Deerfield Beach, Fla. (CBS TAMPA) — Following the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision to allow “ceremonial prayer” in government meetings, a Florida activist for separation of church-and-state causes and a self-described Satanist has written a request to open city commission meetings with a Satanic prayer.
Less than one week after the Supreme Court’s upholding of prayer in their Town of Greece v. Galloway ruling, Chaz Stevens says he wants “equal billing” to open a local government meeting with a prayer to his own god: Satan.
“I just want equal billing. We allow various religious nutjobs to give a prayer,” Stevens told the New Times. “They pray to Jesus who is make-believe, God who is make-believe, why not Satan who is make-believe? Why discriminate against one make-believe god over another? Satan and I are being circumvented. The city of Deerfield Beach has once again declared war on religion — and this time it’s Satanism.”
This is not Stevens’ first foray into religious and political challenges. Last December, the “My Acts of Sedition” website head created an 8-foot “Festivus” pole made from Pabst Blue Ribbon cans and placed them next to a Nativity scene at the Florida Capitol Rotunda. Stevens, a self-proclaimed “militant atheist,” said that the Seinfeld-inspired beer can production has as much right to be on government property as a menorah or Christian symbol.
“All or none,” Stevens told WPTV at the time. “They opened the door. So if they’re going to allow a menorah, a crèche, a Pabst Blue Ribbon pole, maybe a Flying Spaghetti Monster, I figured one ridiculous act required another.”
The American Civil Liberties Union agreed with Stevens, saying that no religious symbols of any sort should be displayed on government buildings.
This time around, in Deerfield Beach, Stevens has written the city to make his request for a Satanic prayer:
“With the recent US Supreme Court ruling allowing ‘prayer before Commission meetings’ and seeking the rights granted to others, I hereby am requesting I be allowed to open a Commission meeting praying for my God, my divine spirit, my Dude in Charge.
Be advised, I am a Satanist.
Let me know when this is good for you.
Chaz Stevens, Calling in from Ring 6 of Dante’s Inferno,” Stevens concludes in the letter.
In regards to Satanism, Stevens told the New Times that converted because “Satan is a cool dude. Think of all the people he’s in charge of. Do you want to be stuck listening to harp music in the afterlife? Hell no. I want to drink beer and hang with hookers.”
City attorney Andrew Maurodis made no comment to the New Times regarding Stevens’ Satanic prayer request.
Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion in the Town of Greece v. Galloway case states that prayers are constitutionally protected to invoke any specific religious affiliation – which includes Satanism: “[t]o hold that invocations must be nonsectarian would force the legislatures that sponsor prayers and the courts that are asked to decide these cases to act as supervisors and censors of religious speech.”
— Benjamin Fearnow
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