Top Story: The Irish Times reports that Barry Raftery, emeritus professor of archaeology at UCD, and one of Ireland’s leading Celtic scholars, has passed away after a long illness. “Professor Barry Raftery (Professor Emeritus, Archaeology, University College Dublin) died peacefully at St. Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin on Sunday August 22, 2010. Professor Raftery retired as Professor of Celtic Archaeology in the UCD School of Archaeology at the end of August 2007 after a long and internationally distinguished career. As a former student wrote in appreciation, Barry was an inspired teacher and communicator, always encouraging colleagues and students in developing their research and careers. His work and humanity will ensure that he will be always remembered and treasured.”
Top Story: In Marion, Illinois, the city council is weighing the decision of whether to allow a local group to erect a Ten Commandments monument on the city’s Town Square. Enter atheist activist Rob Sherman, who says he’ll bring a lawsuit against the city if they erect the Ten Commandments monument without also allowing a display by a local Wiccan. “If a Ten Commandments monument is placed on Marion’s Tower Square, resident Robert Donelson wants equal access to share the views of his Wiccan religion … “If Christians are going to have their viewpoint up here, let them at least put up ours,” he said. Donelson, who said he has been a Wiccan for five or six years, was introduced at the news conference by Rob Sherman, the atheist from northern Illinois who has warned city leaders they could be in for a legal battle if the Ten Commandments go up on public property …
The Cook County Crackdown: If you thought unconstitutional and redundant laws against fortune telling only happened down south, think again. The Cook County Illinois board of commissioners (that would be the county Chicago is located in) are proposing a new ordinance that would ban “fraud” under the guise of spiritual services for pay. “The proposal, from Commissioners Edwin Reyes, Bridget Gainer and Gregg Goslin, includes a swath of spirituality. It would affect mediumship, palmistry, card reading, astrology, seership, “crafty science,” and fortune telling that might take place as gatherings, circles and seances. “This was something that was highlighted to say there is a variety of different things out there that could be covered by certain deceptive practices,” Gainer says.
News media in East Central Illinois have been following the case of Andrew L. Thomas, a youth minister and track coach in Rossville, Illinois who’s been charged with the rape of 16-year-old boy he was mentoring. “Andrew Thomas made his first appearance in court today. He’s been the youth minister at Rossville Church of Christ for three years, according to court records. Prosecutors say he had sex with a 16 year old boy he was mentoring. They say it happened over the last few months.
After years of Witch School International trying to build a “Salem of the Midwest” in the Rossville-Hoopeston area of Central Illinois, a move that garnered plenty of publicity and hostility as the Witches tried to co-exist in a town dominated by conservative Christians dealing with a depressed economy and a troubling meth problem, the school has decided its time to move on. “Witch School Headquarters are closing in the Rossville-Hoopeston area of Illinois. Witch School settled from Chicago to Central Illinois in 2003, and became the center of protest by many of the Christian Churches in the area. A well-documented spiritual battle has been waged for the last six years, with open hostilities and long quiet truces by various Christian factions. Simply put, this has not allowed Witch School the staff and resources needed to keep up with their growth.