March 2021 Church & State Magazine | AU Bulletin

The Satanic Temple (TST) is suing Boston officials, asserting that the city’s policy for selecting people to deliver prayers and invocations before meetings of the city council discriminates against some faiths.

The lawsuit, The Satanic Temple, Inc. v. City of Bos­ton, asserts that the council relies on an unwritten policy that allows its members to choose people from the community to give opening remarks. The lawsuit asserts that Temple members requested an opportunity to speak in 2016 and 2017, but were denied because no member of the council invited them.

This procedure, the Temple argues, effectively means that only groups that have an in with the council will be invited.

 Between 2011 and 2017, TST asserts, there were 233 invocations, and most were delivered by Christians, Jews and Muslims. The council has never heard an invocation from a Wiccan, a Pagan or a Buddhist. It heard from one Hindu, and heard a wholly secular invocation on just one occasion.

“[T]he problem with the City’s prayer selection system is that the prayer opportunity isn’t equally shared among those who are interested – as the Constitution requires – instead, the opportunity is reserved for those who have the political clout to procure a Councilor’s patronage,” argues the Temple. “TST wants into that club, but lacks the influence to buy admission.”