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ATLANTA 1996 OLYMPICS | Spotlight

No Prayer Of Business

A look at the day that was and at what lies ahead at the Summer Games

July 26, 1996|DOUG CRESS

Sports can be a religion to some, but religious groups demonstrating in downtown Atlanta for the Olympics may be going too far.

The areas around Five Points and Woodruff Park in Central Atlanta are a crossroads for the city, and dozens of churches ranging from Muslim and Baptist to Zionist and Hare Krishna are working the area, offering tourists everything from Olympic pocket schedules to eternal salvation. One billboard warns, "There must be more to life than winning the gold medal," while the Calvary Assembly of God has run afoul of Olympic officials by wearing T-shirts that feature the Olympic rings subtly disguised as fish.

Still other groups perform morality plays or readings, but local vendors are fed up. Many say the religious groups scare away customers while one, the Freedom Clothing Co., was forced to post a sign saying it was not a part of any religious group.

"They have a right to say what they want," said Freedom spokeswoman Rulan Tangen. "But not when it interferes with my business."

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