Give my my spiritual £50

The mediums have been taken by surprise, poor dears.

Today, representatives of British mediums will march up Downing Street to deliver a petition containing some 10,000 signatories demanding that the Government change its decision to repeal the 1951 Fraudulent Mediums Act in favour of a new EU directive…”What we have here is a fundamental attack on our right to practise our religion…,” said David McEntee-Taylor, head of the Spiritual Workers Association (SWA).

Yes…except that ‘fundamental right’ has limits, dalling. It doesn’t have enough limits, but it has some. You can’t kill people and eat them with horseradish and call that practicing your religion and go on your way rejoicing.

However, by treating spiritualism as merely a consumer service, mediums believe they risk being sued if customers are dissatisfied with advice brought from the other side – advice they say they always point out should always be treated with care. The solution to the present impasse, according to lawyers advising the crystal-ball fraternity, is via the prosaic expedient of a pre-consultation disclaimer, describing any dialogue with the deceased in terms of either entertainment or scientific experiment. It does not sit comfortably with purist believers.

So what they’re protesting is having to mention at the outset that there is no actual reason to think that whatever mediums talk to when they talk to whatever they talk to is in fact actually the spirit of a dead person. They want to be able to take money for talking to whatever it is they talk to without having to admit to the people who are giving them money that in fact whatever it is they talk to might be…well, unreliable, or confused, or made up. Yes one can see why they don’t want to have to admit that and why they would prefer to take the money without having to admit anything, but I’m not absolutely sure that desire is rightly called ‘our right to practice our religion.’ It looks more like their claimed right to practice their commercial enterprise which is based on customer credulity. It’s rather as if from Monday to Friday priests and ministers took large fees for chatting to God and then telling their customers what God said. The line between religion and commerce would seem rather blurred in that case, I think.

Psychic mailings netted £40m from the British public last year and the number of telephone and internet services are soaring – an unsurprising fact considering some 50 per cent of the public claims to believe in the phenomenon, according to Professor Richard Wiseman, a stalwart critic of the religion. A further third claim to have had a psychic experience. “The problem is that there is no repeatable scientific evidence to back this up,” he said.

Good grief, so 80% of you are bat-loony? At that rate you’re just as crazy as we are.

While few dispute that there are some con men operating big money schemes, supporters say there is a genuine need to liaise with dead friends and relatives. Lyn Guest de Swarte, editor of The Spiritual News, said for most practitioners it is a “sacred calling”. “A labourer is worth their hire. But if people don’t feel they have been best served they should refuse to pay.”

Okay – and the mediums will be fine with that, will they? They’ll just allow the customers to say ‘Sorry, no good’ and walk out? No shouts of ‘Hey, you owe me £50!’? And then there’s this claim that there’s a genuine need to liaise with dead friends and relatives. Well of course there fucking is – and it’s a need that cannot be satisfied and that’s the great tragedy of all sentient life, isn’t it! But pretending some chump in a paisley shawl can fix that right up is no solution. There is no solution, and that’s that.

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