In 2016, the Satanic Temple of Arizona asked a couple of city councils for the opportunity to deliver an invocation. In Scottsdale, after initially getting a yes, the city council reversed course. Mayor Jim Lane even said, publicly, “We’ve decided to send this Satanist sideshow elsewhere.” The Temple leaders, including attorney Stu de Haan and group leader Michelle Shortt, pushed back by filing a lawsuit against the city this past February. It has yet to be resolved.
It was a very different story in the city of Sahuarita.
When the Satanists made their request in 2016, they were just told the list was already full. If true, that’s not discrimination. But their request alone led to one person quitting his job.
Bruce Van Sickle, associate pastor at Evangelical Free Church of Green Valley, who had coordinated the list of churches giving invocations, stepped away from the job because of the temple’s request in 2016. The list is now maintained by [Town Clerk Lisa] Cole.
But with Cole in charge, it appears that the city kept its word. Seeing that there were openings for 2019, Cole reached out to everyone on that waiting list.
Instead of fighting or opposing the group, Sahuarita officials honored their word and contacted the temple to let them know there was availability and if they were still interested in delivering an invocation, de Haan said.
Town Clerk Lisa Cole said the temple responded to a recent email blast from the town to all potential groups on the wait list indicating there was availability. Michelle Shortt, head of The Satanic Temple of Arizona, responded.
And just like that, Satanists will be giving an invocation in Sahuarita this coming September. It only took three years of waiting.
Jack Matirko at For Infernal Use Only says it’s going to be difficult for anyone to block them at this point:
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.
Good. Let people listen to it. Let critics squirm for nine months. If the city wants to eliminate invocations entirely, they always have that option. But until that day comes, the city council should get used to non-Christians giving them a pep talk before their meetings.