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A Personal Reflection of Sweat Lodges, Spiritual Economies, and Cultural Ownership

A Personal Reflection of Sweat Lodges, Spiritual Economies, and Cultural Ownership

By James Dennis LoRusso
Since the fall of 2009, I have followed closely the aftermath of the deaths of three participants in a so-called sweat lodge ceremony near Sedona, AZ. On October 9, 2009, James Arthur Ray, self-described spiritual leader known for his appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show and in the film about the new age book, The Secret, led a sizeable group through the traditional Native American ceremony as part of a broader “Spiritual Warrior” retreat, for which each patron paid close to $10,000. During the procedure, three members of the group met their untimely demise as a result of the physical stresses of the sweat lodge. Immediately, of course, numerous voices from a number of interests spoke out against the various elements that made such a tragedy possible. The town of Sedona formally distanced itself from Ray and sought to reassure the public that while such events cannot be allowed to occur, spiritual retreats would nonetheless remain a vital and thriving part of the local economy.

Oklahoma’s Prohibition Against Sharia Law: Banning That Which Does Not Exist

Oklahoma’s Prohibition Against Sharia Law: Banning That Which Does Not Exist

By Scott R. Grubman….
But Obamacare was not the only thing that Oklahoma voters spoke up against in 2010. They also overwhelming approved a state constitutional amendment prohibiting state courts from considering Sharia law (or the sacred law of Islam)—as well as international law—when making rulings. The ballot measure passed by an overwhelming 70 percent. Apart from the legal objections to the amendment, which will be discussed more below, the amendment’s passing raises an obvious question—was it really necessary for voters to prohibit Oklahoma courts from considering Sharia law?

Salazar v. Buono

Salazar v. Buono

On April 28, 2010, the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in Salazar v. Buono, No. 08-472. The plaintiff in Salazar, Frank Buono, claimed that the “Mojave Cross,” a Latin cross placed on federal land in the Mojave National Preserve by members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) in 1934, violated the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. Buono sought an injunction (an injunction is defined by Black’s Law Dictionary as “[a] court order commanding or preventing an action”) requiring the government to remove the cross.

Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. v. Obama

Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. v. Obama

Freedom From Religion, a non-profit organization based in Madison, Wisconsin, whose mission is to “educate the public on matters relating to nontheism,” and “to promote the constitutional principle of separation of church and state,” brought suit against President Obama and his Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, claiming that the federal statute establishing the National Day of Prayer violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.