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Florida city council may halt opening prayers to stop Satanist’s invocation

The Satanic Temple's template for a statue of Baphomet is pictured in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters June 27, 2014. REUTERS/The Satanic Temple/Handout
The Satanic Temple's template for a statue of Baphomet is pictured in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters June 27, 2014. REUTERS/The Satanic Temple/Handout

(RNS) The city council in Pensacola, Fla., will consider ending the traditional practice of inviting local clergy to deliver an opening prayer at meetings in order to thwart an invocation planned for July 14 by a representative of the Satanic Temple West Florida.

City Council President Charles Bare said he will propose that regular meetings begin with a moment of silence instead.

The controversy erupted in recent days when it emerged that David Suhor, a member of the local Satanic Temple and a church-state separationist who has been lobbying to end prayers at public meetings, had been invited to give an invocation at the city council’s meeting.

Suhor, who also goes by the name Davidas, had been asking the council for two years to give the invocation; the council had normally invited someone from a list of local clergy.

Last March, Bare told Suhor that he had been confirmed for the July 14 appearance. The news drew the attention of local media in late June when Suhor announced his appearance and began requesting that the local school board also host him.

Suhor describes the Satanic Temple as “an atheistic group” and said it “invokes the example of the mythical Satan for his encouragement of free will, knowledge and rebellion against dogmatic authoritarianism.”

City officials said they did not want to allow Suhor to appear but said rejecting his request would likely violate the First Amendment and invite a lawsuit.

“I didn’t feel like I could just deny him myself,” Bare told the Pensacola News Journal. “But if the council takes a vote to decide not to have invocations in the future, that would stop him from delivering his message.”

That’s why Bare called for a special council session for July 7 to discuss “changing our invocation to a moment of silence.”

“If they don’t want to, then I don’t see that we have any choice but to let Mr. Suhor speak and that may open the door to others that want to speak, too,” Bare told a local radio program on Thursday (June 30).

About the author

David Gibson

David Gibson is a national reporter for RNS and an award-winning religion journalist, author and filmmaker. He has written several books on Catholic topics. His latest book is on biblical artifacts: "Finding Jesus: Faith. Fact. Forgery," which was also the basis of a popular CNN series.

47 Comments

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  • A moment of silence would be better than any prayer, absolutely.,
    But how about they skip even that, allow people to pray or be silent if the moment so moves them, and just get down to business.

  • The Pensacola City Council is probably doing the right thing, given the circumstances. But Mr. Suhor better be praying real hard that Satan is indeed as “mythical” as Suhor foolishly believes.

    Otherwise, after Judgment Day, Mr. Suhor might just find his little self hired to do permanent invocations for the FIRE & BRIMSTONE City Council! !!!!

    (And I hear they don’t do Bottled Water down there !! )
    .

  • Oh, council! Ye of little faith. It is foolish to run from Baphomet, when you have the power of prayer to defeat him. You do have the power of prayer, don’t you?

  • This is like two other imagined creatures. The road runner and the coyote, or Spy vs Spy.

  • The whole point of the Satanists was to highlight the sectarian discrimination inherent in these religious invocations. To shut them down in their hypocrisy. Satanists evidently understand religious freedom far better than the Christianfolk in the city council

  • “May the spirit of justice and compassion be greater than the written and spoken word”
    -The inscription for the proposed Satanic monument in Oklahoma City.

    Satanists seem to understand morality better than most Christians! Go figure.

  • Might as well end this practice. Wait until our growing Muslim population wants to participate. Root out prayer from government functions.

  • Damn straight, floyd baby! Mr. Suhor will suffer the unending pain and torture for all eternity thanks to our Loving and Caring God. Amirite?

    Just think: you and I will be able to go to the edge of the clouds of heaven and look down on those sinners and nasty people and watch them writhe in pain and misery and suffering whilst we sing endless Praises to our Lord and Saviour! Amen, aye? (there’s nothing I like more than watching another person suffer, and I know you do, too!).

    When Judgement Day comes, we will rejoice that you Christians have given up your foolish false god and come to worship our Master, Zeus, King of the Gods of the Greeks.

    So, bow down now while you still can, floyd baby. Get on your knees and worship Him or He will grant you a ticket to that wicked place of fire!

    Amen!

  • I think a moment of silence is fine, Ben. If nothing else, it will give councilors an opportunity to gather their thoughts. No harm.

  • To, dear me, this Luciferian me, to the higher shall the intellectual enlightenment bring upon the whole of al of mankinds freedom of thought? Not the Chritsian reality, most certainly. But indeed, if upon the mindful depths, creative and intelligent, shall this intellectual enlightenment, the very LOGOS that is within us all in our Ego’s, if it is that if you allow me to, I will bring you closer to your own true and real self, your freedom. Freedom within, not without, a real freedom, that of thought, that of understanding that of mind. It is not then the merited good to bring you all through the many endless trails of life? It is, that I do this to everyone. But to the intellectually free, I ever more bring you ever more of the ever more.

    I am in everyone. Do you continue to consider me useless as a bowl of dog food? If you do, it is truly to question your religions, Christlanities, wisdom. Would you prefer to be an unenlightened fool?

  • I must say that I am very grateful to all those who were instrumental in bringing me back. I know I may have shown enough of myself to make people consider me worthy of a return, but I know I did not do this by my own powers. Not hardly. I also thank the many, many peiole who gave me the musical abilities that I have. They could have easily stolen it from me if not for the help of the many people who did help me win music. If I did not have music to feed me, I would have starved to death. Thank you!

  • Thank you guys for demonstrating why some Christianfolk can’t have nice things or should never be assumed to be good people.

  • The right decision. I am a flaming liberal (so my family says) but I can’t get past this one. I think prayers led by Christian, Jews, Muslims, Hindu – are a good idea, especially if they are about asking God’s to help us in public administration. But, I would rather have silence than prayer to Satan. I have run into my own prejudice – I just could not participate in that.

  • What happened to separation of church and state? While everybody should have the right to hold and practice whatever religious denomination they choose, these choices of “faith” have no place in the affairs of governing a community, a state, or a country! I agree with @Ben in Oakland – a moment of silence; in this way individuals can invoke which ever God they choose, without imposing their faith on others.

  • Spudster, would you like to join us? Is there a group of people you hate that you’d like to see suffer?

    Isn’t that the whole point of having a religion? So that you can see others being punished whilst you sit in grand comfort and sing everlasting praise of your god?

  • Sure! But your Zeus pales in comparison to my Cthulhu.

    I admit I read that too fast and missed the fun parts of your post. My bad. 🙂

  • Fun parts? Your Cthulhu, even when spelled correctly, isn’t real. Not like my Zeus. And that Yahweh character…what an actor! Why, he’s every bit as good as Barney Rubble!

  • You don’t pray to Satan. You invoke his blessing, so to speak. By this I mean, you ask, or better stated, you seek for his intellectual enlightenment, the depth of thought that lies within, in the Ego, that which would provide the intelligence, wisdom and right judgment to bear, for and in the process of that of the proper beneficial good in civic government.

    Jesus never knew me at all. He knew how to create the ransaking of my house, of which has happened. But if Jesus actually loved the human race, mankind, the world, he would not have sought to have killed the spirit, but would have nurtired him. For the spirit would have brought an abundace of good things to all of mankind , things that are well beyond the capacity of Jesus to bring. All the good the spitit would have wrought upon the world had he been allowed to do so.

    Jesus is greedy, shelfish and evil. If he had all the world’s true best interests in mind or at heart, we would have worked together, not in opposion. It is him, the militant, not me the peace, who refuses mutuality. He wanted it all and he could care less about anyone else even to the profound detrament to all the world, all mankind and to all of Chriatian history.

    It is, just like all Christians. Just as such as this wise truth is of all Satanists. It is Christians, hate me as you will for the simple sake of your hatred itself, but whether you like it or not, this, this reality that is me, is mine, is a viable and worthy reality that is very much worth all of the futures of all peoples, to take a good and deep lmand hard look at when deciding which philosophy, which perspective, their induvidual lives will consist of. And like it or not Christians, it is much more a worthy philosophy than yours. And it is by a large measure, too.

  • Did you stay up all night thinking of a way to say something about bottled water that would kick Lucifer in his teeth? And in your prejedial hatred, I know, but in your lackung intelligence, wisdom and goodness?: No sir, you are distintly out if place.

  • What, though, if your poor, will you sleep in a tent under the freeways in heaven too? Jesus could care less about the poor here, and he is going to care in heaven? Jesus didn’t actually explain all this in the Bible, did he?

    So if Jesus and his people die and go to heaven and if Satan and his people die and are born again, and if heaven and earth are built and created in the image and likenesses of Jesus, which I see it is, isn’t then heaven just as bad as this world is? And if heaven is that bad, as bad as this world, than you air, better give all your independent thought, understandings, liberty, and all and everything else of your true independent self, and cow down to the orders and demands of all you are told, hear and believe, that everything you have and will be, is what you are told is, not what truly is. Just like me, huh?

  • Ever hear of the Supreme Court’s Marsh decision, Spuddie? There is no **inherent** sectarian discrimination in public invocations like these. Did you know that Congress does such invocations as well?

    While I have nothing against “a moment of silence”, this Suhor joker and his demon-possessed pals are trying to scare Pensacola’s leaders into self-repealing their own Marsh invocation rights.

    Suhor may get away with it, in Pensacola. But in MY hometown, we got various leaders who KNOW their constitutional rights, both Christians and Non-Christians. Bring it on, Suhor !!!

  • Actually it only took three minutes (minus 30 seconds to drink some Diet Sprite) to come up with that line.

    By the way, I hadn’t thought anything about “kicking Lucifer in the teeth”, but hey, if my remarks happen to have such an unexpected effect, what’s the problem?

    (After all, it’s not like you’re sleepin’ in HIS bed, right?)

  • Normally I’d go ahead and ask what in the nuclear Hades is going on with this vividly anti-christ sermonette.

    But I think I’ll just pop some cheap firecrackers in the backyard and leave it at that.

  • Hey, you’re a free dude, we all have free choice. You don’t want God, you don’t want Heaven, then nobody will force ’em on you. There’s another guy, another vacation destination — that you can happily spend eternity with.

  • Considering the council would rather shut down all invocations rather than uphold notions of religious freedom and let a minority religion give one speaks badly of the real nature of these things. Its really just a tramp stamp for the council’s faith. The Supreme Court’s decision, those judicial activists as you have called them in the past missed an important feature of these invocations. The people most in support of them do not like letting religions besides their own give one.

    This Subhor “joker” has as much right to give an invocation as any priest, pastor or rabbi. Your opinion of a given religion does not affect their right to free exercise of it. In fact religious freedom is most important to those religions which are not popular or well liked.

    In your hometown, or anywhere else, you have no grounds to keep any given religion from giving an invocation. So either trash invocations entirely or you have to let the guy speak. That is your constitutional right. Something you don’t seem to know about or care for.

    Its a shame that you have no understanding of free exercise of religion. it applies not just to to your faith but all of them.

  • I will make you an bet. I bet my Cthulhu will strike you down and eat your soul quicker than your Zeus can hit me with a thunderbolt and send me to eternal torture with his brother Hades.

  • Hah! I win

    Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!
    [tentacles come up from floor followed by my screams of being chewed up and then unworldly slurping noises]

  • Have YOU heard of Greece vs Galloway? YOUR hometown can have prayers, just like Pensacola can, BUT…and this is what you apparently don’t seem to get, you DON’T get to discriminate in who gives that prayer. You have to have a system that allows people of all faiths (including Muslims, Mormons, JWs, Scientologists, Wiccans, Satanists, Jedi, and so forth) and also atheists to give those prayers. Otherwise it is a violation of the First Amendment.

    You can’t make any discriminatory rules, or rules that would favor one religion to the exclusion of the others. So, you can’t, for example, say that only Christian priests can give invocations – or that only people on an “approved list”, without having a reasonable means for other religions and atheists to get on that list (and not just in theory, they actually have to be able to do it). Otherwise, your hometown can face an expensive lawsuit, which it WILL lose.

  • And if a Satanist in your town wished to lead a prayer, your town would have to oblige him. Otherwise you would be in violation of numerous Supreme Court precedents. Your town would lose and pay tens of thousands of dollars in damages. And be compelled to let him lead the prayers.

  • The key thing is to never insult anyone. Alllah forbid somebody’s ideas are abridged and feelings get hurt. This is America. It is supposed to be our Safe Place.

  • This is odd. Philip IV tortured confessions out of the Knights Templar, and murdered them, accusing them of worshiping Baphomet, and Baphomet is the bad guy? Pope Clement V confiscated land and money of the Templars, along with Philip. This is also when the popes were murdering Cathar and Waldensian christians by the thousands killing entire towns.

  • It seems strange that christians can believe in such things, and then be upset when they are accused of being superstitious. Ghosts and demons and zombies. Oh, god!

  • No, No, floyd my brother! You and me! Together! In paradise! All you have to do is renounce your silly Christian religion and your false god and come over to our side, where the air is much cleaner and the sky is like forever!

    Give up your nonsensical holy texts (even though you’ve not read them), floyd, and read with me the Truth of the gods of the Greeks. Your Bible is flawed and imperfect, and it has porn. And homosexuals. And your god drowns babies. And fetuses.

  • True indeed. But I too have a difficult time understanding you as well. We do not see eye to eye, but in and for the sake of peace, good and in benefit for the well being of all the world, let us work to make a way for us to work together. Let us live together in peace.

    I did not create life or all the world. They were created through me. I don’t seek your harm as you seek mine. However, it is neither acceptable, good or right that my genous would continue to be nothing but a bowl of dog food for the growth, perpectuation and sustaining of evil men and their desire to be evil.

    You have all the power and I have all the brains, if you will allow me to put if that way. We need to work together in a mutually beneficial way whether you like it or not. You don’t have a choice in the matter as far as I understand it.

    You have run ruffshod underservidly over me for way too long. Your rein of terror must end and we must share this world, one amounst the other, together.

  • A moment of silence is the only way to go. It honors everyone with the privacy of their convictions and takes away any differences we might have for one another.

  • They are American’s first. When the religious folks realize this. They’ll stop beating their heads flat. E Plurbus Unem. The Republic has given you tax free space to speak on which ever tongue you would prefer. You have many Christians. But you are still divided. The Republic is your only hope to save ALL of your religions. #Truth #AcceptAndMoveOn

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