Originally published on the Friendly Atheist blog February 3, 2016
Tonight, the City Council of Phoenix, AZ convened to consider proposed measures aimed specifically at blocking The Satanic Temple from delivering any invocations in the “open forum” of their Council Chambers.
Media reporting was often scattered and unclear regarding how, exactly, the Council intended to block the Satanic invocation but indications were that certain Council members advocated for a rotating roster of Council-approved clergy. Clearly, the idea presented a fundamental misunderstanding of First Amendment freedoms and the government’s inability to act as arbiter of “legitimate” religious expression.
Tonight’s meeting began with three-minute public comments, which were kicked off by a citizen-veteran speaking desperately in defense of pluralism and free speech, followed by a tired and unconvincing Christian reading from the Book of Isaiah asserting that there is a Constitution “higher than the United States Constitution.” A fiery older lady then took the podium to declare that “Satanism is a not a religion; it’s a cult,” without ever defining either one. The Mayor interjected to insist that all testimony regarding the invocation controversy be withheld till the Council reached that particular item on the agenda. Read more “When The Satanic Temple Brought the Apocalypse to AZ”
(09 Dec 2014) Last week, Florida’s Department of Management Services (DMS) resigned itself begrudgingly to approval of The Satanic Temple’s (TST) request to place a holiday display in the State’s Capitol Rotunda. It was the end of a year-long battle which, as spokesperson for and co-founder of The Satanic Temple, I explained to Jezebel’s Anna Merlan, began with the DMS’s refusal to host us one December ago:
The display that has been approved this year is exactly the same display that was rejected as “grossly offensive” last year. Florida’s Department of Management Services declined to comment as to what, exactly, they judged to be “grossly offensive”, and we were left to conclude that we were being subjected to blatant viewpoint discrimination. This time around we arrived with a cadre of lawyers working with Americans United for the Separation of Church and State [AU]. This apparently rendered our homemade holiday display more palatable to the DMS’s tender sensibilities. In any case, the correct decision was finally made, and we appreciate the opportunity to publicly wish a happy holiday season to all. Nobody holds a monopoly upon the season’s celebratory spirit, and we hope that our display, among the various others, will contribute to a general and growing understanding of plurality. If there is fun to be had, we’ll have it — and we wish the same for all, regardless of religious affiliation, or lack thereof. Read more “Ignorance & Uproar: Glenn Beck, Herman Cain, & the Satanic Holiday Display”