Earlier this year, the Scottsdale City Council in Arizona prevented The Satanic Temple from delivering an invocation at one of their meetings. The reason they gave at the time was that the Temple had no presence in the city… even though they never bothered getting any details confirming that.
They also made public statements just flat-out saying they wanted nothing to do with the Satanists. If that sounds to you like discrimination… well, you’re not alone. That’s why the Temple sent this letter to Scottsdale officials yesterday:
Mayor [Jim] Lane and Councilwoman [Suzanne] Klapp made various anti-Satanic comments to the media that indicate that they wish to use the county’s invocation practice exactly for such “impermissible government purpose[s]”… For example, Mayor Lane stated: “In Scottsdale, we’ve decided to keep our traditional invocations and we’ve decided to send this Satanist sideshow elsewhere.” Lane For Scottsdale 2016 [link]: He went on to say, “not on my watch. Not in the best city in America. We’re telling the Satanists, hell no.”
For these reasons, we ask that the Commission refrain from discriminating against non-Judeo Christians in selecting invocation speakers and that you adopt a policy which ensures that such discrimination will not occur. As an alternative, we urge you to refrain from opening your meetings with any prayer at all and to institute a moment of silence instead, to respect the diversity of beliefs in your community. In any event, City Councilmembers should refrain from using the invocation practice to advance, proselytize, or disparage any religion, as Mayor Lane and Councilwoman Klapp did in their public comments.
Violation of the legal rules we have described would subject your county to the risk of time-consuming and expensive litigation.
That’s not all.
Mayor Jim Lane is up for re-election next week and one of the flyers his campaign sent to local residents highlighted how he’s discriminating against Satanists (click to enlarge).
If you can’t read it, Lane claims that he “Stopped so called ‘Satanists’ from mocking City Hall traditions with a ‘prayer.'”
It’s a strange thing for a politician to brag about subverting the law. In fact, this is precisely what the Supreme Court said local governments could not do if they had invocation prayers. If there is a lawsuit, Lane’s own words may be used against him.
Satanic Temple spokesperson Lucien Greaves certainly made it sound that way in an email to me:
It seems that Mayor Lane either didn’t understand the legal ramifications of his flagrant religious discrimination or he incorrectly gambled that we wouldn’t pursue legal action.
Foolishly, he has advertised his ignorance of a basic Constitutional principle as part of his very campaign, and now he’s painted himself into a corner wherein he must either reverse his unlawful decision (an embarrassing prospect given the resolute wording he’s employed in bragging about denying us our First Amendment rights), or waste taxpayer money in a futile legal battle.
Either way, having so thoughtlessly hurled himself into this situation, Lane has demonstrated extremely poor judgment and leadership. The people of Scottsdale deserve better than to be represented by a Mayor who either doesn’t understand the law, or is willing to gamble so recklessly with public funds. Of course, having moronically pitched himself into a lose-lose situation, Lane has handed us a win-win.
It only remains to be seen what magnitude of win the Mayor will choose for us.
He has 30 days to decide.
(Top image via ABC15. Bottom image via The Satanic Temple)