Feb 6, 2016

Satanists Silence Phoenix City Council

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

 photo phoenixbaphomet_zpsbzblfj7v.jpg

The Satanic Temple has struck another blow for the First Amendment, by effectively silencing the Phoenix City Council. Rather than allow Satanists to exercise their Supreme Court determined right to give the invocation, the council has opted for a moment of silence.

To recap, in May of 2014, the Supreme Court made a decision on Town of Greece v. Galloway, which allowed for religious invocations in city government meetings. As discussed, this could create some discomfiture for members of any community who do not share in the predominant religion, but have no choice but to listen to a prayer celebrating that religion. Justice Kennedy's written decision, at least, opened the door for that pain to shared, in that such bodies cannot discriminate against minority religions. This has allowed for such things as this lovely Pagan invocation to be read in Florida... and for the ensuing backlash.

Through that same narrow doorway, now comes the Satanic Temple. Rather than allow Satanists a seat at the table, the Phoenix City Council has done away with invocations entirely.

Followers of the Satanic Temple, a group promoting religious agnosticism, had been scheduled to give the prayer at the council's Feb. 17 meeting. News of the planned Satanic invocation became public last week and went viral almost instantly. Council members said constituents and others inundated them with comments.

That outrage was in full force Wednesday as more than a hundred people filled seats at the council's meeting, many opposing the Satanic invocation. The emotional testimony went on for more than two hours.

Video footage of a hearing on the matter provides a window into just how completely the First Amendment is misunderstood around our great nation, not to mention how completely the Satanic Temple is misunderstood.

It really is a parade of ignorance. I think my favorite is the wounded Air Force pilot (and I thank her for her service), who explains how she swore her oaths "under God." The tacit assumption is that this is a Judeo-Christian God, and that such a God is in direct opposition to Satan. That this would be the imposition of a distinct doctrinal view on a government matter does not seem to occur to her. Actually, there are so many internal contradictions in her brief statement, that it boggles the mind.

Lost on pretty much everyone involved, is that the Satanists, in this for instance, don't believe in either Satan or God, but believe very strongly in the Constitution. As such, this is not the first battle they've won. By leveraging what's left of the founders' intent in court battles and garnering headlines, they're forcing communities to reckon with what freedom of religion really means.

In another delicious irony, their seven tenets make the ten commandments look truly barbaric. Of course, this is not hard.

Based in Massachusetts, and with approximately 20 chapters across the U.S., The Satanic Temple’s seven fundamental tenets are as follows:
  • Strive to act with compassion and empathy toward all creatures in accordance with reason.
  • The struggle for justice is an ongoing and necessary pursuit that should prevail over laws and institutions.
  • One’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone.
  • The freedoms of others should be respected, including the freedom to offend. To willfully and unjustly encroach upon the freedoms of another is to forgo your own.
  • Beliefs should conform to our best scientific understanding of the world. We should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit our beliefs.
  • People are fallible. If we make a mistake, we should do our best to rectify it and resolve any harm that may have been caused.
  • Every tenet is a guiding principle designed to inspire nobility in action and thought. The spirit of compassion, wisdom, and justice should always prevail over the written or spoken word.

What? No archaic prohibitions against art? Nothing about how women are just another form of livestock? You call that a system of ethics and basis for societal norms?!

Okay, yeah. I like them better.

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