City council members in Phoenix, Arizona, have again demonstrated the double standard of “religious freedom” in America today, fighting to block a Satanic Temple group’s application to deliver an invocation at a city council meeting, according to a report from ABC.
The group from the Tucson branch of the Satanic Temple, headed by Michelle Shortt and Stu de Haan, are currently scheduled to give the invocation at the February 17th council meeting.
de Haan spoke to ABC15, explaining that the Satanic Temple was misunderstood by the general public.
“We do not have any gods; we’re not devil worshippers.
“We do not believe that Satan is an actual being, but that doesn’t make it any less of a religion.”
He said that the group had requested the prayer in an attempt to have the Satanic Temple’s voice heard equally with other religions. He said that he wants to ensure that minority religions are included.
The city’s stated approval was delivered by City Attorney Brad Holm in a written statement on Thursday, as per AZ Central.
“Consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court’s direction, the city cannot dictate religious viewpoints or the content of a prayer. In addition, government may not exclude a denomination or a religion from praying under these circumstances.”
Four Arizona city councilors — Sal DiCiccio, Bill Gates, Jim Waring and Michael Nowakowski — have objected and are attempting to enact an emergency clause which would change how the invocation is scheduled, requiring a two-thirds majority to allow any particular group to deliver the invocation.
DiCiccio took to Twitter to protest the prayer, calling it a “another dumb idea by the city of [Phoenix],” stating that it wasn’t about “diversity but about stupidity.”
“Political correct PHX pushing satanist to speak at city invocation about to get pushed out.”
He later told ABC15 that “I think it’s bad for the city of Phoenix. It’s a distraction that makes a mockery of everything and if the mayor and others want them to come speak, they ought to put their name behind it…. We weren’t comfortable lending either our reputations — or the constituency that voted for us, we didn’t want them to think that we were [allowing] a Satanic prayer at a City Council meeting.”
Waring said that the prayer would turn the council meeting into “a circus” and suggested that “perhaps some of the intent is to make a mockery of the invocation. I’m just happy that we still have puncher’s chance of prevailing here. At least, we will have a public debate about this.”
de Haan, an attorney, replied that “None of them ever asked us what we were going to say. They just made some blanket assumptions. The city council of Phoenix doesn’t get to pick and choose religions and what they think is appropriate, that’s unconstitutional.”
The Satanic Temple has indicated that they are ready to file a lawsuit if the city moves to block their constitutional liberties and right to speak.
The councilors are seeking to have the new ruling enacted within 24 hours so that they may immediately block the Satanic invocation. Unfortunately, State Attorney Holm suggested that the Satanic Temple would be unable to seek legal relief if the emergency bill were to be enacted, as it wouldn’t be a matter of “prohibit[ing]” a prayer, but making them follow procedure — which just happened to have changed in response to their prayer request.
That said, it appears that the council may be able to deny the request on purely technical grounds; while Michelle Shortt claims to live in Tuscon, the city has received “conflicting” information about her actual home, and they are not required to allow the prayer to be delivered by any group from out of state.
Either way, the city council will vote on the emergency measure intended to exclude the Satanist Temple from performing the invocation at their regular session on Wednesday.
[Image via The Satanic Temple/Facebook]