In 2016, 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 — the chapter was based in Tucson, not Scottsdale — even though they never asked about that during the application process. So why did that issue come up only after the Satanists had been given a green light to speak?
The Satanic Temple, months later, sent a letter to the council warning them against further discrimination. This time, they had some proof that the council members were actively trying to silence them and that the whole “where are you based?” question was nothing more than a distraction.
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.”
It didn’t stop there. Mayor Jim Lane was up for re-election, and one of his campaign flyers included a line about how he was proudly discriminating against Satanists.
That circled bit says Lane “Stopped so called ‘Satanists’ from mocking City Hall traditions with a ‘prayer.’”
At this point, the city council had two choices. Take back their words and allow the Satanists to speak… or get hit with a discrimination lawsuit.
The city never took that threat seriously. But guess what? The Satanists did, and they just hit the city with a lawsuit over what they say is a violation of the Establishment Clause.
Beyond what I’ve already said above, the Satanists (including member Michelle Shortt) allege that in the eight years prior to their invocation request, “every invocation given was of the Judeo-Christian faith.” After the Satanists’ request was made, one council member, Kathy Littlefield, told her constituents that she did “NOT want the Satanists” speaking and considered their invitation “taking equality too far.” Her opinion may be annoying, but it’s not exactly illegal. Still, it gives you insight into how she thinks.
Lane also told his constituents that the invocations were diverse as is. To prove that point, he referred to the “respectful and thoughtful messages from Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and countless other faiths.”
The lawsuit states: “At no time have members of the Muslim, Buddhist, or Hindus faith given an invocation before the Scottsdale City Council.”
The implication is clear: No matter what these people say, they only want Christian speakers. Satanists aren’t allowed. It’s clear-cut discrimination against a belief system that the council members don’t like. That’s why The Satanic Temple calls it a violation of the Establishment Clause and the Equal Protection Clause as well as a violation of the “Toleration of Religious Sentiment” clause of the Arizona Constitution.
Attorney Stu de Haan, representing TST, states, “By the City Council’s own statements, it’s clear that their refusal to allow The Satanic Temple to speak was motivated by their intent to discriminate against a minority religion.”
According to TST spokesperson and co-founder, Lucien Greaves, “It’s disheartening when public officials can display such a flagrant disregard for the most foundational bedrock principles of Constitutional Law while acting upon their personal biases at the expense of their taxpayer base, who are ultimately left to pay the legal costs for the ignorance of their Mayor and City Council.”
I don’t see how the city can event pretend it’s inclusive and fair when their emails tell a very different story. It doesn’t get more self-incriminating than this.
(Top screenshot via Fox 10)