Elizabeth alerted me to this bit of excellent news, Satanists to Give Prayer at Phoenix City Council Meeting. In December, two members of the Satanic Temple, Michelle Shortt and Stu de Haan, requested to be able to do the opening prayer for the regular meeting. It is scheduled for 17 February.
Not surprisingly, some of the council members were unhappy about this. But Phoenix City Attorney Brad Holm released a statement saying that prayer will go forward as planned. He seems to be one of people who has studied the Constitution and the Supreme Court and found that it would go against our laws and traditions to stop the Satanic Temple.
Before I get into this, can I quote a little Shakespeare? “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose; By any other name would smell as sweet.” The people who hate the Satanic Temple know nothing about it. They just know that they were taught in Sunday School that Satan was the Bad Guy™ in the Bible. And as I’ve discussed, the modern conception of Satan — The Devil! — is really not the traditional one. Certainly in Job, Satan is more of a helper to God — making sure that man really does love God and isn’t just pretending because God is so good to him.
I fully expect when the Satanic Temple members speak, they will be quite serious about it. The core of the teachings of the Satanic Temple is that Satan is a symbol for those whom the society casts out. To use John Edwards’ words, Satan is a symbol for the other America — the one that is only shown on the television when it is at its worst. Satanism is quite consistent with Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount. Indeed, I would say that Satanism is more in keeping with Christianity than most American Christians I see who seem only interested in stopping abortion (without a care for the child after it is born) and vilifying same sex couples.
Intolerance Toward Satanic Temple
Councilman Jim Waring thinks that the Satanic Temple should have been told no because he thinks they are just trying to be offensive. Notice how far we’ve come in these 225+ years! Waring is arguing that the offense taken by the vast majority of Americans trumps the offense taken by the minority. Every time I go to an event where there is some kind of prayer, I bristle. I hate it. I am offended. I think, “How dare you!” Because these people only think it is okay because most people believe this Iron Age nonsense. It is presumptuous to think that I do.
There’s just one problem with Jim Waring’s thinking: it goes entirely against the Bill of Rights. Despite what idiot Fox News pundits say, Christians are not being oppressed in this country. They say this when Christians are called on their special rights — like doing 95% of all the public prayers in the nation. Majorities don’t need to be protected; minorities need to be protected. The whole of human history has shown this. And that is what makes our Constitution a remarkable document for its time.
De Haan said, “We don’t intend on doing anything offensive.” And I’m sure he’s being honest. It’s not like the Satanic Temple has an organizational structure like the Catholic Church, but everything I’ve seen from them indicates that they take it all seriously. But if this leads to someone in a pirate suit and colander talking about beer volcanoes, fine. And if that means that older religions decide that they don’t want to do these kind of public prayers, well, happy days are here again! Because, as I said, I find them offensive as hell. And they have no place in the workings of a secular government.
If we don’t allow the Satanic Temple to give prayers at city council meetings, then the government has established a religion. It may not be a particular one, but it has divided religions into those that have rights and those that don’t. And if we do that, we really are lost. But frankly, I think at least a third of this country already is.
See also: Seven Tenets Beat Ten Commandments.