Editorial: State shouldn't regulate Indian 'ceremonies'
"Native Americans have a legitimate gripe against those who borrow religious practices, such as sweat-lodge ceremonies, without much understanding of the context or meaning.

Offering a sweat-lodge experience for profit might be akin to setting up a booth at the fair where a mock priest would absolve your sins for a price. Bad taste. Bad manners. And probably bad karma. But wait. Isn't karma a concept in Buddhism?

In this land of amalgamated cultures, we pick and choose among traditions - both religious and secular - to enrich our language and life.

In the land of free speech and an individual's right to free exercise of religion, it's questionable that a law defining who can and can't practice a sacred ceremony would be either wise or enforceable. Especially when you consider that the guru who organized this deadly sweat-lodge experience, James Arthur Ray, touts moneymaking as a tangible result of his kind of spirituality.

In this country, there is no Grand Gatekeeper of acceptable spiritual practice. You can't expect every meditation center to get dispensation from the Dalai Lama."

Get the Story:
Editorial: Let's not trample our freedoms to curb bad taste (The Arizona Republic 1/26)

Related Stories:
Bill seeks to regulate 'ceremonies' off the reservation (1/20)
Jim Kent: Theft of Indian spirituality often ignored (10/22)
Three die after paying for 'spiritual warrior' quest (10/22)
Mary Annette Pember: Selling Indian spirituality (10/20)
Arvol Looking Horse: Respect sacred traditions (10/16)
Valerie Taliman: Selling the sacred for a big price (10/15)
Johnny Flynn: A new sweat lodge movement (10/13)
Two dead after 'sweat' incident in Arizona (10/9)