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No one expects the Maryland inquisition. Now that it has arrived, however, not everyone is accepting it, either. Last year, the Task Force to Study the Effects of Cult Activities on Public Senior Higher Education Institutions (whew!) was created in response to the Heaven’s Gate cult mass suicide and other similar incidents. Labeling it a “religious inquisition,” Seventh-day Adventists and Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church Moonies say the state-supported task force is Maryland’s second biggest witch hunt of the summer, behind only the Blair Witch Project. The state disagrees, saying a task force is necessary to look into the actions of various cult-like groups which it claims prey on vulnerable college students. Let’s all settle down a little before anyone gets burnt at the stake. Churches aren’t all crusading cults, so the state is wrong if it assumes they are. But a task force isn’t an inquisition either. Both sides should relax here, so that we can all get back to persecuting real witches – you know, the kind that show up on teenagers’ home movies and leave piles of rocks outside tents at night.

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