, but hey, when you’re wearing iron the wrong way, a savior is a savior !

  • ❝I’ve no issue with Christianity unless it’s the “default” state or the ‘desired result.” Long story short, Christians are nicer people when they aren’t the only game in town. Competition works in more than just commerce.❞

  • revkev57

    Good article.