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Thieves slink off with anti-Satan sentries

Undaunted, a local pastor will replace them with longer posts anchored with concrete.

By ALEX LEARY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 3, 2002


INGLIS -- What a rip. You fly all the way from Germany, video cameras in tow, and they're gone.

Blame it on the devil.

The German television crew in town Friday to interview Mayor Carolyn Risher, she of Satan-banning repute, surely got plenty of good material. But one of the key visuals in this wicked tale has vanished.

Someone has stolen the wooden posts Risher and her pastor erected at the four entrances to the town. Each post bore the words Repent, Request and Resist, and each was hollowed out and stuffed with the mayor's written proclamation casting the Prince of Darkness from the small Levy County town.

"Whoever did it should be sorry," Risher said moments before her 142nd media interview -- she's kept meticulous records -- since her proclamation made headlines worldwide following a Citrus Times story in November.

"The posts weren't harming anyone. Any Christian would not have even thought about doing this. But when you do something good, evil is present."

Her edict, on official town stationery and posted at City Hall, was supposed to put an end to Satan's evil-doing, which the mayor defined as "division, animosity, hate, confusion, ungodly acts on our youths and discord among our friends and loved ones."

"As blood-bought children of God," she wrote, "we exercise our authority over the devil in Jesus' name. By that authority, and through His Blessed Name, we command all satanic and demonic forces to cease their activities and depart the town of Inglis."

After the proclamation was made public, all hell broke loose.

Some residents said the proclamation overstepped the boundary of church and state. One compared the 61-year-old mayor to the Taliban.

But many others supported Risher and accused her critics and their ally, the American Civil Liberties Union, of being overly liberal. If you aren't against Satan, you're with him, they reckoned.

Facing a lawsuit, the Town Commission held a public meeting in late January and declared the proclamation to be the work of an individual, not a town official, because it was never authorized by the commission.

The posts remained, though.

Until a week or so ago, that is, when someone ripped them out of the ground.

"Most likely it was some young'uns," said Pastor Richard Moore of Yankeetown Church of God. Moore inspired Risher's edict, which she wrote at her kitchen table on Halloween night.

The posts will be replaced. If someone wants to take the new ones, they'll have a devil of a time getting them out of the ground.

Moore went out and bought 8-foot posts, twice as long as the originals. He plans to bury one end 4 feet in the ground and anchor it with concrete. "Now if they want them, they'll have to work for them," he said. Said the mayor, "Everybody is going to be keeping their eyes open for them."

Risher said she will gladly reprint her proclamation. Asked whether that could get her in trouble again, she said no, that she has bought her own paper to make copies. She has answered requests by mailing about 50 copies, from Alaska to Thailand.

For those keeping score at home, does this mean the devil has returned to this one-stoplight town of 1,400 people?

"He might try to bother people at times, but he can only be where we allow him," Risher said. "He's not going to win this war. He's a loser."

-- Staff writer Alex Leary can be reached at (352) 564-3623 or leary@sptimes.com.

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