Witchcraft at Perkins School of Theology: Altar to the Goddess Diana at SMU Sponsored Seminar
The Perkins School of Theology, a graduate school of Southern Methodist University (SMU), has been accused of allowing a practicing witch to conduct occult rituals as part of its "Women's Week" conference according to a recent Religious News Service story (The Christian Informer, 8/17/90, p. 1).
The school is alleged to have sponsored a practicing witch, Linda Finnell, as a seminar speaker.
During her class, Ms. Finnell is reported to have involved participants in a number of occult practices including building an altar to the goddess Diana, channeling energy, using tarot cards, and attempting to communicate with a personal spirit guide.
A formal complaint has been filed against the United Methodist school by the administrative board of First United Methodist Church of Ketchum, Oklahoma.
A letter signed by its chairman, Bill Raus, to John W. White Jr., president of the denomination's University Senate, condemned the event and called for immediate reprimands and new stricter guidelines.
Raus told RNS, "We want these practices stopped and the people in the school reprimanded. Our Christian heritage is being diminished every year, and things are getting worse."
He suggested that events like this are one reason the denomination continues to, "hemorrhage at the rate of 1,000-plus members per week," saying that he hoped his church's complaint would, "open the door to something that glorifies Jesus," (Ibid).
Raus said an open letter from Russ Wise of Probe Ministries first alerted the church to the alleged occultic activities. The seminar, sponsored by Perkins, was reported to have taken place last February off campus at the Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas.
Wise, who attended Ms. Finnell's presentation, wrote, "As I entered the crowded room, I noticed the lights were turned off and that an altar stood in the front of the class. The glow of four white candles enhanced the image of the goddess, Diana, in the center of the altar. Around the image lay several offerings to the goddess," (Ibid).
Raus said that he and other members of his church waited for the school or denomination to take some action against the seminar but nothing happened.
Only then did the Ketchum church's administrative board vote unanimously to file a formal complaint with the University Senate.
United Methodist bishops on the board of trustees of the school, Bishop W. T. Handy, Jr. and Bishop Woodrow Hearn, could not be reached by RNS and SMU board member Bishop Bruce Blake of Dallas said through a spokesperson that he had, "no basis for a comment at this time," (Ibid).