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.
The 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.
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.”
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?”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.”