Religion: Flagellation, Inc.

As the Penitentes of the southwestern U.S. began their famed, secretive Holy Week ceremonies, they added a new form of mortification to the lashes, thorns and vigils with which they traditionally atone for sin. The new humiliation: a lawsuit, the first in Penitente history. It threatened to bring some of the closest Penitente secrets out of the windowless adobe moradas ("purple houses") into the daylight of a civil court in Old Las Vegas, N.M.

The original fraternidad, which became a legal corporation in 1902, charged that an upstart group, incorporated in February, was guilty of "fraud and deceit" in calling itself...

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