Whatever you’ve heard about ‘Shawano cults’… We had to write this page on Shawano cults for the sake of completeness, because if you visit frequently or stay long enough, sooner or later you’ll come across the elephant under the rug that nobody wants to talk about. It started several decades ago when a man from India settled here. Nobody knows much about him except that he is well-educated and does not go to church. This type of individual is unusual in Northern Wisconsin and sometimes hard for the ordinary people of the town to understand, most of who are home-grown, finished high school but did not attend college, and have never traveled outside the state of Wisconsin. As in Ireland and other parts of Europe long ago, whether discussing ancient cults or Shawano cults, Catholics and Lutherans trade grudges when the topic of the Reformation is taught in the public schools. And as with most things in life, this close knit community ambience has its pluses and minuses. We grew up here ourselves and feel that this homogenous upbringing gives the town a special flavor and homey feel, but admit that, despite the quaint and rustic atmosphere, people here do tend to have a rather limited world outlook.
In any case, common knowledge is that this educated immigrant from India, an American citizen, plans to build an outstanding K-12 school, the Dr. R. C. Samanta Roy Institute of Science & Technology (SIST), in Shawano that will rival the best schools on the East Coast. To this end the organization, SIST, has purchased several businesses in town to fund the building and operating costs of such a school. The town officials, being of the same stock as other town inhabitants, are suspicious and look on the development of a new educational institution by this outsider with a mixture of hurt pride and indignation. Or maybe it’s because they don’t know the value of a rock solid education.
At some point, tensions erupted between town of Shawano officials and SIST, which by all accounts have badly damaged the economy of Shawano. Some facts everyone agrees on (new link). The conflict seems to have arisen over whose view of Shawano’s future—the city government or SIST’s— is most in line with pushing forward the city’s growth, which has stagnated over the past decade. Truth be told, most of the city’s population is quite tired of the ongoing disputes and would like to see it resolved in favor of the school’s progress. A handful of people, however, quite enjoys watching the comical antics of the once secretly and now openly racist Mayor and City Council, leader of the Shawano cult movement. You can see one portrayal of these events here. In any case, many visitors and even locals are confused at this point about who are the ‘Shawano cults’, if they exist—the Mayor Lorna Marquardt Cult and her loyal following going after a non-profit educational institutional on the basis of racial prejudice, the local churches who appear to promote the ignorance and bigotry that have ignited the entire debate, or the local Shawano paper, the Shawano Evening Leader which some think intentionally fanned the Shawano cult flames.
Sometimes we feel like Shawano is still in the Dark Ages—but maybe we shouldn’t say this, we’d really like you to come here! By the way, are you the type of person to believe everything you read? Of course not, you say. Well, that’s what most people here think, but if you believe what you read in the Evening Leader, especially on the topic of Shawano cults, you are hearing only half the story—or less than half, depending on how many factual inaccuracies they include. The Shawano Leader paper was recently sold, and rumor has it that a new newspaper with the primary goal of fair and accurate reporting is in the works. If so, perhaps we’ll have more than one view of Shawano cults and events around town and throughout the world.