Next-Gen Satanists to Pray at Scottsdale Summer Meeting Mar 24, 2016 9:55:53 GMT -5
Post by natalie on Mar 24, 2016 9:55:53 GMT -5
Scottsdale City Hall
Next-Gen Satanists to Pray at Scottsdale Summer Meeting
When leaders of the Satanic Temple take the pulpit at a Scottsdale City Council meeting in Arizona this summer, they'll urge listeners to embrace a "Luciferian impulse" before closing their public prayer with "Hail Satan," according to a draft obtained by The Republic.
The Satanists' newly formed Arizona chapter — based in Tucson — is scheduled to deliver the invocation at Scottsdale City Hall on July 6. An initial date in April was postponed by the Satanists for logistical reasons, temple spokesman Stu de Haan said.
Controversy swept through Phoenix earlier this year when the Satanists sought to give an invocation at a City Council meeting in February. The request sparked an emotional debate over religion and constitutional rights while making international news.
The Phoenix City Council responded by replacing formal, spoken prayer at council meetings with a moment of silent prayer. Council members later reinstated prayer, but only the city's police or fire chaplains can do it. The Satanic Temple has threatened legal action against the city.
Meanwhile, the group is turning its focus to other Arizona communities, having filed requests to pray in Scottsdale, Chandler, Tucson and Sahuarita. Chandler spokesman Matt Burdick said the city's invocation schedule is already booked through the end of the year.
Scottsdale is the only city so far to schedule the Satanic Temple, though Mayor Jim Lane said officials are working to "find a clean path, one that is legal," that could block the group.
"We're not in the business of entertaining an invocation that makes a mockery," Lane said. "I'm not an advocate of it, of course."
What will the Satanists say?
The Satanic Temple's prayer, set to be delivered by Arizona member Michelle Shortt, will actually be a brief speech about reason and logic, according to de Haan. Shortt was scheduled to give the invocation in Phoenix. The group promotes religious agnosticism and does not believe in the supernatural.
"People were asking us things like, 'Are you going to sacrifice a baby?'" de Haan said. "No, we aren't going to commit first-degree murder. They'll see two well-dressed people giving a two-minute speech."
De Haan shared the text of the prayer in an e-mail to The Republic.
Shortt plans to ask the audience to "reason our solutions with agnosticism in all things" while standing firm "against any and all arbitrary authority that threatens" personal sovereignty."Let us stand now, unbowed and unfettered by arcane doctrines born of fearful minds in darkened times," the speech begins, before invoking a "Luciferian impulse to eat of the Tree of Knowledge" and reject "comforting delusions."
The message ends by declaring "that which will not bend must break, and that which can be destroyed by truth should never be spared its demise" and "hail Satan."
Shortt planned to give the same speech for the Phoenix City Council invocation, de Haan said.
What do the Satanists believe?
The Satanic Temple does not teach the existence of a literal Satan but rather uses the name as a symbol for rebellion against tyranny and authoritarian rule, de Haan said. The group says it promotes compassion, empathy and the undertaking of "noble pursuits guided by our individual wills."
The national organization gained notoriety in recent years for an effort to place a horned statue at the Oklahoma State Capitol, where a monument of the Ten Commandments stood. That monument has since been removed.
Arizona's chapter was formed about a month ago in the wake of the Phoenix City Council prayer controversy, de Haan said. The group isn't trying to end public prayer, but wants to exercise its right to participate in a public forum, he said.
"When we see oppression or hypocrisy, we have to speak up," de Haan said. "We absolutely abide by the law and society's standards. We just call it out if it's wrong."
The group is different from the Church of Satan, which has been around for decades. De Haan sees his group as "the next generation" of Satanists, more intent on community involvement.
"It's a very peaceful group," de Haan said. "We have doctors and lawyers in our council. We're your neighbors. We just have a belief system that's very unpopular with the majority religion because it's based on a symbol that they fear."
How has the public reacted?
Thousands of emails have filled Scottsdale officials' in-boxes over the prayer issue, and religious groups are organizing in protest.
Elizabeth Sheldon, of Tempe, told City Council members that permitting the Satanic Temple to pray would open the door to evil, whether they believe it or not.
"The thought of this possibly becoming real in my country, let alone my state, leaves me dumbfounded," Sheldon wrote. "You can and must stop this now."
An email from Jerry Kamienski declared that Scottsdale would no longer be a destination for him and his family. "Not only have you lost your faith but your minds," he wrote.
Councilwoman Suzanne Klapp said she's received hundreds of emails from Arizona residents objecting to the prayer. She believes the council will find a way around it, but if it does happen she plans to leave the meeting until the invocation is over.
"I will join other faith groups who have promised to hold prayer sessions outside the building," Klapp told The Republic. "My faith tells me that this is the only action I can take."
Klapp said the council needs to adopt a rule about who can deliver the prayer and what kind of message is expected. She said she would welcome all religions based in Scottsdale, with a physical location such as a church, synagogue or mosque and an uplifting message.
The controversy has stretched beyond state borders, drawing news coverage from the Washington Post, Time and RT (formerly Russia Today). A Pennsylvania-based group called America Needs Fatima claims to have gathered nearly 23,000 online signatures in opposition to the Satanic Temple invocation, according to its website.
Although the Satanic Temple did not expect its prayer request to cause such a stir or become international news, the group maintains its right to offend, de Haan said.
"If our mere presence offends you that's not our problem," de Haan said. "That's not our burden."
USA TODAY NETWORK
Parker Leavitt, The Arizona Republic
6:55 p.m. EDT March 23, 2016