July-August 2021 Church & State Magazine | People & Events

A Satanic group has lost a legal challenge seeking to compel the city of Scottsdale to allow one of its members to recite an invocation before a government meeting.

The Satanic Temple first made the request in 2016 but was denied by the city council, which argued that the Temple doesn’t have a branch in the city. In the well-known 2014 case Town of Greece v. Galloway, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that communities may not discriminate when selecting people to give invocations but that they are not required to look beyond their own borders to provide diversity.

A federal court cited this provision in February of 2020 when it ruled against the Temple. U.S. District Judge David G. Campbell ruled that Scottsdale officials based their decision on the fact that the Temple lacked a presence in the city.

Temple members argued that they were the victims of discrimination. They pointed to comments made by Mayor Jim Lane who vowed that the Temple would not be permitted to give an invocation and said, “We’re telling the Satanists, hell, no.”

Lane later bragged about how he had denied the Temple’s request in campaign literature when he ran for reelection. He accused the group of “mocking City Hall traditions with a ‘prayer.’”

Despite this evidence, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the Temple, holding that Scottsdale’s policy of limiting invocations to groups within the city is legal.

Lucien Greaves, a spokesman for the Satanic Temple, told Hemant Mehta of “The Friendly Atheist” blog that the group will work on finding a city resident to represent them.

“We’ll reach out to the city to find out how we can give an invocation properly without all of these unfortunate misunderstandings,” he said. (The Satanic Temple, Inc. v. City of Scottsdale)