Four Phoenix City councilmen are trying to block a group of Satanists from giving the opening prayer at a Feb. 17 council meeting.
Followers of the Satanic Temple, an organization that promotes religious agnosticism, are scheduled to give the invocation and submitted a request in December.
While some Phoenix leaders have objected, the city has said it will let the Satanists pray. City Attorney Brad Holm defended the decision in a statement released Thursday.
“Consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court’s direction, the city cannot dictate religious viewpoints or the content of a prayer,” Holm wrote. “In addition, government may not exclude a denomination or a religion from praying under these circumstances.”
But the City Council could have the ultimate say.
Opposition to prayer
Councilmen Sal DiCiccio, Bill Gates, Jim Waring and Michael Nowakowski are pushing a proposal to change how the city schedules the invocation. The plan would let the mayor and council members take turns inviting different religious groups to give the prayer.
Waring said the proposal could prevent the Satanic Temple from turning the council’s Feb. 17 meeting into “a circus.” The group could still give an invocation at a future meeting, but a council member would have to personally invite them.
“Perhaps some of the intent is to make a mockery of the invocation,” Waring said of the Satanists. “I’m just happy that we still have puncher’s chance of prevailing here. At least, we will have a public debate about this.”
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SOURCE: AZ Central; The Republic, Dustin Gardiner