This November, Arizona Atheist Will Challenge State Rep. Organizing Prayer Rally Against Satanists

We’re still waiting to find out if the Phoenix City Council in Arizona will allow members of The Satanic Temple to deliver an invocation prayer at a meeting on February 17.

I posted the other day about how State Rep. Kelly Townsend doesn’t want to wait for the answer. She already announced a prayer rally to counteract whatever damage the Satanists may cause.

It’s in part because of stunts like this that Townsend is being challenged in her upcoming re-election bid for Arizona State Representative.

And that challenger, Democrat Cara Prior, is openly atheist (and a courteous one at that).


In a press release issued today, Prior said:

As an atheist and Humanist, I am upset by the news that members of the Phoenix City Council are trying to block an invocation by the Satanic Temple at an upcoming council meeting. Like myself, members of the Satanic Temple have a minority faith view. Like my atheism, satanism is often misunderstood and misrepresented. But we have a right to be included among those who offer public prayers and invocations at government functions. That right was spelled out in the Supreme Court’s Greece vs Gallaway decision. Government does not get to pick which religious views it likes best. It has to remain neutral. It has to represent all of us.

There may be people who disagree with the Satanic Temple. Their values of compassion, empathy and justice are not for everyone. But disagreement does not mean you get to take away the rights of minority groups in the halls of government. That is why I would like to thank Representative Kelly Townsend for hosting a prayer rally against the satanic invocation outside City Hall rather than trying to disrupt the exercise of religious freedom inside.

Representative Townsend’s Facebook page for the event says that the satanists ‘have a first amendment right to practice their religion,’ and that her rally ‘is not intended to prevent them from having an opportunity to pray.’ I hope Phoenix City Council Members will join Representative Townsend in keeping disagreements with minority faiths and nonbelievers outside City Hall, and that they will protect minority rights inside.

Like a couple of other atheist candidates running for public office this November, Prior is in a deeply red district. That’s not stopping her from campaigning, if for no other reason than to give voters a real choice. (After all, once you’re on the ballot, who knows what can happen.) Her husband Scott Prior is also running for State Senate in the same district.

Prior officially joined the race last November, though she’s beginning a more serious push today. She described her goals on Facebook:

This is my third consecutive election cycle running for the House in my district. I believe that our marinara red district can turn a pleasant shade of purple this time around, but it will take all of us to accomplish this long overdue and extremely necessary feat. I know that we are all tired and feeling a bit disenfranchised, but I cannot succeed if I venture forth on my own.

That’s why she’s asking for your help. If you’d like to contribute to her campaign, you can do so here. She’ll be posting more about her platform very soon.

(Image via Jim Hesterman)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.