ACLU, Southwest Virginia town settle lawsuit allowing tarot card reader to open business

Credit: ACLU of Virginia
Credit: ACLU of Virginia

RICHLANDS, Va. – Months after filing a federal lawsuit, a business owner in Richlands can now read Tarot cards under a business permit issued as part of a settlement.

A federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia approved the settlement last week between the town and Mark Mullins, the owner of Mountain Magic and Tarot Reading.

For the past decade, he and his husband, Jerome, have used tarot as a central part of their daily religious and spiritual practice, known as Hermeticism, a blending of several different religious traditions that dates to the second and third centuries AD.

According to the ACLU of Virginia, the town had repeatedly denied Mullins a business license and zoning permit in 2017 and 2018 and declined to amend the town’s zoning ordinance to allow Tarot shops.

The result was an effective ban on the operation of Tarot shops or fortune tellers in Richlands.

Under the settlement agreement, officials agreed to amend the town zoning ordinance to allow for Tarot reading and similar practices on equal terms as other types of businesses. The town granted Mullins a license and zoning permit that allow him to read Tarot as part of his business and agreed not to place any additional restrictions on his ability to advertise his services.

Mullins also received a monetary settlement as part of the lawsuit.

A federal court will retain jurisdiction to enforce the agreement in the event the town doesn’t keep its promises.

Below is the full legal complaint that was submitted in April.

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