One of our top stories of 2018 was the announcement that The Satanic Temple (TST) – Arizona Chapter filed and is pursuing a lawsuit against the City of Scottsdale, Arizona over a rejected application to give an opening invocation at the town’s City Council meeting. Though that lawsuit is still working its way through the courts, the Arizona Satanists are continuing to pursue their goal of religious inclusion at public meetings.
Certainly Not the First Satanic Invocation
This new invocation attempt, scheduled for September 9th, is the first such Satanic invocation to be announced for 2019, and though the Arizona Chapter has had more than their share of difficulties finding local governments that are receptive to their message of pluralism and inclusion other chapters have had greater success. The Satanic Temple’s nationally endorsed invocation text has been used at the beginning of official government meetings in Alaska, Colorado, and Florida as well.
That said, Arizona has been particularly intractable, and the local TST affiliate has faced some absurd challenges and public outcry for attempting to assert their constitutional right to participate in government forums set aside for religious expression. Most notable was in 2016, when TST-AZ were scheduled to give an invocation before the Phoenix City Council. The adamant public pushback against allowing their invocation to go forward was so contentious it compelled the city to first eliminate their pre-meeting invocations completely, before eventually reinstating them with an entirely new policy that limits invocations to only be given by police and fire department chaplains.
This newly scheduled invocation has been a long time coming. The group originally requested to participate in the ceremony process in 2016 along with the Phoenix request, but at the time Sahuarita’s council schedule was full. That and, according to reporting by local paper The Sahuarita Sun, the Evangelical associate pastor who previously coordinated the list quit doing it because of TST’s request. The job of coordinating the invocations now falls to the Town Clerk, who sent out an email to all the organizations who had requested an opportunity to participate but haven’t had a chance yet.
September is a Long Way Away
Nine months is a long time, so it’s yet to be seen how this latest attempt at inclusion on the part of TST-AZ will play out. But it certainly seems considerably more promising that the town kept TST-AZ’s name on their waitlist, and now that the invocation is scheduled there aren’t many legal options for those who would seek to prevent them. We will, I’m sure, hear more about this story throughout the summer of 2019. So Happy New Year and stay tuned.