Earlier this year, Arizona State Rep. Kelly Townsend argued against The Satanic Temple delivering an invocation prayer at a meeting of the Phoenix City Council. Townsend even organized a prayer rally to create a “hedge of protection” around the city. It was an appalling way for an evangelical Christian to use the government to shut down opposing points of view.
Democrat Cara Prior, an openly atheist candidate who stood by the Satanists in their effort to deliver that invocation, is hoping to unseat Townsend on Tuesday. (At the time, Prior even said, “Like my atheism, satanism is often misunderstood and misrepresented.”) That wasn’t her only unpopular stand, either. She’s spoken out against the conservative views of the Center for Arizona Policy.
And now The Satanic Temple is offering her an official endorsement — their first one ever.
An email sent by Prior’s campaign celebrated the support:
It is Prior’s advocacy work on these issues that has earned her the notice of the Satanic Temple, a nationwide religious community that facilitates mobilization of politically aware Satanists, secularists, and advocates for individual liberty. Lucien Greaves, co-founder and national spokesperson for the Satanic Temple, issued this statement yesterday:
“The mission of The Satanic Temple is to encourage benevolence and empathy among all people. Our dedication to bringing these values into the public sphere leads me to offer an endorsement to Cara Prior for the Arizona State House of Representatives in LD16. Ms. Prior has shown an incredible commitment to ensuring the rights of all people, regardless of religious belief or nonbelief, are respected — and she has never shied away from controversy when it comes to protecting these rights. Ms. Prior’s courage and character are desperately needed in government.”
Prior accepted the endorsement, stating, “Arizona’s religious diversity makes us strong. I have a lot of respect for the Satanic Temple’s work to protect religious diversity and minority rights and am pleased to have their endorsement.”
Maybe you’re wondering why The Satanic Temple, an ostensibly religious group, is offering a political endorsement. Isn’t that illegal?
It would be if, like churches, they were 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations. But The Satanic Temple doesn’t believe religious groups should be tax-exempt and, accordingly, they are a for-profit LLC. They pay taxes. That gives them the right to endorse candidates as they please.
Will the endorsement make a difference for Prior?
Probably not. This is a District that elects two candidates to the Arizona House; right now, there are two Republicans incumbents on the ticket (in addition to Prior and her Democratic colleague). In 2014, when Prior was also on the ballot, those two Republicans earned nearly twice as many votes as she did.
I highly doubt The Satanic Temple’s support will convince the GOP base to switch allegiances. But anything’s worth a try when you’re a long shot.